Businesses have had to move quickly to pivot and adapt to changing conditions caused by the pandemic, and the online marketing and reviews platforms that serve them are no different. Yelp announced $25 million in support for local businesses affected by Coronavirus early on in the crisis and since then has continuously evolved to offer new features, functions, and tools to better support listed businesses.
Last month, we learned of new health and safety fields available on Yelp listings. And now, Yelp is giving local businesses new ways to connect with more relevant customers, optimize budgets, and showcase the company’s values.
Let’s see what’s new with Yelp’s listings updates and what they mean for enterprise brands — as well as Yelp’s 90 million users per month.
Gain more control in paid Yelp ad campaigns
From the start of the pandemic, Yelp has worked hard with the clear focus of supporting businesses with staying connected with their customers. To this end, it has continued to roll out updates to enhance the experience of brands that advertise through them.
Several new updates provide companies with greater control of their presence on the platform, including:
Custom Location Targeting (CLT)
Previously, businesses were limited to advertising in a radius around their physical location. Custom Location Targeting enables them to designate specific areas for their Yelp Ads to appear. These locations can be indicated by zip code, city, or neighborhood.
This new feature is particularly beneficial for service-area businesses such as those in the Home and Local Services sector, who don’t always operate in the exact area where their offices are located. It is also better able to serve brands now offering remote and virtual services.
Yelp reports that those utilizing CLT are already seeing a lower Cost-Per-Click (CPC) on their Yelp Ads due to this more relevant targeting. As one participant of the pilot program explains:
“…my ad clicks are never wasted on areas that I don’t want to service… The leads are more relevant, and my time is spent connecting with customers that will generate revenue for my business.”
Yelp has also reconfigured its budget editing experience, providing support for those grappling with their ad spend – a challenging prospect in these uncertain times.
Moving beyond their initial ‘sharing budgets of similar companies’ approach, Yelp’s new machine learning engine now generates recommendations for advertisers based on in-depth analysis of the business’ profile, previous campaign performance, lookalike audience data, and more. This enables business owners to make evidence-backed decisions to optimize their current campaigns.
Showcase brand values
As part of a recent flurry of similar attributes, companies can add to their listing to help customers find and support specific businesses in their local community; Yelp has now added an ‘LGBTQ-Owned’ and an ‘Open to All’ attribute too. These will be highlighted with rainbow-colored map pins for the entire month of June – Pride Month.
With Yelp searches for LGBTQ-owned businesses up by more than 150% through April, it seems that customers are responding to social injustice by seeking out and frequenting businesses owned by members of marginalized communities and their allies. The platform is adapting itself to the needs of its users by supporting and highlighting them in doing this.
Engage with high-intent customers
The introduction of Yelp Connect back in 2019 enabled companies to better communicate with existing customers. This became increasingly important as pandemic restrictions impacted business hours and services, and regular updates were required.
Building on that, Yelp has devised better ways for businesses to target not only existing customers seeking out their specific services but potential ones interacting with similar companies or searching for relevant information.
The tools outlined below assist companies in reaching their target customers more easily:
Connect Audience Model
Previously, Yelp Connect only enabled companies to target users who had bookmarked or followed their Yelp profile. However, the new Connect Audience Model allows them to distribute posts to interested parties who may otherwise be unaware of their business – as outlined above.
Results from the pilot of this service were extremely promising. On average, Home and Local Services brands have seen their consumer engagement increase three-fold. This indicates that businesses have been able to expand the reach of their Connect posts to both a broader and more relevant audience.
Customizable Calls to Action
Rolled out earlier in the year and outlined in our previous article, customizable call to action buttons such as ‘Call (XXX) XXX-XXXX’ and ‘Get Directions’, which let businesses tie them in more closely with post content, have also seen engagement increase by as much as 40%. Moreover, these high levels have been maintained since the feature was introduced.
As Yelp observes:
“Reaching customers directly with relevant, targeted and authentic content has a positive impact on leads.”
Allow business owners to better measure the effectiveness of their advertising
With greater control and more targeted advertising helping companies reach a more relevant audience, Yelp users can also benefit from features that support them in keeping track of how successful their ads are and aiding them with planning future advertising campaigns.
Mobile Yelp for Business Ad Dashboard
To ensure businesses have up-to-date details on how their ads are performing at their fingertips, Yelp has revamped the mobile version of their Business Ad Dashboard.
Now, with a new design, new navigation, and brand-new features previously only available via desktop, it’s never been easier for companies to access in-depth information on their ad campaigns.
Managing Yelp at Scale
As with all local channels, managing and maximizing the opportunity at scale is uniquely challenging for enterprise brands. In order to make sure every local customer has access to the right information and optimize all locations’ rankings and online visibility, it is important to:
- Update each listing when there are changes to key business information or hours of operation, including temporary closures.
- Respond to all reviews, positive and negative, as soon as possible in order to resolve any outstanding customer service issues, engage the customer, and build a healthy and robust reviews profile.
- Use attributes to indicate where special services are available, such as contactless delivery, online ordering, or curbside pickup.
- Optimize each location’s profile as completely as possible with business information, photos, video, health and safety attributes, and other descriptive data that will help that location stand out in Yelp search results.
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