Free and Paid Yelp Tools for Your Beauty Business
With Ali Schwartz
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In this webinar recording for hair salons, barbers, spas, nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors, and other businesses in the beauty industry, you’ll learn how to use your free Yelp Page to reach potential clients who are searching for services like yours. Taking advantage of free Yelp features will help you stand out from the competition, giving you the best chance to secure a new client.
In this video, you’ll learn about:
- COVID resources and the most important information in the eyes of your potential customers
- Yelp’s free tools specific to businesses within the beauty and spa industry, plus information on the newest features
- What’s new with Yelp Ads
For more beauty-specific resources, check out:
5 free things beauty businesses should set up on Yelp
What I wish I knew when starting my beauty business
Discovering beauty industry trends using Yelp data
• Understanding consumer decision making
• Breaking down the Yelp tools
• Communicating during COVID-19
• Using paid features and tools
I’m very excited to talk to you about all the different features you can utilize. Quick overview, we are going to talk about consumer behavior, so we’ll just spend a moment or so talking about why are people making the decisions and how are they making buying decisions. Leveraging Yelp’s free tools, so how do you get into your page the right way? How do you update and optimize everything? Communicating during COVID, how could you be concise, how can you cut through all of the digital noise that’s going on right now? And then some new features, as well as paid tools, how to take advantage of them and express what’s important for you, for your business, for your industry. To get us started, consumer behavior.
Understanding consumer decision making
We know that reviews influence buying decisions, right? And what may have started as a trend 15 or so years ago is now a way of life, right? Whether it’s Amazon product reviews, whether it’s scoping out what the overall rating of your Uber driver is, people are utilizing reviews on a daily basis. I think what people forget to think about sometimes when it comes to Yelp, is yes, we are a platform with reviews, but we’re also a search engine, right? You have to type in what you’re looking for and in what area to make sure that you are actually getting a list of results. And so, thinking about that, and I’d like to say taking the business owner hat off and putting the consumer hat on is going to be really important when you’re thinking about keywords for your page, what people are searching for, and things of that nature, which we’ll get into in just a moment.
How are people making buying decisions? 97% read online reviews for businesses, but I want to point out that middle statistic there: 85% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which is kind of funny when you think about it. But I know that personally, it is true for me, as well. I am all about asking people for recommendations, but then I’m like, “Let me cross reference that with what I’m finding on Yelp.” And then consumers want information. They want to know who to go to and why, and they want information, so it’s so important to make sure you put all of that information on your Yelp page and across all the platforms where you feel like your consumers are searching for you.
Then this is just a great visual here about online intentions. Right? There are so many platforms you can put yourself, your business on. Right? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, there are endless options that you can put yourself. And so, I like to say pick a top two that you really can dedicate yourself to and update, because it’s nearly impossible unless you have someone that you’ve hired to help you manage it to kind of it. But when you’re thinking of, okay, well, which two do I pick? I feel like I have potential consumers across all platforms. Right? You want to think about intentions. So when we think of Facebook, we think, okay, people want to connect, right? They can friend each other. That’s kind of the basis of it. Right? You stay in touch with people, that crazy uncle you never talk to, or your friend’s kids, right? That’s going to be on Facebook. Instagram, very photo and video based people want to engage, right? They like, they comment, there’s engagement going on there.
With Google, you want to learn, right? So it’s going to be more for DIY or how to do stuff. They’re not necessarily looking for a hair salon, it’s more going to be like, “What are the best products?” Or, “How do I dye my own hair?” And when it comes to Yelp, people want to buy. Their intention is to buy and it’s just a matter of which place they go to. Right? No one is looking for eyelash extensions services unless that’s top of mind and they’d like to make an appointment. No one is looking up tattoo shops unless they’re in the market to get a new tattoo. Right? So, keep these things in mind when you’re looking at where you want to update all of your information.
Breaking down the Yelp tools
So, leveraging Yelp’s free tools. It’s all going to start on your business account, which is where you can claim your business page. You’re going to want to go to biz.yelp.com to either log in or claim your business page. It’s really important that you’re making sure whenever you’re looking at your Yelp page, it is from your business account, it’s from the back end. And all of the tools I’m going to talk about, all of these free tools we’re about to dive into, these are all managed directly from the back end of your account.
Updating your information
First and foremost, updating your business information. Seems and sounds really self-explanatory, but I want to dive in because there are a couple things that are easy to miss. When you’re logged in, it’s going to look a little something like this. We have a Yelp for Business Owners app, as well. It’s a free app. It’s just called Yelp for Business Owners. This is what it looks like on desktop and on mobile. You’re going to hit the business information button.
