I Sat Through The Yelp Representative's Pitch, So You Can Decide If You Want To

Conclusion: Mixed feelings but mostly positive. Somewhat funny.

Ever since I claimed the Yelp Business profile for the dojo, the representative for my particular account has been trying to get a hold of me. Calls every other day, which I mostly ignore because while testing out the different ad platforms (Yelp, IG, FB) is on my list of to-do's, it ranked a little lower than all of the other things I've been dealing with.

I have to give him points for persistence, not many people can fake a cheery voice each and every message they leave, and I have to confess that the only reason I picked up was because they ended up calling the dojo business line and I didn't immediately hang up because I felt bad for him. My brain works like this: If I have to do something I don't really enjoy doing, I'll try to find something good out of it. In this case, I tested the Yelp representatives knowledge on current marketing trends (and probably his patience) and he ended up making a sale (that I was eventually going to do anyway.)

His pitch took an hour to finish, so if you don't have time to sit through it, don't. It's not going to affect your reviews. I think it would have taken shorter if I didn't bombard him with so many questions, but if I could glean insights as to how they gather and analyze their data, it would be quite beneficial to all of us.

Be forewarned, if you do choose to take your representatives calls, know that they'll usually try to steer you towards a specific action a minimum of 3 times. If you are firm all 3 times, they will stop. If they don't, it's an automatic hang up from me. I'm okay with pushy because I know it's what they're trained to do, but I do have a line. You should find yours before taking any sales calls.

The entire thing went like this--the beginning was him introducing himself, asking a little bit about me, then trying to find out a little bit about the business and how our income is generated, and then based on that, he pitched what Yelp could do for me by showing me some statistical data he had for my particular niche.

1. According to him, about 1k users looked specifically for the words "Martial Arts" in the last month on Long Island, and he showed me some Yelp tools that provided a more in depth look at my profile, as well as the statistics of people who utilize Yelp in general. He directed me to the Yelp fact sheet (found here) which has some rudimentary statistics about the general population of Yelp users. The only reason this intrigued me was because I was now much more aware that Yelp had a plethora of data that I could possibly exploi--I mean, give ideas on how to collect and utilize data in general. There's a specific tool in the Yelp business profile (once you claim yours) that show how many people managed to land on the page your business is on. I'll give you some numbers. If you search the keywords "Japanese Martial Art" in the "Long Island, NY" area, we pop up on the first page. Same with "Aikido." If you search "Martial Art," we pop up on page 7. According to their data, 515 unique users "saw" our profile in the last 12 months, as in, their eyes glanced it on the list. Out of that, 76 users clicked on our page with 18 total leads (which is where they take another action after viewing our profile, such as clicking on our website.) That's a 3.5% lead generation rate, which is within normal range for advertising. I'm typing out this data here for two reasons: so I can track if Yelp ads delivers its promise, and for you guys to also see it too.

2. According to him, he believes Yelp can add an extra 25 students for us if we choose to use their paid advertisement function. He slipped up here because he said "in the next month" and I had to correct him that if we managed to get that and we're talking conventional marketing statistics, it would mean that over 25k users sees our ad (conservatively speaking, 1% of that will click on the ad, and another 1% of what clicked on the ad will actually convert to a sale)--which is impossible given he himself gave me the 1k number of views in a single month for the keywords "Martial Arts." I gently let him know that I understand it takes more than just a month to see a return on any sort of marketing campaign.

3. He led me to one of the other martial arts schools that utilized Yelp ads just to show me a few things including the fact that a paid profile prevents other profiles from showing up on your specific page (which is, admittedly, a good function), a call to action button (like "mention Yelp and get a free uniform.) What he did NOT expect me to start honing in on was the fact that out of the 12 five star reviews this school had, 11 triggered Yelp's algorithm to hide them in "not recommended." I checked and it looked like all the reviews were done within the span of a month (you need about 15 - 20 days between each review.) When I pointed that out that it would cause Yelp users to distrust this business page and asked if that happened to us, what I'd need to do to get them back up (a question that I had been meaning to ask to see if their business model was true), he did apologize and say there was no way to undo that because Yelp doesn't allow businesses to pay to have those reviews reinstated. So, at least I've now confirmed that Yelp doesn't let businesses get out of removing poor reviews or only showcasing good ones, so I count that as a score in my knowledge base.

