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How are you making your Yelp account work for you?
Everyone’s heard of Yelp, and it’s not just for home services or restaurants; retail stores make up a large percentage of businesses on the website!
Emily Washcovick is Yelp’s small business expert, and she is breaking down the “science” behind their review recommendation software and important features for business owners.
Don’t be afraid of negative reviews, and don’t solicit for positive ones either! Emily says naturally inspired reviews are the best for your page, and 87% of customers are willing to look past negative reviews if the business owner is engaging with reviews and responding to concerns.
You don’t want to miss these awesome tips to leverage Yelp and grow your visibility.
Today’s Action Items:
Visit your business page on Yelp – complete and verify your profile information for optimization.
Create a check-in offer – this is a serious must-do – to drive traffic and incentivize natural reviews.
Go now! Check out your Yelp page! I’m rooting for your success!
- Behind the scenes of Yelp software.
- How to take advantage of metrics in the Yelp Platform.
- Leveraging your yelp account for more visibility.
- How to ask for reviews on Yelp.
- Yelp action items to get started with TODAY!
Mentioned in the Episode
- Emily Washcovick on Instagram
- Yelp for Business
- Yelp for Business (@yelpforbusiness) on Instagram
- Behind the Review on Apple Podcasts
- [email protected]
- [email protected]
- Build for Tomorrow: An Action Plan for Embracing Change, Adapting Fast, and Future-Proofing Your Career
- Register for EVOLVE 2023 and use code podcast to save $400
- Crystal Media
- Crystal on Instagram
- Crystal Media on Instagram
- Crystal Media Co – YouTube
Get ready to be a fly on the wall as I ask all sorts of Yelp questions to Emily Washcovick, who is a small business expert at Yelp. And we go there. I’m asking these questions that I’ve heard from retailers over all these years because there can be frustrations with Yelp. We’re going to answer it all in this episode.
You’re also going to learn how to optimize your profile. I think there is so much missed opportunity when it comes to Yelp for retailers to show up, not only in Yelp search results, but Google search results too. And this is all free stuff that you can be doing to increase your visibility for your store. So why wouldn’t you be doing this?
It’s no-brainer things. It’s easy. We talk you step by step through doing it all. Plus we talk about how the right way to get reviews and the wrong way to get reviews. Because you can be penalized for those things. And there are some things that you might learn in this episode that you had no idea how it all worked.
The behind-the-scenes of how Yelp is doing all this, showing this, the reviews that they do, how they’re deciding what the consumer sees. It’s a really interesting episode that I think is going to give you a lot of clarity when it comes to how you should be using Yelp. Emily also breaks down some of the metrics that you should be measuring within your Yelp platform.
They give you some great data in there, which you maybe are not using, and you should be, and she also has some really great resources in our resilience round. So before we dive in, let me tell you a little bit more about Emily. As Yelp’s small business expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow.
Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and wellbeing of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind The Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media where each episode features conversations with the business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.
Go check out her podcast and we also talk about it on the show. She also has an open invitation for anybody who’d like to apply to be a guest. And I just want to say we met Emily; my team, Pauline and Steph, were speaking at the same show she was at in Kentucky last year, and my team just fell in love with Emily and was like, she has so much information that can really help retailers.
And so when we launched this show, Pauline’s like, we’ve got to get her on the show. So we’re just honored for her time and expertise, and let’s dive into this episode.
Welcome to Rooted In Retail, the show that’s dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive in today’s ever-evolving retail landscape. I’m your host, Crystal Vilkaitis, and I’m thrilled to have you join me weekly as we explore topics that are vital to the success of your store. From marketing to mindset, money to merchandising, sales to leadership, we’ll cover it all. Each episode features interviews with industry experts and accomplished retailers who share their real-life insights and actionable advice. Get ready for a great conversation on how to build your dream business with Rooted in Retail.
Emily, welcome to Rooted in Retail. I’m thrilled you’re here. Thanks so much for having me. Really happy to be here. Yeah, this is going to be a great conversation. We get a lot of questions about Yelp, and I feel like you’re going to demystify Yelp for us a little bit on this call. My favorite thing to do. Yeah. I think that a lot of people, me included, think of Yelp as a restaurant platform, but I know that it has a lot of retail advantages, so will you talk about that?
Absolutely. So I think the biggest thing to know about Yelp is we think of it for food first because we eat three times a day. We probably need a roofer or go to a retail shop a little less frequently. And so that’s what we think of. But in reality, on the platform, retail is one of our highest-reviewed categories.
Home and local services lead the charge there, restaurants shortly following, and retail is just a percentage or two behind that. So, really right there at the top of the game on Yelp. And when I think of Yelp, I think of it in two different ways. I think of it for the user that goes directly to Yelp when they want to search for anything reliable or trustworthy.
