Too Many Florists Ignore Yelp – How To Use It To Increase Your Flower Sales
Too many florists ignore Yelp as a way to drive sales, usually for the same two reasons:
- Unlike other review platforms (Goolge Places, Facebook, etc.) they don't ever use Yelp directly themselves, so they assume nobody else does either.
- The have heard – or experienced – horror stories about negative reviews and choose not to deal with it.
Both of those things are understandble, but should be reconsidered.
Why Should Retail Florists Spend More Time On Their Yelp Reviews?
Florists are busy, and managing their Yelp listing is one more thing they don't really have time to do, but there are compelling reasons for investing a little time here:
Countless People See Yelp Reviews Without Even Realizing It
Do you ever use Yelp? Too many people in the flower business assume that because they never use the Yelp app, or go directly to Yelp.com their Yelp listing is meaningless.
But do you ever use Yahoo? Or Apple Maps or Siri on your iPhone? If so you, like millions of other people, are using Yelp without even realizing it.
It's a Great Opportunity To Reach New Customers and Increase Sales At Your Flower Shop
Are you as a retailer taking full advantage of Yelp to promote your flower shop? Probably not. The good news is that your competitors probably aren’t either - almost 90% of small businesses don’t.
Plus: smaller local businesses have a distinct advantage over larger national chains on Yelp, something of particular interest to flower shops.
Think about it - a channel that favors small independent vendors that is being ignored by your competitors. You need to act!
How Can Florists Use Yelp To Increase Sales?
Claim The Free Yelp Listing For Your Flower Shop
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 flower shop 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 flower 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 Yelp Reviews For Your Flower Shop
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 From Yelp
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 florists 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.
Yelp! Position on Advertising and Reviews
One of the concerns small business owners, including florists, have had about Yelp! involves paid advertising. Some small business owners believe that they have been pressured to but Yelp! ads, and been penalized with negative reviews if they did not.
Yelp denies these claims and has repeatedly stated that “conspiracies” about its operations have been thoroughly debunked by independent research. Yelp! also claims its automated review filter effectively weeds out trolls and fake reviews, creating a fair and unbiased picture of user consensus toward any particular business.
More recently they made the following statement:
Portland Press Herald
Conspiracy theorists have had their day in court on more than one occasion, but courts have repeatedly dismissed their lawsuits claiming that ratings and reviews on Yelp are somehow tied to advertising,” the company’s website says. “There’s no amount of money a business can pay to manipulate their reviews or rating, and Yelp doesn’t skew things in favor of advertisers or against businesses that don’t.”
This is not entirely true. Courts have not, strictly speaking, stated that Yelp! does not manipulate reviews based on advertising. Courts have instead declared that Yelp! is entirely allowed to manipulate reviews based on advertising. It is true that lawsuits have been dismissed, but not because the claims were proven to be untrue. Instead they were dismissed because legally Yelp! is free to manipulate reviews however it sees fit.
This also does not prove that Yelp! attempts to penalize non-advertisers. There are many claims of such practices, but no proof.
What it does confirm is that Yelp! is free, according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, to manipulate reviews as they see fit.
SFGate This means that Yelp! does indeed have the power to help a florist suffering from poor reviews improve their standing. For example positive reviews could be removed from the "Not Recommended" section, and negative reviews moved to it – improving the overall rating.
"As Yelp has the right to charge for legitimate advertising services, the (alleged) threat of economic harm ... is, at most, hard bargaining," and not extortion or unfair business practices, Judge Marsha Berzon said in Tuesday's 3-0 ruling.
Again – Yelp! claims that they do not do this, but they do legally have the power. Unfortunately it exposes florists that don't want to pay for advertising to the kind of "hard bargaining" tactics described by Judge Berzon, but it also gives florists with bad reviews with the opportunity to change them.