Yelp is a website where the public can rank and review local businesses.
A recent article in the New York Times Technology/Bits section reported that Yelp is implementing changes to allow visibility to suppressed reviews and eliminate the ability of advertisers to post their favorite reviews at the top of the page, thereby addressing charges of bias.
[“Yelp Makes Changes In Response To Small Business Owners” by Claire Cain Miller, 6-April-2010, nytimes.com]
Browsing FAQs on Yelp, one particular question got me thinking long after reading it: “…Can I take my business listing off of Yelp?”, and they replied no; people have a right to talk about what they like/don’t like.
This underscores the reality that the Internet will impact business owners in some form or another, whether they embrace it or not. Having your own business presence on the web is a most effective means of managing your brand equity. This is especially great for small business because it puts them on an even playing field.
It is well known that the Internet is one of the most cost-effective mediums ever created. What is the ROI for your own website vs listing for free in a directory? To name a few, consider:
- Greater impression on the customer
- You’re not competing among other similar text listings
- You can clearly communicate your value proposition
- You can add/change features and enticements more quickly and easily
- You are not bound to a certain layout or battling the distraction of competing ads
- You can respond to customer requests more comprehensively in a central location (use the review sites to direct traffic to your website)
- Employ direct response strategy and build repeat customers
I believe that having your own website is only one component of a marketing strategy; there are other online marketing methods (which should support offline marketing efforts) that can be used in conjunction. Some may depend on the nature of the business.
It takes diverse elements.
The online marketing technology and services website Bazaar Voice (www.bazaarvoice.com) on the Industry Statistics page cited the following:
“64% of consumers have made a first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience such as a web site, microsite, mobile coupon, or email. No other medium has so impacted—or altered—the traditional marketing funnel this way. (Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Study, 2009)”
Quickly emerging as a critical factor in creating a digital experience is displaying content for mobile devices. With the proliferation of iPhones, smartphones and the like, combined with intensive and growing business related searches, websites need to display properly.
Investment in marketing now will pay off when the economy turns around, and online marketing is a wise investment.
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