We have those people, they go to Yelp for everything. And then I also think of Yelp as this big search engine that can help power your business on the internet. So if you do a search for a gift shop in your local city on Google, Yelp is going to be one of those top natural results there. And so whether you’re thinking about getting in front of our users who come to us first, or just being found on the internet for basic information like when you’re open or where you’re located, Yelp is one of those free tools that can really help you get that presence and be found when people are looking in your area.
And that’s so important because it could be really hard to optimize our websites to be top of those results, but Yelp has all of this search engine juice that I call it, gives you that ability to show up higher, so we want to make sure that we have an optimized profile. So Emily, will you tell us, because I would imagine that if you have an optimized Yelp profile, that’s going to help you show up in the Yelp search results as well as when people are Googling.
So can you take us through how the Yelp algorithm works and what retailers can do to optimize their profiles? Yes. So I think a lot of people think Yelp is a site that consumers put information and I’m just kind of a bystander, or I am someone who can read it, but I can’t do much. And that’s so not true.
A vast majority of what business owners can do on Yelp is free, and by just doing profile completeness, they’re going to help themselves be found more online. So a couple of quick things. The first is having that business name, address if applicable, hours, correct. We want those to be on there, and we want to know that they’re accurate.
But then if you fill out your About section on Yelp, adding information about who your business is, what types of products you carry, maybe what your niche offerings are, those keywords and phrases in your About section, as well as in your photo captions help you appear more in search results. So a good way I like to explain this to people is: if you’re a retailer that holds certain brands that you sell, or maybe you have a very niche industry during a certain season of the year, Yelp is going to be a place where if you add more of those keywords, images if you put that in your About The Business section, it’s going to help you stand out.
Because remember, some people go to Yelp and search for a broad term like ‘gift shop,’ but some people might search for something as narrowed in as ‘kids’ board game.’ And so, how are you showing who you are and what you provide in a way that’s going to help you stand out for some of those more drilled-in searches that we often see?
Okay, so anybody that’s listening to this, I want an action item for you to go to your Yelp profile and see, what do you have listed. Because one thing that we often see is that there’s a lot of wrong information, and then, I think there’s a massive opportunity for retailers to do exactly what you’re saying. Put in more of those specific things that you sell, those consumer-known brands, because people are searching, and whether it is on Yelp or on Google, your profile’s going to help you display on Google.
So we want to make sure that those keywords are there. So make sure you’re doing your homework, and look to see, because I also feel like, sometimes, we don’t even know what’s on our Yelp profile. People don’t know how to claim it, which is a big thing too. Yes. Now, one thing I’ll say, we can do it for you at Crystal Media through our Get Listed services, but if somebody’s not using us, take us through that step by step, if a retailer doesn’t have access to their Yelp page yet.
Yes, so everyone, whether you already have a listing or you’re adding your business for the first time, goes to business.yelp.com. Super easy. And that site actually has a lot of other resources now. It’s more than just a login page. So that’s a great URL to remember for a lot of things.
business.yelp.com. When you get there, the upper right-hand corner has either a sign-in or an ad business button. And, either way, whether you’re claiming an existing page or adding your business for the first time, all you’re really going to need is first and last name, the email address that you want to be able to use to log in, and get your notifications and things of that nature.
But that’s not publicly facing, so you can choose whatever email is best for you. And if you’re adding for the first time, all you really need is a URL or web address that can verify your business details. So that could even be an Instagram or a Facebook page, as long as you have that store detail information in the About section.
So the website’s the best, but you don’t have to even have a website to be on Yelp. That’s a good, clear distinction there. And then the other thing is when you go to business.yelp.com, whether you’re logging in for the first time or adding yourself, once you go through that process of putting in your information, you’ll find yourself on the home screen.
And the easiest way to describe it is, that home screen is going to have a graph. It’s your activity graph, and we’ll show you data for how many people have looked at your page. Do they call you? Do they map directions for up to two years’ time, depending on how long the listing has been alive? Alive, active. And then on the left-hand side is a big toolbar.
I call this The Navigator. It’s all the different areas of your profile you could click into, make a change, respond to a customer. So that really is the core spot right there. And I also tell people, when you get into that business user account, we have all the prompts to walk you through profile completeness.
So you can just read and follow the click-throughs, or you can X out of those and kind of go at your own pace. But that is built into the system. We have that self-service tool helping you know what areas need to be filled out, added, or completed to help you be found. Okay, love that we have all this information in there.
So if you haven’t logged in, if you do have your profile and you’ve claimed that, log in to get that data. So what are some of those key data points that you think retailers should be looking at? Yeah, I think every retailer has a different opinion about different “leads,” and we can kind of break that down.
