If you are like most businesses, you consider word-of-mouth your most valuable marketing channel. Increasingly, online reviews are a critical component of Web word-of-mouth.
Frequently used business review sites include Google+, Citysearch and Yelp. The rise of review sites, and Yelp in particular, has been of significant importance to business owners across the world. For example, Apple iPhone’s Siri application primarily uses Yelp for its reviews. This article will walk you through the basics of leveraging Yelp to improve your word-of-mouth marketing and grow your business.
Getting Started On Yelp
The first step every business owner should take with Yelp is to activate its business page. The public can see and review your business profile whether or not you activate the page, so proactively filling out your business profile sends a clear message to previous and prospective clients that you care about your online and offline image. Be sure to complete all of the fields, including photos, descriptions, phone numbers and office hours, to create a solid profile. Including photos of coworkers and other employees will communicate a safe and inviting environment.
Many people research businesses online before calling or emailing. Meeting those visitors on Yelp with appropriate photos and information will give them a positive impression that you’re approachable.
Once your Yelp account is active, the real benefits can begin and you can start leveraging your online reviews.
Respond To Your Reviews
At some point, if you haven’t already, you will start to receive reviews. Some will be glowing testimonials of your professionalism and competence. Others may ask questions or express concern.
It is vital that you respond to all your reviewers. When positive reviews appear, take the time to send them a quick but sincere thanks.
If someone had a less-than-ideal experience, follow up with that individual and ensure that his or her concerns are addressed. In many cases, your follow-up will prompt your client to edit or add a new review, which may help your online image. Even if the negative review is not edited, potential clients viewing your response will understand that you are the type that will do everything you can to correct problems and ensure they do not happen to others.
Leverage Yelp Offline
Post a sign or sticker in your office letting clients know they can find and review you on Yelp. Many businesses periodically send out some sort of direct mail or newsletter. Add the Yelp logo to these mailings to encourage recipients to leave a review. You can also notify Yelp next time you host a community event or fundraiser. Posting these events online will spread your offline positive influence even further via the Web.
Display Your Positive Yelp Reviews
Framing awards, articles from local newspapers and other publicity items has long been a standard practice in lobbies. Doing the same for recent positive online reviews is no different. Viewing positive reviews of you will likely cause your clients to think of you in a warm light and will encourage them to also leave a glowing review online.
Refer Your Referrers
No advertising operates in a vacuum. Encourage clients to visit you on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media networks. Likewise, make sure those connected to your social media profiles know you are on Yelp. A simple “Check us out on Yelp” can encourage many clients to leave a review.
Live Up To Their Positive Reviews
Finally, and most importantly, you must continue providing excellent service. It is impossible to get away with sub-par service in today’s world. As you know, competition grows stronger every day. If you are not good at serving clients, the word will get out – through Yelp or other types of word-of-mouth. Positive reviews will follow naturally when you provide outstanding service.
Keep Your Review Practices Ethical
Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, purchase positive reviews. Yelp is very strict with its review policies, and suspicious reviews are flagged and dealt with regularly. Just as spamming Google and other search engines can lead to major penalties or even blacklisting, paying for or offering bribes for reviews on Yelp can be detrimental to your business.