By the way, I see a few questions coming in. I do just want to mention that this is being recorded and we will share this out afterwards. It’ll get posted to our YouTube channel. I should have mentioned that earlier, this is being recorded and you will receive a copy of it. But you want to refresh your basic information, right? Name, address, phone number, website, categories, attributes. I know it sounds so simple, but businesses are moving. Businesses are changing their phone numbers. Just make sure that all of your basic information is up to date.
And I want to point out categories, which is really important as far as how Yelp will categorize you and how well you can also be found. So for example, maybe you’re a hair salon but you also offer makeup services, and then you also offer manicure, pedicure nail services as well. These are all separate categories. And while they all fall under beauty within that, you want to make sure you put categories. We also have barbers that are also coffee shops. We have unique pairing of industries and different businesses, and so your categories are a great place so that people come on your page and they’re like, “Okay, this business does this, this, and this.” You can have a maximum of three. And again, it just helps Yelp sort and allows you to put different things in there.
Updating your hours
Your hours, so, so, so important. There is a feature that’s called open now, so someone can jump on and do a search and there’s an open now check mark. Personally, I’m using that when I’m looking for anything, whether it’s a quick blowout, I have very curly hair, I’m always looking for a good stylist to blow out my hair. I want to know right then and there who I can call, who I can make an appointment with, so I’m checking open now, so make sure these are up to date. All of these features are a little bit like set it and forget it. It’s not your typical social media where you have to consistently update, update, update, and think of content, content, content, and you’re always only as relevant as your last photo. It’s not really like that, and that’s the beauty of your Yelp page. And when it comes to hours, you can kind of set it and forget it, just make sure you keep an eye out for when you might be temporarily closed or any special hours. We just had Labor Day, a lot of businesses set up those hours in advance. And as we approach the holiday season, Thanksgiving and into December, you definitely want to make sure that this is completely filled out.
Adding in the details
And then further information, so your specialties, your history, and meet the owner. Yelp is all about local businesses. And people, like I said, personally, I’m always looking for information and I’m way more likely to spend money when I see something like this filled out, when I can learn more. Let’s tackle these one by one. Specialties, you want to treat this section as if someone said to you, “Hey, do you offer blank?” That if you were to say yes, that means it’s in your specialty section. So you don’t have to just highlight one thing that you really specialize in, you want to treat this almost as like, what are all the services, all the things, all the things that you would say that you offer, you’re going to want to throw into this specialty section. You don’t want to spam your own page, but Yelp is actually using this section as far as keywords go, so definitely keep that in mind.
Again, I say, take the business owner hat off and put on the consumer hat. What do you think you might type in? And again, if I’m looking for a blowout, I might not type in straight hair or blowout, I might type in specialist with curly hair, right? Because I want someone that has that elbow grease so they could really get this curly hair straight. So again, keep that in mind. Manicurist, right? If you offer French manicures, tips, gel. There are so many different services within services for all of these industries so you just want to throw that into your special.
As far as history, tell us a little bit about the business. Are you brand new? Are you a pandemic baby business? Have you been around for 10-plus years? Are you a family owned business? Tell us. People want to know, and it can only help someone make a decision to spend their money with you. And if they’re on Yelp, they want information, and they want it quickly, and they’re just looking for quality. It’s not about the price or how much.
We’re not Groupon. We’re not a deal site. We don’t really offer much of that. It’s really about connecting with a business. We want to connect the people that are coming to Yelp with the businesses that we have on Yelp. Right? So how can you leverage the information, the specialties, all the things that you do and create and know about yourself and offer it up on a platter to these people that are searching for what you do.
The same goes for meet the manager, meet the owner. Especially for businesses where there’s a receptionist checking someone in, like typically hair salons might have that or a day spa. It’s really nice to put that person there. And again, if I’m searching and I see, oh great, “Meet Emily,” read a little bit about that, and then I walk into the business and I see that person sitting there again. It’s just great branding, it’s great marketing, and it helps draw someone over the line.
Don’t forget photos
If you take one thing away from today’s presentation, it’s that photos are so important, and so are photo captions. Just to give a quick screenshot of where you can find it, both on the business app, as well as desktop, you’re going to click the photos and videos tab. Here’s a great example of the wide variety of things that you can show. Show the team, right. As I was just mentioning, if I see pictures of people that are there and even captioning those pictures with what they’re good at. “Susie, she’s amazing when it comes to curly hair,” or, “Ben, he’s one of our best massage therapists we have.” Right? Tell the story through the photo. Show the interior. Also, show the exterior. Especially if you’re in a city like New York City, I go to a lot of businesses that are underground, they’re on the sixth floor, right? So make sure you show the outside, the inside.