For example, if I’m a store that deals with a lot of foot traffic and I want people through the business, that mapped direction is gonna be a valuable lead to me. That’s a behavior I really care about. Now, if I’m a retailer that has foot traffic, but also has a pretty big online store, and I care about pushing, product through my e-commerce channel, then maybe I’m using the call to action button to direct people there.
Or maybe I’m watching those website clicks as more of an indicator that people are doing what I want them to do. I think another big thing when you’re a retailer is, maybe having a strategy in place for letting customers know you pay attention to your Yelp presence and your reviews, and showing them that you care about their experience.
So I’ve seen retailers do fun things like have a little wall in their business with different frames and they have some of their Yelp reviews printed out, and that’s just a fun way to show your customers, without asking for reviews, that you have a presence, and engage them in a way that makes them want to check it out.
And that is really the full cycle connection of whether you have that brick-and-mortar store, and/or selling online. You still have this in-person and online connection that you need to make. And so that’s what I think of when I think of how they should leverage the platform. It’s all about zoning in on leads that matter to you, but also maybe seeing how your consumers behave. If you’re seeing a lot of people are clicking to your website and you’d rather them be mapping directions and coming in person, is that a sign that maybe we can spend a little time making the website better, listing more of our items? Maybe there’s an opportunity there. So I digressed from your original question about which leads matter, but I think it is business-to-business specific, and hey, you know what I say?
Go look at other retail pages to see how they have their profile set up, because maybe it shows you a way that you could have your page set up that would guide your consumer to do the behavior you want them to do. Yeah, you could totally use it for competitive research preparing for this. I was thinking that that is a really good idea of plugging in different keywords and search terms that people would be using to find your store, and seeing what does come up, and where are you missing out on different opportunities to get that visibility.
It’s all about that visibility, and then we’ve got those metrics to see, okay, how are these people converting? Are they coming into the store, getting those directions or shopping online? Love the idea too, of the review wall and showcasing that social proof and really leveraging those reviews. It’s not like somebody just leaves a review on a retailer’s Yelp page and then that’s it.
We don’t do anything with it, and it helps on Yelp. Users of Yelp read it and may determine if they’re going to shop there or not. But let’s really leverage those in other ways. So that’s so smart. Now let’s talk about reviews. I know, let’s talk about, let’s go where are there other ways?
Because I think that, I think this is true, but you can demystify this for me and clear it up for me. You can get in trouble by asking for reviews in a certain way. Right? Okay. Yes. So I want my rooted retailers to know. How do we ask for reviews in the right way, and what do we need to not be doing? Yeah, I think the biggest thing to start is to know that Yelp has a firm stance against soliciting or asking for reviews, but other sites have different rules, and the reason I say that to preface this is because I’m going to tell you how to do it for Yelp, and I suggest that’s a good rule of thumb across the board.
But it is true that on other sites, like Google for example, you can ask for reviews and they even give you the tools and features to do that. And so I like to make that clarification because I want retailers to understand that technically they can do these behaviors for other platforms, should they choose. Now, Yelp’s firm stance on this not asking for reviews is rooted in two different kind of key reasons.
One, we think it kind of puts an icky taste in the consumer’s mouth when you’re soliciting in a way that almost makes your engagement disingenuine, like you only care about the positive review and not the customer’s experience. But the other thing is, asking for reviews creates innate bias. You’re probably not asking the people who didn’t have a great time what they thought about your business and telling them to write it online.
And so as a way of just letting it happen and not be so controlled, and honestly not waste so much of your time and energy as a business owner obsessing over the reviews, we like to have consumers do it naturally because they were inspired by some great customer service they received, or maybe it was a follow up email that you sent through your point of sale that really reminded them about what a great experience it was.
So you can do all of these subtle, subconscious things to get your customers to share their feedback. Another example would be asking your customers to share their stories online and not specifically pointing to Yelp. So let’s get back to the actual rule on Yelp of not soliciting or asking. That indication is, do not do things like send a newsletter to your entire email database with a link to your Yelp page asking for a review.
That’s a solicitation directly to Yelp. Now, if I have a, “we’d love to hear your experience,” and I link to all of my online platforms. That’s a little different. That’s a distinction there, where we’re not driving them to Yelp and saying, we’re trying to grow our Yelp presence. Go here, go here, go here.
You’re telling them we’d love to hear from you and here’s all the places we have a presence. You go where you go because your customer might be a Google person, for example, or maybe they would rather write it for your website if you have that functionality on your website. The other thing you don’t want to do is have an iPad in your business, for example, that asks people for reviews.
