Yelp continues to prevent businesses from soliciting positive online reviews, but the website has created a new incentive for checking in to businesses that could provide an indirect path to better online reputation management.
According to Marketing Land, Yelp will now let businesses provide "check-in offers" to customers. It's a simple setup: businesses can give their customers small rewards, such as coupons or other gifts, in exchange for checking in through the app. In a roundabout way, this creates an opportunity for brands to get reviews that boost their online reputation.
Encouraging Customers to Leave a Review
By encouraging check-ins, brands can attract customers to their business destinations, a critical step to flooding the Internet with positive reviews. But getting consumers to open the Yelp app while a business is on their minds is half the battle. This is particularly true for positive reviewers, because customers are much more likely to take action when they're unhappy with an experience.
After consumers check in, they can redeem any applicable rewards. At this point, Yelp will prompt the consumer to write a review. This process will likely result in the types of reviews that businesses want.
Building Goodwill Ahead of Reviews
Technically, Yelp's new incentive plan doesn't go against its policy of preventing businesses from soliciting reviews, but it does allows brands to have an advantage when it comes to shaping the review content they receive. Since Yelp's check-in rewards prompt consumers to leave reviews after they have received a discount or free gift, it is likely that these consumers will report a positive experience.
In other words, Yelp is helping businesses bring more satisfied customers into the realm of reviews. Over time, this should produce a higher concentration of positive reviews on the Yelp app, and participating brands should see their reputations rise.
As a result, brands will want to provide check-in rewards. The small cost of a discount or free item will be outweighed by the gains of infusing the Internet review space with positive comments from their consumer base. Any business that is making a serious online reputation management effort will want to take advantage of Yelp's new incentive program.