How To Use Yelp as an Effective Ad Platform
Britton Lorentzen
Designer, marketer, and owner.

Published: March 6th, 2017

Most people know Yelp as a platform for getting honest reviews about local restaurants in your neighborhood. It’s usually the first source for learning about the local cuisine and what the locals are recommending you try out. In recent times, Yelp has been adapting its business model to help serve small businesses that offer specific services like repair work, contracting, design, and advertising services. Late last year, I was contacted by an account manager to try out Yelp advertising and see if it’s something that could help my business. I’ve tried different things to convert my customer leads into sales and decided that it would be helpful to write up a post that gave insight into how Yelp works as an advertising platform and how it can potentially be helpful for your business.

Have a Good Understanding of the Costs

The first thing that needs to be addressed is the large costs associated with running ads on Yelp. Based on my research and experience, Yelp is one of the most expensive programs you can run ads on. Depending on how visible your business is, your cost per customer can be anywhere from a couple bucks up to $20 or so. This can be quite a sticker shock for anyone new to the platform. The reason behind these variable prices is due to the algorithm that Yelp uses for determining costs per click.

They have an algorithm that combines the likelihood your ad will be clicked based on the amount you and your competitors are willing to spend to acquire a customer. If you have a low likelihood, you may end up paying more for an ad click compared to your competitor that has a higher likelihood. This can be quite taxing once the system ends up in a bidding war that drives up the cost until your competitor gets priced out. The result of this has been me paying almost $15 to $20 for a click at times. However, the price you pay for a click depends on how expensive your services are compared to how much you’re willing to spend to acquire that customer.

Before you get into any kind of advertising with Yelp, make sure you factor how much you’re willing to spend to acquire a customer from Yelp and incorporate that cost into the price of your services. You’ll have a much better time covering the costs and putting in a system of checks and balances that won’t wreck your advertising budget.

Have a Complete and Transparent Profile

Have you ever come across a business that didn’t have a complete or honest profile? It sucks and it can be hard to trust a business that isn’t transparent about it’s history and operations. Yelp does a great job giving you sections that matter to your customers wanting to learn more about you and your services. I highly recommend looking at sections such as Specialties, History, and Meet the Business Owner as ways to communicate your brand and values. These are great sections that allow your customer to learn more about you and find reasons to trust you. The more human you can be in your responses the better. Nobody likes reading about a business and feeling like it was put together by a robot or HR department. These sections are meant to be raw, human, and give a transparent look into who you are and what your business is all about.

Use Photos That Portray Your Business and Process

There are a lot of companies that use the photos sections as advertising space. I’m here to tell you that this is the worst way you can put together your photo section. The photos you put up on your Yelp page should accurately portray the final product you’ve put together. Examples of this would be pictures of the products you sell, pictures of you working in the middle of a job, customers that have come to see you, and more. Your customers are visiting you to learn about your story, not be given a sales pitch for why you’re better. If they’re on your Yelp page they’re already showing interest in your business. You don’t need to give a hard sales pitch to earn their business. Having pictures that show you and your process will be more effective in earning a lead over pictures advertising your business.

Give Your Customers a Good Reason to Engage

Businesses have all kinds of ways they can engage with their customers. Some businesses work on a model that offer sales incentives to their customers while others invite them to join in a conversation outside of Yelp. Regardless of your approach, you need to make sure it’s obvious what your customers are getting themselves into from your call to action button.

A call to action is a button that tells your customers what they need to do next and what to expect in that next step. It’s important to understand what your customer values and how they’ll want to engage with your brand. If you’re a restaurant, a great next step may be offering a 10% coupon to come have dinner at your establishment that night. For my services, I invite my clients to learn more about my design process so they can understand how we’ll work together. Your call to action will vary greatly depending on whether your business offers a simple purchase process or a more complex process that requires more information. Anticipate what your customers care about and make sure your call to action reflects this next step in the customer journey.

Don’t Beg for Reviews

There’s a lot of companies that feel like people will only use them if they have reviews on their page. These cases usually lead a business owner to beg friends, family, and previous clients to submit a review to their Yelp page so they can look more trustworthy. This is not a good way to get reviews and may be perceived as false advertising. However, reviews are an integral part of Yelp and how customers perceive your company. In this case, the best way to get reviews is to simply let your customers and clients know that you have a presence on Yelp.

Customers will leave a review when they either have an amazing experience or a terrible experience with you. The in-between folks tend to walk away and forget about your company the next day. If customers love the service you provided they’ll find you in some way to give a review. It’s important to advertise somewhere whether it’s on your website or on your storefront that you have a Yelp profile for them to visit. If folks care enough about your service or brand, they’ll naturally find you and provide a review eventually. You don’t need to hound people to provide you reviews. They’ll eventually come and just because you may have zero reviews now doesn’t mean it’ll deter someone from trying you out.

What do you think about Yelp? Have you had success using Yelp for your business? I would love to hear about it! Submit to me what’s worked for you and your business to or the Twitter page. I’d love to see what your experiences are using Yelp as a business platform. If you have a suggestion for related topics or have a question about anything pertaining to design, marketing, or branding always drop me a line and I’ll look towards answering your question one way or another. Otherwise, I look forward to chatting with you all again soon.

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