And we have some search features for users. They can sort by what’s parking like in the area, right? So show us the parking lot if you have that. In New York City, we don’t get parking space. Show the services that you offer. Right? Again, especially if you’re offering multiple services, you want to make sure that you show that. And then your specialties, right? Again, showing those services, showing what you really are an expert in, and then the details of it, right? I love before and after photos, and if your business allows for you to do that, I highly, highly encourage it. I actually want to call out this amazing business. The owner is pictured here in the bottom right hand, Shear Bliss, they’re a local New York city salon, and they do a mini photo shoot with all of their clients afterwards if the client is comfortable.
They have a big ring light in their salon and they take a picture before and then after. They have the light and they have the client team fluff their hair, do a little hair flip, and it really makes the clients feel special. They feature them on their Yelp page. They caption it with who did their hair, what products they used, what the service was, right? Blonde balayage whatever it may be. They’re also putting that on their Instagram and their Instagram stories. Right? So taking the content that you’re putting on other platforms, throwing that on your Yelp page, and vice versa, so you’re not doing double the work. But before and after pictures go a really long way, and this is a great example of that. Again, and Shear bliss who I was just talking about on the left hand side and we have a barber on the right hand side.
Again, if you’re searching, a picture speaks a thousand words. Right? If you are searching for a bear trim, a buzz cut, blonde balayage, whatever it is, and you connect with a page, you see information about the stylist, and then you see you photos of exactly what you want, there shouldn’t be anything that’s holding you back from going and doing business with that person. Right? That’s why I say information, information, information, communicate, and then show people. You want to tell people what you do, you want to tell people what you provide, but you also really want to show them.
Connecting directly with consumers
Message the business. This is an amazing free feature that we have available. It’s also known as request an appointment, so you might have seen that, but you can set it up in your business account. Again, it’s absolutely free. It displays on your Yelp listing and it’s a direct message that’s sent to your business account. On this top left photo, this is an example of how to set it up. You just go into your settings, you allow people to message you. You want to make sure if you’re enabling this, you have someone in charge of checking it. As you can see on the top right photo, it does record your average response time. But the really cool thing is it helps just create a warmer lead. And again, people nowadays, they don’t necessarily just pick up the phone and call or just go walk into your business, right? They want to learn more information, they want to know more, and they just want what they want and they don’t want to pick up the phone. Right? This allows people to just book directly.
And you can customize what this says, so for example, this in one in particular had said what services are you looking for, you can customize these services so best fits your business, and when do you want this done. Right? Is it within a week? Are you looking for something a little bit out? Is this for a bride?” And they don’t need it for a year, right? You can get to know and really qualify the lead, your future customer, on exactly what they want, and then when you have someone call, email, or book the appointment straight from this, it just gives you all this leverage to know about this client already. Again, I highly recommend having someone in charge of this so that the response time is quick. You can have as low as a 10 minute response time. We have people that have a 24 hour response time. They lower the better, if you can have someone manage it, but I wouldn’t stress too much about that.
And again, you can have message the business if people can’t book directly or you can have request an appointment, you can have get more information. There are a bunch of different variations, request a quote for tattoo shops and things of that nature. And we’re also partnered with Booker, Vagaro, and Booksy, so if you are working with those platforms, it’ll integrate into it as well.
Adding available services
Services offered and check an offer, two also really great features that I just want to call out to make sure that they’re top of mind for you. This is an awesome business that has all of their free to tools fills out. So on the bottom left here where that red box is, service is offered, right? Pinky’s Village Spa, when I think spa, I think maybe massage, maybe some skincare, but we’re seeing here, they offer eyebrow services, facial, right, lash extensions, all these things that I wouldn’t have necessarily known from their categories or from their business name. And spa or salon or shop, these words don’t necessarily all encompass everything, so making sure that you put on your page, communicate on your page, what you offer, again, it’s just going to help people find you more and then make sure that the people that are requesting an appointment, picking up the phone, they know what to expect. And then with your customer service, you can far exceed their expectations.
Know how to create offers through Yelp
On the bottom right, you’ll see what it looks like on desktop for a check and offer. It’s displayed more prominently on mobile. Again, as I mentioned, Yelp is not Groupon. We’re not a site where you come to scope out the best deal. You’re looking for information. You’re looking to connect with local businesses. You’re looking for someone who has a great reputation. And so, the check-in offer is great to help bring someone over the line, and you can do 10% off your first appointment, so someone can only use it once. You can do 10% off your second appointment as a way to get people to come back. You can do $5 off for when you spend 50, maybe most of your services are about 35 or 40, so it’s a way to get some add-on services cause people want to push for that $5 off. Right?
