Brick and mortar businesses in the service industry can no longer ignore the influence of Yelp in lead generation and reputation development. For many small to medium business owners, Yelp is a make-or-break environment that can either launch a business from obscurity into tremendous success, or put the business in a precarious position due to one or two highly negative and highly viral reviews.
In the past, we have discussed the importance of review volume as a means of growing the online presence of a business, but also as a tool to manage averages by drowning a bad review into obscurity. Regardless of the reasons a business wants to increase engagement on its Yelp pages, we feel that having the knowledge as to why some businesses are more successful than others will empower business owners and marketing agents into making the right decisions to accelerate the volume of reviews for their Yelp profile.
Let’s take a closer look at what drives Yelp review engagement, and why some businesses thrive while others languish and, in the worst of cases, are forced to close their doors.
Are the online profiles of a business completed, persuasive, and brand-representative?
First things first, if the competition is doing better than you, then take a look at the steps they are taking to be present and relevant in the review-website playfield. Businesses that take ownership of the full profile experience generally perform better and get more reviews than those that neglect their profiles and provide little to no information to potential customers.
If you have not yet claimed your Yelp profile, then what are you waiting for? A well-managed, media-rich, informative profile can produce a superior first impression and encourage shoppers to visit your business and, consequently, leave a review on Yelp.
Is the product or service worthy of a brag?
Businesses that thrive on Yelp and get many reviews have one thing in common: they deliver products and experiences people are proud to brag about. If what you sell or service is something customers would be embarrassed to be associated with, then chances are they won’t ever voice a review unless it is with the goal of complaining about their experience.
The very heart of having a great online reputation is rooted in doing things right by the customer. Focus on excellence and shape your strategy based on feedback, and before you know it, you will begin to see the reviews pour in.
Are there key differentiators that can help trigger reviews?
One thing that makes the reviews come in is having something unique that triggers a conversation. If you are the only restaurant in town with a carving station for brunch, then there is a good chance your guests will feel motivated to talk about it online. On the other hand, if your products or services are just a Xerox copy of the guy next door, then don’t expect much movement. Make yourself special and you will begin to see online conversations highlighting what makes your venue unique.
Is the business encouraging online engagement offline?
If a competitor is securing more reviews at a faster rate than you are, then consider the possibility that they are working toward fomenting a culture that is review conducive. Take advantage of offline tools and Web-based tools available to your business to increase recall in association with Yelp. This can be done by adding Yelp stickers to your business façade or including the Yelp widget on your website.
Consider running a Yelp Check-in Offer
By having customers directly engage with Yelp via an incentive, you are setting the stage for high recall and a distinct possibility that guests taking advantage of the offer will be inclined to leave a review in association with the offer, deal, or perk pushed via Yelp offers.
Is the business reciprocally engaging with customers by responding to reviews?
There is nothing more important and more review-conducive than setting the stage for dialogue. Your Yelp page should not be a cold place where dissatisfied customers head to leave a rant. Instead, your goal should be to frame your engagements in such a way that the environment is warm, solution driven, customer focused, and conversational. Make it a two-way street that welcomes new and old guests alike into a fun conversation that positions your business as a segment leader.
Is the business known to engage at a personal level with customers by having loyalty programs?
There is nothing better than a loyal customer as a means to get the conversation going. Customers that love and patronage your business are five times more likely to leave perfect five-star reviews. Give them plenty of reasons to talk about you by incentivizing their loyalty with programs that truly make them feel valued and encourage them to come again.
When you look at reviews on popular profiles, you will note a pattern where loyal customers are generally associated with five-star reviews that are very text rich. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Consider your loyal customers a gold mine when it comes to growing your review volume.
Is your venue location-based friendly?
We frequently hear complaints from users regarding connectivity from some venues. If your location has poor cellular coverage, then make sure you have great WiFi with free and easy access to your guests. The number of guests willing to engage in social platforms and write reviews on location continues to grow year after year. Create an environment that is technologically friendly, and you will be surprised as to the number of patrons that will have good words to say about you on the spot.
Consider your capacity
A final consideration when trying to figure out why the competition has more Yelp reviews is to gauge your own capacity versus theirs. If their volume and traffic are significantly higher than yours by virtue of the facility size, then take that into account when making your assessment of review velocity. You can only hope to secure reviews from a percentage of the total number of patrons you host. When looking at the speed at which you are adding reviews to your Yelp profile, make it a goal to continuously improve without stressing over what someone who is significantly larger is doing. Only compare yourself to organizations of similar size and business model as yours.
At the end of the day the best way to improve your online reputation is by making small smart moves daily toward delivering better experiences and products than the day month or quarter prior. Yes, you can compare yourself against competitors but business excellence is about doing the best that you can with what you have to grow your team, profits and product more and more each day.