I have been doing Social Media consulting with small business’s on Long Island for about 3 years now. There are many, many, many options for Digital Marketing and Yelp is just one of those options. The only problem with Yelp is that I have always been able to prove I cannot get a return on investment (ROI) by using Yelp and even AFTER proving that Yelp does not work the Yelp Sales Department will not stop calling me. Holy $hit they are persistent!!! As of now I recommend that small business’s avoid them.
Let’s make it clear, I am sure Yelp works and drives some traffic based on your reviews but, when I mention ROI, for what Yelp charges and based on the thin margins in small business, I need to see a minimum of an extra $5000 a month in sales just from Yelp in order to breakeven and justify the cost. When Yelp’s own internal analytics state they can drive me an extra $50,000 a year in sales… Yes, Yelp, at the prices you charge you cannot sell me the service!!!
You get practically nothing for the $350 a month that Yelp charges. Certainly not enough to cover your marketing costs. Yes! After their lengthy 20 minute sales pitch, by phone, they drop that bomb that a monthly marketing campaign on Yelp is a whopping $350! And a small business that has about $2000 a month to spend on marketing is going to give Yelp 17% of their marketing budget??? I think not.
Big Brands not Effected by Yelp. Small Brands Do
Yelp has this huge problem. Big brands are not effected by Yelp reviews. That’s the power of branding. Small business’s do get effected by Yelp reviews but the good business’s usually can survive Yelps reviewing shenanigans. You know their shenanigans. Putting ads for other business’s on your page, hiding great reviews, having that unknown algorithm that makes some random Yelper the top reviewer on your page… mysterious bad reviews just before a Yelp Sale pitch. ;)
Back to Yelps huge problem though… big business doesn’t need them and I recommend that small business’s avoid them. Who are their customers then? The answer is, they don’t have any. They do not produce a product or service. They have essentially created a large database of business’s and allow other people to add to that database. There is no way to remove your business from this database either which is ironic because I can remove information from Google but not from Yelp. It is unethical for a business like Yelp to not allow business’s to remain unlisted. If they did have this option I feel Yelp would be irrelevant.
Yelps Reviewing Shenanigans
Yelp is No Longer a Part of Any of My Marketing Campaigns
Of course the margins in a small business are razor thin so having even a 5% loss due to Yelp reviews could make or break a business. Again, I advise that you bite the bullet. If you are a small business I would avoid Yelp like the plague and build up your business with other marketing tactics and word of mouth. If your business is actually good your Yelp page won’t be that difference maker whatsoever. Most business’s should remember that 80% of your business is repeat business. Do some of the other many forms of marketing and make sure all those new customers are repeat customers.
I Get 4 Emails a Week and the phone calls are Incessant! Thanks Yelp!
Yes, the steady stream of Yelp emails reminding me that Yelp is offering $1000 of FREE Ads, get $1 for every advertising dollar you spend and, my favorite, the 3 Month Upgrade when you sign up today! They come in like clockwork. 4x a week.
And what’s up with the phone calls!?! I tell one sales rep that I am not interested in a Yelp advertising account and the next month I am getting a followup from a NEW Sales rep. Every month I have a new rep that needs to reach out to me! IT NEVER ENDS!
Google, Please index this for me. I would like others to know. Thanks, everyone for reading my Yelp rant. :)