And we see that more in food where a server’s like asking for it to close out a transaction. But I’ve seen retailers do it too, where they have it at the checkout line and they’re almost just trying to make it easier on their customer. And I understand that you’re trying to decrease the barrier to friction because less than 1% of Yelp users write reviews. I can’t because of my role, it would be a conflict of interest, but a lot of people just read them. Writing reviews takes time. It’s a habit. And while you can encourage your consumers to do it through creating great experiences, you don’t want to be asking in a way where you’re trying to bolster your reputation, because our review recommendation software is going to work against that. So what you’ll sometimes see on certain pages across the board, all industries, is maybe a business has 10, 15, 20 reviews. And then you scroll to the bottom of the page and they might have like 20, 30, 40, not recommended reviews. And some of these, they might be critical reviews where people are saying rude things or unhelpful feedback.
Maybe it’s not a real customer experience and that’s why it was removed. But maybe it was solicited or asked for. And a lot of times in a service-based industry, we see this where it’s in their auto follow ups to ask for this feedback, and they genuinely want it to grow and get better. But if they’re asking for that Yelp review, they’re getting caught in that trap of it not being recommended, then they’re frustrated because all their hard efforts didn’t pay off.
And that’s why you just want to let it happen naturally. You want to shine a light on those great reviews as a marketing tool, but you don’t want to drive the customer directly to Yelp to write the review because it really likely won’t stick on the profile. Hey, real quick, I want to invite you to my in-person marketing conference called Evolve, happening April 26th and 27th in Denver, Colorado at the stunning Gaylord Rockies.
We are going to talk about all things retail and marketing and more. You’re going to walk away feeling confident in yourself, in your marketing plan that feels comfortable and authentic to you, you’re going to have a very good understanding of the future of social media in marketing because it’s going to look very different than it does today, and how you can adapt and evolve to stay relevant and thrive.
Many businesses won’t do that, and you can if you come to evolve. We’re going to have other topics as it relates to social media and marketing, as well as inventory management, money, mindset, leadership. This is a packed agenda, plus time for networking, meeting new retailer friends, and getting your questions answered from me and my team and our speakers.
I’d love to see you in the room, so go to crystalmediaco.com/evolve to get your ticket. Seating is limited, so hurry and grab your ticket before we sell out. I hope to see you there. I think that answers one of my other questions, which is I feel like there is a big elephant in the room when it comes to Yelp about reviews being shown or not being shown, and I’ve heard from retailers.
For so many years saying, “I’ve got these great reviews, but they’re not showing them. And the ones that are displayed are the negative ones.” And I’ve heard all the situations, I’m sure you have too. The negative ones, I know it’s a competitor or I know that never happened, or some of these good ones, why wouldn’t they show them?
And so could that, if I’m understanding what you’re saying, could one of those reasons be that Yelp deemed it as a solicited review, and so felt like you’re soliciting, you’re trying to get these reviews and so those get hidden. Is that a possibility of why those aren’t being shown? Yeah, so that’s one of the many things the review recommendation software looks at.
It’s looking at hundreds of signals. Everything from what we know about the reviewer, how many reviews they’ve written and other behaviors, like did they check in at your business because that gives that data point that they were physically GPS attached to your location at one point. So all of these factors influence.
And a lot of business owners get frustrated when they hear us say how much we know about the reviewer, or how active they are on the site. And I love that my mom started using Yelp a couple of years ago. She had always searched, but she started reviewing a couple years ago. Because now I have a real person who I’ve seen go through this process, where some of her reviews, even to this day, are in the Not Recommended section of certain pages, and some are. The thing about the review recommendation software is it’s constantly running and changing, which means as we get to know more about a reviewer perhaps, a review could move to the Recommended section.
The other thing like you mentioned is, you would be amazed how many times people are trying to control their reputation by things like having an employee write a positive review and there’s a lot of ways that things are tracked online. I think we all know about IP addresses and those types of things, so I don’t need to get into the weeds on that, but a lot of times when I see business owners with substantial amounts of Not Recommended reviews, they’re normally doing some behavior, maybe knowingly, but oftentimes maybe not, and that’s what’s causing those reviews to go to the Not Recommended section, which is why I like to talk about this with people like you. The other big elephant in the room, as we like to call it, is the misconception that Yelp is a pay-to-play site. And that has been a common talking point for years.
Back in the day when I moved from sales over to the corporate communications side of Yelp, it was in an effort to go to conferences, trade shows, conventions, and educate simply on the fact that a vast majority of what you can do on Yelp is free. Sure, you can pay to advertise, get your business displayed at the top of the page or on competitor pages, but everything from claiming your page, responding to reviews, adding photos, all of that is free to do and there’s no amount of money you can pay to get negative reviews removed or get positive reviews added. And that is a big misconception. And we don’t ever hide reviews. That’s another misconception. These reviews in the Not Recommended section are still displayed at the bottom of the page.
You have to click into the section to read them, but they are all there unless they go against content guidelines or terms of service. In which case, they’re removed, but you can still see the reviewer name, the star rating, and then the text is blurred. For those ones that maybe include hate speech or break our terms of service in some other way.
