Local businesses have a love/hate relationship with review site Yelp: The site sends new customer leads to the businesses reviewed. But businesses can also be reviewed (and trashed) without even knowing Yelp exists.
Businesses like Oakland coffee shop Cafe Rooz felt slighted by the ratings site when a few vocal customers posted poor reviews. They went so far as to declare No Yelpers. But still others have benefited. According to Yelp, Joe Alexander’s San Francisco based mattress store, Keetsa, gets 80 percent of its total monthly business directly from Yelp.
In either case it’s a sign of the influence the site has over businesses as a lead generation – or degeneration – tool. Now Yelp is releasing a suite of business tools to give business owners tools to participate more directly in the conversation.
The suite is available at biz.yelp.com and lets businesses:
- Message customers who have reviewed their business
- See how many prospective customers viewed their business page
- Update business information instantly (i.e. hours of operation, categories)
- Receive new review email alerts
Yelp, which has raised $31 million in venture capital, continues to grow briskly. Comscore says they have 3.7 million unique monthly visitors; Compete says it’s more like 9 million.