How to Use Yelp to Get More Customers and Boost Profits

A good rating or review can increase revenue. Here’s how to milk Yelp for all it’s worth.
Learn how to get maximize yelp to get positive reviews for your small business.(Photo: John Fischer/Flicker)

Yelp, launched in 2004, is still the category leader of online reviews of small businesses. Having positive ratings and reviews is critical to getting new customers through the door.

In fact, one extra star translates to a 5 percent to 9 percent increase in revenue according to a study by Michael Luca, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School.

“A 5 percent increase in revenue can be significant for a small restaurant,” said Joe Welsh, a partner with Core Restaurant Marketing.

Make sure your business has a photo, and consider a cling

Yelp reports that people searching Yelp spend two and a half times as much time on businesses page with photos compared to ones without. Take pictures of your food, menus, décor — whatever you think will attract customers.

Ordering and displaying a Yelp window cling can remind customers to rate your business and write a review.

Use the Yelp app

“We launched the app because we noticed that business owners were increasingly managing their businesses on the go,” explained Darnell Holloway, director of local business outreach at Yelp. The Yelp for Business Owners app is available in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

Try direct messaging

Want to build a relationship with customers? Owners can use either the app or the desktop version of Yelp to respond to reviews with a private message, in addition to leaving a public comment.

Owners can also turn on direct messaging for consumers, who can contact the business with the click of a button. For services businesses, the button can take on the form of Request a Quote.

Create a check-in offer or deal

Check-in offers entitle customers to a percentage off, discounted price or free item when they “check in” via the Yelp app. These are free to create and can be redeemed via your POS system.

Another way to attract customers via Yelp is a Yelp deal (such as $20 for $40) or gift certificate. These are prepaid vouchers. When customers buy your deal or gift certificate, Yelp collects payment from the purchaser and retains a share of the purchase (30 percent for deals, 10 percent for gift certificates). The remainder is paid to you each month.

Check-in offers, deals and gifts certificates can be managed via the Yelp for Business Owners mobile app or the Yelp Business Dashboard.

Use your loyalty program to prompt reviews

Do you use your POS to drive a customer loyalty program? Use that loyalty program to request a review.

For instance, after a customer redeems or pays for services with a loyalty card, the POS system can trigger an email or text message thanking the customer for the purchase — and reminding them to leave a review on Yelp or other review sites (include links to the sites).

Also include a “please review us” call to action on your website and in your emails.

Share your reviews across social media channels

A Yelp feature allows business owners to share their reviews on Facebook and Twitter. When you get a great review, spread the word to amplify its impact.

Give above-average service

Outstanding service still rules. According to Holloway, data collected from Yelp’s engineering team indicates reviews with the keywords “good service” are five times more likely to be five-star reviews.

As part of good customer service, respond to reviews, and not just the negative ones. Though not all experts agree, Will Balcazar, owner of hospitality consulting and events company Balcazar Group, feels the best establishments follow up on all reviews as a way to demonstrate loyalty and personalization. “Having a consumer feel like they were heard could resolve many issues,” said Balcazar.

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