Yelp released its earnings report for the third quarter this week, and during its conference call, revealed some staggering numbers related to its recently added mobile review feature. The bottom line is that the feature is hugely popular, and continues to become more so. That means people are more likely to leave a review as soon as they interact with your business, while their experience is fresh in their minds.
Do you think mobile reviews are having an impact on your business? Let us know in the comments.
Yelp says it is seeing 10,000 mobile reviews each day, representing 25% of its daily review volume. Already.
"We're just getting started," CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said during the call, noting that mobile review functionality just hit Android a few weeks ago.
In fact, the functionality wasn't present in the iOS app either until just a couple months ago. Clearly the feature is having a major impact on how consumers use Yelp, as was to be expected.
"How it affects contributors is hard to say at this point," said Stoppelman, adding that "folks that have been asking for it are quite delighted." He says they're seeing that coming up in the reviews themselves.
He added that the mobile reviews should continue to lead to more traffic to Yelp.
It's only the latest in a series of mobile enhancements Yelp has made in recent months. They also recently added the ability to match users' photos with their reviews, and display them together, potentially helping businesses feature more imagery. According to Yelp, users stay on business listings 2.5 times longer when they have photos.
Of course users can still leave "Tips" via the mobile apps. These are the "bite-sized" content compared to the reviews that enable customers to go into further detail about their experience.
During the call, Yelp also noted that they've hired some more Android developers to keep the Android app on parity with the iOS app.
During the quarter, 46% of Yelp’s local ads were shown on mobile devices, approximately 62% of searches were on mobile devices, and mobile app usage increased to about 11.2 million unique devices on a monthly average basis.
Stoppelman said, “We saw another quarter of strong momentum thanks to the high-quality, authentic content contributed by Yelpers around the world. Our focus on connecting consumers with great local businesses continues to drive our success. In the third quarter, we improved the user experience by adding the ability to write and post reviews from mobile and launched new features such as the customer activity feed for business owners. Looking to the rest of the year and beyond, we are well positioned to capture the large local opportunity ahead of us through our innovation around mobile, geographic expansion and closing the loop with local businesses.”
Yelp reviews have long been controversial with business owners between fake reviews, Yelp's review filter and people making defamation claims.
Earlier this month, Yelp posted some tips for business owners to manage their reputations, which basically boiled down to determining where you want to focus your attention, attracting potential customers by using Yelp's tools (like business info, photos and deals/gift certificates) and connecting with customers.
"When someone reviews your business on Yelp, you have two options to connect with that customer: send a private message or add a public comment," wrote Morgan Remmers, Manager of Local Business Outreach for Yelp. "Sending a private message is much like sending someone a personal email and goes directly to the reviewer. A public comment posts directly below the consumer’s review for the public to see."
"A good use of the public commenting tool is to state your business’ policy or clarify any inaccuracies in the review," Remmers added. "Regardless of the response tool you choose to use, respond diplomatically, thank the reviewer for sharing their feedback and ask someone less involved in your business to read over your response before you hit the ‘send’ button. Keep in mind that consumers are looking at the BIG picture about how your business is being perceived so don’t focus or obsess over any single review."
Separately, Yelp shared some comments from actual business owners from its Small Business Advisory Council panel:
“I handle negative reviews online the same way I would in the restaurant. You deal with it as an owner, you address the problem and rectify it as fairly as possible.” - Valarie Girard, Les Deux Gamins in Montréal, QC
“Allowing Yelp to become the explosive tool it's capable of being is most often achieved by providing first class customer service.” Wade Lombard, Square Cow Movers in Austin, TX
“In order to succeed on Yelp, business owners must realize they are not helpless bystanders. They can manage their online reputation by improving their customer service and communicating with reviewers using the tools provided by Yelp, such as business owner comments and private messaging. “ - Julie Lim, OC Wine Mart in Irvine, CA
“Invest the time to understand how to use Yelp to your business’ advantage. This includes developing a holistic, customer centric, high-touch approach to appropriately embrace the word-of-mouth power that Yelp can and will unleash for your brand and business.” - Matt Berman, Bolt Barbers in Los Angeles, CA
As we've seen, business owners at other Yelp events have had some pretty different things to say. You're probably familiar with the complaints by now.
A study released last month found that one fifth of Yelp reviews are phony.
During the third quarter, cumulative reviews grew 42% year-over-year reaching over 47.3 million. Average monthly unique visitors were up 41% year over year at about 117 million, and active local business accounts grew 61% to about 57,200.
Has your Yelp experience improved in recent months? Let us know how it's going.