The other thing I would say is our review recommendation software is not the only barrier to defense on Yelp. We have a human moderation team as well, and so business owners, consumers, anyone can flag a review on Yelp. When you flag a review, you have a dropdown of about nine, ten options why you’re flagging. For example, review is written by someone affiliated with the business or does not reflect a real consumer firsthand experience.
These are some of the reasons. The first reason, which is “does not contain factual information,” or something of that nature about is not factual. You don’t want to choose that one because Yelp is never going to take sides on a factual dispute. We can’t chase down all of these ‘he said, she said.’ However, the most important thing a business owner can do rather than becoming obsessed with getting a critical review removed is to respond. And I’ve been saying this for years, but at the end of last year, we actually released some research about the correlation between what you do on your online profiles and how much consumers trust you.
And one of the two key things we found was: businesses that reply to reviews in general are more trustworthy to a consumer. But even more importantly, 87% of consumers say that they’re likely to look past a critical review if a business owner has responded and addressed the concern. And so what that tells me is, we don’t necessarily even want to get the negative review removed because criticism builds trust.
It shows that you’re serving a mass amount of people. Consumers are smart. They know you can’t please everyone 100% of the time. You have staff, most likely, who sometimes have a bad day. Things happen. And so instead of becoming obsessed with taking things down or getting more reviews added to your page, you want to engage with the ones you get. Respond to the positive reviews and welcome those people back.
Respond to the criticisms and address them to show that you care. And when you’re responding, you’re not even really responding to win that consumer over, you’re responding to reflect your customer service practices to all future consumers. The last thing I’ll say on this point, Crystal, is a lot of business owners fear online review sites, not even just Yelp, just online reviews because they fear the negative.
They think that online is a place customers go to complain. They think it’s unfair that a consumer doesn’t just ask to talk to them in person, which I totally get. That does feel like an ambush sometimes. But on Yelp, we have more five star reviews than one, two, and three star reviews combined. And that just shows you that consumers overwhelmingly want to share the places that they love, but things do sometimes go wrong.
You described in the beginning when you were prompting this question, business owners who say all their positive reviews are gone and only the negative ones stay on their page. 90, 95, 99% of the time, when I meet a business owner who tells me that, often at a conference or something, I’ll say, okay, let’s pull up the page.
Let’s take a look at what’s happening. And likely, they actually often have a really great star rating and they have good reviews and they have one or two negative reviews that they could repeat to you verbatim, and they’ve read probably 30 times and they’ve responded to them angrily in their sleep and all of the other things, but they are focused on that negative and getting it removed instead of seeing that greater picture.
And the absolute worst thing you can do is not engage with any of your reviews because you’re afraid or frustrated with the criticism. Yes. There was so many amazing things that you said in there and so helpful. So here’s the deal, to recap it, all social media platforms, and this isn’t necessarily social media, it’s a listing, a review platform, but all these platforms, there’s always something that we’re going to be frustrated with.
The algorithms, the way that they all do things, it’s not always going to measure up with what we think it should be. Think about, we are creating so much content for social media and it barely gets shown. And that’s frustrating. There’s, there’s a lot of things that can frustrate us.
The key to any of these platforms, in my opinion, is to really understand how can I use this as a tool to connect with my customers? And in knowing I can’t control these platforms, but there are certain things I can do to really stand out. And so, just delivering great experiences so people feel inclined to do that review and having a follow up, and getting those more naturally is a great way.
Claiming the profile, having correct information, updated information, show the seasonal content, time of year, those things. Another great way. Then responding to all reviews so people can really see your customer service and see that you’re present and showing up. Those are such great ways that you could be using.
And then of course, looking at your metrics to see how is it performing. I do have a quick clarifying question. So, because I’ll see it, a lot of retailers, they’ll have an iPad or signage that asks people to review them, but doesn’t make it a part of the transaction at all, so that type of like, “Hey, share your experience on Yelp with us,” and a QR code right to their page is that type of activity fine?
It’s a good question. We actually have these find us on Yelp stickers that you can request for free. I can get you the link to put in your show notes. Those now have just been rebranded to include a QR code for your business, which is incredible. So I would recommend using those because they were built through the system so they are reliable.
I think you also might be able to access a QR code for your business in your business user account. I can get clarification for you on that. The hardest thing is when you’re trying to get them to do it and they’re in your business, they’re likely on your network system, sometimes on your WiFi, and so that might not be the best idea or course of action.
I kind of like the follow up that shows all platforms. If you have a point of sale that allows you to integrate links into those digital receipts. Maybe you can already link to your Instagram, things like that; that’s a great place, I think, to put your Yelp as an additional link. I think it’s that in-store transaction where I know you want them to do it because they’re there with you.
