Yelp is an online business review directory with a social media twist. Yelp hosts profile pages for businesses where customers can share their experiences and leave a rating. In turn, business owners can respond to reviews, post pictures and share other information about their business.
Yelp should be treated as one of your most important social media channels. 81% of customers conduct online research before making a purchasing decision, and Yelp is often the first website they visit. If your Yelp page is incomplete and filled with bad reviews, it will have a direct negative impact on your club. But with a little work, your Yelp page can serve as a free marketing channel that converts curious clickers into real new members.
To help maximize your Yelp page’s effectiveness, here are 5 Yelp tips for gyms:
1. Claim your Page
If you don’t set up a Facebook page for your club, you will not have an official club presence on Facebook. This is not true for Yelp. Yelp pages for businesses are created automatically, like a phone book listing. People are writing reviews on your club’s Yelp page whether you are aware of it or not. By claiming your Yelp page, you gain control over your page and can:
- Respond to reviews, both privately and publicly
- Track the user views and customer leads Yelp generates for your club
- Add new photos and a direct link to your website
- Update important gym information such as your club hours and phone number
Claiming your club’s page is easy. Find your club on this page and Yelp will call you and ask you to verify a code. After that, you’re in charge.
2. Keep your page updated and fresh
Now that you are in charge of your page, fill out everything you can. Add useful and flattering photos of your club, write updates for club events and keep a current listing of your class schedule. Even though this information may be available on your own website, many people check Yelp first. People don’t like to dig for information, so make it easy as possible for Yelp visitors to see your vital club information. Otherwise, they may choose to visit your competitor’s club instead, because they had their hours and class schedule clearly listed.
3. Respond to all reviews
Respond to every member review, especially the negative ones. You can’t delete negative reviews, but publicly responding to a negative review with an apology and a make-up offer such as a free PT session goes a long way. The angry member might never take you up on it, but every potential new member that checks you out on Yelp will see that you treat your members with respect.
4. Tell your members to spread the word
The hardest part of Yelp is getting your members to write positive reviews. It’s an unfortunate reality that many people only leave reviews when they are upset. Your club has to take direct action to get more positive reviews--a Yelp sticker on your entrance isn’t going to cut it. Your club should try as many ways as possible to incentivize and encourage members to write Yelp reviews. Some ideas for increasing your review score are: offering reward program points or class discounts, asking members who post positive things on Facebook to re-post them on Yelp, or instructing your trainers to ask their clients to write reviews after each session.
5. Use Yelp's special offers
Another effective way of driving positive Yelp reviews is by using “Yelp Deals”, which are special offers such as coupons or discounted gift certificates that appear on your Yelp page. These offers get curious prospects into your club and serve as another incentive to try out your club instead of the competition’s. You can also issue “Check-in Offers” that are only given to members who check-in at your club on the Yelp app. These offers are highly beneficial for your club because not only are you getting more prospects in the door, but they are already Yelp users who are more likely to write a positive review.
Yelp doesn’t require the minute-to-minute management that Twitter or Facebook does, but that doesn’t mean you can claim your page and then relax. Keep checking your page, updating your club information, issuing special offers, and above all, encourage your members to write you a glowing review. If you execute your Yelp strategy well, the site should serve as a consistent source of curious prospects walking through your club doors.
Want to increase member engagement on Facebook? Attract more followers on Twitter? Need to get started on Instagram? Read the Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Health Clubs: