7 Ways to use Yelp for Small Business Marketing

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Yelp is a review site that was started in 2004 to help people find information on local businesses, since its inception it has grown by leaps and bounds. In addition to being a business review site, Yelp has information on events, special offers, business lists and is moving into the social networking arena with the ability to add friends and talk with other Yelpers. According to Yelp and Compete.com Yelp has tens of million of visitors a month and Yelpers have written over 9 million local reviews, over 85% of them rating a business 3 stars or higher.

As a business owner, Yelp is great way to build exposure, monitor public opinion of your brand, and research what your local community wants from a business in your industry. Yelp is free to use and post your business on, the only thing you need is time and a little ingenuity.

Let’s look at some ways you can use Yelp for your business marketing needs:

1. Join Yelp & Write Reviews (yelp.com)

Just like Facebook it is important to have a personal profile, be active in the community, and then grow from there.

  • Create a profile and keep your branding consistent with the profiles you have on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Youtube, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc.
  • Use the interests area to link to your website, blog, and other social profiles
  • Start reviewing your favorite businesses, be honest and fair, your reviews should create value for the readers.
  • Review new businesses you come into contact with, be honest but try not to be too complimentary or too harsh – that could come back on you in a negative way.
  • Let businesses know when you review them, if they do not see it and respond to your review, then bring it to the business’ attention. If your target market is the other businesses this may open a door for you that was previously closed and help you gain more clients.

2. Put your Business Profile on Yelp (biz.yelp.com)

After you have your profile up then you should create a profile for your business. It is best to have your business profile attached to an active Yelp profile, this shows visitors that you are an active participant on Yelp and that you will be there to see their review.

  • Keep track of your reviews
  • Respond back to the reviewers
  • Add recommendations of other businesses to your clients

3. Post Discounts and Announcements

Yelp sends out a weekly email news blast to their users, by posting a company announcement, great discount, and/or an event you have an opportunity of being included in their newsletter and/or on the Yelp site itself. Your discounts may pop up on the users profile pages if they are in your area.

  • Discounts should be significant, unique, and specifically targeted at Yelpers.
  • Post announcements for company anniversaries, press releases, media pieces, expansion, etc.
  • If you are hosting an event or attending an event Yelp gives you 140 characters to announce it. Give it a catchy title, a little grabber sentence and shortened url to get more information.

4. Ask for Reviews from your Clients

In February 2010, according to Compete.com Yelp had 24.4 million unique visitors and 47.4 million visitors overall. When you get a  review on Yelp this gives your business a nice front page link on the search engines.

  • Add your Yelp business listing to your email signature.
  • Ask for reviews from your email database in your email newsletter.
  • Ask for reviews from your clients (best time to get a good review is during the transaction!).
  • Let people in your online communities know that you have a business profile on Yelp that will encourage them to connect and possibly give you a review.
  • Put your Yelp business profile on your website and blog.

4. Build a Network on Yelp

Yelp is a review site but is also a social community and you can build a large influential community on Yelp that will help grow your brand and get exposure for your business.

  • Look at who is reviewing local businesses and ask them to become a “friend”.
  • Look in the talk area to find the most active Yelpers near you, talk to and friend them.
  • Send a compliment when you see a great review. At the bottom of the reviewer’s review there is a button that will let you send a variety of compliment messages.

5. Create Events on Yelp (yelp.com/events)

Yelp has an events section that will give a full page to an event that you post from your personal profile. This is not available in all cities but it is growing and will hopefully be everywhere soon.

  • Add events you are hosting
  • Add events you are sponsoring, contributing to, speaking at, and/or exhibiting at
  • Add events that you are attending

6. Use the updated iPhone App to Check-In

Yelp has updated their iPhone app to allow you to check in like the users of Foursquare, Gowalla, and Whrrl. Yelp is hoping to capitalize on the popularity of these location based services/communities with their own check-in feature. It is surprising that they did not do this sooner but at least they are getting up to speed now. They just need to make this available through their mobile site and Droid app.

  • Check-in to your business to bring exposure to it
  • Check-in when you are out and about, it only takes a minute but will build ongoing and far reaching exposure within the Yelp community

7. Link Your Yelps with your Twitter and Facebook Profiles

Yelp will now let you tweet and update Facebook when you post a Yelp review, this will get you more visibility on and off Yelp. You probably have some Yelpers in your online communities – the trick is finding them, so let people know you are there and active.

With these seven steps you will be able to get some great visibility for your brand and business.

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About Author

Bridget is President of The Get Smart Web Consulting Group, a web presence and digital strategy firm with offices in San Diego County California and Collier County Florida. But more importantly she is a web, tech, and Twitter addict!