Mike Hanbery July 3, 2014

Denver Internet Marketing: Yelp Advertising – Should we?

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Should Yelp advertising be a part of your business plan? The answer may be pretty close to black and white.

If you own a brick and mortar business, you probably have a listing on Yelp, even and perhaps especially if you didn’t create it. If you didn’t create it, it’s best to go find it now to make sure your information, especially the name, address and phone number, is correct to the character. And while you’re there, why not take the time to present your business in the best light?

You can do all that without parting with a dime. As soon as you do it, however—or sometimes, even if you haven’t—you’ll get a pressure-packed call from a pushy Yelp salesperson who will provide sketchy data and veiled threats insisting that you need to give Yelp money. This behavior is one of the reasons businesses hate Yelp.

Yelp Advertising – Fitting the Profile

Businesses finding quality leads and a favorable cost per lead on Yelp fall into a narrow description:

  • Business to Consumer (B to C)
  • Service provider
  • Widely needed
  • High profit margin
  • Established, with a history and inventory of loyal customers
  • Have systems in place, or the means to create them, to generate reviews on the network
  • Have staff or partners experienced in creating online display ads that drive inbound traffic
  • Can sustain a commitment of 6 to 12 months of $400 without compromising other business initiatives

Businesses fitting this profile are well-established service providers of skilled labor, such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, arborists and concrete repair.

Advertisements on Yelp draw people to a business’s Yelp page. Will yours convert visitors to leads? Because of the gravity Yelpers (especially, but people in general) place on peer reviews, the answer lies in your perceived online reputation.

Your business should not advertise on Yelp if:

  • The $400 per month and 6-month minimum commitment occupies a significant portion of your advertising budget.
  • You do not fit the profile described above.
  • You lack the ability to successfully and proactively generate positive reviews in significant volume

Webolutions, a Denver Website Design and Digital Marketing Agency, rarely recommends Yelp advertising because in most cases, we find we can generate greater impact with $400 per month and less long-term commitment in different areas. Sometimes this is as transactional as Google AdWords, sometimes ROI is better generated by consulting on improving the sales process, and sometimes it pays to focus on better defining and implementing the brand experience to generate more referrals. In the myriad of ways to spend money on internet marketing and advertising, Yelp rarely rises to the top of the consideration pile.

How to Use this Information
Decisions made under pressure and without due diligence rarely work out. When considering Yelp advertising, weigh the opportunity cost alongside:

  • The actual cost and commitment
  • What else you can do with those funds to grow your business.
  • Can you track the cost per lead and the overall effectiveness of the campaign?
  • Do you fit the profile, or is your $2400 – $4800 better spent meeting people face to face, advertising on broader platforms, improving your conversion funnel…
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