With over 139 million unique monthly visitors and 86,000 active business accounts in the U.S. alone, it’s no wonder local business owners are anxious to cultivate positive reviews on the site. One Harvard Business School study concluded that a ratings increase of one star translated to a sales increase of 5 to 9 percent. And Yelp reviews aren’t limited to a business’ Yelp page. The company now feeds reviews and content to other platforms, including Apple Maps, Yahoo and Bing.
In an effort to preserve the integrity of its review process, however, Yelp discourages businesses from soliciting favorable reviews, and even filters out those deemed suspicious through the use of a somewhat controversial filter algorithm. So how can a local business encourage customers to provide reviews without incurring the wrath of Yelp?
Yelp’s Mobile Check-in App
In 2010, Yelp introduced their mobile check-in app, in an effort to expand their footprint and compete with platforms like Facebook and Foursquare. Customers can “check in” to their favorite locations, and even send notifications out on Facebook and Twitter.
In order to encourage these check-ins, Yelp offered businesses the opportunity to provide a “check-in offer,” such as a special discount or freebie the customer can claim when they check in to the location. They can then choose to either use the offer on that visit or save it for another time (within a reasonable expiration date).
Prompts Can Help Get More Reviews
What few seemed to catch on to, at the time, was that after a customer has checked in to a location, the next time they sign in to the app, they’re prompted to provide a review of the last location where they checked in. This is a win-win, because it helps Yelp ensure that reviews are provided by legitimate Yelp members who have physically visited the location, and the business doesn’t have to solicit a review because Yelp is doing it for them. And what better time to ask for a review than after you have just provided a discount or freebie?
How to Create a Check-In Offer
Check-in Offers is available through Yelp’s free suite of tools, Yelp for Business Owners and can be used by most business categories — excluding, obviously, those which don’t have a physical check-in location, such as locksmiths, limo services, plumbers and other services provided on a mobile basis.
To create a check-in offer, simply log into your Business for Yelp account and look for “Check-In Offers” on the left sidebar of your dashboard. Click on that, and then click on the red “Create a Check-in Offer” button. Then select from one of four options:
- Percentage Off — offer a set % off a product, service or total bill
- Price Off — offer a certain dollar amount off a product, service or total bill
- Free Offer — offer something free, with or without a required purchase
- Fixed Price — offer a product or service for a set discounted price
Continue to follow the prompts and you’re done. It’s as simple as that.
Yelp Mobile Stats
How popular is Yelp’s mobile app? In the fourth quarter alone of 2014, Yelp had 73 million unique mobile visitors to the platform, up from 53 million for the same period just one year prior. Currently around 35 percent of new reviews are from mobile, with the largest age group being 35 to 54 years comprising 36.4 percent of all reviews.
So if you’re anxious to boost your Yelp rating or just get some reviews for your business, consider incentivizing your mobile customers with a check-in offer. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with posting a sign encouraging customers to check in to receive the offer.