Advertising on YELP
YELP is one of the leading review sites on the Interwebs, and if you want your restoration business or emergency services site to be seen by millions of hip and passionate YELP users, you should advertise with their site, right? Instead of forcing you to read the entire blog post, I’ll just tell you: In our experience, DO NOT advertise your restoration business on the YELP platform. Regardless of what they might promise about having access to legions of businesses just like yours (in your area), we feel that YELP is not the place to advertise your restoration business. Regardless of what discount you might get, we feel that YELP is not the place to advertise your restoration business. Regardless of whether you think the results would be different for your company, in our experience, . . . YELP is not the place to advertise your restoration business.
Search Engine Marketing for Restoration Businesses
When you think about the nature of your restoration business and how people come to discover your company online, you must put yourself in the mind of the consumer. During a fire, flood, or other emergency, the homeowner is likely to want results (comfort) as fast as possible–it’s a stressful time in their lives. I’m going to suggest that nine out of 10 online users will go to Google immediately, searching for emergency services or disaster restoration companies. They are not likely to use YELP, their favorite “find a restaurant” app. They’re instead going to be a great audience for an AdWords campaign. Your ads on YELP? If they don’t visit the site looking for a solution, they’ll never even see them, and especially not at a time when they need you. Someone else who was in the right location when a homeowner was looking for restoration services will have already been called.
One of our clients did a test run in search engine marketing advertising on YELP because the sales person at YELP explained to all of us that while our attitude was that YELP isn’t an effective marketing solution for restoration work, we didn’t have access to the actual client data that they had. They all but guaranteed our campaign’s success, promising that our evaluation of their reach in the marketplace was wrong. They cited having the data from other restoration companies (that they couldn’t name but could assure us were comparable in size and in our market or comparable markets) who have seen tremendous results by advertising through YELP. The sales rep told us that we’d easily join the many-companies-that-have-seen-great-success-on-YELP crowd, seeing that we already had a powerful website and great reach online (we do).
Advertising Your Restoration Business on YELP
Lo and behold, in our situation, YELP was completely wrong in their promises. Thankfully, our test run was a minimal exploration of their services. During the run, they provided us with data showing our results, including how many phone calls our advertisements generated. They cited phone calls that lasted just a few seconds as positive results (there’s no truly relevant phone call to a restoration company that would last less than 15 seconds; it’s just not possible). Even if there wasn’t a good fit for a customer with our client’s services, it would take at least 20 or 30 seconds for them to discover this.
Additionally, YELP rejected many actual reviews that customers wrote about the business during this time, removed all of our client’s positive reviews, and kept just one review live–a disgruntled customer (upset more about his lack of insurance coverage and billing issues) whose review had nothing to do with the quality of work done by our client. This “Yelper” seems to write bad reviews about a lot of companies. YELP themselves encouraged us to recommend that our client’s customers write reviews for the client’s business online, only to then deem them fake results (we could easily prove the work, if YELP would have been willing to allow that). If you think that your positive reviews will stop getting banned from your real customers if you are an advertiser . . . let’s just say Penn and Teller could easily do a special about it on Showtime.
What Else Could Go Wrong with YELP Advertising
Another downside to advertising on YELP is what happens when a job is completed. You’re likely familiar with the bad review of your business that really should be directed towards an insurance company instead. And if not that, the bad review should be directed towards the person writing the review to begin with because when someone doesn’t buy the right insurance coverage, they’re angry. You know what I mean if you work in restoration. It was the customer’s choice to not have the right coverage, but when they’ve experienced a loss, it doesn’t matter. The insurance company, the restoration company, and everyone else in-between come straight into the cross-hairs of bad reviews. Finding an actual YELP user who is passionate about the system also requires that you need that job to go well–and not just the parts that you can control.
Where to Actually Advertise Your Restoration Business
Restoration advertising can be difficult–you need to reach the right people at the right time. You can’t follow the game plan of another industry. If someone’s house isn’t on fire, your radio and television advertisements aren’t relevant to those you reach. Your potential customers live in a world filled with marketing messages. These are people working overtime to keep up with all the things that life throws at them. Expecting them to remember your phone number from a radio spot or a YELP advertisement during an emergency is almost a pointless expectation. You would simply need to flood the market with your message, relentlessly, in hopes that people will recognize your brand when the emergency occurs. That can be done. It’ll cost a lot of money. But just spot advertising on YELP in hopes of achieving this goal, to us, is not and was never a good idea.
For your money, advertising your business on Google AdWords is a much stronger play–people will find your services when they need them most. MAKE SURE you have a high-quality website that explains your services and what to expect in detail, but also know that your customers may very well just call you right away and not read through your site. (Remember, your customers may all be gathered in the front yard with a smartphone while their home is burning down.) If you want advice on AdWords and the web, you can absolutely reach out to us.
YELP for Restoration Companies
We explored this opportunity of advertising on YELP with our client only because of the promises that YELP made. They told us our apprehensions were just fear. It’s foolish to insist that we know everything there is to know about all marketing channels, and with YELP’s assurances (all but promising our money back), we took a small test run with their platform. The test was entirely unsuccessful, and in explaining this to YELP, they only offered a bonus credit if we double down and sign up for a long-term package. It was one of the most frustrating calls I’ve ever been on, with our poor results being ignored by the sales person and an insistence that we advertise further with the service.
If you own a restoration company or other emergency services company, consider that advertising on YELP may not a good idea. In our experience, there are much better ways to reach your customers, starting with Google’s AdWords platform.