But I get fear about trying to drive them to do it in that moment. I think it’s better to show them, you read them and pay attention and care and let them choose that behavior to write that review on their own time. Okay. I’m really glad we’re talking about this. And just to translate this, for anybody who’s listening and doesn’t understand why you wouldn’t want them on your WiFi reviewing, it goes back to the IP address that Emily briefly mentioned.
And so when you’re on the same WiFi network – and I think I’m getting this right, but correct me if I’m wrong, Emily – when you’re on the same Wifi network, you’re using the same IP address. And so when Yelp is looking at where all these reviews are coming from, if they’re seeing it coming from the same IP address, they’re feeling like it’s a scam, or all your employees are reviewing just to get all these reviews, even though it might be your customers.
So that’s why Emily’s saying you’re going to want to send an email after when they’re at home, when they’re not on your WiFi, they’re on their IP address. Am I saying all that correctly? Yeah, and honestly I think the biggest thing is the algorithm or the review recommendation software is looking at so many signals.
So again, if this is happening, like someone really had a great experience with one of your employees and they take their name and they’re writing it. If this is an active Yelp user that we see on our profile all the time, that’s not going to be the one thing that makes a review recommended or not recommended.
It’s this really holistic look at how reliable or trustworthy a review is. But I think what we want to avoid is anything that’s asking in mass. And having that iPad there is a great example. The way you described it is exactly perfect. I normally tell this story about a guy I knew who had a car wash business, and that’s the perfect kill time.
You’re literally sitting there waiting for your car and he was not trying to do anything malicious at all. But to your exact point, how does the software know the difference between 10 customers coming through that day and him sitting in his office and writing from 10 different profiles?
And so you just want to avoid being the cause for a big funnel like that. The newsletter is the exact same if I’m a dentist and I probably only get a handful of reviews in a year – same with a retailer, depending on how big your foot traffic is – and then in one month, I get 43 reviews in 9 days, that’s looking a little bit fishy to the software, and so you just want to try to avoid any of that “in-mass” type of reviewing.
And really the way to avoid that is just to not be soliciting or asking. Again, this is an interesting thing to say, because I really, truly believe business owners should let all of their feedback come naturally. But this is a rule of ours, and so you could garner a reputation on other sites through directly asking for those reviews, and if that’s a strategy or a model that feels good for you or is working, it’s okay. Just know that on Yelp, you’re almost working against yourself, and so if you have that clear distinction in your mind, then you’ll be good because you won’t be dealing with those reviews not sticking on Google, and so you won’t feel like you’re wasting that time. But if you’re trying to do volume on our site, it’s going to feel like you’re working against yourself.
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I hope they can help you like they did me. Now, years ago I was at a conference, this was maybe 2016, 2017, and I was talking to somebody who spoke, who also worked at Yelp, and he was really saying the power of check-in offers. Yes. But I, as a Yelp user, I don’t see this very often. I feel like it’s an underutilized part of the app.
So it seems like you agree. Please tell the listeners about check-in offers. Okay, so Crystal, this is a loophole to quote unquote asking for a review. This is literally a built-in loophole, and as a retailer, you have a unique advantage because this feature is only allowed to be used by brick and mortar businesses.
You have to have a physical location to activate a check-in offer. So let’s start with what a check-in offer is. It’s a free feature that you activate in your business user account, and you can set the offer to be whatever you want. So it does not even need to be monetary. Some places have it as monetary. Maybe it’s a couple percentage off a first item or at a restaurant, maybe it’s a buy one, get one item, but it does not need to be, and it doesn’t need to cut into your margins. For a retail shop, I love things like branded low cost items. Do you have stickers for your business that you could give away? Are there little coupons or something that you can give them to return on their next visit?
What’s something that would help you that isn’t cutting into your profit margins? Set that as your ” check-in offer.” Now, here’s the thing about check-in offers. Our users that are the most active and engaged, our elite community, which people may have heard of. These are people that use those functions and features all the time.
They check in everywhere, even if there isn’t an offer, because they want their friends to see where they stopped, but also they check in because when they check in, the app is going to prompt them to share their experience at that business later. It’s gonna send them an email and a push notification that says, ” your next review awaits,” and then it’ll link to the places that you’ve checked in.
So for many of them who want to keep track, maybe if they’re traveling or doing a fun weekend with friends, they’re using that functionality whether you’re offering something or not. Now, for the rest of us who are just normal, you and I, Joe Schmos, I check in here and there. It’s not a big thing I’m always doing, but if I see a business is communicating a check-in offer to me, that’s something I’m going to do.
And so as a retailer, instead of asking for a Yelp review, you can have signage or verbiage or information around your business encouraging your customers to check in. And by encouraging them to check, you’re giving that prompt through the system to write a review, and those reviews are more likely to be recommended because we have that GPS association that that person was in your business physically at one point in time.
So check-in offers are fabulous. Let’s circle back to how to set them up or use them because the other thing is, when you have a check-in offer, to some extent, your staff has to be in on that. Especially if you’re giving something because they checked in. So that’s a little bit of a training.
