Do You Yelp?
There are some intractable truths in life:
- Word of mouth marketing can drive business
- If an article is published in USA Today, you can be certain that the topic of the article has reached a critical mass
So it was a couple of weeks ago when I read an article in the June 13th issue of the USA Today that highlighted the online user review site Yelp.com.
Yelp is bringing the Amazon.com concept of user-generated reviews to the local business market. Now, Bob’s Dry Cleaning, Joe’s Auto Repair and your tasting room can be extolled or skewered for everybody to see in a democratizing populist kind of way.
According to the article, “Yelpers” as the users are known, have written more than 1 million reviews since the site launched in 2004. And, more importantly, 500,000 reviews have been written in the past four months—indicating critical mass.
In addition, according to the article, the Yelp’s audience has grown 124% from May to May, based on Nielsen/NetRatings and monthly visitors have increased to over 1M
I did a quick search on the traffic rankings at www.alexa.com and Yelp is the 1,777 highest-trafficked web site on the web. This is encroaching elite site status.
Not sure what to expect, I went to Yelp.com to do a search on “wine” for Napa, Healdsburg, and Paso Robles, CA.
You better believe that people are talking about winery tasting rooms, their visit and their experience at Yelp.com—many, many people are doing so.
Just as most if not all of the readers of this blog who have purchased a book from Amazon.com have been dissuaded from purchasing a book that got a lousy consumer review, so too are people reading Yelp before they plan their tasting trip to Napa Valley, Sonoma or the Central Coast.
My recommendation for all wineries is to take the bull by the horns—first, your tasting room experience should, as always, be bordering on excellent from a customer service perspective, despite the occasionally obnoxious and boorish guest and second, a good way to proactively manage this growing form of customer feedback is to take a page from the restaurant customer service handbook.
We’ve all seen the sign posts, or table tents, “If your experience was excellent, please tell a friend, if you were not completely satisfied, please see the Manager, who will ensure your visit meets your needs.”
Proactively displaying this on a business card at your tasting bar, perhaps, even, with the logo and/or the URL of Yelp.com can take customers and turn them into advocates. As a winery, you have the existing opportunity to create online goodwill via user reviews on Yelp.com. I would seize the opportunity!
Check out Yelp.com to see what people are saying about your friends and neighbors wineries and develop your own strategy, but as always, being proactive to address this new online information forum and delivering a sublime customer experience will allow you to grow your business and your tasting room traffic.