Why Insurance Marketing And Yelp Don’t Mix

September 18, 2017 Dylan Brooks

Insurance marketing and agencies don't mix

Are you building an internet marketing strategy for your insurance agency? If so, incorporating an online reputation management strategy is essential.

Why? Because your agency’s online reputation is your biggest asset. It’s also your biggest liability.

Earning consumer trust is critical to business success. Thanks to online review sites, it’s easier than ever to build trust at scale. But be careful! Consumers are in control of the review process. So one slip up can be costly.

With that in mind, track your agency’s review profiles on Google and Facebook. Respond to feedback you get there, good or bad. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews. These initiatives can boost your agency’s trustworthiness.

But what about Yelp? Should you build review strategy there too?

I don’t think so.

Let’s take a closer look at why Yelp and insurance agencies don’t mix.


Why Yelp Doesn’t Work For Insurance

First, let me be clear: Yelp is a great review platform. Consumers know it, trust it and respect it. So Yelp has considerable power.

Too much power, in my opinion.

Yelp used its influence to make a statement on review etiquette. The company expressly forbids review solicitation. And it will filter any unnatural reviews from view.

The problem is, Yelp all too often gets this wrong.

The company doesn’t release the factors in its review algorithm. But, it’s possible review velocity is one. If your agency gets a bunch of Yelp reviews in a short period of time, those reviews may not see the light of day.

Review authority is another likely Yelp ranking factor. This can hurt consumers without established Yelp review histories. Their initial contributions on Yelp will likely be filtered.

Yelp’s strict policies make it difficult to get reviews to stick. This is a serious problem for businesses in any industry. But, it’s especially dire for insurance agencies.

It’s no secret it’s difficult for anyone in the insurance industry to get online reviews. Consumers will write reviews for restaurants by the bushel. But, they’re less likely to review their insurance agency without a nudge.

Yelp prohibits agencies from giving this nudge. And Yelp’s issues with filtering out legitimate reviews rubs salt in the wound. So, it’s difficult to make Yelp a cornerstone of your review strategy.


What You Should Do

Yelp might not be part of your agency’s core review strategy. But, you shouldn’t forget about it either. Your agency still might get a Yelp review from time to time. How you react to those reviews can either build or burn consumer trust.

So keep your ducks in a row. Make sure you do the following.

  1. Claim Your Yelp Listing: Make sure there’s an active Yelp listing for each of your office locations. Then claim and verify each listing through your Yelp for Business Owners account. You will need to answer an automated phone call at each office to do this. If that doesn’t work, contact Yelp support online.
  2. Complete Your Yelp Profile: Make sure your listing is up to date. Your NAP+W (name, address, phone number, and website) should be correct for each location. Also include your logo, photos, business hours, and a business description. Yelp users might browse these features when leaving reviews.
  3. Keep Tabs On Yelp Reviews: Check your Yelp for Business Owners account weekly. Or daily, if possible. See if any reviews came in for any of your locations.
  4. Respond To Yelp Reviews: Make sure you publicly respond to all Yelp reviews. You can do this through your Yelp for Business Owners account. Everything from a 1-star review to a 5-star review should get a reply. Thank the reviewer for their feedback in your response. If you get a poor review, apologize to the reviewer and work to make it right.

These tips will help control your agency’s narrative on Yelp. But until Yelp changes its policies, this is as far as your efforts should go.


What Yelp Should Do

It’s no secret Yelp wants to dominate the online review realm. The company has worked hard to be a local resource in many cities. Its CEO has also sparred with Google repeatedly for alleged antitrust violations.

But if Yelp wants to reach its goals, it needs to dial back its restrictions. There are plenty of businesses that consumers don’t leave online reviews for. I've noticed insurance agents, plumbers and lawyers struggle to get reviews. The same goes for mechanics and real estate agents.

Yelp should allow business owners in these industries to ask customers for reviews. This would benefit both the businesses and Yelp itself.

Yelp should also fix its algorithm so legitimate reviews don’t get filtered. The current system hurts Yelp’s product and threatens its growth. Why would anyone want to write their first review on Yelp if they know it won’t get posted?

Until Yelp makes these changes, it doesn’t make sense for your agency to build a review strategy there. There’s too much risk, and not enough reward.


In Summary

Your insurance agency’s online reputation is a critical asset. And, cultivating consumer trust is a must. Yelp has the clout to help you build this trust online. But, its review policies can strangle well-meaning agencies. For the time being, it’s not worth building out a full review strategy there.

Your move, Yelp.

Have you seen success with a Yelp strategy for your agency? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author

Dylan Brooks

Dylan Brooks helps ITC clients improve the visibility of their agency websites, working directly with them to improve their search engine rankings. Dylan has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Miami and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Dylan has extensive experience with writing, strategy and marketing analytics. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys cooking, participating in 5K races, and spending time around Dallas.

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