We’re not sure if it’s a great deal or not, but Yelp is now offering one free month of Yelp Ads when you sign up for a 12-month advertising package.
If you’re really “working” Yelp – updating your business profile; adding photos; earning good reviews, etc., – you might not need to commit to a year of Yelp advertising. You also need to evaluate if Yelp Advertising is worth it for your particular business niche. And, if you’ve never tried Yelp advertising before, perhaps you should give it a go for a couple of months before seeing if it’s worth blowing 12-months of an advertising budget with Yelp.
Here’s how Yelp Ads work:
Let’s say you own a local pizza restaurant and you sign up for Yelp Ads. Then, anytime a user conducts a search for “pizza restaurants” (inside of Yelp) your ad appears within the search results. This could be beneficial especially if your business listing isn’t appearing among the top search results in your local area.
In addition, if you’re running Yelp Ads, then all ads from other pizza competitors aren’t appearing in your Yelp Business Page or within your Yelp search results.
A 12-month advertising package also earns your business an “enhanced” profile that includes a photo slideshow and a customized call to action button. This can be helpful if you don’t have time to build a sophisticated widget and want something that stands out digitally.
Is Yelp desperate for more sales? Based in San Francisco, Yelp has fairly expensive overhead and a large call center to support and is expanding. Yelp is also publicly traded and required to make a profit for it’s shareholders. Their ads can be pricey compared to other advertising media you may want to evaluate. As always, look at your advertising and marketing expenses from all angles and by all means don’t fall for a high pressure sales tactic if you call and inquire. Also don’t over commit by throwing your entire marketing budget at Yelp if you call after worrying about one bad Yelp review. Budget your ad dollars across your entire marketing cycle and build up momentum and traffic across multiple digital channels.
If you’re curious, you can visit Yelp.com or call (1-844-202-8082) for more information. The 12-month advertising package offer expires March 31, 2016.
Many business owners spend a lot of energy and focus when it comes to earning five-star online reviews with Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and other online review websites.
Perhaps, the aggressive drive to a perfect pattern of reviews and online praise has created a few black eyes in the industry recently, including:
- Amazon has decided to file more than 1,000 lawsuits against Fivver individual accounts who have offered fake five-star reviews to Amazon vendors and Amazon hosted online retailers. So, the person “selling” the review is in trouble and not the Amazon vendor who is probably breaking Amazon’s terms of service by buying the reviews for products they sell within the Amazon platform?!
- The New York Attorney General has announced that it has cracked down on bogus customer reviews and has fined 19 companies for posting grand reviews while giving bad reviews to the competition.
- Some companies have a “gag clause” in their customer agreements. Weight loss marketer Roca Labs was recently shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for false claims and for its “gag clause” which threatened retaliation against any customer who bad-mouthed Roca Labs or its products.
Some businesses choose to ignore the entire online review process. Recently, we talked to a prospective client, who not only wanted hire us to delete a negative Yelp review, but they also wanted their entire Yelp profile removed (we explained that businesses can’t delete Yelp profiles; even if a business is marked as closed, the profile remains within Yelp).
Others, however, are purely interested in earning as many positive reviews as possible, but need to take heed and avoid these temptations:
- Never ask customers, relatives or friends for reviews. It’s “OK” to let them know you’re on Yelp or you’re trying to improve your online review profiles, but avoid asking for good reviews.
- Never buy reviews. Online review websites frown upon such practices and may hide your purchased reviews on your profile page (especially when the reviewer’s IP address is from Jacksonville, FL and the review claims your auto repair shop in Denver is the best in town). Yelp will place a consumer warning on your profile letting customers know they suspect many of your reviews were purchased which will quickly cast a cloud of doubt over all of your reviews.
- Never offer discounts or trade services or products for reviews. This leads to poor business practices and things can quickly go sour if someone feels they aren’t getting a fair shake in exchange for the review.
Approach the review process just like you should your business: be honest and ethical. If you receive a negative review, be polite, professional and apologize. Show you care about your business and your customers.
Many business owners – especially those who own and operate restaurants and hotels – may actually rely on the reviews left online by their customers.
Customers don’t want a bad experience or poor service. They really don’t. However, if they leave with a bad experience, they usually turn to Yelp or another online review website to share their opinions with the world.
As a business owner, you can learn from negative reviews, improve your online reviews and take steps to ensure better reviews and better communication with customers. Here’s how:
- Make sure you’ve claimed and confirmed your business profile with online review websites; business listing websites and mapping sites. These would include services such as Yelp, Google+ Local, Bing Local, Manta and others.
- Optimize your business profile with complete and accurate information. This includes correct address; telephone numbers; services and products offered; business hours; payment types accepted (including credit cards); photographs and videos. The more information you complete, the better your business will be ranked within the review website.
- Keep your profile updated. Add new pictures and videos on a regular basis.
- Respond to customers who leave reviews. Correspond with all customers through the review website. This shows other customers that you are grateful for good reviews and that you’re eager to solve any problems or poor customer experiences with your business. This goes a long way with potential new customers.
- It’s perfectly fine to ask regular customers; family or friends for a review. Tell them you’re trying to improve your business’ reviews and, if they are willing to leave your business a review, you would appreciate it.
- Never offer discounts or free services or food in exchange for good reviews.
For more information on earning better reviews, check out our course “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” on Udemy.com.