Do you ever use Yelp? If not, do you ever use Apple Maps or Siri on your iPhone? If so you, like millions of other people, are using Yelp without even realizing it.
It really hit me at the SAF Annual Convention in Phoenix this past September. I needed to find both a dry cleaner and a florist near my hotel and, in each case, I used the Apple Maps app on my iPhone. Presented with a number of different choices I went with the ones that had the best ratings. Those ratings come from Yelp.
The statistics are exciting. Contrary to popular opinion shopping is now the most popular category on Yelp having surpassed restaurants more than two years ago. Yelp also favors small independent businesses over chains, and research shows that each star in a Yelp review can lead to a 5%-9% jump in revenues.
Are you as a retailer taking full advantage of Yelp? Probably not. The good news is that your competitors probably aren’t either - almost 90% of small businesses don’t. Think about it - a channel that favors small independent vendors that is being ignored by your competitors. You need to act!
Claim Your Yelp Listing
The first step is to claim your business. This involves going to the Yelp website finding your business among the existing listings and clicking the “Claim this Business” button. The process is designed to establish you as the owner of the business and give you control of the listing.
Check For Duplicates
If you aren’t actively managing your business listing there is a good chance that duplicates have been created. More listings for your store might seem like a good thing but duplicate listings are bad – dividing your reviews, confusing your customers and potentially damaging your search performance.
This is not a one-time thing - duplicate listings can be created at any time so checking for them needs to be part of the ongoing management of your Yelp listing.
When you find duplicates you need to request that Yelp remove them. Go to www.yelp.com/contact, select “Duplicate business listing” from the pulldown and follow the prompts to inform Yelp. Be patient - it will probably take 1-2 weeks at best. Another good reason to stay on top of duplicates.
Keep an eye on other listings in your area too. The same section of their website includes an option to report on an “Out of date business listing”. Flower shops do close so do your part to keep out-of-business shops from cluttering the listings.
Manage Your Listing
Claiming your listing gave you the ability to manage it. Reviews are a big part of Yelp but you also get to promote your business. You should, at the very least, include the following:
Address (including neighborhood, ZIP, & map details)
Hours of Operation
*Yelp organizes florists under Businesses > Shopping > Flowers & Gifts. There they have three different possibilities including Cards & Stationary, Florists, Gift Shops. Some florists also list under:
Businesses > Event Planning & Services > Wedding Planning
Businesses > Event Planning & Services > Party & Event Planning
You also get to promote your business in the “About This Business” section. When you fill this out think about the people that relay on Yelp. They’re probably interested in reviews so use the “Social Proof” approach with text like “San Diego’s favorite florist”.
When creating your description you are probably going to make some claims. It’s tempting to load up with every adjective you can think of but recent research shows that three claims is the perfect number. Any more or less creates skepticism, resistance and is much less effective. Avoid contradiction too - you have only a brief chance to persuade the customer and a mixed message like “affordable, exclusive high-end” can make some scratch their head and move on to a listing that just makes more sense.
You can also request notifications each time a review is posted. Do it - it is an important part of managing your listing.
Research shows that people spend more than twice as long on a business page with photos and you deal with product that is prized for its beauty. Take full advantage of that!
Great Customer Service Is The Best Way To Get Good Reviews (and Avoid Bad Ones)
Yelp’s own research shows that service plays the single biggest part in reviews - just look at how often bad reviews include the word “rude”. This goes for all businesses but it’s even more important with flowers because so often the customer will never even get to see how beautiful they are - the service you provide and the charge on their credit is really their entire experience.
The question “how did you find us” has never been more important. People who found you on Yelp are far more likely to be engaged Yelp users who will be more inclined to post reviews - positive or negative.
Getting Good Reviews
Yelp discourages asking for reviews and have a whole policy on the subject. It is a little cute - they don’t want you asking for reviews - they want you driving people back to the Yelp website.
Use your judgement. If someone specifically mentions that they found you on Yelp there is a good change they are registered Yelp user that values the service. Probably no harm in saying something like “those reviews are just so helpful to us and we are so grateful when our customers post them”.
Never, ever pay for reviews. Yelp will put a very embarrassing and damaging banner over your listing. You don’t want that. Yelp also discourages merchants from rewarding positive reviews with gifts, invites, etc. although thank-you messages are fine.
Removing Bad Reviews
If someone posts a bad review don’t expect Yelp to help. Even if you believe it was unfair or unjustified negative reviews play an important part in their service and they are unlikely to intervene.
Yelp does offer tools to help you resolve things on your own, providing a way to contact the reviewer (and hopefully resolve the issue) privately. Consumers can choose to remove their reviews.
You can also respond publicly and your comments will be seen alongside the original review. The general consensus here is that the merchant never wins in an online war (more people relate to the customer that the merchant) so take a deep breath, stay classy & polite, show you are listening and never attack.
Ultimately your best protection is to have more good reviews than bad so focus on habits that create an ongoing stream of positive feedback. The bad reviews will happen on their own.
Removing False Reviews
False reviews are different from bad reviews. Typically a false review would be a very critical review you believe was posted by a competitor. Go to www.yelp.com/contact, select “Questionable Content” from the pull down and complete the steps.
Yelp also offers paid advertising options and... opinions vary. While you should definitely take full advantage of Yelp by managing your listing their paid advertising is expensive and needs to be considered carefully.
Paid advertising on Yelp is also somewhat controversial because there have long been rumors sales reps promising to remove or push down negative reviews. While some aggressive reps may have insinuated they could (or even tried to) manipulate reviews on their own in order to help close sales Yelp as a company insists this is not their policy.