yelpYelp proved to be a remarkable tool in influencing consumer decision in today’s saturated market. Just ask your customers how they found out about your local business and you will easily realize the power of Yelp.

Today’s consumers are able to navigate the market easily through the various social media tools at their disposal. Through Yelp, consumers are able to share their experiences with a particular product or service. This shared information allows consumers to see which businesses give them the best overall ‘bang for the buck.’

Yelp can be a very effective platform to reach your target market. It is the perfect channel for conducting direct communications with your customers and making your business personable. One of the best intangible investments a company can make is to create an online personality that is likeable, findable, and focused on the human experience. Companies must keep in mind that personality is one of the biggest factors behind consumer reach and retention.

The Power of Yelp

Through consumer reviews, Yelp does not only allow you to extend your reach significantly, but it also allows you see where your business is lacking and determine what tweaks you should consider to improve your business and address those weaknesses. The reviews also inform you about the strengths of your competition. Savvy businesses know the value of knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses is key to succeding in your industry.

According to The Social Times, Yelp drives an average of $8,000 in revenue to small businesses who are active on the platform. Businesses that invest in advertising on Yelp received an even better reward. In a study funded by Yelp and conducted by the renowned Boston Consulting Group, businesses earned an additional average of $23,000 for allotting around $4,200 on Yelp advertisements.

Does that mean that your business should go out and start advertising immediately? Maybe not. If you’re running a niche professional services firm, success may be limited. Businesses like restaurants, on the other hand, should pursue Yelp advertising more aggressively. One of the best things about Yelp is that you can receive a lot of the benefits without having to set aside an additional content marketing budget. Here’s how:

1. Prioritize SEO

Before you dive into strategy, you need to hammer down the fundamentals. Make sure that the business name, phone number, and address you have listed on Yelp matches exactly what’s on your website and other social media platforms. If these items are not consistent, Google will mistake your Yelp profile as a separate business, even if the item in question is only slightly off.

2. Spark Conversations

In a perfect world, your happiest customers would voluntarily leave reviews on Yelp. The problem is that they’re busy. When they’re leaving your restaurant, hair salon, or boutique, they are probably not thinking about writing reviews on Yelp. That’s why your active participation is key.

Initiate the conversation with a friendly reminder. Remember the adage, ask and you shall receive. Do not hesitate to ask your patrons to write reviews. Chances are that these customers would be delighted to help your business out. Consistently ask your subscribers, fans, and followers to write you a quick review. It’s a small gesture that will be invaluable to your business in the long run. Every review adds value.

3. Showcase Your Business Story

Make sure to write a complete introduction of your business through the platform’s description section, and explain why you’re the best at what you do. Upload photos and share your activities to enhance the interactive experience with your brand. Keep in mind that when prospective customers visit your Yelp profile, they’re in heavy ‘learn and research’ mode. The more information you provide, the more effective it will be.

4. Be Responsive

Yelp gives business owners tools to respond to feedback. You can send users private messages or leave public comments. Be sure to actively appreciate your customers for sharing their thoughts. Their reviews help position your brand as an active online presence and increases your legitimacy. Customers that leave negative feedback are just as important to reach out to. This is where your company’s humanity and likeability is tested. If your customer did not have a satisfactory experience with your product or service, engage them. Don’t just listen, humbly apologize and make sure to address the problem. Let them know you are doing your best to improve their experience and offer tokens when you can. Show that you’ll go above and beyond to fix problems and truly ‘make it right.’

5. Be Genuine

People are on Yelp to search. Don’t try to oversell prospects, and don’t be pushy. Approach Yelp with the mindset of building rapport with your customers and not generating new business. The more connections you build, the more sales you’ll inevitably generate down the road. When you’re sorry, mean it. When you’re grateful, mean it. Your Yelp community will notice and put your business high on their list. Care about your customers genuinely, and they will keep coming back to your business and spread the word about your company.

Ready to Get Started?

Here’s a quick tutorial to help you learn the ropes. Search for your competitors and other local business in Yelp to see strategies that you like and dislike. Approaching Yelp with an unbiased perspective is a good way to capture the information you need to be competitive. No need to worry about the technical details. Jump in, have fun, and watch your in-store sales grow.