A Yelping Hand

Peggy Wynne Borgman

Well, we’ve decided to dance with the devil and start a paid listing for our 27 year old Bay Area day spa on Yelp.

After our first month, the preliminary results are…uh…in. My representative, a very affable and informed young woman named Ali, forwarded the stats to me today. Views of Preston Wynne Spa’s listing are up by 25 this month, she reported. Good news, right?

Well, I paid $300 for my listing this month. That’s $12 an impression.

Yelp is facing a serious challenge–Google has decided to move from being an aggregator of reviews from other sites such as Yahoo, Yelp, and Citysearch to fielding a review site of their own. If anyone can give Yelp a run for its money, it’s Google.

On Google’s list of “Things Not to Do Like Yelp,” I would include the ridiculous practice of deep-sixing users’ one-off reviews. Yelp is so enamored with the idea of its community of “yelpers” that it forgets that not everyone has the time and bandwidth to write frequent reviews. But occasionally, something really extraordinary gets to us (good or bad) and we have to say something about it. Is that person’s opinion necessarily any less valid than the self-styled amateur reviewer who fancies themselves an authority on everything? Google, having a more democratic and straightforward business model (and probably, more mad scientists working on algorithms that will accurately sniff out fake reviews) doesn’t need to create a cult around their review site. They just need to be what they are. Omnipresent and convenient.

The bigger the sample, the more accurate and fair the ratings will be.

We use a product called DemandForce that helps us with CRM. It’s a bolt-on product that works in tandem with our Millenium software. Among other things, DemandForce sends an e mail to everyone who visits the spa for an appointment and asks them for a review. Because DemandForce is tied into Millenium, we know that these are legitimate, real customers who have visited the spa.

The ratings on DemandForce and the ratings on Yelp are different. DemandForce uses a percentage rating, and Yelp uses stars. So five Yelp stars is the equivalent of a 100% approval rating in DemandForce.

We currently have a four star rating on Yelp (80% approval) and a 95% rating on DemandForce. That 15% disparity is huge. It is the difference between being an “A” spa and a “B” spa. And that’s simply the result of the type of person who reviews on Yelp–or more accurately, the type of person that Yelp wants to write its reviews.

Yelp, you’re going to have to do a lot better if you’re going to create a value proposition for both businesses and users.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>