I want to get you thinking the way I am on this one, so bear with me for a moment. I want you to imagine yourself moving into a brand new area that you are completely unfamiliar with. You have brand new neighbors, and there is not a familiar face anywhere. You don’t know if your new neighbors have kids for your kids to play with, or if you would even want them to. So the process begins, you meet your neighbors, you gain trust and eventually are part of the neighborhood BBQs. As time goes on, and you are getting to know everybody even more, they begin sharing information with you, like what the best schools are, who to call for takeout, what doctors are nearby etc. There is a process of trust that grows within the community, and that community sticks together and helps each other out.
In Comes Yelp
Businesses need to look at Yelp in more of a neighborhood sense, as explained above. Stop trying to think how you can game the system with only 5 star reviews in mind. Businesses need to understand that there is a strong community of people that run it, police it, and spend all day on it – looking for, or giving recommendations. If you are a good neighbor, your business can benefit from it. If you are a bad neighbor that creeps everybody out, then its not going to work so well for you, and the neighborhood will spit you out.
Do Not Fear The Reviews
It amazes me the number of businesses that are afraid to get listed on Yelp. My personal opinion, if businesses are afraid to get on Yelp, then there might be some internal house cleaning that needs to be done, and problems fixed. If your business is broken, and this is why you are worried about getting on sites like Yelp, then FIX THE PROBLEMS NOW. Even if you do get some negative feedback, take it as a learning tool, grow from it, and do everything you can to overcome and grow as a business. Yelp is only going to continue to grow, and with app phones flooding the market now, the mobile use in 2010 for local marketing is going to big the biggest ever. In my opinion, this is going to be the biggest opportunities for businesses marketing online. These phones are not going away, these apps are not going away, so your business needs to do better starting now.
Be A Man, Stake Your Claim
If you do not go in andcreate your business listing on Yelp, someone else will (and its just a matter of time before the reviews start pouring in). These are free tools that Yelp is willingly offering you! Go take advantage of them! When you rely on someone else you add your information, you are risking things like:
- wrong phone number
- wrong business address
- wrong website address
- wrong product information
- general company info wrong
- wrong hours
- wrong menu items
- which photos show up first
- a competitor going in and listing you wrong (on purpose)
This Matters For Four Reasons Because:
- Users will quickly click off your listing if the phone number does not work.
- Users will quickly move on to the next business if they are looking for a website, and yours is not listed.
- Trust will be lost with a half done/wrong business listing.
- You can create a reputation nightmare by not staying on top of things.
The main point I want to make with this post is 2010 is going to be the year of mobile/local marketing & apps, as well as the opportunities that are going to be generated from them.Yelp has a mobile appnow for iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and Droid. I am sure as more app phones come into the market, Yelp will be developing for them as well. Yelp has become my new American Express – “Can’t leave home without it” I really can’t go anywhere without consulting Yelp first. It is for more then just food too, you can get reviews and information on pretty much any kind of business possible. Funny, my Mother and Father in Law told us the kept tabs on us during a recent trip by checking out my Yelp reviews, and could tell we had a blast! They personally do not use Yelp, but they always tell me: “See what Yelp says” and I do a quick consult before we all head out somewhere. Its truly an awesome tool to be able to carry in my pocket, and “mark my words” this is the future of local marketing.
I asked Gabi, the Phoenix ambassador for Yelp to share her thoughts of how business owners can do better with Yelp in 2010, as well as a couple others – Will Scott & Chris Smith. Here are their responses:
Per your request, below are a few quick thoughts on how businesses can utilize Yelp to their advantage in the new year:
- 1. Utilize the free tools that are available – Claim your business!
- Respond to all yelp reviews (once you’ve claimed your business) to thank that yelper for their feedback.
- Tell about the business, business owner, specialties, etc… and announce special offers, events, etc…
- Look at Yelp as a helpful resource – we’re not the enemy; Yelp is a useful tool to help you improve your business all of the time!
- Do not ask random friends or customers to write reviews on Yelp – this can come off as spam; let the reviews happen authentically
- Provide fantastic customer service always and you’ll likely reap the rewards in the reviews that are written!
- Be proactive.
- Just like any review site you need to get your fans out early and often. The rules say you can’t pay people or otherwise incentivize but you can certainly ask.
- Consider advertising.
- One of our clients started advertising in Yelp and increased his leads from yelp by 5X almost instantly. Moreover, you get to pick your favorite review to pin at the top of your list.
- And, best of all you can show up on your competitors’ listings. Mwahahaha.
I see two main areas where businesses may do better with Yelp.
- Businesses really need to step up their customer-service game. A world of pain can be avoided merely by instituting highly excellent customer service practices. Customer service policies and practices need to be revisited frequently to insure you make a good impression.
- In 2010 businesses should become less shy about asking pleased customers to review them. I encounter many proprietors who are hesitant to ask customers to rate them online, but I think the fear is unwarranted. Dale Carnegie, in his classic book, “How To Win Friends & Influence People”, even recommends that you ask others to do you favors as a strategy for getting people to like you (among other tactics). In that vein, I suggest that when a customer particularly gushes, hand them a coupon for a discount for their next visit, and tell them you’d really appreciate being rated in Yelp. Do not pay for ratings nor offer discounts in trade for a rating, but merely ask in a modest way. By specifically targeting pleased customers, giving an unconditional discount, and personally asking them to do you a favor, you make them feel important and inclined to give you a very positive review.
Having a strategy to encourage and build positive reviews can help to insulate a business from occasional negative reviews and can pump up rankings and conversions.
I appreciate Gabi, Will & Chris taking the time to share their thoughts on how businesses can do better with Yelp in 2010. To sum it all up? Businesses need to not be afraid of where mobile/local marketing is headed. Also, they need to not be afraid of UGC type sites like Yelp. Your business will grow and gain customers in 2010 if you embrace Yelp, run a good clean business and play by the rules!
Matt Siltala, owner of Dream Systems Media shares his love and passion for SEO and all things social on his Internet marketing blog. You can follow Matt on Twitter here – http://www.twitter.com/Matt_Siltala