Today’s guest post is written by Molli Megasko. 

I live in New York City and finding a spot for dinner can be a daunting task.  With about 25,000 restaurants an easy cab ride away, Google just doesn’t cut it.

If my husband and I feel like eating out (which is most of the time), we have a process.  We choose a culture, pick a neighborhood, find Zagat-rated places, then look at the reviews on Yelp.

This usually narrows it down to two or three, then we choose by menu choices or which place can seat us sooner.

A few nights ago I found this Moroccan place in our neighborhood that got an A rating and I wanted to try it out.  We looked at Yelp and it had bad reviews and against my better judgment, I wanted to try it anyway.  The outcome?  It sucked and we vowed to never go against Yelp again.

Which got me thinking, how much in new sales do companies get with good Yelp ratings?

After doing a little bit of research, I ran across a new study from Harvard Business School titled “Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of”  The study concludes that one full star boost on Yelp can increase sales by five to nine percent.

Just in case you did not read that correctly…businesses can see a five to nine percent increase in sales just from one extra star added to their review.

So, what does this mean to marketers?  What does this mean for small businesses?

It’s time to stop paying attention to bad reviews and work on our communication skills to gain good reviews.

Bad reviews are going to happen if customers have a bad experience; the hard thing is encouraging customers to post positive reviews.

Six Ways to Boost Your Yelp Rating

  1. Do good business.  First and foremost, make sure you are tight from the inside out.  Don’t expect positive reviews to happen if you’re not giving your customers what they were promised.
  2. Own your Yelp page.  Make sure all the information on the page is correct – the company name, address, cross streets, etc.
  3. Encourage customers to take photos.  When customers are using your product or service, let them know you encourage photo-taking and sharing and direct them to your review page.
  4. Follow-up with customers.  After the sale, follow-up with your customers either by phone or by email and ask them to post a review if they were happy with your services. Send them the link to make it as easy as possible for them.  Here is a recent example of one I received from a florist I used for an event: “Please keep us in mind for any upcoming events, and if you were pleased, do recommend us to friends and/or write us a review on Yelp. And of course if you have any photos of the flowers from the event that you would like to submit, we would greatly appreciate that.”
  5. Send an email blast to past and current customers.  Same idea here as number four.  If you distribute a newsletter, add this as one of the topics, or just send a note to your database about how you’re working on some marketing activities and if they wouldn’t mind, to leave a review on your new Yelp page.
  6. Promote your Yelp ratings.  Take some of the reviews and use them as testimonials, note your star status on your website and like from you blog.  Remember, one star boost can increase your sales.

What other tips do you have for generating positive reviews on Yelp?

It’s tomorrow!
Social Media and Media Relations Measurement
with Johna Burke of BurrellesLuce and our own Gini Dietrich.
Thursday October 27 at 11:00 a.m. CT.
This webinar is $50 and you can register here.