I feel compelled to Yelp! I was in New York City on a family vacation this past week and I regularly used Yelp to find restaurants, open museums, directions and even shoe stores (I desperately needed new shoes when my feet started to yelp ) As a consumer this Social Media service was immensely useful in migrating through all the choices available in the Big Apple; but as a business owner I see even greater benefits for marketing and customer service.
Yelp started in major cities, primarily focused around customer ratings for local restaurants, cafes and bars. It has organically grown both in geographic breadth (many smaller cities and regions are now in the network) and in industry depth (stores, churches, even financial institutions, are now represented). The handy Yelp mobile app allows any user to read or yelp, anytime, anywhere. No wonder there were 33 million yelps in June alone!
For great, local small businesses catering to consumers, this free Social Media network can help throughout the entire customer buy cycle:
- Awareness/Information Search – More and more consumers are reaching to Yelp to find new products and services in their area. Quantcast documents the latest Yelp audience profile at split men/women, ages 18-49, college educated and middle upper income. Think of Yelp as that perfect click-through ad getting customers to come directly to your door.
- Evaluation of Alternatives – Yelp is set up to show off your competitive advantage versus other local choices. Let your loyal customer base know that you love Yelp reviews via your newsletters and in-store signs, and they are more likely to add positive reviews to boost your ranking.
- Purchase Decision – You can easily post limited time offers and special events to close more sales.
- Post-purchase/Customer Service – Yelp is one of the easiest, cheapest and quickest ways to get feedback on your products and services, usually right at the time of “consumption” when opinions are most clear, and valuable.
Your Next Best Three Steps:
- Proactively Set Up a Yelp Business Page. Use the tool to market your business by adding photos, writing detailed descriptions of products/services, and sharing those personal stories that make your business special. Yelp yourself to get a feel for the service and to recommend some of your favorite local businesses.
- Regularly Monitor your Customer Yelps. As with all things Social Media, rather than cringing at the thought of nasty customer comments, embrace the fact that you now have a broad reaching (and free) customer service tool that allows you to communicate with customers and quickly respond to their suggestions. Feedback yelped is always better than feedback whispered.
- Yelp the Word Out. Track the frequency and timing of page views. Design special offers and events around times where you want to build more traffic or take advantage of holidays.
Has Yelp impacted your business? Share your experience in the Comments section below.