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How Your Business Can Benefit From a Yelp Listing

yelpDid you know that many people rely on Yelp for advice on dry cleaners, restaurants, retailers, service providers, gardeners, handymen, and so on as they assume Yelp to be a reliable site that supports all comments without bias, irrespective of whether they are good or bad. In fact, according to the Yelp blog, the second quarter of 2018 witnessed a whopping 74 million unique visitors on an average every month, while 72 million unique mobile devices users utilized Yelp's mobile application on a monthly average basis. With more than 163 million reviews submitted by Yelpers, Yelp is surely a dominant force when you consider social review sites that help customers decide on anything from the city's most renowned lawyer to its tastiest burger.

In case you own a local business, your online presence can be effectively enhanced with a Yelp listing. Many restaurant owners have used Yelp to bring great benefits to their business, and are constantly trying to improve their star ratings on Yelp. However, it doesn’t mean that Yelp can help only restaurateurs. In fact, 75% of the Yelp listings include other businesses, which show why customers turn to this site before making decisions for anything related to local businesses.

Whether you have an existing business that needs to attract new customers from the neighborhood, or plan to launch a new venture that would need the patronage of local consumers, the ever-increasing audience on Yelp can help. So, almost everyone from a web designer, SEO specialist, restaurateur, and lawyer, to a physician, chiropractor, plumber, and gardener can benefit from Yelp listings.

Why use Yelp

If you are still apprehensive about using Yelp, here are some of the benefits of Yelp listings:

Being found online easily: Many people may not even know that your business exists. A yelp listing can not only help your business being found by people searching Yelp but can also appear on search engine results, thus increasing your online visibility.

Boost SEO efforts: Your Yelp listing gives you the chance to add description of your business, get reviews, and link your listing back to your website. By choosing relevant keywords and listing back to the right page of your website, you can boost your business’s SEO efforts. This would also mean that your Yelp listing starts appearing in the top few pages of major search engine results, which in turn will help boost your business.

Free publicity: By adding your business name, address (complete with city and zip code), phone number etc, you can make it easy for people to visit your shop and buy from you. Thus, you can use the Yelp platform for free to advertise your offerings.

Understand your clients: By checking user reviews, you can understand what your customers love and loathe about your offerings. This way, you can fix things that don’t work, and focus better on the ones that work. You may even communicate with your customers both publicly and privately to understand what they want.

Using in lieu of a website: Start-ups with a cash crunch may find it difficult to invest in creating a website. Yelp listing can be used temporarily for the purpose. Your Yelp listing can easily give your company an online presence as you can add pictures, address, description etc, all of which are usually found on a website.

Tapping clientele on the go: With many people using the Yelp app on their mobile phones, it becomes easy to tap into the ever increasing brigade of smartphone device users and let them know about your business.

How to use Yelp

If your business already has some reviews on Yelp, you can claim the listing and add additional information, contact number etc. You may search your business name to find if any listing already exists or not. If you find one, you would need to click the link marked “Work here? Unlock this Business Page” to add details/contact information. In case your business doesn’t have any existence on Yelp, you may create a new business page. You can read the support page to get started. 

Once you are on Yelp, you can engage in meaningful conversations with your customers by replying to their feedback publicly or privately. This way, you can retain happy customers, and convert those not too happy with promises of better services,

You may also create deals in minutes, and get paid when Yelp visitors buy your deals. Posting check-in offers, which are showed on Yelp's Mobile Applications, is yet another method of promoting your business to users searching nearby.

Keeping an eye on your competitors, viewing business trends, analyzing the performance of your business page with charts and stats are some other things that can help you to improve your business and leverage Yelp.

So, start using Yelp to beneift your business if you aren’t already doing so.

5 Ways to Maximize Attendance at Your Next Event

Getting people to register for an eventDrive registrations and attendance through email and social media marketing

With any event, be it a class, seminar, open house, fundraising gala, or something in between, the ultimate goal is to get as many people as possible to attend. There's no point in planning a free or fee-based event if no one shows up.

To get the most out of your event efforts, here are five ways to maximize registration and increase attendance:

1. Save the date
People are busy and calendars fill fast, so you want to make sure your event is on your intended attendees' calendars as early as possible. Once you have the basic logistics (when and where) nailed down for your event, let all your desired attendees know with a save the date email. For invitation-only events, send an email and/or mail a save-the-date postcard to the future guest list to get on their calendars.

