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How to go from toddler to teenager in online marketing
Elliot Adams, communications manager at Yelp, explains the best way small businesses can use their online profile to attract and maintain customers...
"Creating a full website may not always be right for every business, but maximising social media and review sites really goes a long way in building online awareness. A business with an effective online presence is far more likely to get customers through the door.
In turn, a business that gives its customers a voice will get them through the door and ensure they return time and time again. Your online identity says a lot about your business, so make the most of it with these top tips.
Claim your page
More businesses have entries on review websites than you may think, but haven't taken the time to do simple things like add their address or even put up a picture. Our research shows that people searching on Yelp spend 2 and a half times longer on a business page that has photos compared to one without any images.
Any online profile for your business must include updated contact details at the very least. Additionally, include information on other aspects such as pricing, business hours and the nearest public transport links as this will help answer consumer queries ahead of time.
Everyone likes to know that there's a real person behind a business, not some faceless company. So if somebody takes the time to write about you, they need to be thanked at the very least. Taking the time to show your appreciation is a great way to do this and also helps to build a rapport. Also, when responding to customers, try to resist the urge to use the opportunity to upsell or plug other products, as it may annoy them.
Take advantage of positive reviews
Positive reviews are marketing gold dust. If someone, without being prompted, has decided to sing the praises of your business, you need to share it. Include links to reviews on your website, add quotes to your sales materials, and write it up on boards in your premises. Endorsement from like-minded customers will help build trust in your business.
Acknowledge those negative reviews and respond straight away
Not all reviews will be positive, and business owners should accept that negative reviews are part of running a business and have a strategy in place to manage these effectively.
It's so important to respond to a customer complaint as quickly and as thoughtfully as possible, that way you'll minimise any potential damage and show customers that you care and take their loyalty seriously. Your customers are always connected, so the longer it takes to respond to a negative or false representation of your business the more time it has to spread. In cases of negative reviews, time is of the essence and a day is a long time in the world of social media.
Take the conversation off-line
Communicating via email or phone helps to make things feel more personal, speeds up the resolution process and protects a customer's privacy. This approach can also help take the heat out of the situation and calm things down more quickly.
Every business owner knows that listening to customers is important, but customers expect you to take action in response to their comments. If they're telling you something is good, do more of it. If something is upsetting customers, address it. There may be times when you don't agree with a customer's review, but giving the Impression that their comments have fallen on deaf ears will only lose you favour."
Yelp was set up in 2004 with the sole aim of connecting people to great local businesses (reviews are written by locals for locals) and when it acquired Qype in October 2012, it became the biggest European review platform. Yelp had a monthly average of 132 million unique visitors in Q1 2014 and by the end of that quarter, Yelpers had written more than 57 million rich, local reviews.
Elliot Adams joined Yelp in 2011, helping the Yelp community in its continued expansion across the EMEA region. Elliott has developed, managed and implemented Yelp's media launch strategy in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Poland, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Brazil.
24th July 2014