As many Americans continue to wonder why phone books are still produced and distributed, Yelp is taking over the digital world of business information.  Consumers still need daily access to the content in a phone book, but now they can instantly access that basic material along with trusted reviews on the go from nearly any location.  With 11 million monthly smartphone users in the US, the Yelp app has become a consumer’s most dependable mobile resource when making purchasing decisions.

According to a Nielson study, 85% of consumers find information for local businesses online while 70% find online reviews and advice at least somewhat trustworthy.  Considering that the purpose of Yelp is “To connect people with great local businesses,” these figures provide a huge incentive for local businesses to try to get their customers to review them on the app.

Because Yelp is becoming so common among smartphone users, the app has the potential to make or break a local business.  Since 96% of Yelp users use the app solely for ratings and reviews, it is essential that a local business have two goals when it comes to Yelp: maximize the volume of reviews and make sure the reviews are positive.

So, how can businesses create more positive reviews?

Sometimes consumers – and people in general – simply have to be reminded to do something.  Posting signs at store location to let customers know they can find the business on Yelp is an easy and effective way to increase Yelp reviews.

Another way to encourage customers to rate a business that takes a little more time and effort is to create a free Yelp business account.  After the account is set up, the company needs to garner a few reviews before it can access the Yelp badge embed code to put onto its website.  Once the badge is on the website, visitors will be able to see Yelp reviews directly from the website and can click a link that directs to the company’s Yelp page.

There is also an option for businesses to create Yelp Deals and gift certificates that are available for customers to buy directly on a company’s Yelp page.  There is no up front fee, but Yelp will keep 30% of each Deal sold and 10% of each gift certificate.

Small businesses looking for a different social media channel to engage customers should definitely consider Yelp because of the influence it has on the public.  Consumers have so much faith in it that 99% of Yelp users have made at least one purchase after using the app.

 

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