Does Yelp Advertising Work

According to my research Yelp Advertising doesn't work for small businesses

Does Yelp Advertising Work?
February 24, 2015 Eddie Renz

Yelp Advertising Did Not Work for My Small Business

The short answer? No. Yelp Adverting did not work for me. Yelp would argue that I did not give them enough time, but for the price that I was paying I expected much better and faster results. I saw 0 results. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Just a waste of my time.

You can read my story below, but there are others who have a similar story to mine. Part of my desire to try Yelp was to see if it would work for my clients. It was an expensive lesson to learn, but the best lessons are often learned the hard way.

Here is what happened…

I added my business for Graphic and Web Design to Yelp since I thought it would be one more way to get visibility online. I had tried Google Ads and Facebook Ads but neither had provided any real traction (even though they were both much more affordable than Yelp). Within one business day of adding my business to I got a phone call from a very nice salesman named Franklin. Franklin setup an appointment with me so we could talk about the value and benefits of Yelp advertising. When he called back for our appointment he had a great outline of the benefits of using Yelp and after an hour of being on the phone with him I was hooked.

“Did you know that Yelp is the 7th most visited website in the United States?” Franklin asked. “No, I sure didn’t!” I responded in wonder. (Update: They are 9th place as of July 4, 2016)

When I looked at the Quantcast website numbers I was surprised. I had assumed that Yelp was used mainly for food reviews (after this experience I believe it is still mostly used for food) and so when I saw their ranking I was floored and excited. Yelp is the number one review site online. This got my gears turning. I was seeing dollar signs when I should have done my due diligence to see what other small businesses had to say about Yelp.

See these post to see what others are saying about Yelp:

5 Things You Absolutely Need to Know as a Business Owner on Yelp

Next I was shown a link for Yelp’s audience and it included these amazing stats:


Yelp Audience Profile

  • Male


  • Female


  • Married


  • With Children


  • Attended College or Graduate School


Age Composition

  • 18-24


  • 25-34


  • 35-44


  • 45-54


  • 55-64


  • 65+


More Amazing Yelp Audience Facts

  • 61.7% are head of household
  • 49.7% own a home
  • 37.5% have Household Income of $100,000 or more
  • 17% have Household Income of $75,000-$99,000

When compared to average smartphone and tablet users, people on Yelp’s mobile site and apps are

  • 122% more likely to consider themselves Style / Fashion conscious.
  • 102% more likely to consider themselves Influential / Trendsetters.
  • 93% more likely to consider themselves a “Tech Geek”.
  • 32% more likely to always seek new ways to lead a healthier life.
  • 95% more likely to post to a social media site every day.

Source: comScore US audience, August 2013

WOW! I thought to myself, I am going to just rake in the sales.

But I didn’t.

My ads started running on January 29th, they kicked off my campaign a little early so I could get all my photos uploaded and information setup. I quickly went through their orientation which was superb. All along customer service and support with Yelp was fantastic. The only downside was that they over-promised and under delivered.

Within the first week of my ad being up I received no calls, except daily I started receiving spam phone calls from fake “Google Experts” and automated phone calls for all sorts of web support. I even received one phone call from another web designer who asked me, “How are the Yelp Business Ads working for you?”


The Cost of Yelp Business Ads is High

So when the salesman asked me if I wanted to give Yelp Ads a try I jumped on it. “Sure!” I exclaimed, but then immediately asked, “But how much does it cost?”

Long story short the lowest offering is $350 per month and they wanted a 12 month contract with a $700 cancellation fee. “WHAT?” To me this is ludicrous. Why do I have to commit to a year? What if the ads aren’t working? So I asked Franklin, my sales rep, “Why should I be forced to keep paying for something that isn’t working for me?”

In the end I agreed to do 90 days of Yelp Ads for Business at the price of $350 a month and if I canceled early it would only cost me $350. With this plan I would not receive the free promotional video that does come standard with Yelp Business Ads but I was fine with that. The videos were nicely done, but I could do my own video and save some serious cheddar.

So now it has only been three weeks and I haven’t received any phone calls regarding web design. Sure I may have thought some people would call and I wouldn’t get hired. I thought a few people might even email me, but not a single person did. I even wondered if it was because my ad was so new that I hadn’t received any reviews yet, but the Yelp support had this to say:

Should I ask my customers to write reviews for me on Yelp?

I Canceled My Yelp Ads

After just 3 weeks of using Yelp I ended up canceling my Yelp Ads since I realized that I could have better spent that $350 on other forms of advertising. I live in Denton, TX and it is filled with small and medium-sized businesses that need graphic and web design and I think that word-of-mouth is really the way to go. That $350 I spent should have went to the Denton Chamber of Commerce and I should have become a member. I could have used the $350 cancellation fee to join the Corinth Chamber of Commerce or some other local chamber where I could network and meet with business owners.

When I contacted Yelp about canceling they said, “Well, you really haven’t given them a chance.” But I think in 27 days I should have gotten more traction than I did for $350 dollars. And really, what would have changed if I had left my ads up? If my ads had been a billboard where people saw them over and over then I might have thought that constant visual reminder would have been good, but I don’t think that people go to Yelp, see the same ads over and over and then decide to use that service. But maybe that is just me.


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