June 5, 2020

A Harvard Business School study by Michael Luca found that independent restaurants experience a boost in revenue by 5 to 9 percent when their Yelp score goes up by one full star. This is exciting news. We already knew that negative reviews scare new customers away, and now we have evidence proving the opposite is also true—positive reviews attract new customers and have a direct impact on revenue growth. With that in mind, follow these 4 simple tips on how to get better Yelp reviews.

The DO-NOT-DO list

Before we jump into the 4 easy steps for boosting your Yelp score, let’s talk about 3 strategies you want to avoid.

  • Never pay a third party company to write reviews for your business. It’s dishonest, and in the best case scenario a waste of time and money, as Yelp and other review sites have filters that detect and remove fake reviews.
  • Do not incentivize or reward customers for leaving reviews. It violates the content guidelines of most review sites and is potentially illegal.
  • Yelp’s content guidelines state that you should not directly ask customers to leave reviews. This seems counter-intuitive, but rules are rules, so don’t do it. (More on this in Step 3 below.)

Okay, with that nastiness out of the way, on to the good stuff.

1. Make sure you create a great customer experience

Not surprisingly, the #1 factor when it comes to getting positive reviews is creating a great experience for you customers. Whatever product or service you sell, make sure it’s good and that it’s priced fairly. Likewise your customer service should be friendly and helpful.

The bottom line is, you can follow the remaining 3 steps in this guide all day long and still get poor reviews if you’re not making your customers happy. No way around it.

2. Engage with your customers

Great, so you have an awesome product or service. Now what? Easy. Make sure everyone recognizes it. That means interacting with your customers in-person when they visit your business and staying top-of-mind with your customers with strong digital marketing messaging.

Thank your customers for coming in. Suggest a new product they might like. Share photos or videos on social media of happy customers and employees. Send out regular emails with deals and announcements about special events.

Your business is awesome—you just need to remind people, is all.

3. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews

Steps 1 and 2 above set the foundation for getting positive reviews, but to get the best results, you need to take matters a step further by making it super easy for customers to leave reviews. You’re not allowed to outright ask customers to leave reviews on Yelp, but you can subtly push customers in that direction.

  • Add official Yelp review badges to your website and Facebook page so customers are only one click away from leaving a review (Note: before you can add an official badge, you first need to claim your business page)
  • Request a “Find Us On Yelp” window sticker to display at your business and remind customers that reviews are important to your business
  • There aren’t any rules against asking for reviews on other sites, such as Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor, so if you’re interacting with a happy customer, feel free to politely ask them to share their experience on one of those sites

4. Treat reviews as a form of customer service

The last piece of the puzzle to improving your review ratings is by interacting with customers on Yelp and the other big review sites.

Customers already expect businesses to address their concerns when they post negative reviews, but you should also thank customers when they leave positive reviews.
  • First, claim your business pages so you can respond to reviews
  • Thank customers for visiting and writing reviews when they leave positive reviews
  • Read our guide on how to respond to negative reviews appropriately
  • Take advantage of automated review management software, like SpotOn Review Management, which alerts you when you get new reviews and uses a custom algorithm to help improve your overall metascore across all review sites

Remember, the Harvard study only focused on Yelp, but there are other review sites. In particular, Facebook and Google have a huge share of the review market, so take the same strategies we talked about here and apply them to any major review site where your business has reviews.

Learn how SpotOn can save you time and improve your online ratings with a free demo.

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