Knowing how to effectively reach customers online can be tricky, especially if you’re working on a limited (or non-existent) budget. You may spend time and money updating your website, trying to optimise your search engine results, or regularly updating your social media channels.
But one of the best ways to connect with existing and potential customers online is to optimise your business’ presence on review sites like Yelp. That’s because 78% of people turn to review sites like Yelp to find local businesses and review sites let businesses connect directly with customers for free. Nick Lembo, Yelp’s Australian Manager of Local Business Outreach, gave us his top 6 tips on how business owners can navigate the world of online reviews using a great example from Melbourne-based Square seller Mr Wow’s Emporium.
1. Get the basics right
Your top priority should be to claim your free business page. You can then edit your page to make sure basic information about your business is accurate—like your opening hours, website, address, and phone number.
2. Get your photos up
Yelp users stay 2.5 times longer on business pages with photos, so make sure to upload high-quality images that show off your business, products or services and happy staff. Your photos should tell a story, so make sure you’re including rich, descriptive shots as these are most helpful for customers.
3. Tell your story
In addition to basic info, some customers also want to know the story of your business. Take the chance to tell them about your business’ history and specialties. Including these details can also help improve your search results.
4. Get mobile ready
Almost 90% of Australians now own a smartphone and over 65% of searches on Yelp come from mobile devices. Most people are now finding information about businesses in real time, on their phones, so mobile should be one of your top considerations. Many review sites (Yelp included) have a specific app for business owners that send you real time notifications about how consumers engage with your page and let you respond to reviews from your mobile device. Take advantage.
5. Respond to reviews
It’s important to respond to online feedback the same way you would in person, and on Yelp you can respond to reviews publicly or privately. Private messages are great for thanking customers for positive feedback or getting more context to a less-than-positive review. Public messages (seen by everyone who views your page) can be your most powerful tool when used correctly. 78% of reviews on Yelp are 3 stars or more (out of 5), so you’re much more likely to be receiving good comments online. If you face a negative review, make sure to respond diplomatically, thank the reviewer for their feedback, state your policies if appropriate, and calmly flag any inaccuracies. If you find yourself getting upset, log out for 24 hours and cool off before responding.
6. Let people know where to find you online
Instead of directly asking for reviews, encourage customers to engage with your business by including links to your digital presence in your marketing materials. Letting people know where to find you online and giving great customer service will make sure your reviews grow organically, which is what consumers trust most. And don’t forget in-store signage – sometimes a simple visual reminder makes the biggest difference!
Ready to get started on Yelp? Claim your free business page today and make the most of promoting your business online.
Yelp is an app and website that connects people with great local businesses in over 31 international markets around the world. Yelp was founded in 2004 in San Francisco and launched in Australia in 2011. You can follow Nick Lembo on Twitter at @nicholaslembo.