As of the first quarter of 2014, over 85 percent of consumers in the United States indicated that they consult online reviews before making a decision about a product or a service. As the popularity of review sites increases, and the number of reviews available grows by the minute, the percentage of people who consult reviews prior to a transaction is bound to grow exponentially.
For local services and products, one of the most popular review sites is Yelp. As of the second quarter of 2014, Yelp had over 61 million reviews and over 138 million monthly unique visitors. The number of visits represents one-third of the total population of the United States.
If you are a small business, then chances are your customers will sooner or later review you on Yelp. Once your business gains momentum, your Yelp profile stands a great chance of becoming a direct or indirect lead originator.
As a business owner, you are probably hoping to know in more detail how exactly Yelp impacts your profitability. In a study conducted in 2011, under the sponsorship of Harvard Business School, Michael Luca tells us that a one-star difference represents in real terms an increased business volume of about 9 percent. Due to the rising level of engagement with review sites, the correlation between review site score and profitability is likely to be in a constant upward trend.
If you wish to take a data deep dive to better understand how Yelp is pointing business your way, then you have a few tools at your disposal within the Yelp for Business dashboard. Let’s explore a few to give you an idea of how you can leverage this information to improve the way you capture free leads originating on Yelp.
How to Access Your Yelp Dashboard
The first step to pinpoint Yelp-lead origination is to be in control of your Yelp profile. Once you have claimed your Yelp profile, you will be privy to a variety of tools that allow you to engage with customers and access data that shows you how customers interact with your Yelp profile. Note that claiming your profile on Yelp does not require payment. It is a free feature available to all businesses.
Metrics You Can Check from Your Yelp Profile
Mobile Check-ins: A mobile check-in equips Yelp members to alert other Yelp community members of their presence at the venue via social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.
How does a mobile check-in benefit your business? Among other things, a mobile check-in helps amplify your brand buzz on social channels and provides you with a means to identify your most loyal Yelp advocates.
How can your business increase with Yelp mobile check-in engagement? Encouraging mobile check-ins can be as simple as taking strategic advantage of the free collateral provided by Yelp to alert your customers of your Web presence on this popular review site. You can also encourage additional check-ins by loading a check-in offer. Loading a check-in offer comes at no cost to the business owner and allows you to have social reach within the network of the customer taking advantage of the offer.
Click-to-Call: This is another useful metric tracked by Yelp. It basically tells you how many people called by using the click-to-call button available in the Yelp mobile app.
Why does click-to-call matter to your local business? A click-to-call action is an indicator of engagement on the go. It tells you that people are looking for you while on the road and often in response to a location-based search. A click-to-call is a hot lead usually looking to engage with your business immediately.
How can you increase the value of your click-to-call engagements? The quick and easy is basically common sense. To increase the value of your click-to-call engagements, make sure someone is picking up your phone. A great number of hot leads are lost to neglected calls or calls handled unprofessionally. Establish phone-answering protocols and service-level agreements. Remember, every phone call counts as a hot lead.
User-Uploaded Photos: Your dashboard will also keep track of the number of photos uploaded by your customers. A media-rich profile is a good thing to have. Photos uploaded by your customers are generally good news.
Why is the photo-upload metric important to your business? Multi-sensory experiences are frequently tied to increased revenue. If your product or service is photo worthy, then you are doing something right. When a customer uploads a photo associated with your business, they are creating a window for the world to see a candid view of your offering.
How can you optimize and boost multimedia Yelp engagement? If you aspire to get additional photos and videos of your business, then set a backdrop that adds visual value. From the décor to the plating style, in the case of restaurants, every detail counts. As you work on the merchandising aspect of your shop, learn to view the experience through a camera lens. Additionally, make it a point to upload your own professional photos to provide potential customers with a best-foot-forward visual experience.
Clicks to Your Website: In addition to the metrics listed above, Yelp also lets you know how many Yelpers have clicked on the link that points to your website. Normally, a person clicking to your website has already scanned your reviews and score and is ready to interact further with your products and services.
Why is it important to know how many people are visiting your website? As previously mentioned, a click to website happens after a person has read a Yelp profile and needs additional information. Each click puts a potential customer closer to becoming a paid transaction. Tracking this metric speaks to the overall marketing health of your business.
What can you do to improve conversion once someone clicks? Once a Yelper lands on your page, it is your duty to serve a user experience that entices, invites, and informs. Creating a website that best represents your business and delivers complete information will for sure increase engagement and, consequently, conversion. Poor or incomplete website design is one of the main reasons a visitor coming from Yelp might decide not to patronage your business. Do what it takes to have a website experience that is visit worthy.
As always, your long-term goal in tracking your Yelp metrics is to consistently beat your performance for the prior period. Do what it takes to grow in quality and engagement level, and you will soon see your referral level increase to levels never seen before.