Importance of reviews and consumer behavior
Online reviews are like beacons of light guiding customers along their buying journey. Just think about the last time you needed a ride, wanted to see a movie, or grab a bite to eat. You probably checked ratings on Uber, Rotten Tomatoes, or Yelp, right?
When it comes to local businesses, consumers are more likely than ever to let reviews be their guiding light. In fact, nearly 75 percent of consumers searching online for a local business turn to consumer online review sites. That’s because online reviews amplify the real conversations people have in the offline world. This authenticity is one of the unique ways that review sites influence purchasing decisions.
What makes the Yelp audience so valuable is that they are right at that crucial moment of deciding *where* to buy. A Nielsen study found that 82% of Yelp users are there because they intend to buy a product or service and 92 percent of those consumers say they usually make a purchase after visiting Yelp. That’s a huge opportunity for you.
With that in mind, this guide will help you understand:
- Who uses Yelp
- How to put your business online
- Why you should personalize your online storefront
- The value of feedback and how to join the conversation
Who is using Yelp?
Yelp users are passionate about Yelp and spend time exploring businesses and writing about them, especially Yelp Elites. Whether your customers are retired homeowners or millennials, it’s likely that they are on Yelp.
According to Nielson, Yelp users are typically well educated with nearly 50% earning a household income of over $100,000 per year. While a variety of people use Yelp, the majority are over the age of 35.
Millions of users are looking for dentists, plumbers, hair stylists, real estate agents and tons of other kinds of businesses on Yelp, so there’s likely a category that fits your business as well. So, how can you best get in front of consumers looking to find a business to spend their money with?
Best practices for putting your business online
Launching an online presence for your business doesn’t have to be overwhelming. To help you get started, we put together the top 5 best practices for putting your business online.
1. Update your business information
When people search for your business, the information they find should be up-to-date and accurate. Ensure your address (or service area), phone number, and website are correct wherever your business is listed. You can use a website such as Moz to see how your business looks on different search engines and websites.
2. Be consistent with your name
If you haven’t already, create a profile on major social media networks with your business name. You can check username availability with sites such as Namechk. Try to choose a consistent username (or handle) across social media sites so your customers can easily find you.
3. Listen and learn
Think of social media sites as an extension of your customer service department. Social media allows you to have conversations with your customers and provides them with another avenue to talk about your business.
4. Set up a Google alert
Google Alerts sends you an email notification when a particular search term or topic is found online. A barbershop in San Francisco could set up a Google Alert for “haircuts San Francisco” to give them an idea of what prospective customers are looking for and to stay on top of trends. It’s also a smart idea to create a Google Alert for your own business name, too. You’ll be alerted to any mention of your business so you’re always on top of what’s being said about your business online.
5. Claim your business page on other review sites
Chances are, your business is already listed on a user review site, if not multiple. Most of these sites will allow you to claim your business page to make sure the information displayed is accurate and up-to-date. The best way to manage your business on Yelp is to first, claim your page at biz.yelp.com. It’s free, and it’s an excellent way to begin personalizing your online storefront.
Personalizing your online storefront
Think of an online storefront as a metaphor for your business listings on social media, a place where consumers can get a feel for your business and see what sets you apart. Start by logging into your Yelp Business Account and follow the below easy (and free) ways to personalize your Yelp Business Page:
Complete your business information
Add or update your hours, contact Information, and address (or service area) on your business page so consumers searching Yelp know how to get in touch.
People shop with their eyes, so it’s important to showcase the experience someone will have by choosing your business. Uploading relevant photos with captions gives people a reason to get excited about your business, and gives you an edge over the competition.
Add specialties, history and meet the owner
Within Yelp’s ‘From the business’ section there are several opportunities to tell your story. The ‘Specialties’ space is an opportunity to list your specific services and highlight what makes you stand out. Think of your specialities as your sales pitch for your business, not keywords.
Everyone loves a good story, and Business History is the place to tell yours! Whether you run a family business that has been passed down from generation to generation, or you built the business from the ground up, share your story with users looking to shop locally.
Under History you’ll find ‘Meet the Owner or Manager’ section. This gives your Yelp listing that local feel. Take the time to let people know how long you’ve been doing this and more importantly—why you do it.
Add special hours
Yelp’s Special Hours tool allows you to adjust your hours for special occasions or holidays. So if you’re opening early for holiday shopping, or taking a weekend off for a much needed vacation, let your customers know.
Enable messaging and respond quickly
First and foremost, make sure your messaging is enabled! Yelpers send an average of 40,000 quote requests per day so it’s incredibly important to respond in a timely manner. Users who submit requests or messages are motivated and interested, so responding quickly to messaging requests leads to higher conversion and ultimately, more money in your pocket.
The value of feedback
Getting feedback is a tremendous opportunity to learn from actual customers about what you’re doing right and how you can improve. Whether you run a hair salon, a Michelin star restaurant, or a clothing boutique, you can connect with new customers, engage with your loyal ones, and target new audiences—all through user review sites.
It sounds obvious, but it’s worth saying: you can’t please all of your customers 100% of the time, no matter how hard you try. While it’s important to look for patterns (e.g., several people making similar comments about a particular customer service issue), you shouldn’t read too much into any particular review. Readers tend to look for the broad consensus of a business’ reviews rather than focus on any single review.
Consumers trust Yelp because the reviews and content are authentic experiences. Consumers would much rather hear from members of the Yelp community who are inspired to talk about their experiences without a business owner’s encouragement. Unlike other review sites, Yelp does not recommend asking or soliciting your clients for reviews.
The businesses that do best on Yelp are the ones that provide a great customer experience to everyone who walks in the door without any expectation or encouragement that they write a review.
Here are some tips to get Yelp reviews without asking:
- Add a hyperlink into your email signature to remind consumers you’re on Yelp
- Add a Yelp review badge to your website
- Request a free “Find us on Yelp” window decal
- Embed your favorite reviews on your website and social media
- Respond to reviews with a public comment (businesses that respond to reviews earn 5% more review content than businesses that don’t!)
Your best bet to get high quality and unbiased reviews about your business is to provide a memorable and amazing customer experience — not by asking your customers to post on Yelp.
Joining the conversation – responding to reviews
Responding to your online reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with your most vocal customers. Yelp’s free suite of tools for business owners will let you respond publicly or directly to a review. Bonus, it helps reflect your customer service practices and builds buying confidence in consumers along with many other benefits. You can start responding to your Yelp reviews today by logging in to your Yelp for Business User Account or downloading the Yelp Biz App.
Do: Respond to reviews with a Public Comment
- You provide all of your customers with great service so why leave your biggest fans hanging? It might seem like a lot of work, but it can help grow your business.
- Respond to your customers to let them know you appreciate their words of praise. If you don’t have time to send a personalized message to every positive review you receive, consider sending a direct message rather than a public comment.
- Your positive reviews are something to be celebrated so share them with your staff, colleagues and social media networks.
For a more in-depth look, read our official blog post on why you shouldn’t solicit reviews and the Do’s and DON’Ts of Responding to Reviews on Yelp. For other tips on how to put your best foot forward on Yelp, check out our Guide to Success.
Business owner testimonials and case studies
Sender One Climbing, Los Angeles, CA
Healthy Spot, Costa Mesa, CA
Flash Frozen Photography, Palm Desert, CA
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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.