I read Lani’s fine article last week about Yelp as a reputation management tool and I thought I would throw out some of my insight as a Yelp “sort of” insider.
A little background on Yelp. A couple of years ago they were trying to build up a following in Nashville and approached me with an intriguing offer to write 50 reviews a week in return for a paycheck(something I hadn’t had in a while). Alas, even though I’d never heard of them, I created my little profile and started cranking out some pithy useful tidbits at a hectic pace. Now, because I know there has been some criticism of Yelp I want to clarify that I was NOT paid to write good or bad reviews, they did not specify what the reviews should say or who to review. The parameters were they wanted local flavor and not big chains and they wanted engaging good tips and fun anecdotal reviews. It could be a park, a Dr., restaurant, hardware store, repairman, library anything. In addition, they suggested I think long and hard before I made a terrible review and absolutely forbade me to write anything negative about a business competitor and/or to write anything related to my personal industry while I was on their payroll. Sounds pretty ethical right?
After about a month or so and a few hundred reviews in, I began struggling to get 50 reviews in a week and let the gig go. However, a funny thing started happening. I would be out and about and often find my friends and acquaintances stopping me to say they had used one of my reviews to visit a restaurant or make a purchase. Well doesn’t that beat all? I had seriously taken this on as some side cash and fun because I’m a bit opinionated but (insert light bulb in a bubble over my head here) I realized Yelp could be a HUGE business tool beyond just my own business page.
Yelp as a lead source:
I continue to use Yelp faithfully to this day and here is what I think makes it just as viable as Facebook and Twitter as a lead source:
1) SEO – Yelp has SEO we all opine for!! For example if you google the term Ugly Mugs (my fave coffee shop in my neighborhood) they come in just under the actual shop’s site and sometimes they rank ahead of the purveyor google is indexing them for. Anyway the text and review is mine on page one of Googles page is my review. Woot – I love being a neighborhood expert with some first page google ranking teeth in my game!
2)Now that I’m not under the constraint of writing about my industry, this year I intend to write reviews about my favorite vendors for a couple of reasons. Here is one I did a while back for an appliance company that saved my fanny on a listing. It was a tremendous opportunity to promote what I do on Yelp while providing useful information to the public. In addition, I love to send links of my reviews to the vendors I’ve written them for and let them know I appreciate them and want them to succeed. It’s pretty darn easy to gain referrals from business associates that you not only send business to but also promote in a very credible, useful way.
3)Yelp encourages Interaction not isolation. They have a local public forum you can view from your profile page. I’ve seen all kinds of great topics including ones about folks looking to relocate in to the area and wondering about neighborhoods. Yelp Elite – If you write enough reviews and get enough of a following then Yelp invites you to be a part of their Elite Squad and that gets you in the door to all kind of fun events with other Yelp contributors. Hmmmm… an exclusive audience with people in your community who freely spend time passing on tips about their favorite products and services, wouldn’t that be useful?
4)Yelp integrates with other social networks. When you write a review you can opt to have it go to your Facebook wall and on your Twitter feed. I frequently get lots of traction from reviews through both of those sources. In addition, Facebook has a similar application to FourSquare so you can download the app to your mobile phone and start checking in all over town.
5) Have you heard of Bling your Blog? This is a fun little tool provided free of charge. Yelp automatically maps your most recent reviews and allows the map widget to rest on your profile page. If you click below your profile name or on the bottom of the map the term “bling your blog” you will be redirected to a page with that map where you can completely customize the color and size of it to match your blog. It will then generate simple html code for you to cut and past on to your homepage or whatever page you wish it to reside on. In addition WordPress has Yelp Bar which is a cool little plug in that will display Yelp reviews of your business on your site should you be lucky enough to have any.
Just scratching the surface
Now that I’ve discussed some cool ways to use Yelp (and I personally think I’m just scratching the surface), I want to make some suggestions on how you should not screw up Yelp. Don’t post bogus, even if they are nice, reviews because over time the site will lose credibility. Don’t post self promotional things about yourself on Yelp because in time the site will become cluttered with every business hack blindly doing it (a bit like Twitter) and the site will lose credibility. Don’t get upset if you end up with a bad review or two, conversation is healthy. Don’t slam businesses for sport or in competition with you because you and the site will lose credibility.
Do be authentic, engaging, yourself, funny, useful, and informative just like we have all been told on other social networking sites. Yelp is a cool tool with tremendous potential that has managed to stay under the “spam the world with useless content for the sake of posting something” radar. Go and use your Genius, report back to me on what cool new ways innovations you are creating with Yelp, but for god sakes please keep it real.
Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations
(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.
The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.
As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?
Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020
When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.
How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.
Think Brick And Mortar
As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.
Reach Customers With PPC
Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.
While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.
It’s All About The Platforms
When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.
One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.
The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.
Advertising overload: Let’s break it down
(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.
If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.
Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.
In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.
“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.
This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.
It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.
Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.
7 simple tips to boost your customer loyalty online
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Without a brick-and-mortar store, building rapport and customer loyalty can be a challenge, but you can still build customer loyalty online.
With many businesses – both big and small – operating online, there are less opportunities for building those face-to-face relationships that exist in brick and mortar stores. According to smallbizgenius, 65% of the company’s revenue comes from existing customers.
It’s important to keep in mind the different tactics at your disposal for increasing customer loyalty. Noupe recently released a list of actionable tips for increasing this loyalty. Let’s examine these ideas and expand on the best.
- Keep your promises – Stay true to what you’ve agreed to, obviously contractually, but stay true to your company values as well. Even if you feel you’ve built a good loyalty where there is room to take a step back, don’t rest on your laurels and be sure to remain consistent. If you’ve provided a good experience, keep that going. The only change that should happen is in it getting better.
- Stay in communication – In addition to the ever-so-vital social media platforms, consider creating an email newsletter to stay in touch with your customers. Finding ways to have them keep you in mind should be at the front of your mind. By reaching out and being friendly, this will help retain their business.
- Be flexible with payments – No, don’t sell yourself short, but consider installment plans for pricier items or services. This will help customers feel more at ease when their wallet’s health is at stake.
- Reward programs – Consider allowing customers to accrue loyalty points in exchange for a freebie. The old punch card method is still an incredibly popular concept, and is a great way to keep people coming back. The cost associated with giving something away for free will be minimal in comparison to loyalty you receive in order for the customer to get to that point. Make sure that what a customer is putting in is about equal to what they’re getting out of it (i.e. don’t have a customer spend $100 in order to get $1 off their next purchase). If all of this proves successful, this can eventually be expanded by creating VIP levels.
- Prioritize customer service – A first impression is everything. By prioritizing customer service, you can help shape the narrative of the customer and how they view your business. This splinters off into them giving good word of mouth recommendations to friends and family. Be sure to keep positive customer service as the forefront of your mind, as giving a bad review is just as easy – or even easier – as giving a good review.
- Value feedback – Allow customers a space to provide their feedback, either on your website or on social media. Find out what brought them to you and gage how their experience was. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and take it into consideration. Feedback – both good and bad – can be vital in helping shape a business.
- Avoid laziness – Stay sharp at all times. Don’t treat all customers as nothing but currency. Include personalized touches wherever you can. This will make all of the difference.
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