Everyone needs to know how to redeem the check-in offer, which technically, you just walk the user through hitting some buttons on their own device. But I think it’s a great way to do branding or invite people back in. I think of the big retailer, Kohl’s. A lot of people know Kohl’s now. They’re all around the country, but they originated right here where I live in the Midwest, and they do their Kohl’s cash.
You spend certain amounts of money, you’re getting $5 or $10 back in Kohl’s cash, and it has a window of time it can be used. And a lot of the time, it gets me to come back in that window and just buy something I don’t really need, so I’m spending more money. Or sometimes I don’t use it at all. And that means Kohl’s didn’t lose any money.
And so if you have a functionality where you can invite people back, maybe it’s for an upcoming seasonal thing, maybe you host events sometimes in your space, these are the types of things where you can engage them in a way that’s going to bring them back through the door. And again, we’re not cutting into our margins, we’re incentivizing a return visit at the end of the day.
Okay, so I feel like all brick and mortar retailers need to set up a check-in offer. I agree. Yes. Okay, another action item for you guys. And if you are a get listed client, we can do that for you. Yes. But take action on what you’re learning. This is going to help you show up in those search results.
It’s going to help more people find you, engage with you, write those reviews. This is so good, Emily. All right. Let’s go into our resilience round. Are you ready? I’m ready. All right. Here we go. What is the best business book that you’ve read. Yeah. I have read so many, but I’m going to give you a newbie that I’ve recently read, and it’s called Build For Tomorrow by Jason Pfeiffer, the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine.
He’s a dear friend of mine and the idea creator to my podcast, but this book is great for anyone. It’s all about change. The four phases of change that we all experience and how you can get yourself through the initial stages faster to get to that good part of change where you wouldn’t go back. You love the way things are now and it’s hard, whether it’s in your personal life or in your business, to navigate change at all.
And so, this book is great for that. It’s also so digestible. You could just read 10 or 15 minutes with coffee or before bed and get something each of those times. So highly recommend Build For Tomorrow by Jason Pfeiffer. Awesome. I cannot wait to read that. That sounds so good. Best retail technology, like an app or software.
Really good question. Normally I would give you a crazy app or maybe like a POS that I think is cool, but I’m going to say the camera app on your phone. I think so many retailers have this huge visual appeal to their business, and they’re not showing it online because they’re afraid it needs to look perfect.
It doesn’t. Pull your phone out, take some pictures. Do some videos maybe. Show your customers behind the scenes or what it’s like inside your four walls, and you just do that by whipping that phone out and then get that Yelp business owner’s app so you can upload those photos directly from your device.
But again, some retailers will think, “Well, Emily, how many photos of my inside of my store am I really going to take?” I mean photos of all the different types of items you offer. If it’s seasonal, what are the different things that are gonna bring me in? We need to be adding content to our pages, and that can be done as simply as opening that photo app on the phone.
So good. I always say you want to bring the physical storefront to the digital world, and it’s so easy today. It’s so easy. Okay. How do you keep up with the ever-changing retail landscape? I like to follow a lot of different folks on social. I will say, interacting with folks like your team at expos is always great.
And I think that if you’re following some people on LinkedIn and Instagram. Maybe you have a couple newsletters that you’re subscribed to. We have our business newsletter at Yelp. I subscribe to some other ones like the Skim. Anything where you can just get examples of what other people are doing. As a retailer, I would say join those associations and those chambers. Even if you can’t always physically go, getting those emails in your inbox, or just having that association can be great for getting you more connections, resources and tools that you can leverage.
Awesome. Because retail is ever changing, how do you recharge your batteries? Yeah, rest and recharge are so important. I personally have some mental health things in my life that have caused me to prioritize that. I live with Bipolar Disorder, and so for me, I have to start every day walking my dogs outside, rain, sunshine, whatever.
We at least get out there for a good 20 minutes, but most days, about an hour, hour and a half. And I used to think I didn’t have that kind of time, but I’m more effective at my desk when I do that in the morning. And then in the evenings, I need to power down and get a good night’s sleep. And I think some entrepreneurs think there’s never enough hours in the day.
I’ve got to burn the candle at both ends. But truly, if you are not sleeping enough, you’re doing a detriment to your brain and your business because you’re not as clear, crisp, and focused as you could be. So, I’m not a parent, but I know for parents, sleep can be hard. For entrepreneurs, sleep can be hard, but try to get a routine.
Try to look at that as a recharge that makes you more effective in those fewer hours you’re functioning during the day. So incredibly important. And I think to your point of committing to these walks and they’re non-negotiables, in the beginning it does feel like I can’t. How do I have time for this? But it makes me think of the book that you recommended about creating change and how change can be so hard, but once we commit, make it a priority and do it, then we have created a new habit.