You can get strategic. You can do percentage off. You can do buy one, get one. And you can do a dollar amount off. But you’re offering something in exchange, and the way that it works is someone will utilize a check-in offer, so if you have this on or page and you create it, you do want to make sure you communicate it with your front of house staff so they know when clients are paying. If someone shows it to them, they’re not scratching their heads. But someone can check in on their phone, show it when they’re checking out and it’ll show proof. Then on the phone, it’ll say, I’ve used this offer so that people aren’t using it more than once.
Now I want to transition a little bit to reviews. We covered the free features. We’re going to cover some COVID resources and then some paid features. But before that, I want to tackle reviews. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to reviews on Yelp. First and foremost, I do just want to make this big, broad announcement. There is no correlation whatsoever between reviews and advertising. Paying for reviews, paying to take down bad reviews, paying for five-star reviews, that doesn’t exist. There’s no big magic red button here at Yelp HQ that we could press and then all of a sudden someone gets tons of ad reviews or tons of positive reviews. It doesn’t work like that. There are rumors. They’re not true. We’ll talk about how to manage reviews in general and what to think about them.
It’s a common misconception as well that people only write reviews if they have something negative to say. And personally, I was never a big review writer. I can’t write reviews now that I work for Yelp, and no Yelp employee can, but I wasn’t a big writer of reviews. Right? And so, I understand the logic that, “Hey, you know what? I bet you no one even takes the time to write a review unless they had a horrible experience,” and it’s actually not true. We test this data every single quarter for the last 16-plus years that Yelp’s been around.
We actually have more five-star reviews on Yelp than one, two, and three star reviews combined. So, more five-star reviews than one, two, three star reviews combined. And the reason why I mention it is because it’s just simply not true that people are only writing bad reviews. As you could see, we have so many five-star reviews. We have a good chunk of four stars, as well, but it far surpasses the number of one, two, and three star reviews, and even combining those numbers, those percentages. This just shows us that people want to have a positive experience. They are looking for the good. They really want to connect with the business and it’s important to them.
Adjusting your mindset on reviews
I highly recommend this book. It’s called “Hug Your Haters” by Jay Baer. He has a whole philosophy similar to the concept of there’s no such thing as bad press, and he really digs into that and talks about opportunity cost and how, if someone’s talking about you, even if it’s negatively, they already know about you, they’ve already spent money with you, they’ve already thought about spending money with you. And so, the effort, money, time to then change that person is a lot different than going out and trying to reel in more clients. Right? Just opportunity cost. He says answer every complaint in every channel every time. Yelp really supports that mentality. You should be responding to your reviews. Yelp suggests that you respond to 100% of your reviews. It is totally up to each individual business and we do not give priority or preferential treatment based on responding, these are more just general best practices. You’re going to want to respond. First, we’ll talk about both critical, some negative reviews and positive reviews. First, let’s kind of dive into the critical reviews. We do say you should public comment, no matter what, but there are a couple caveats to that.
First, we have a legitimate review. A legitimate review just means something went wrong that day: you double booked, or maybe one of your nail technicians, if they were just in a really bad mood and they had an off day, it happened. Something went wrong and it’s a legitimate issue that happened, whether it was addressed or not. You want to do a public comment. The reason why is you want to show other people that are coming to your page, that you, one, what your customer service policies are, and if you don’t have policies, that’s something worth talking about with your staff. You know, “What are our policies for responding to negative reviews? What are our policies for dealing with difficult customers,” which they exist off Yelp and they do exist on Yelp, unfortunately. But again, you want to publicly comment so that people that are coming to your page, brand new people, see it, and you want to speak through that lens.
Inaccurate. There’s confusion. There, they are quoting a price that they got that you never gave or they’re under the wrong impression. There’s a miscommunication. And again, it happens, right? You also want to leave a public comment, again, to set the record straight for other people that are coming to your page. But then also, people have the opportunity to update their review over time. And so if I came into your business and I was just so unhappy with the service that I received, or I was confused about something and I went on and I left a two star review, and you wrote a public comment, “We’d love to have you back in here. Here’s what actually happened that day. We apologize for so and so. There are some things going on. We’d love to talk to you offline.” And then maybe offline, you invite them back, whatever. I can then update my review, and the updated review, if I come back and get four stars, that’s what’s going to get factored into your overall rating.
