Yelp Marketing for Small Business Owners

yelp-395As more businesses begin to realize the significance of online marketing in today’s economy, it becomes increasingly clear that the fast growing social review site, Yelp, cannot be ignored. Yelp can help a small business gain a foothold in a competitive online world by providing business owners direct access to their customers. This marketplace of opinions can help a business gauge customer sentiment and allows a business owner to interact on a one-to-one basis, addressing their customer’s needs and concerns. By using Yelp, a business can find out what customers are saying about their service. Additionally, a business owner can easily track trends, helping them to modify their service to better serve their client base. In order to succeed with Yelp, a business owner must first be willing to routinely spend the time updating, and responding to both good and bad reviews. It’s all a matter of joining the conversation.

Many business owners are hesitant about joining Yelp because they fear that bad reviews can hurt their business. However, one does not need to add their business in order to be featured on Yelp. Virtually anyone can add any business and can begin reviewing it. Chances are that your business might already be featured and several people have already expressed their views about your service. It is absolutely necessary to take the first step and claim your business as the business owner. This will allow you to join the conversation, helping you to quickly address both the bad and good reviews. Being proactive in your approach will allow you some control in what is being said.

Responding to a Bad Yelp Review

It is often difficult for a business owner to separate their personal feelings from business as their business is often regarded to as their “baby;” reading a bad review can hurt. One’s natural inclination is to defend the company. Taking a defensive approach will only hurt your reputation by making you look out of touch, and will likely earn your company additional bad reviews. The only real solution is to be honest and transparent in your online marketing efforts. If you have screwed up, and a passionate reviewer brings it to your attention with a bad review, rather than taking offense, try admitting your mistake. Then, assure the reviewer that you are doing everything possible to prevent the mistake from ever happening again. You will often be surprised by the response. The bad reviewer may see your honesty and may change the bad review, and you may impress future visitors who will be amazed that the owner cares so much by taking the time to participate. Remember to also include those who have sent you good reviews in your response. If a visitor is very happy with your service and writes an extraordinary review, be sure they come back to visit you. For example, consider offering them a group discount on their next visit. This way, you can be sure that they will bring their friends and more potential positive reviews. Also, remember to add them to your friend list in order to populate your account with happy and satisfied customers.

Become an Active Member of the Yelp Community

In order to get more exposure for your company on Yelp, become a valuable community member. Be sure to participate by routinely reviewing other businesses. Be clear and honest in your review without being mean or overly friendly. Be sure each review you post is useful and informative. This will benefit you in the long run when the community begins to see you as an authoritative figure, helping attract visibility to your page and more positive reviews.

Integrate Your Marketing Efforts

In order to get the most momentum with your Yelp account, be sure to integrate your online efforts. Link your social media profiles, like Facebook and Twitter, to Yelp; doing so will make sure each of your posts will get the most visibility. Include a link on your website and email signature and tell your clients about your Yelp page. Focus on those who have had a positive experience with you, but do not solicit a review as Yelp discourages this practice. Yelp will routinely filter reviews that have the telltale signs of having been solicited. This includes glowing reviews by members with incomplete profiles, good reviews from members with little to no history of reviews, and good reviews posted all in a short period of time. For this reason, it is best to first target your clients with existing Yelp accounts. Search for existing clients who are already Yelp members and request to join their friend network. Then, you can send them a friendly message asking them to visit your company profile, while avoiding soliciting directly for a review.

Post Offers and Announcements

Special rates and discounts are a great way to gain attention. Posting special rates and announcements of company anniversaries, press releases, media spots, etc. will also improve your chances of getting found locally, while also improving your chances of being featured locally in Yelp’s monthly newsletter. If you have integrated your social media accounts, each announcement has the potential of being seen by a large number of people.

Developing an entire Yelp or other social media campaign can be beneficial to any company in today’s market. It can help you grow and expand your business in a way that traditional marketing never could. Be sure you are working with a knowledgeable integrated marketing company to ensure that your online efforts pertain to your long-term business goals. A marketing strategy that provides you with greater access to your clients, while focusing on your long-term goals, will ensure that your business continues to grow online, without sacrificing your brand. Call Incitrio Branding & Marketing Agency today to set up a free consultation about your online marketing efforts. We can help you develop the perfect strategy for online growth.

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