If your event is open to the public, you can and should add social media marketing to the mix by posting the date and details to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts -- essentially, to any social media network where you connect with members and customers. When using social media marketing, particularly Twitter, it is recommended that you link to an event homepage so those thinking about attending can find out additional information beyond what you can fit in 140 characters. You can host the event homepage on your own site or build one using Event Marketing. For the latter, remove the registration button from the homepage until you're ready to start accepting them.

2. Send an email invitation
About six to eight weeks prior to your event, send out an official invitation to your contact or target guest list. A personalized invitation makes the recipient feel wanted and can help compel him or her to register for your event. The invite should clearly outline the key event details and explain the benefits of attending from the recipient's point of view. Keep the invitation itself short and to the point. To provide additional information about your event, link to an event homepage.

At this point in the event planning process, registration for your event should be open and ready to accept guests.

3. Promote your event through social media
For events that are open to the public, use social media marketing to spread word to customers and members as soon as your invitations go out. Using social media allows you to promote your event multiple times a week, which you can't do with email. Change up your wording a bit for each pitch to your social networks so it doesn't look like you're constantly posting the exact same thing. And, like with your save-the-date email, link to an event homepage to give would-be attendees more information.

One variation on this idea: You could offer limited-time exclusive access to your event to email subscribers -- providing a benefit to your most loyal customers and members -- and hold off on the social media marketing until the exclusivity window has passed.

4. Send follow-up reminders to non-registrants and registrants
Within a few days of the event, send a follow-up email invitation to those on your original invitation list who have yet to register. Change the subject line to add a sense of urgency, such as "Only 2 days left to register" or "5 seats left -- register now."

For those who have registered, you can send them an email reminder that the event is coming up shortly and provide any last minute details that they may need to know. For free events, this helpful reminder can help drive attendance and lower the no-show rate.

5. Ask your attendees for a little promotional help
Word-of-mouth referrals are the Holy Grail of marketing, so why not get a few referrals for your event? Ask attendees to tell their social media friends and followers that they are attending your event. Make it easy by giving them the text and a pre-shortened link to your event homepage or registration page that they can copy and paste to Twitter and Facebook. For Twitter users, add a hashtag (a # sign followed by a word or phrase, i.e. #homeshow2018) to brand individual tweets about your event. This lets Twitter users (and you) easily see who else is tweeting about the event.

Planning an event is a time-consuming process. Use these five tips to ensure all that hard work pays off by using every promotional channel available to you to maximize attendance at you gathering.

10 Tips to Maintain Email Relationships

Yes permission grantedIn the world of email marketing: permission-based email marketers are the good guys.

They value the trust and privacy of each and every customer that walks through their door and thus, the trust and privacy of every subscriber that joins their email list. As a result, they have better open rates, less spam reports, and more opportunities to grow their business with email marketing.

Permission-based email marketing is the best route to developing long-lasting customer relationships that can drive repeat sales and valuable word-of-mouth for your business. And these practices also keep you in compliance with legislation such the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-Spam) and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

1. Collect email addresses the right way
If you’re adding a new contact to your email list, it’s important that you have consent, either implied or express.

Implied consent is inferred based on actions, such as having an existing business relationship (making a purchase or donation, for example). In order to maintain implied consent to comply with CASL a contact must take a business action with you at least once every two years. Under CAN-Spam there is no need to maintain implied consent, it is assumed until the receiver indicates they no longer wish to receive messages.

Express consent is obtained when you explicitly ask your potential contacts for permission to send them email, and they agree. Once you obtain express consent, it is good forever or until someone opts out.

When possible we recommend obtaining express consent.

2. Be straightforward at the point of sign up
When asking people to join your list, be straightforward about what type of content you plan to send. Special offers, promotions, and exclusive content are great incentive for people to join your list but if you don’t follow-through, you could lose them as a reader and possibly as a customer.

DO YOU HAVE EXPRESS CONSENT?
ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS
• Does your sign-up form have clear and obvious language asking for permission to send the contact future electronic messaging?
• Does your sign-up form clearly identify the person, business, or organization asking for the consent?
• Does your sign-up form contain a valid mailing address and either a telephone number, email address, or web address?
• Does your sign-up form indicate that there will be a mechanism for people to easily unsubscribe at any time?
• Do you have a process in place to document this express consent?