Dealing with rants
And then we have the rants. I like to say these are the shrimp salad people. They’re the people that would go to a very fancy restaurant, get a shrimp salad, eat all the expensive jumbo shrimp, and then send it back and expect it to be comped, right? Again, these Negative Nancies, they exist in the real world and they exist on Yelp. We’ve all seen reviews that are this size. They could be really frustrating. First and foremost, just know that consumers that are looking, similar to yourself if you’re a Yelp user, if you utilize Yelp to find businesses, no one has time to read that review. No one is sitting and sifting through and reading a very long message.
What people are doing is they might read the first sentence or two, and then they’re going to go, they’re not going to click the little ellipses to read the whole thing, but they are going to see if there was any response. So while I think it’s good to send a direct message so you don’t get into any public online battle, but if you think it’s the type of situation where you could write a comment, even write it to know the other people that are going to see it. “We’ve tried to reach out to this customer and it’s really unfortunate. Our customer service policy is X, Y, Z, so we’re sad that so and so had a bad experience.” Right?
You’re just addressing it. You’re addressing it Level-headed. it can be really easy to put the cap on and bang on the keyboard away. You definitely don’t want to do that. Again, you want to make sure that you’re realizing when you respond publicly, you’re on a stage. Even privately, you never know, screenshots of the messaging, this and that. You want to make sure that you are doing all you can to communicate and resolve.
What flagging reviews does
If there is an inaccuracy, not because there was a miscommunication on your end, but let’s say you have the same name as a salon down the street from you and that salon is getting bad reviews and they’re leaving it on your page, that’s sort of thing, that’s something we can help you with internally. You can flag that review. Again, this is a process that you can do in your business owner’s account. You don’t have to pay for anything. There’s no correlation between paid, unpaid reviews, or anything like that. But you can flag a review, and our recommendation software is taking a look, and it’s the reason why it makes Yelp so trustworthy, but it is taking a look at a bunch of different factors, but it is an algorithm. Right?
It’s not humans. We don’t have a team that’s sitting and sifting through reviews. We do have a team that is making sure that the algorithm itself is doing its job and making sure it’s taking down any inappropriate reviews that breach our content guidelines. But if you were to flag that review, it would then get looked at by human eyes. If you’ve already done that, you can then send an appeal and have a different set of eyes, look at it. We do all we can to have checks and balances in place to make sure that it’s as fair as possible.
Replying to positive reviews is equally important
If you have positive reviews, if you have something to add, you can put a public comment. Nothing to add, you can do a direct message. Something to note, I know we talked about the specialty section and the keywords that you can put in, you also want to think about that for your photo captions. When you’re captioning a photo, you want to put some good buzz keywords because it contributes to your overall SEO. That also goes for your review response, both positive and negative. So again, I mentioned that Yelp’s a search engine, right? So if someone types in a word, Yelp is trying to pull up the best match page within a certain area considering the categories and all of the other things.
Keep that in mind when you’re responding. Again, you don’t want to spam your page, and consumers are really smart, and they can tell if you have some type of ulterior motive and it sounds a little bit too polished. But what I mean, an example could be, if someone leaves you a five-star review that says, “I got my hair blown out at Ali’s Salon, and everyone was amazing, and we really loved it, and I was thinking …” and it ends there. You can write something back that says, “We’re so excited you loved your blowout. Just as a reminder, we offer cut coloring. We specialize in balayage. We would love to have you back.” Like, “Thanks so much for your kind words.” Right? So, you’re dropping little nuggets, breadcrumbs for that genuine customer that wrote the review, and it’s also helpful to have those keywords on your page. Again, you don’t want to spam yourself.
Amplify the positive. The five-star reviews that you’re receiving, go and put those on your website, quote them, put them on your Instagram story and Instagram post, on your Facebook business page, whatever it may be. A lot of businesses that I speak to do a really great job with incorporating their staff and reviews, and they maybe read reviews at the top of a weekly meeting or a monthly meeting, depending how often you’re getting reviews.
Reviews differ across industries
It could be really frustrating to try and get reviews, but don’t forget that being in the beauty and spa industry and service industry is a little bit different than a restaurant. Right? People eat three times a day, so there are a lot more customers walking into the bagel shop down the street than into the barber down the street. Right? And so, just make sure you think about that in terms of expectation. If you’re just not seeing reviews come through every single day or every single week, that’s okay. And again, people that are coming to Yelp, they’re looking for a quality business. They’re looking for information. When they spend time on the page, it’s not reading the reviews, it’s looking at photos, reading the photo captions, reading the business information, checking out the services that are offered. So again, keep all of those things in mind when you’re trying to amplify the positive.
