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The Three Biggest Small Business Questions Answered To celebrate Yelp and Entrepreneur Media's America's Favorite Mom & Pop Shops™, Yelp's Small Business Expert Emily Washcovick answers the three most common questions she hears from entrepreneurs and explains how Yelp can help with each.

By Emily Washcovick

Courtesy of Yelp

Mom-and-pop shops are the manifestation of the American dream, built on a passion for their crafts and a drive to better their communities. It goes without saying that helping these businesses thrive is crucial for families, neighborhoods, and the country at large.

In support and celebration of these local businesses, Yelp's Small Business Expert and Host of the Behind the Review podcast Emily Washcovick shares the three most common questions she receives from entrepreneurs and explains how anyone, no matter their industry, can find success within their means.

#1: How do I attract more customers with a limited marketing budget?

Starting a business and keeping the lights on is no small feat. It takes constant time, energy, money, and mindfulness as industry landscapes and customer needs change. So how are small business owners juggling it all and finding success? They're maximizing their online presence.

Bringing the in-person experience to an online platform like Yelp increases visibility and generates more leads, which can boost your bottom line. In fact, a recent academic study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found listing your business on Yelp can increase revenue 5-10%.

When you list your business on Yelp, you're getting more than just reviews. High-intent customers use the information on business pages to make purchasing decisions. They check business hours, browse photos of products and services, find contact info, and request quotes—all important steps in both their buying journey and how a business develops customer trust.

To open up a new stream of leads with no monetary spend, claim your Yelp Page for free and use these best practices for optimal results:

#2: How do I avoid 1-star reviews?

Criticism can sting, especially when you're giving it your all. But the truth is, you can't always avoid critical feedback—and you shouldn't. As Owner Josh Campbell from Rescue Air and Plumbing said, "I can't build a better business on 5-star reviews."

Feedback helps us grow—oftentimes in ways we could never anticipate. When you're able to think of critical reviews as insights into what customers think, you suddenly have an advantage. Their eyes and ears pick up on how the business is operating, even when you can't be there yourself. That perspective—and the feedback that comes from it—is an asset, a treasure chest of free insight into how your business can improve and grow stronger.

Analyzing reviews can also uncover new insights to boost revenue and help you identify your competitive advantage. Once a business knows what it's doing well, it can lean into what customers love and provide an experience that inspires them to leave 5-star reviews.

Dive into the mind of a customer—and learn to embrace critical feedback—with these resources:

#3: Should I (and how do I) respond to online reviews?

While it might be tempting to ignore reviews (especially critical ones), responding actually improves a business's trustworthiness to potential and current customers. In a survey conducted by Material and commissioned by Yelp, 56% of respondents said an owner replying to a review makes them trust the business more. Similarly, 87% of review readers said they're more likely to look past a critical review if they see the business has responded.*

By engaging with customers, businesses can humanize their presence and make strides in enticing them back (even angry customers). The key is not to take the feedback personally. When you choose to view criticism as "What can we learn from this?" or "How can we make this right?", the potential for open and honest dialogue begins.

These resources can help businesses respond to reviews in effective ways that appeal to current and potential customers:

Overcome your greatest business challenges

If you're ready to take your business to the next level, including attracting up to 2.5x more leads, it's a great time to consider Yelp Ads. For a limited time, Yelp is offering $350 in free credit when you sign up for advertising. Use code CMEMMP350 at checkout or follow the link to learn more.

When you invest in Yelp Ads, your business page shows up in a number of key places on the site and app, including above relevant search results and on your competitors' pages. More than 80 million people visit Yelp each month looking for great local businesses. With Yelp Ads, your business page will be front and center, capturing the attention of your ideal customers.


*MATERIAL SURVEY 2022. THIS SURVEY WAS FIELDED BY MATERIAL AMONG 2,000 PEOPLE AGED 18+ IN THE UNITED STATES. THE SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED ONLINE DURING THE PERIOD OF AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER 2022 AND HAS A MARGIN OF ERROR OF +/- 2%. RESULTS OF ANY SAMPLE ARE SUBJECT TO SAMPLING VARIATION. THE MAGNITUDE OF THE VARIATION IS MEASURABLE AND IS AFFECTED BY THE NUMBER OF INTERVIEWS AND THE LEVEL OF THE PERCENTAGES EXPRESSING THE RESULTS.

Emily Washcovick

Small Business Expert at Yelp

As Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow. Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and well-being of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, where each episode features conversations with a business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.

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