Online marketing tips and consulting

Online marketing strategies for small businesses should not include Yelp.

For a small business, it can be challenging to find effective advertizing methods, particularly in the world of online advertisement. Traditional modes of advertising are relatively easy to utilize, but today’s consumers are increasingly turning to the internet as a way to discover products and services that will meet their needs. The modern generation is so in tune with technology and cyber-data that old-fashioned advertising doesn’t even seem to show up on their radar. Unfortunately, this means that even very good businesses may start to decline if they aren’t tech savvy.

Enter Yelp, a seemingly simple solution to the problem of online advertising. Yelp has gotten a good reputation as an online business review site because it has so many consumer reviews, and it has shown to be an effective advertising tool for big corporations. However, Yelp is actually marketing poison for small businesses. Small businesses are regularly paying 100x the premium rate for advertising. When most ads run for 60 cents per thousand impressions, some local advertisers are paying $600 for that same exposure. One big problem with this is that businesses are realizing that the service isn’t worth what they’re paying for, but they can’t afford to get out of it.

Not only is the Yelp advertiser agreement very restrictive, but it ropes unsuspecting entrepreneurs into a substantial investment with very little return.  Lindsey Reilly, one of our e-Reilly consultants, said, “I’ve worked with many clients who have not been happy with Yelp’s advertising contracts, mainly because they lock them in so hard that it’s impossible to get out of without paying a fee.” And as blogger Rocky Agrawal points out, since Yelp’s business is focused on its commitment to deliver a certain number of impressions for its clients each month, it’s invested in delivering those impressions regardless of quality and value. You may be paying for the ad, but you’re not paying for it to be presented in relevant situations.

The bottom line is if you’re a small business in Cleveland trying to navigate the online advertising landscape, don’t get sucked into Yelp. You have no control over reviews, and your ads don’t have much reach. You’re better off working on your SEO by hiring a social media and marketing consultant. And if you have any questions about how to improve your small business’s online presence, contact us at

For more information on why a Yelp contract is so toxic for your small business’s marketing strategy, see this article by Rocky Agrawal. And for the complete list of articles that inspired this blog post, click here.  Photo courtesy of Marketingfacts.