Good reviews come organically
And don’t interfere with the natural flow of reviews, inspire great reviews organically. A lot of other review platforms we know encourage their businesses that are on their platform to ask for reviews. And here at Yelp, we do not encourage that, and there are a number of reasons for it. Something to keep in mind is the idea of reciprocity. So as a business, if you are providing amazing service, if you are putting all the things on your Yelp page, on your different business listings so people know what to expect, and then they come in and you just merely meet their expectations, that will genuinely surprise them. We’re a little bit hardened as a human culture by society that we don’t always anticipate we’re going to get a five-star experience. And so, just meeting their needs at a bare minimum is going to be a great experience, and then even surprising delighting along the way. Right? Just being kind and having great customer service.
And if at the end of that great, beautiful experience you have your hand out for a review, it makes it feel like it was less authentic. The same way that, let’s say, an Instagram influencer might come into your massage parlor and get this great service, and they such a cute and great and wonderful client, and they were posting about it on their socials, and then at the end, they say, “Can you actually give this to me for free because I was posting about it?” It just kind of leaves like a little bit of an icky taste in your mouth. You don’t want to say, “Hey, can we have a five-star review? You seem like you love us.” It doesn’t leave a great taste in people’s mouth, and also, Yelp’s algorithm is looking at a number of things, and I’m happy to address more about reviews. I want to get into some of our other features.
Yelp’s algorithm looks for authenticity
But I will say one of the things that the algorithm is looking for is authenticity and the drive to write the review. So unfortunately, reviews can be biased not on Yelp, because if you’re going and you’re asking people to write you a review, if you have a client or a customer that’s screaming at you, you’re not going to say, “Hey, by the way, can you leave us your thoughts on Yelp?” You are only asking the people that seem like they’ve enjoyed the service, and so naturally it just becomes a little bit biased. I don’t have it here in this presentation, there’s a great example of a TripAdvisor page and a Yelp page and the huge difference in reviews and overall star rating.
We don’t allow people to create fake profiles and write five-star reviews about themselves, one-star reviews about competitors. We just do not allow it. And so, the algorithm itself can tend to be a little bit more strict than it is lenient. But at the end of the day, it’s genuinely there to support the business owners to make sure that we don’t have any other businesses or ex-employees or anything like that having it out for your business and trying to destroy your reputation and making these big profiles is not allowed.
So, responding to reviews, managing your reputation, completing your page, message the business, request an appointment, tracking your overall engagement, this can all be done from the business owner’s app. As business owners and managers, I know first hand how busy each and every one of you are. So, download the app, set your notifications on. You can know every time someone leaves you a review and then you can put your policy right in its place, write a quick response, or have someone on the team write a response for you.
Communicating during COVID-19
Communicate during COVID 19. Before we get into some paid resources, I do want to talk about the power of talking about the pandemic as far as what your business is doing to protect its customers. It’s an important part of building trust so that people feel safe to come and spend money at your business. Everyone is different. I have people in the community and my circle of friends and family, they all have different interests. Some people are willing to do ABC. Some people are still not ready to leave their homes. Right? Everyone is at a different level on the scale as far as the pandemic, and it also obviously really depends where you’re based and what the state guidelines are. So that being said, you want to let people know what to do, or what to expect, rather.
The way to do that is to create a clear and concise and consistent message. Right? The four C’s: clear, concise, consistent. Right? Hours, offerings, cleanliness, special safety measures, virtual services. We have so many tattoo shops that instead of coming in, they’re doing a lot of these things virtually, the first step virtually. If your business allows for that and you’re doing that, make sure you put that on the Yelp page. Let people know the best way to contact you. Do you prefer that people call you, you prefer that people email you? Do you prefer that people just write on Yelp, they’re ready to message you? So again, let people know the best way that they could book an appointment or make a purchase with you.
Yelp’s new resources
Yelp rolled out at the top of last year some specific resources. Again, these are completely free. And again, it’s just a way to help you communicate a clear and concise message. We have something called the COVID 19 banner update, and it’s going to show on mobile. Right here, you’ll see on the right. It has a little message there. You can highlight a specific service. You can say, “We’re not doing X, but we’re doing Y.” Your update could say, “Hey, just so you know we are open. We are open, we’re fully functioning.” Or, “We’re open, but we have limited availability. Call for an appointment. We used to take walk-ins, but we don’t anymore.” Right? It’s really just kind of like a one-liner that you want your customers to know about the state of your business. Maybe you were shut down for a while, now you’ve opened back up, vice versa. Whatever’s going on within the walls of your business, let people know about it.