3. Give people the option to opt-out
Permission can be given, and it can be taken away. It is very important that every email you send has the option for the recipient to unsubscribe or “opt-out.” Interests may change over time and communications may no longer be valuable to a given subscriber.

4. Add a permission reminder to your emails
Whether they are a valued customer, a prospect who expressed interest or a client you want to keep in touch with — adding a permission reminder will add credibility and help provide context for your email.

5. Respect your audience’s privacy
Trust will play a big part in whether or not someone decides to join your list. Your privacy policy should be clearly posted. It adds credibility to your company and your email even if recipients do not click on the link.

6. Keep your contacts up-to-date
People change email service providers, jobs and email addresses at random. Often, you’ll be the last to know.

Ask for updated information and give subscribers an easy way to change their email address. This will ensure that your communications continue to be received if, and when, they make a change.

7. Don’t overwhelm your audience
Respect the privilege of communicating with your customers and prospects by taking care not to communicate too often. Think carefully and plan how many, and what kind of communications you send to your subscribers.

8. Be diligent
Some subscribers will reply to an email to unsubscribe instead of using the automatic unsubscribe link. Monitor your inbox for unsubscribes, and complaints, then make sure you remove unsubscribe addresses right away and take action on any grievances.

9. Watch your reports
Look at your reports! There’s a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered. Always pay attention to your unsubscribe rate — if you are losing more than 0.5% of your subscribers per month, you need to make adjustments. Opens and click-throughs can also indicate where you might be missing the mark.

10. Never buy or rent a list
Beware of strangers bearing lists! Permission is not transferable. Today, subscribers want to receive email from those companies they have subscribed to, not an unknown third party. Don’t be fooled by the false promise of ready-to-buy lists.

Be part of the solution!
Remember, permission-based email marketing is the best route to developing long-lasting customer relationships. Follow these 10 steps and you’ll be on your way to better results from your marketing and your business.

7 Reasons to Stop Using Flash

Adobe FlashAdobe Flash enables unmatched interactivity, protects source code, and it is especially well-suited for animation and media. Used in moderation, it can add necessary interactive elements or movement to bring a website to life. However, there are several reasons why we suggest not building an entire website or having your main website functionality (menu or main message) within Flash.

Not Search Engine Friendly: Just recently Google and Yahoo search engines have gained the capabilities to read Flash files – that is IF developers carefully include many additional steps when configuring the flash movie. There are still limitations in what links search engines can crawl or index. This means the text contained within the flash may not be picked up by search engines, which prohibits search engines from being found and listing this vital content to your prospective customers. Google still suggests to use Flash sparingly.

Immobile: Being the mobile society we are (an estimated 6.8 billion mobile phones worldwide in 2018) – it’s really disappointing for the millions of cell phone users that stumble across a website they CANNOT view because it is entirely flash based and says “You must have Flash Player to view this.” The Flash architecture is designed to work with desktop/laptop computers and not iPhones. Though Apple is in talk with Adobe for incorporating Flash, the deal seems indefinite at this point.

Lack of Consistent Cross-Platform Support: We’ve all had the Internet Explorer woe, and inserting Flash isn’t as simple as adding HTML tags to a document. You will need JavaScript support to help assist certain browsers in loading the page. Furthermore, there are all sorts of peculiarities that you’ll notice when integrating Flash elements into your webpage.

Slow Load (yawn): Flash sites are great, but take an eternity to load, thus the reason for the “Loading” image. You will notice that just about all “flash websites” load significantly slower than their HTML counterpart.

Flash Player Required: Having just bought a new computer, I had to download the Flash Player from the Adobe website in order to be able to view Flash animations. However, people can choose not to download it, thereby not seeing potentially valuable content on your site.

Accessibility: Adobe Flash is not accessible to those with vision impairments or who use text readers without MAJOR modifications. Therefore, without these critical modifications these Flash sites cannot be read. Most government and higher education websites must be Section 508 Compliant – which Flash is not.

Cost: The most obvious disadvantage of Flash is the high-priced software, around $700. The additional cost of purchasing the software’s, and the cost required for maintenance and upgrades to the latest versions turn out to be unreasonable for small business owners and web developers. HTML on the other hand is highly affordable.

Though Flash is useful in some cases, we believe it is important to know the limitations of utilizing this technology when building websites or selecting a developer for your site.