An endless number of positive reviews on Yelp is one of the sweetest dreams a local business owner can have. Most of them do.
With statistics like the following, you know positive reviews make an impact that are well worth the effort:
Don't Ask for Reviews.
I know, sounds counterintuitive. But Yelp has a particular stance regarding business owners actively seeking reviews for their site. As expressed by the company:
"Most businesses only target happy customers when asking for reviews which leads to biased ratings, so the recommendation software actively tries to identify and not recommend reviews prompted or encouraged by the business."
And don't think Yelp takes it lightly. With their recommendation software, they aim to filter out iffy reviews and only tend to recommend an average of 72% of the reviews submitted. To get a better understanding of how the recommendation software works, check out the video below.
But should you even care about Yelp's policies?
The short answer is Yes.
The longer answer is that Yelp is very intent regarding businesses that buy reviews. They have been monitoring reviews manipulations with their Consumer Alert program since 2012.
When they notice a business violating their policies, the following Consumer Alert pop-up will appear on their Yelp page for all to see. Every time a user clicks on your Yelp listing, the pop-up will appear on their screen, and they will see your page only by closing the pop-up. The alert will remain for 90 days, and Yelp only removes it if the business stops its review solicitation practices.
I know that this piece of information can make any business owner head spin. Now don't get discouraged; remember the statistics above. The good news is that there are still some ways to encourage customers to write reviews without breaking Yelp's policies.
When you offer an excellent service/product with excellent customer service, it makes it more likely that a customer will want to leave a review. You should already be doing this not because you want positive reviews but because it's overall good business.
So take a step back and evaluate your customer service. Start going over your reviews and list out the areas your business needs some improvement.
Don't have enough reviews? Ask the customers that do business with you: "How was your experience here today?". Train your staff to pay attention to their response and to show that they care and are willing to listen.
Also, don't forget to reply to all of your reviews on Yelp. It's important to engage with all customers, not just the ones that are upset.
Did you know that 97% of people that read reviews also read the businesses' responses to reviews?
Answering them is the perfect opportunity for your potential customers to see that you want to improve your business and are willing to take in feedback.
When answering the reviews, be open to admitting your mistakes, apologize, and show that you want to solve the problem for your customer. Small actions, as such, will create a space where yelp users will feel welcomed and encouraged to write their reviews.
While Yelp policies establish that you can't explicitly ask a customer to give you a review, there is no rule against encouraging and saying: "Go check us out on Yelp."
This simple phrase creates awareness for your consumers. Maybe they will go into your Yelp listing and leave a review, or perhaps they won't. The likelihood for them to do so really comes down to our previous point: Good service = happy customers = more positive, 5-star reviews.
To further your efforts online, add a Yelp badge on your business website. Chances are curiosity will get the best of people and lead them to see what others are saying about your brand.
You can also add the Yelp "favicon" or link to your Yelp profile in your email signature or at the bottom of your business Newsletter.
Businesses have the opportunity to embed their Yelp reviews on their website. You can find this feature in Yelp for business owners and is an easy way to call attention to your profile from people that are already interested in your establishment.
After all, even if you don't get a new review from this effort, you will benefit from spreading a positive experience of a satisfied customer.
I have a soft spot for insightful reviews; I often end up relating to the Yelper. I must confess that reading reviews have pushed me into actually visiting a store and making a purchase. That's how a necklace I didn't need but charmingly matched my gold buckled belt ended up in my bedside table.
I find that it's not the same when someone is selling you a "gold calendar coin pendant on a thin gold chain, handmade from 14k gold plated and gold filled" than reading something like:
"I'm in love with my new necklace! The craftsmanship is excellent. I get so many compliments every time I wear it. I will definitely return to the store; the staff was super helpful and let me try on so many options. The only thing I'm not impressed with is the packaging, but I will be storing it in my jewelry box, so it's not that big of a deal for me."
See what I mean?
This feature works as an incentive for Yelp users to check-in when arriving at a brick and mortar. You can decide what type of free offer or discount you want to provide, and it will be visible in your profile under your business photos.
After checking in, the user will receive a notification with the Check-in Offer that they can redeem while in your establishment. Not only that, but after someone has checked in, proving that Yelp hasn't forsaken us, they will automatically receive an invite to leave a review for your business.
Yelp policies make it a tad complicated to get brand new and shiny yelp business reviews. But you can't deny their commitment to generating trustworthy content, and that it's a part of their ability to help businesses grow.
Want to dig deeper about growing your business on Yelp? Check out this post.
Keep in mind that a negative Yelp review is bound to happen; don't get discouraged, instead learn how to correctly answer them to make the most of it as you would with your positive reviews.
Overall these tips will help you foster reviews. Employing these best practices will raise awareness of your Yelp profile and ultimately drive engagement to your Yelp listing.
If you want to take your brand a step further, consider tapping into Yelp advertising. It may not directly provide reviews, but it will direct traffic to your profile, driving more people into your profile ergo increasing the chances of getting new reviews. It's essential to keep in mind that Yelp has the same policies for all listings, whether you are using their advertising tools or not.
Let Us Do The Heavy Lifting
At Gray Group International, We are a growth collective that helps rapidly scaling businesses implement scalable systems that drive more internal and external customers through a “WOW” worthy buyer and customer journey towards advocacy.
Our team of fearless risk-takers will create a marketing and promotional plan that is unique to your brand, from the web design to the personalized text message campaign. Together, we can explore new ways to reach prospective leads in the digital landscape.
Call us today for a complimentary consultation to learn about how we can help you reach your target audience, nurture leads, and grow your business with Yelp and other digital strategies. Let us do the heavy lifting while you propel your brand into a bright future.