Health and safety measures. Something else that Yelpers can sort by when they’re doing a search is if the staff is fully vaccinated or if masks are required in your business. And if that’s not the way your business is operating that’s okay, but if it is, put that, because if someone’s searching by that and you don’t have that checked off on your page, that’s going to alter you coming up for them. But let people know how you’re helping keep them safe. Are you doing heightened cleanings, extra sanitation, do have protective barriers? I know a lot of spas and salons have these massive barriers and it helps people feel safe, or masks required for your staff. Again, it really depends where you are in the country, but let people know. Are your staff wearing gloves when they’re touching other people’s hands? Again, people want to feel safe. They want the information. They’re doing their research on Yelp before they decide to make an appointment. Just make sure you’re clear on what you’re doing within the walls of your business.
Example of good messaging
And then, this is actually a nearby gym, a cycling studio. Not totally relevant to beauty, but it is relevant because I want to just highlight how amazing this is. And this isn’t even Yelp related, this was an Instagram story, but how clear and concise and consistent the messaging is. They’re talking about how they’re cleaning in between every single class. They’re enforcing social distancing. They’re letting people know, they’re keeping them up to date. Deep cleaning processes taking place. Right? So if I’m on the fence about going to a workout class and I see something like this, it just automatically makes me feel way more comfortable to make my decision with that business. And I know that they care, I know that they’re going to put my health and safety first. And so, think about what are you doing within the laws of your business? Think about that and then talk about it.
A lot of businesses have said to me, “Everyone is sending out newsletters and emails in every business, and I don’t want to annoy my customers.” You’re not annoying them. If you’re talking about their safety, if you’re talking about what’s going on within the walls of your business, send out those e-blasts, talk about what you’re doing on your Yelp page, because ultimately, people are searching for what you do in your area, and they’re going to land on your page, give them all the reasons to do business with you.
Using paid features and tools
Transitioning into some paid features and tools, in a few moments, once we wrap up here, I’m going to take some live audience Q&A, so if you have questions, please throw them in the Q&A box and I’ll make my way through them in about five, 10 minutes. But we have some paid features and tools that I want to talk to you about.
First and foremost are Yelp Ads. When someone does a search, I did this search here. You can see it at the top first spa in New York. A lot of times people are doing searches from the phone and they just press current location. There’s going to be, especially in New York City, thousands, if not tens of thousands of results. And so, what buying Yelp advertising gets you is prime real estate on Yelp. You come up in search results above the natural search results. Right? We have a list numbered one through 5,000, let’s call it, and you’re coming up above those natural search results. It says sponsored results. A lot of times folks may or may not know whether it’s an ad, but if I typed in something more specific, the ad does its the best job possible to place what you offer, what the person’s searching for, and then match them together.
It’s a cost per click model. There’s no term, so you’re not signing any contracts or anything like that, and you can adjust your budget as needed. Maybe you want to do it for the first two weeks of the month, and then shut it off for the last two weeks, and that’s a good model for you because you tend to get really busy towards the end of the month, however it works best for you. It’s really meant to customize and build. We have a lot of different seasonal-type businesses that will go in and do a larger budget and then completely scale back down to zero on their off season. So, things to keep in mind. And then one other thing to call out that is completely separate from ads, but this is just a good screenshot, on the left hand side is where you could see someone could filter out by open now, or offers online booking, things of that nature. Keep that in mind.
Then on the right hand side, this is what you’re going to be able to see, the impressions that you’re getting the ad clicks, what your spend is, what your average cost per click is. We give you as much information as we possibly can without violating the privacy of that user that’s doing the search. Right? If I clicked on your business, it might say a Yelp user in her 30s clicked to call your business then mapped directions to you. We try to, again, give you as much detail as possible about the people that are finding you, that are clicking on your business, and that type of conversion that’s happening. But the Yelp Ads product is a cost per click model and you come up above the sponsored search results. Someone searches for what you do in your area and you’re basically buying prime real estate. Buying a piece of that pizza pie, and if the whole pizza pie is all spa in Manhattan, you’re buying a little sliver of that to be shown when someone does that search.
Yelp connect: another amazing feature. If I had to compare it to something, I would say it’s somewhat similar to Instagram stories in terms of showing real live updates and things that you want to communicate to people. Right? So, this spa was showing that they are going to be having a grand reopening. They notified when they were shut down. Right? It’s kind of this feed. It helps, and as I mentioned earlier, Yelp is amazing in terms of not needing a content calendar and all these things. But for businesses that appreciate that, that like that, that like that extra touch, that extra localized feel with their potential customers or their loyal customers, this is a great product for you. It’s a few dollars a day. It depends. All of these products or a few dollars a day. I say a few, because if you bundle them together, I believe it’s $4. If it’s a la carte, it’s two or three per product, but generally a few dollars a day for each product I’m talking about. But it displays right on your Yelp listing. And when you post something, it’s actually sent directly to the consumers nearby who are connected to your business. You can view metrics and reach, how many people looked at it, how many people clicked on it, how long they stayed on it, all that good stuff is available for you.
