In its simplest form, Yelp is a free online business listing and review site.
But that is not all …
Yelp is community driven and operates as a word-of-mouth hub with a highly engaged online community through a social media platform. People open up accounts on the site and become Yelpers. They are able to share information with each other specifically, for the purpose of this article, through restaurant reviews. Customers post reviews of their experience both positive and negative.
Yelp, as an organization, has made a huge effort to create and retain it’s loyal and review-driven audience. Over 70 million users per month use Yelp. That is a lot of traffic! And the potential to capture business is only growing.
How Does Yelp Work?
Yelp tends to work better for independent restaurants because reviews for chain restaurants are likely to be similar from city to city. This is of no benefit to a Yelp user.
93% of people who research on review sites typically make a purchase at the business about which they read
How Yelp Can Help Infographic by Merchant Warehouse
Yelp uses algorithmic formulated filters that weed out both positive and negative reviews. Much noise has been made about this, as some businesses have claimed that good reviews can get pushed out of sight.
Yelp’s methods are not deterring users who look for quality reviews over quantity.
This is not like the Yellow Pages of yore. This is an active online sharing platform and as a business owner, it is up to you to contribute.
Yelp provides a revenue estimator to help you track the potential benefits of optimizing your Yelp account. Statistics available on Yelp's business dashboard include visitors, phone calls, new reviews, review interaction, photo uploads and more. Thats a great overview of how Yelp is helping your business grow!
Increased Awareness Results in Increased Profits
A customer will often go to Yelp first before conducting a search on a Google. And if they do make it to Google or another major search engine, Yelp will generally occupy one of the top results for any given search. This is especially for restaurants!
By making sure you have an active and well done listing in Yelp you're going to be more visible on search engines. In addition many search engines show review ratings right on search results and map results - and those include Yelp reviews.
This gives you the opportunity to get in front of potential customers more often which translates into increased engagement online, increases customers served, and revenue growth.
The Power of Yelp Star Ratings
With a 5 Star rating potential, making Yelp a part of your marketing strategy makes sense. It will help control your business’s narrative and communication with your existing and potential customers.
Over 85% of reviews posted are at a 3 star level, indicating a reasonably positive experience. Jeremy Magruder at UC Berkeley concluded that a ratings increase of ½ star equated to a 19% rise in reservations. In another study at UC Berkeley, A ½ star increase from 3 to 3.5 boosts a restaurant’s chance by 13%-34% of filling all their seats during their peak business hours. That is good news for your business.
1 star rating increase = 5-9% Revenue increase
Luca, Michael. "Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-016, September 2011. (Revise and resubmit at the American Economic Journal - Applied Economics.)
In recent surveys, 90% of Yelp users indicate that positive reviews impact their purchase choice and 72 % feel that a review is just as trustworthy as a personal recommendation.
There is no such thing as bad publicity. You've heard that before. This is probably the most helpful adage to remember to when coping with bad reviews.
A business owner can respond and dispute a poor review. Dubious reviews give YOU the opportunity to show how great your business is and how well you communicate to your customers. Conflict resolution is a part of your Yelp account experience.
According to Dan Jurafsky of Stanford University, “Bad reviews have same tone / word usage as accident or natural disaster descriptions. Bad reviews always sound far more powerful than good reviews.” This can be harmful unless you meet the negativity with outstanding customer service.
How you choose to respond to reviews, both positive and negative, is crucial. But remember, responding is key to being a part of the discussion and to resolve potential conflict.
Make Time for Yelp
Keep on top your reviews; both by reading them and responding. Allocate a daily or twice weekly block of time to address, what are in essence, the needs of your business from an online perspective. Update your photos, respond to reviews and note suspect content.
Potential customers learn about your business through Yelp. The top information they look for include:
- Customer Service (#1 in importance!)
- Eclectic and unique features
- Regional cuisine and specificity
- Wine list
- Cleanliness (are the washrooms impeccable?)
- Ease of Access
The reviews left by your customers also give you and your management team first hand insight on what you can improve upon.
Love Your Yelpers
Exceptions always exist, but generally Yelp encourages balanced, thoughtful and subjective commentary from its on line community. Yelpers make a difference when they pay attention to your business by offering review.
As a restaurant owner, it is crucial to learn how to optimize this to grow revenue and awareness. Yelp publishes demographic data to help you effectively reach the right tone and market. Use this to help connect with and appreciate where you customers are coming from.
Align and update your Facebook, Google+ and Yelp profiles. The consistency and continuity looks better and more professional. It helps make a great first impression! Business information from Yelp shows up in Google search results.
Manage Your Yelp Listing
To leverage Yelp in the growth plan of your business, make it your ally. That is to say, get in there and manage your listing with great photos, good and accurate information about your establishment, and great customer outreach through responses.
Keep in mind managing your Yelp presence is work. It takes strategy but can be immensely rewarding. And don't forget to engage with your customers not just give a form fill response.
In order to utilize Yelp you need to search for your business listing on Yelp, claim it and complete your profile and add some great images. Learn to use the dashboard and handy tools provided to enhance and help control your presence.
Want to learn more about managing Yelp for your restaurant? We've got a great article to help you optimize your Yelp listing and experience.