And so it is so possible. I think these are such great tips. Emily, to help retailers be stronger, rooted in success, what’s a foundational best practice as it relates to local listings or retailers’ reviews? I think every business needs to have a strategy for engaging with their online presence. You need to have those notifications for your different platforms turned on, and you need to have a plan in place for how you’re going to react and respond. If you make that plan before the problem, you can help eliminate some of that emotion.
And that’s normally the biggest hurdle for business owners when they’re dealing with something and they’re stressed, as opposed to when they’re dealing with something and they can just follow the steps that they’ve outlined for themselves. So that’s a really, really big thing.
Having a plan, having a strategy, and allowing yourself to eliminate that emotion so that you can be strategic, and that’s how you need to look at that review engagement. It’s a strategy move. It’s not about that individual customer. It’s about the reflection of your brand digitally that you’re already working towards in your business.
Awesome. Finally, what do you think the future of independent retail looks like? I think that after the pandemic, and I say after like it’s over, but it’s really not, it’s been this phase into new evolutions. But every retailer nowadays has to have some form of digital transaction possible. And I have to tell you, I talked to a couple retailers in the past few months who still are digging their heels in.
They wanna show people what they have in store online, but they don’t wanna let people buy it online. And I normally don’t push people, Crystal. I normally let people stand firm to their decisions so long as it’s made for a certain reason, like I can’t handle inventory management online and I’m afraid I’m gonna sell something and not have the item.
Okay. That would be reason enough. I could understand that. But nowadays, you have to let them transact on at least something online because so many people want to support you. Whether it’s because you’re a women owned business, you’re local to their hometown, you’re a black owned business, you serve the LGBTQ community, whatever it is that is attracting people to you.
Why are you going to force them to walk to your brick and mortar to spend money? Why not give them both options? And when you’re thinking of both options, that can include Instagram. I’ve seen so many retailers start leveraging Instagram for sales. I’m talking hundred thousand dollars items. I would’ve never thought you’d be listing that stuff on Instagram.
I have this jeweler in Chicago. She’s incredible and she makes her own handcraft stuff, but she also sells Bipoc artists jewelry, and she lists multi-thousand dollars rings on Instagram. I checked in with her lately. I said, “are those selling?” She said, “you wouldn’t believe it, Emily. We used to just list the small items.
I got big stuff on there now. I’m putting that on Instagram.” Because people want to spend, and maybe they still want to come into the store and see it and touch it, but they’re looking at it on their couch and some of them are putting their credit card in on their phone because they do it all the time. Yes, they do.
You’ve got to show up where people are shopping. You just have to. Such good answers to our resilience route. Thank you so much, Emily. That was awesome. You mentioned your podcast. Will you tell people about your podcast? Yes, behind the review launched in November of 2020. It is a production by Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, and every episode we feature conversations with a business owner and someone who wrote them a Yelp review.
So it’s a really fun way to hear directly from business owner’s mouths, across all industries, all sizes of business, what they do to connect that in-person experience to their online experience. And you get to hear from different consumers too. What motivates them to write reviews, what stands out and makes them want to return to a business.
And the thing I love so much about the show is, we talk about Yelp sometimes, but a lot of the times we’re just talking about in-person and online for your business. And so whether you’re listening to a dentist or a retailer, I think every business owner and consumer can take something away from the conversation.
We also just launched season two, where we’re doing some more features of buzzy guests, but also having thought leaders and industry experts on, so we might have to have you join for season two, Crystal. Oh, I would love that. I am always happy to help. I would love it. And I love your concept of the show where you talk to the reviewer and the store or business. So cool. So we’ll link to all of that in our show notes. And I would love to be a guest, Emily. That would be so fun. Before we sign off, Emily, how can people connect with you? Yeah, so I think the biggest thing is you’ve got to stay in touch with the Yelp for business accounts.
On social, they post great stories, tips, action items, all that stuff. You can find me on any major social media platform, Emily Washcovick. I also can be reached at [email protected] and I give my normal email out as well all the time. So [email protected]. I will say, we’re always looking for new guests for the show, so if you’d like to submit your retail business, email that podcasts@yelp alias and we’ll get you submitted to be vetted for the show.
Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you so much, Emily. I learned a ton. This was such a good conversation. I really appreciate your time and what you guys do for small businesses. Thanks for having me. It’s really great to know you and know your team, and I’m excited to hear what your retailers think about this advice.
Yes. Awesome. Thank you guys for listening. Remember that I am rooting for your success and have a great week ahead. Bye. Thank you so much for being here. It means the world to me. Don’t forget to join the Rise & Shine newsletter, which is social media news you need to know, sent via email every Monday morning.
Go to crystalmediaco.com/rise to join, and don’t miss the newest episode of Rooted in Retail, which drops every Sunday morning.