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Darnell Holloway of Yelp Answers Property Managers’ Online Reputation Questions

We received so many great questions and feedback from last week’s webinar Attract the Modern Renter: How to Leverage Mobile Trends, Online Reviews, and More, that we wanted to share host Darnell Holloway of Yelp’s responses to your key questions about online reviews, and how to leverage Yelp to your advantage. Here’s what he had to say:

What’s the biggest driver for good reviews?

The biggest driver for good reviews is great customer service. We did a study internally looking at all the reviews on Yelp that mention good and bad customer service. What we found was if a review says good customer service, that review is over five times as likely to get a five-star review than a one-star review. So there’s a direct correlation with the experience people have when they’re dealing with the business and the rating they give the business.

How do you know if someone pushed a customer into writing a review?

We actually use recommendation software. It looks at quality, reliability and the user’s activity on Yelp. So at any given time, we’re highlighting about 75 percent of the reviews that have been submitted to the site of the 57 million that have been written. That’s really been the best way to make sure that we’re displaying the most useful and reliable reviews to our audience of consumers. It’s a computer algorithm. There are three things that it looks at to determine when to not recommend a review. Reviews that are fake or biased are not going to be recommended. If we see a bunch of reviews coming from the same IP address … we don’t feel confident enough to say whether or not that’s the business owners themselves writing the reviews or getting their happy customers to write reviews. So we’re just going to err on the side of not recommending those. If someone posts a really positive rave or negative rant and doesn’t post much beyond that, we don’t know how useful that is. And then we’re not likely to recommend reviews from users that we don’t have a lot of information about.

Is asking happy customers to rate their business on Yelp a good idea or not?

We actually recommend businesses let people know that they’re on Yelp but stop short of soliciting reviews. What I’ve learned is the best strategy is to just give people touch points. You want to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, so people can remember to find you on Yelp, and if they want to review you, they’ll do that on their own. The business card is being repurposed now. A lot of people now have icons for Yelp, Facebook, Twitter on their business cards, and that’s a soft touch point for people to engage with them on those sites, whether that’s a review on Yelp, a like on Facebook or a follow on Twitter. Same thing with the email auto-signature.

In a nutshell, what are the three top ways to leverage yelp.com as a property management firm?

The three keys to success for a property manager on Yelp are as follows:

1) Personalize your business page by adding content Yelp offers business owners a free suite of tools at biz.yelp.com that allow them to, among other things, add content to their business listing in order to customize it, including adding photos. We found that posting pictures on your business page may result in Yelp users spending 2.5X more time on your listing. Also take advantage of the “About This Business” section to paint a clear picture of who you are, what you specialize in and why consumers should choose you. The more detail, the better.

2) Provide great customer service and let reviews build organically Although it may seem simple, our best recommendation for property managers is to continue providing a great experience for tenants and owners. As mentioned above, our research shows that when a Yelp user mentions “good customer service” in a review, that review is over 5X as likely to be a five star review versus a one star review. It’s also important to let reviews build organically. Rather than asking for reviews, let consumers know you have a presence on Yelp and allow them to connect the dots on their own.

3) Use review content as market research Do a search on Yelp for property managers in your city, or any major metro for that matter, and sort by highest rated. Read through the reviews to get a sense of what these property managers are doing well. Use this information about your peers to determine whether or not there are areas that you can possibly improve on.

Over the years, what has been the most effective yelp.com marketing campaign that you’ve come across?

The most effective marketing campaigns tend to incorporate as many of Yelp’s free and paid features as possible. For example, property managers who do everything on the list below will be much better positioned than competitors who are doing nothing:

Free services:

  • Fully build out their free listing with great photos and lots of personalized information about their business

  • Consistently use Yelp’s free review response tools to address both positive and negative reviews

  • Post a check-in offer to target mobile Yelp users. We highlighted several great examples during our webinar. For example: “No Application Fee On Your Lease When You Check in.”

Paid services:

  • Buy search ads to drive additional traffic to their business page

  • Buy an enhanced profile listing which includes a video of the business and/or a photo slideshow to help conversion rates

  • Go to yelp.com/advertising to learn about your options

How should a property management firm respond to a positive vs. negative review?

While 80% of the reviews on Yelp are three stars or higher, every business out there will likely receive negative feedback at some point because it’s impossible to please 100% of the people you deal with 100% of the time. That being said, don’t lose your cool when it happens to you. Instead, take some time to think about what customer service policies you have in place in the offline world and apply that same logic when dealing with online reviewers. To be specific, consider implementing constructive feedback when appropriate and get in the habit of addressing the concerns of critical reviewers (diplomatically of course) using the private message or public comment feature at biz.yelp.com.

How do we know this approach is effective for business owners? We went straight to the source. Over the past year we held numerous town hall meetings with business owners and members of the Yelp Elite squad (some of our most prolific reviewers) to learn what resonates with consumers. Yelp users consistently mentioned that they appreciate getting a response from business owners after leaving reviews, whether positive or negative. We also continue to see examples of how a well thought out response to a negative review has the potential to result result in a bump in star rating.

How should a property management firm measure the ROI of yelp.com?

The business owner’s dashboard found at biz.yelp.com is the best way to get a sense of overall ROI. This free feature gives property managers the ability to track traffic to their page from both desktop and mobile consumers. In addition to User Views, we also track User Actions which includes of mobile calls, website clicks, bookmarks, mobile check-ins, and GPS directions mapped to your business. These User Actions should be thought of as potential customer leads and can give you a sense of the overall impact your Yelp presence is having on your business. Finally, the revenue estimate tool (also found in the dashboard) does the math for you by multiplying customer leads sent from Yelp each month by the business’s average revenue per customer lead so you can truly understand the financial impact Yelp is having on your business.

For more on this important topic, check out the webinar recap and recording here.

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