Online reviews have been shown to influence 67.7 percent of purchasing decisions, according to Moz.
- 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (Bright Local data)
- 74 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
While there are several platforms you could be looking at, Yelp is definitely one of the most effective marketing spaces online with 142 million unique users per month. According to the Nielsen study for Yelp, 82 percent of Yelp users claimed that they typically visit Yelp when they intend to buy a product or service, which means that every one star increase in a Yelp rating means a 5–9 percent increase in revenue. The hugely popular platform enables people to search for local businesses based on customer ratings and reviews. As a restaurant owner, you can use Yelp to showcase your food and services, and connect with potential customers in your local area, as detailed below.
Free Services: Claim Your Yelp Business Page
By claiming your business page, you will be able to upload photos, add a link to your website, offer exclusive deals, respond to customer reviews, and increase the reach and visibility of your restaurant.
Update Your Business Information: Ensure that you have provided the correct and latest information, including the name, address, phone number, and hours of operation about your restaurant. Provide all information that you feel may be useful to your potential customers. Updating your business information is also important from an SEO perspective. It enables search engines to easily find and return the correct information about your restaurant when people search about restaurants in your area.
Showcase the best of your business: As on all other platforms, good quality photos generate more interest than any other kind of content. Showcase photos of menu items or daily specials or even the interiors of your restaurant to attract potential customers.
Read and Respond to Customer Reviews: We cannot stress enough the importance of replying to reviews or reaching out to your customers. Replying to both positive and negative reviews is essential to show your customers that you value their opinion and that you as a business would take steps to rectify any issues that the customer might point out. On Yelp, you can respond to customer reviews via private message, or by posting a public comment that everyone can see. It is advisable to use the private message function when responding to someone who has left a negative review. Public comments should ideally be used for thanking a customer for a positive review. Yelp does not allow you to remove or edit a negative review, so you should double-check your response before hitting send.
Yelp provides a check-in button to businesses on the platform. When a user checks-in to a restaurant on Yelp, other users who are their friends can see this on their feed. This generates an interest among other users, and may encourage them to visit the venue.
Updated Menu: You can link your website menu directly so that your prospective customers can see you menu directly from Yelp.
Track Analytics: Yelp provides detailed analytics in the admin console. You can use it to track the traffic on your business page or learn how customers are interacting with your business and even to measure your revenue.
Pay As You Use Services
Offer Special Deals and Gift Certificates
You can offer exclusive deals and gift certificates on your restaurant’s Yelp page to attract customers. Yelp Deals are prepaid vouchers. You create the offer and can remove the deal or gift certificate from your business page at any time.
Yelp Deals: Are basically discount coupons or vouchers. For instance, a customer can buy a coupon at $80, which can be redeemed for purchases worth $100 at your store.
When customers buy your deal, Yelp collects payment from the purchaser. After deducting a standard charge, which is 30 percent for deals, it transfers the remaining amount collected from such purchases to your account every month.
Gift Certificates: On Yelp they are much like any other gift certificate, for instance those on Amazon. A customer purchasing a $100 gift certificate on your Yelp page can buy food worth $100 from your restaurant. They are usually used as a gifting option. Yelp takes only 10 percent of the sale from gift certificates, and returns the remaining amount to you.
Yelp Cash Back program
Yelp Cash Back program allows users to get up to 10 percent cash back on any purchases made from businesses participating in this program. Thousands of businesses are participating in the program to attract customers looking for a discount.
Yelp Cash Back is transaction-based, which means you don’t pay until a customer has purchased from you. Customers searching for businesses who offer Cash Back will be directed to your restaurant if you have opted for the program. Customers pay in full at your business through their linked card and get up to 10 percent cash back. You pay a small fee at the end of the month for the actual sales brought in from the program.
Yelp Ordering Platform
Your customers can now order food or make reservations directly on Yelp or through third party partners. Yelp's Transaction Platform is currently only available in the U.S.
Apart from Yelp Reservations and Yelp Nowait, the platform has also tied up with third-party apps like Eatstreet, ChowNow, and Delivery.com to provide food-ordering services to its customers.
Subscription Based Services
Thousands of brands are using paid advertising on Yelp effectively, but before you jump on to the advertising bandwagon, ensure that you have a well-established business profile on the platform. Also your goal as a business when spending money on Yelp is to generate business—that means make sure that your reviews are adequate (or if you are a new business) and that you have a decent rating—we feel that anything less than 3 or 3.5 star rating, you should not advertise on Yelp.
Advertising on Yelp is a cost-per-click basis and the options available are as follows:
- Page Upgrades/Call To Action
Other Ways to Promote Your Yelp Listing
There are several other ways to promote your business listing on Yelp.
- Add a Yelp button to your restaurant’s website
- Display the Yelp sticker on your store window
- Train your staff to encourage customers to “check-in” or leave a review using Yelp’s mobile app when they visit your restaurant.
Most customers consider Yelp as the most trusted source for reviews, so it is undeniably a platform that you should be using as brand. However, it is would be a good idea to have a well-thought out plan in terms of execution before you forge ahead.
Seshu Madabush is a serial entrepreneur with a focus on restaurant marketing, working on the latest venture mKonnekt. mKonnekt is a customer engagement platform that mines customer data to create personalized and unique dining experiences.