4. I was VERY interested in the "Activity Feed" function of the business page (this is free for all Yelp business profiles--which is free to claim) because it shows what actual action the user who clicked on your profile did--not just leaving a review but from clicking on your website to checking you on maps for directions to clicking your phone number. I do know that most of our calls recently (which has seen an uptick) has not been due to Yelp at all, since it didn't show any actions relating to calls.

5. Once we got into the actual billing process, he pushed HARD on using the $15/day payment plan, even though you can go down to $5 a day. While daunting, this payment plan is more of a "max" rather than an absolute--so they only spend that budget if there were clicks on the ads themselves. I must confess, I still don't 100% trust Yelp that they don't have bots working for them to click on our profile link to "show" they're working, so I chose the $5 a day function, plus the enhanced profile which is $3 a day. However, this can easily be turned off if you don't like how it works (I ended up turning the enhanced one off). I imagine I would allow it to run for a minimum of 7 months before deciding if I'd like to continue utilizing it. In order to coax me into using the $15 a day one, he tried giving me a coupon for Yelp to match clicks, so instead it would be like if I had a budget of $30 instead for the first 150 clicks. Now comes the part where I'm not entirely certain if it's worth it--each click is $5. While the actual average views per month for me is 8 - 9, that can quickly rack up once sponsored whereas Facebook's cost per click is .27, and IG is between .20 - $2, and depending on the keyword used, Google Ads can cost between $1 - $50.

While I still chose the $5 option (since this whole campaign is a test to see if it's worth it), he did try to convince me 2 more times--the first was the coupon, but I pointed out that my $5 a day is still 1/3rd of the cost compared to 1/2 the cost of matching my clicks. Then offered me the same at the $10 a day level when he saw I wouldn't budge.

Then he tried to say that I should be spending 10% of my desired outcome on marketing (which is true--that is conventional marketing budget) but I pointed out that I wasn't JUST using Yelp ads, and if we were to talk about theory, that 10% should cover a minimum of 7x campaign renewal, which even the $5 a day is pushing it if my projection is eventually of a $3125 extra (25 new students) a month, because let's say all goes well and I hit that at the end of the 7 month long campaign run, that's an average of 3 - 4 new students every month. Ultimately, the total revenue I'd get would be a little over 12k for those 7 months which would mean my budget for marketing should be at the $178.57 level...which is a little more than $5 per day level. He finally acquiesced after I worked out the numbers with him.

The formula goes like this if you're using a 7 month campaign like I am: (number of students/7 * revenue per person) + (ans * 2) + (ans * 3)..... all the way to 7.

That's also not taking into account that conventional conversion rates aren't very high, yet implying they can get us 3 - 4 extra students out of 30 clicks a month is a 10%+ conversion rate, but he said the ads are specifically targeted... which is true and can boost conversion rates, but I'll be a believer if it works by the end of this test campaign.

6. You can truly cancel the billing at any time with no penalty. I played with this function. I would have raised hell if I couldn't but they were very honest about this.

7. I asked if they had any data for a male predominant niche such as martial arts, whether the pictures in the ads being female or male would improve the chances of conversion. They did not have data on that. Oh well. I guess this is when AB testing should be utilized.

8. I noticed they had a "women's owned" business category which was very cool (especially for companies who rely on government contracts) and asked if they had veteran and minority owned as well, but he said it was in the talks but he hasn't heard anything about it.

9. Their call to action functions (sign up through Yelp/Mention Yelp for whatever) are interesting (but cost extra money to do) since it can also directly show you how many customers are from Yelp. They do have a function for coupons and gift certificates that is free to set up and you only pay commission if the customer purchases it.

10. He was taken aback enough by what I was utilizing that he was likely less pushy with me than he is with other business owners who don't know the exact numbers when it comes to marketing. Knowledge is power and all that. He did seem somewhat embarrassed when I called him out on certain things, but in the end, he did "close" the sale and I got some valuable insights to share with you all. Be confident, know your business, and know your numbers!