Since it was founded in 2004, Yelp has become a significant force when it comes to local business. About 186 million people use Yelp on various mobile and computer devices every month, and these users post about 150 million user reviews, according to current data. These days, Yelp is an empire that brings in billions of dollars and was built on online interactions between companies and customers.
However, the rise of Yelp hasn’t been without controversy. Some people would argue that it’s not fair to put the reputations of small businesses on display for the world to see. But it’s important to realize that Yelp didn’t actually create the significant Web 2.0 movement that made it possible for users to create reviews and content and share this information with anyone in the world. Yelp, however, is responsible for the shift in customer behavior and creates one of the most effective marketing channels for local companies. Yelp is also joined by several other consumer review websites, and these sites are some of the first places customers go to express their disdain or approval for local businesses.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you run a small business, it’s important that you appeal to new customers by getting positive reviews on sites like Yelp, FourSquare, TripAdvisor and Google My Business. Technology has put the small business on the forefront and made these companies more accessible to consumers who are both local and online. A review generation platform can help you increase online reviews -
Mobile also has a huge effect on local businesses. Even extremely busy owners have to realize that potential and current customers want access to real-time information on a constant basis. In the United States, internet usage has doubled since2001; almost 300 million users get online regularly. The use of smartphones has increased from 20% in 2010 to 69% in 2017 in America as well. This means that most people have access to the internet at any time, and this is vital for small businesses.
The drastic shift in technology use has given way to dramatic changes in the way consumers behave. Around 90% of sales around the world still occur in brick and mortar stores. However, 97% of these customers used the internet to find the business and 75% who use their smartphones to look for a store nearby end up patronizing a local business within a day. People simply walking into a nearby business has decreased by about 57% in the last five years. However, the value of each store visit has tripled. This is largely due to online reviews from people who have recommended a small business.
For smaller companies, the physical store has been replaced by several online retailers. Customers are going online to determine which local businesses they want to utilize, and they often visit these brick and mortar stores with an urgent need to purchase a product or service. It’s pretty safe to say that window shopping and searching the Yellow Pages are things of the past.
How Customers Use Online Review Sites
Previously, small companies had to depend on “push” tactics to build their client bases. For instance, if you purchase a radio ad, the content of the ad had to convince customers that they needed to purchase your product or service and should do so right away. Now, you can use a reputation management platform like
ReputationDesk to monitor online reviews and engage with customers.
However, these days, when a customer reads reviews on a platform like Google My Business or Yelp, they are doing so out of a sense of urgency. They need products, and they need them now. Review sites serve as directional points to see which businesses offer quality items, quick service and customer satisfaction. This is extremely valuable to small businesses, especially if these companies have small (or no) marketing budgets.
After all, when you’re looking for a new specialty restaurant or want to find the best mechanic in your area, chances are you go online to see what other customers are saying. You may also search with the phrase “near me” in your description to find the type of businesses you want within miles of your home or place of business. When it comes to getting great reviews, be sure that you and your staff treat each customer with courtesy and respect, and keep checking reviews to see what you can do better based on consumer comments. This could have a huge impact on sales while boosting your business’ reputation.