Do you know that every one-star rating change on Yelp can make a 5 to 9 percent difference in your sales?
That’s one of the results from a recent Harvard Business School study, which served to demonstrate yet again the increasing business impact of user-generated content on review sites like Yelp, Google Places / Google+ Local, and TripAdvisor, among many others.
Of course, by user-generated “content”, we don’t just mean the words that make an online review. It can also mean photos, which, according to a recent report on the Yelp blog, has the potential to influence where customers decide to spend their money.
The report aimed to quantify the impact of photos that appear on Yelp search results. Here’s what Yelp found: people searching Yelp for great local businesses spend 2.5 times more time on a business page with photos than on a page without photos.
This is why, apart from making sure that you regularly track online reviews, you should also work towards making your business page, social media profile, or business listing stand out as creatively as possible. One way to do so is by adding a great set of photos – of your products, services, management team, employees, storefront, interiors, specialties, popular items, etc. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Hire a pro. There are over 27 million reviews on Yelp – accompanied by millions of photos – and any number of them can show up now that the review website has included images in search results on Yelp.com and Yelp mobile apps.
Want to stand out and get your business page noticed? Hire a professional photographer who’ll be willing to work with you to achieve the most unique, accurate, and creative representation of your store or business location. Your 8-megapixel phone camera is pretty cool for the company’s Instagram feed, but in situations like this wherein the photos can actually make a direct and significant impact on your business, it’s best to hire a pro.
Prepare for the shoot. It’s a good idea to talk to your photographer before the shoot and strategize. Also, think about what kinds of images best reflect what your business is all about. If you run a restaurant, for example, then you might want to prepare a special recipe for generating mouth-watering food shots. If you manage a hotel, maybe you can schedule the shoot on a day when your classiest, cleanest, most awe-inspiring room (or suite) is available. And don’t forget to remind your employees to unleash extra-wide smiles in front of the camera!
Thank Yelpers who uploaded photos. You might not be aware of it until you’ve decided to monitor your online reviews, but the customers who’ve just walked in through your door and taken pictures of your business may be uploading these pictures immediately to an online review site. In fact, 50 percent of photos on Yelp are uploaded from Yelp’s mobile app.
This calls for a timely and proper response, like thanking the Yelpers who are already helping you out with adding photos to your business page. It’s a simple, friendly gesture that goes a long way in enhancing your relationship with Web-savvy customers. Who knows? It may even move them to write a positive review for you.
Use Yelp’s free business owner tools. Yelp has a bunch of free tools to help every business owner stand out. This includes a tool for uploading a bunch of photos of your business. If you like, you can even upload photos of products, services, or items around which you’ve built a special promo or deal. So, if you haven’t claimed your business listing on Yelp, now is the time to do so and take advantage. (Be sure to check out our how-to guides for claiming business listings on other review sites.)