In this installment of the Ignite Visibility University podcast, I sat down with Jessica Carlin, Partner Sales Director at Yelp to talk about how local businesses can use Yelp to land more sales.
A Little Bit About Jessica Carlin
Carlin started out at Yelp as a sales rep. She spent her days calling different businesses to help them get set up on the platform.
She did that for about a year and a half before moving on to the mid-market division. There, she worked with larger brands (businesses with 15 to 75 locations).
Now, Carlin builds and maintains partnerships with marketing agencies like Ignite Visibility.
The Right Business for Yelp
I started the interview by asking Jessica Carlin about the right types of businesses for Yelp.
Before answering, she took a step back to debunk a common myth.
A lot of folks think that Yelp is just a review site, she said. But it’s not.
Yelp is really a business directory at its core. You can think of the company as the modern day Yellow Pages.
So, to answer the question I asked, Carlin said that businesses in all categories belong on Yelp.
She also pointed out that businesses should look at their local markets to determine how to best use the platform.
In an urban area, for example, Yelp listings might gain more traction than in rural South Dakota.
Carlin advises businesses to consider Yelp search volumes for categories rather than just looking at specific verticals.
If you’re running a plumbing business, for example, and you find that there were 65,000 searches for plumbing-related queries on Yelp in your area during the past month, you should consider getting a presence on the platform.
I also talked to Carlin about running targeted ads on Yelp.
She replied by saying that, unlike other platforms, Yelp isn’t a keyword-driven platform when it comes to advertising. Instead, it’s a category-driven platform.
However, Jessica Carlin said, the platform does allow you to block certain keywords.
For example, if you’re running a plumbing business but you don’t perform certain services, you can enter negative keywords so people who search for that term won’t see your business.
She went on to say that Yelp also offers custom location targeting. That means you aren’t restricted to targeting your ads only in your immediate area.
If you run a ski resort in Tahoe, for example, you can target your ads in southern California. That’s a great way to reach out to tourists.
Next, I asked Carlin about how to measure the effectiveness of ads on Yelp.
If you run a pizza shop and advertise on Yelp, and somebody walks into my place of business after seeing an ad, how do I know to give credit to Yelp advertising?
The platform also puts Urchin Traffic Monitor (UTM) codes in URLs. Those codes give analytics platforms details about where visitors come from when they visit a landing page.
Yelp also offers advertisers the “full scope” of info about the leads they’re generating from ad campaigns. The data comes from:
- Phone calls
- Requests for directions
- Website clicks
- Form submissions
Jessica Carlin also highlighted the importance of advertising on Yelp because people who go there are often at the bottom end of the sales funnel.
To put the icing on the cake, she cited a stat showing that a whopping 93% of folks who start a search on Yelp end up making a transaction with one of the businesses listed on the site.
I also asked Carlin about profile enhancement.
She started off by saying that profile enhancements exist to increase conversion rates for businesses that use them.
And that’s it. That’s the only reason they exist.
Carlin talked about three new profile enhancement products offered on Yelp:
- Verified license – A digital badge showing users that the business has a verified trade license. It’s a way to give consumers peace of mind.
- Business highlights – One or more digital badges that provide important details about the business, such as “Women owned and operated,” “Free estimates,” and “Family owned and operated.”
- Portfolio – A virtual gallery that highlights previous business work. It’s a great choice for people in the home decor, remodeling, or construction verticals.
But, she said, what’s great about profile enhancement is not just that the enhancements appear in your profile. They also appear in your ads and in your organic listing.
So the investment you make pays off in multiple ways.
Carlin also pointed that you can use business highlights during the pandemic to highlight how your company protects people from COVID-19.
Wrapping It Up
Even the most experienced marketers often overlook Yelp. If you’re one of them, make 2021 the year that changes.
Take a look at the platform. Consider the suggestions and features that Jessica Carlin told me about during the interview.
Then, make an informed decision about how you can best use Yelp to boost your business.