For many businesses, there is very little strategy when it comes to Yelp beyond treating customers well, soliciting reviews whenever possible, and responding promptly to any complaints. These are sound practices, but Yelp does need a little more consideration.
Founded nearly 10 years ago, the review platform continues to be polarizing to small businesses, marketers, and consumers alike. In fact, you don't have to look any further than Yelp's own Yelp page to find an enormous number of mixed reviews offering insight into whether the social platform's existence has had a positive impact or negative impact for real businesses large and small.
What can't be argued, however, is that Yelp definitely HAS an impact. Because Yelp represents an important vehicle for many consumers when they are looking for a vendor to do business with, Yelp must matter to businesses. Here are the key ways Yelp impacts business, and what it ultimately means for you and your company.
1. Social Proof
Social proof is a psychological aspect of decision making, and is observed when people follow the actions and advice of other people whom they believe to be better informed than they themselves are. Social proof occurs via many mediums, one of which is customer reviews. When existing or past customers share their experiences with your company through a social platform like Yelp, they are laying the groundwork for future customers to make decisions based on perceived quality and competency of your organization. Positive, detailed reviews offer impetus to people considering whether or not to try your product or service.
2. Word of Mouth Referrals
A discussion of social proof naturally leads to discussing the impact that Word of Mouth has on how a company acquires new customers. We’ve talked about Word of Mouth Marketing before, and it plays a significant role in how Yelp affects small business. Yelp serves as an open platform for users to share their opinion on a business, good bad or otherwise. While old fashioned word of mouth activity was restricted to a geographic location, or direct interaction with past and existing customers, the rise of social media means that testimonials from customers will be considered by your target market the world over.
What sets the Yelp userbase apart from the userbases of other digital platforms is that they are often further along in the purchasing cycle. While someone may stumble across your website, blog, or Twitter account while doing general background research into a product or service, Yelp is often consulted when consumers are looking buy something specific, or engage in a particular service. Because of this, Yelp has a major impact on businesses because reviews on this platform are viewed at a critical point in a consumer's decision making process and can convert leads into revenue, or encourage an unconvinced prospect to keep searching.
Jason, for the team at Kendall Press