How to Use Yelp for Your Local Marketing Campaigns

By: Jonathan Berthold
How to Use Yelp for Your Local Marketing Campaigns

If you’re not ‘Yelping’ yet, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon.

According to a brand new consumer survey prepared by Nielsen, it seems like Yelp is quickly becoming a powerful vehicle for local marketing campaigns. In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Yelp is a popular website that features user reviews for local businesses and restaurants. Of the 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 92% indicated that they made a purchase after visiting the site.

Powerful Yelp Statistics
Those are some impressive statistics….

Other compelling statistics extracted from the report include:

  • 74% of consumers actively seeking information about a local business will peruse online review websites on a monthly basis.
  • Yelp was the consensus favourite among survey respondents when it comes to local review websites.
  • 79% of Yelp users are actively looking for local establishments that they can visit more than once.
  • 55% of users will order food for pickup or delivery from local restaurants on Yelp after using the platform to find recommendations.

While these statistics are rather glowing in Yelp’s favour, one must exercise caution and take this report with a grain of salt, because the study was commissioned by Yelp. However, there’s no denying these review-type websites are essential ingredients in any digital marketing initiative for local businesses. Marketing professionals are quick to exhaust advertising budgets on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, but when it comes to identifying niche platforms that can yield optimal results, Yelp is often ignored or severely underutilized.

How Can You Use Yelp for Local Marketing?

If you’re a business owner and haven’t started using Yelp yet, here are some handy tips on how to effectively utilize the website to achieve your marketing objectives.

1. Claim Your Listing

As with any local marketing initiative, you must be proactive and claim your business listing or create a new profile from scratch. If you do not maintain control over your listing, issues can arise in the long-run, especially if inaccurate information is displayed on the public profile. Make an effort to clean up your business’ information on Yelp and optimize it for your niche audience. If you’re in the restaurant industry, chances are you’re heavily dependent upon public reviews and how your company is represented on this specific platform.

2. Optimize Your Business Information

This may seem pretty obvious, but companies tend to make the simple mistake of inputting inconsistent information on local listings around the web. When it comes to local SEO, search engines are actively scanning your profiles to ensure the name, address, and phone number are consistent across all platforms. Also, make sure to update your listing whenever updates arise. For example, if you alter your hours of operation, be sure to reflect that on your Yelp listing. Otherwise, you may receive harsh criticisms and acerbic feedback from dissatisfied users, making your business look bad in the public eye.

3. Engage with Users and Reply to Customer Reviews

As with all other platforms in the digital marketing environment, popularity plays a significant role with regards to how search results are determined. Listings that garner the most positive feedback and reviews will tend to rank well for relevant searches. However, businesses that have earned a negative reputation are likely to be buried within search results, resulting in little-to-no visibility for pertinent searches. Managing reviews on Yelp can be a burdensome activity on its own, and if you’re new to the platform, it may be difficult to determine where you need to begin. Listing managers have the ability to respond to a review either publicly or privately, which must be determined on a review-by-review basis. Adding a public comment to positive reviews indicates that your business values user feedback. Negative reviews, on the other hand, require far more delicate treatment and can snowball into a disaster if not attended to properly. If users are caustic and flagrantly bash your business, use the private messaging feature to deal with individual complaints. However, if misleading or inaccurate comments are posted, feel free to respond publicly to clear up any misunderstandings.

4. Upload Photos to Your Profile

If an image can say 1,000 words, then 20 photos must represent 20,000 words about your business. There’s no better storytelling than that, right?

When users are seeking out information on Yelp, they want to get an idea of what to expect should they visit your businesses. In the restaurant industry, photos and videos can help convert users because you are giving them a visual representation of appetizing meals. Visual assets can also assist businesses in the hospitality industry to paint an image of the idyllic vacation for intrigued users. Regardless of your target audience, take advantage of the photo upload feature for businesses to establish legitimacy with users and earn their trust. While past studies revealed that users will spend more time on average browsing listings containing photos, conventional wisdom should indicate that more multimedia assets available within your listing equals more opportunities to keep users engaged.

5. Promote Special Offers & Deals

How does Yelp monetize its platform? This is one of two methods in which the local marketing platform makes money. The Deals and Gift Certificates program allows businesses to promote special offers to users on Yelp. For a local restaurant, this could be a special voucher for a meal or a gift certificate to be used at a later date. While there are no upfront costs, Yelp will collect 30% of money spent on deals and 10% on gift certificates, making it an expensive, but potentially worthwhile, marketing endeavor.

6. Advertise on Yelp

Last but not least, Yelp’s advertising platform is the second way the business monetizes its traffic. The targeted local advertising solutions available within the platform can help propel your listing to the top of search results and ensure your brand name is shown on top competitor listings, giving you an opportunity to divert traffic away from other businesses. While feedback is certainly mixed with regards to the effectiveness of Yelp advertising, it can prove to be a worthwhile investment if you’re already generating excellent results organically. Rather than diving head first and allocating thousands of dollars into Yelp advertising, test the waters by spending a couple of hundred dollars to see if you can gain traction with this type of media buying campaign. If the results prove to be unsuccessful, focus your efforts on building your profile organically and cultivating reviews.

Now that you have a better understanding of the effectiveness of Yelp marketing, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and optimize your presence on this local marketing platform.