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It’s hard to believe that Yelp has turned 10 years old.

With a little over 2,000 employees and over 57 million business reviews, Yelp has become the go-to website for individuals searching for referrals, endorsements, and unsolicited reviews for services at a local level.

For brick and mortar businesses of small to medium size, Yelp exerts tremendous influence on the way consumers decide to funnel their dollars for services such as restaurants, contractors, health facilities, medical care, mechanics, hair salons, spas, auto dealerships, and many more categories. As Yelp grows, it will continue to be a key player as a lead generator and reputation development website. Small businesses should not underestimate the influence of Yelp in drafting their review, social media, and reputation management strategies.

What you do today in terms of managing your reviews, review responses, and customer-centric product development will influence your business reputation in the years to come. Here are three reasons why you need to stay on top of Yelp to give your company a competitive edge in the local market:

Free Additional Revenue

In 2013, a study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group surveyed over 4,000 businesses and found that, on average, a business which has claimed its free Yelp profile receives an increase in annual revenue of about $8000.

By failing to manage Yelp profiles, many businesses are leaving money on the table. While there is a great deal of controversy associated with the algorithm-based moderation of reviews, Yelp remains highly popular among consumers and it should not be discounted. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Nielsen found Yelp to be the most influential, trustworthy, and highest quality review website, as compared to similar websites such as TripAdvisor and Angie’s List.

Free Customer Insights

With many businesses receiving Yelp reviews on a daily basis, Yelp has become an endless goldmine for business intelligence and insights. With ingenuity and the right review analysis platform, small businesses should be able to make strategic revisions in real-time and gain a better understanding of the products and services that drive revenues, as well as identify the pain points and areas in need of improvement. Maintaining historical data on how your customers interact with your business during various business cycles, such as high and low season, will help you optimize your processes and, in turn, improve your online reputation as your overall delivery becomes better aligned with the customer’s expectations.

Direct Engagement at No Cost

Reputation management is not passive. Knowing what your customer thinks about you is just the first part of the equation. In fact, if it were simply about knowing the needs and wants of your segment an old-fashioned survey would suffice.

Yelp provides business owners the advantage of direct engagement and customer interaction. (See also: “Attention, Biz Owners: Did You Just Receive a Message from a Yelper?”) By joining the conversation at a more personal level, businesses are able to voice appreciation, make amends, and provide background information to provide reviewers with the other side of the story. With no other investment than time and dedication to the customer, small businesses can gain ground, increase their popularity, and improve their SEO by simply engaging with and responding to reviewers. Responding to reviews is the thoughtful process of prioritizing the voice and needs of the customer.

While Yelp began when one of its founders was having challenges locating references for a medical doctor, the website has expanded to cover all manner of businesses. The diversity, inclusiveness, and the popularity of Yelp (over 100 million visitors each month) make it a great starting point to begin your review management strategy.

If you’re looking for a great tool to help you monitor Yelp reviews as well as reviews from major review sites, give ReviewTrackers a try. Our software platform is designed to serve the needs of business owners in multiple sectors and industries. Sign up for a free trial today and discover why customers love ReviewTrackers!

Chris Campbell

Chris is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.

Discussion

  1. Holl

    Nice article, Migs. Yelp is a stress point for most restaurants, but as you’ve pointed out, there are ways to make it work for you.

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