Adding a logo
Logo. Again, this is something else: a few dollars a day. This is great for multiple-location businesses that are really trying to get their branding, especially if you’re in different cities, different towns. This, again, is a paid product and you can proudly and prominently display your logo on your business page and it also shows in search results.
Adding business highlights
Business highlights. This is probably one of my favorite paid features that we have for a number of reasons. You can choose from over 30 highlights, and you could luxury, boutique, discounts available, fixed pricing. There are so many that are applicable. A really great example, I was actually speaking with someone who did eyebrow services and she was getting a lot of message to the business, quote requests, request an appointment, from people that just had a much smaller budget, and she was doing a microblading and her pricing was starting at a few hundred, so she wasn’t offering a classic threading for 15 to $40, right? And so, she put the luxury highlight on and it also shows in search results.
Again, it’s just a great way, a great tool to really say whether you want to say you’ve been in business over 10 years, over 18 years, or you want to say, “Hey, we’re a luxury service,” and that kind of helps people know like, “Okay, I’m not going to get a $10 service from this business.” Again, that’s just something to call out and that’s why it’s one of my favorite all-time features, but it just helps your business stand out.
Here’s what it looks like on desktop. This nail salon, they’re new, just started in 2020. They’re available by appointment. They’re highlighting the fact that they’re certified. Satisfaction guaranteed. They have wifi, which is absolutely imperative at a nail salon, right? People want to know. And they’re eco friendly, which is also really important.
Verified license for building trust
Verified license, another paid feature. It helps just give customers peace of mind. Yelp will actually verify that the business has an active license. You can go into your business account, click on a verified license and go through the process and someone gets back to you, I believe, within a few business days. But again, it just helps set you apart. We live in a time where people are extra cautious. They want to feel comfortable, whether that’s knowing you have a license, knowing your staff are wearing masks. Or even just knowing your hours, right, or exactly what services you offer, people want information. And so, making sure that you do all you can, these are some of those components.
Portfolio for showcasing your work
Portfolio is really, really cool. Great for hair salons, great for tattoo artists, anything where you have a body of work to show, makeup artists, makeup agencies. Right? You can really bring your work to life. And as we talked about before, pictures are so important, and this just helps prominently display on your page a full portfolio. But you could talk about length and pricing and help set the right expectation, and customers can directly speak to a certain project, right? So if I’m looking to have my makeup done for an event, and I see someone’s portfolio on their page, and I’m looking through, and I see a look that I really like, that is such a great asset to have. As the consumer, I’m seeing their book of business, I’m seeing a glam look, a natural look, right? So again, taking that business owner hat off, consumer hat on, and looking through the lens of that. What do they want to see? How do we give options?
The Yelp Ads have had a completely fresh new look over the course of the last few months, but you can see your impressions, your ad clicks, the calls to your business, what you’ve spent in that billing period, your cost per click, your ad settings, add photo. You can block out certain keywords, right? We oftentimes have people that do eyebrow threading, but maybe they don’t do microblading, so they’ll mark out the word, block the word threading or microblading. Right? So you can block certain things if you don’t offer it and you don’t want people clicking on you for it, but it’s a well-developed product and it’s worth looking into.
Check out the blog for more information
We have so many resources. I want to point to our blog. We recently actually just a few weeks ago, put out a beauty industry trends report and how to use Yelp for that data. But we have so many articles that range from inspirational, spotlighting certain businesses, all the way to really tactical things like five things you didn’t know you could do with your Yelp page, right, like a check-in offer and a lot of things we talked about today. But blogs.yelp.com, that’s where you’re going to want to go for tons of information that’s specific to businesses and business owners. We have tutorials, we link videos in there, so it’s a great place to go to get some education, some information.
We know that people are relying on review sites like Yelp, so because of that, you want to leverage Yelp’s free tools, update your information, make sure you’re responding to reviews, make sure that you have photos with photo captions. And then communicate, communicate what services you’re providing, communicate what you’re doing to make people feel safe. How do you build that trust by giving information and make sure that you stay top of mind for people? Then we have a plethora, as you’ve seen, of paid tools, so dive in, see what makes the most sense for you. Maybe naturally you get a lot of traffic to your page, so you don’t need Yelp Ads per se, but you want to do business highlights because you want to put that luxury highlight on there, or you want people to know you’ve been around for a decade, or that you’re a women-owned business. Right? People look for those things. Keep an eye out for what makes the most sense for you.