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Yelp Marketing for Small Businesses

Love it or hate it, Yelp has the power to bring you sales and is not going anywhere. Some small business owners choose to simply ignore Yelp but others have learned how to correctly market and engage customers on this powerful review site and enjoy the increased sales. Even though some small business owners think Yelp only exists so customers can complain about their business, the true goal is to connect people with amazing restaurants and other businesses such as retail stores.

Yelp now has over 31 million visitors a month and is among the top 15 visited websites in the United States today. It also boasts the perfect demographic for any business, 18-34 year old people that make over $60K a year. We hope your image of this site is starting to change. What is also interesting to note is most people do not visit Yelp to leave reviews, but rather to find businesses to spend their money with.

Contrary to public belief, most reviews are NOT negative. 85% of reviews on the site are positive and this means 3 stars and up. This variety should reflect what you would find if you polled your own customers in store. As you know you can’t please 100% of customers 100% of the time. This goes for any product, any business, in any market. People expect to see some negative reviews. If a business only had 5 star reviews from users with limited posts, wouldn’t your BS detector go off? Would that lead to a transaction?

Top 10 Ways to Utilize Yelp.com

1 – Fill out information on your business page. Add photos, business information, hours, website and contact info.
2 – Use your profile listing to list your new specials, sales or offers. Listings that are constantly updated will have increased page views and more offline sales.
3 – Yelp gives you the opportunity to recommend other like minded businesses at the end of your profile. Share your favorite businesses as well to increase community on the site and build networking relationships in your city.
4 – Negative reviews will happen. What you do with them next makes all the difference. You can respond in public on the forum or privately through the message feature. Just as would happen in your business, a negative customer experience presents the opportunity to turn into a positive experience and a customer for life. Negative reviews are often changed by users when you proactively approach the situation and offer a solution. Public responses benefit more from other users seeing a business owner who cares and is working to constantly improve their business.
5 – Keep a level head. Just as you do in your business, remain calm and handle negative reviews as a professional. Get a bad review? Deal with it once and move on. Don’t let a single review make or break your business.
6 – While it may seem like a good idea, don’t solicit reviews from your customers. Yelp has some pretty sophisticated filter’s running that ghost out exceptionally good and bad reviews from new users.
7 – Like any business, the most successful ones focus on amazing customer service. Do this on Yelp also and allow word of mouth to be the best method for great new customers.
8 – The average Yelp user visits only 3 listings before making a decision that results in an offline transaction. Having your Yelp listing optimized and being active on the site will result in more sales.
9 – Take advantage of free resources at www.biz.yelp.com. The worse that could happen is you will gain new customers.
10 – Cross promote your Facebook fan page and Yelp listing to gain new traffic to each.

As with anything you have a couple options. Use Yelp as a free tool to drive real sales to your business and take customers away from your competition or do nothing. With how many daily visitors this site receives that wants to spend money, it seems like an easy choice to us.

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