Study argues Yelp drives higher conversions than Google and Facebook

A new consumer survey from Nielsen, commissioned by Yelp, argues that review sites drive higher conversions than search and social media. The survey of 2,000 US adults found that 92 percent of respondents said they made a purchase after visiting Yelp, “at least sometimes, frequently or almost always.”

At the highest level, this makes sense because reviews have a strong influence on consumer buying behavior, and review sites are generally part of consumers’ path to purchase. According to the survey, most people who made a purchase after visiting Yelp did so within a week or less.

Source: Nielsen consumer survey (2016)

Consumers using Yelp would appear to be low in the funnel:

Consumers who use online consumer review sites and claim they make a purchase after visiting Yelp are also reporting they do so faster than before, compared to a Nielsen study from 2014. The number of consumers who report purchasing something within a few hours increased by 212 percent, and the number of consumers who say they make a purchase after a day or less increased by 55 percent.

Here are some of the survey’s additional findings:

  • 74 percent of the consumers searching online for a local business turn to consumer online review sites at least monthly.
  • Yelp ranked above other online review sites as “most trusted, most influential and most useful.”
  • 79 percent of Yelp users say they are looking for a business they can visit multiple times.
  • 55 percent of Yelp users searching for restaurants have ordered takeout or delivery from a restaurant they found on Yelp.

Yelp did commission this survey, and in such circumstances, caution or skepticism is typically justified. However, there are other data sources and non-sponsored surveys that directionally support the findings in the Yelp survey.

Nielsen’s non-commissioned Global Trust in Advertising Survey (2015) found that “consumer opinions posted online” ranked higher for trust than most other marketing channels.

Source: Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey (2015)

In addition, the Local Media Tracking Study, a non-sponsored study conducted by Burke for the Local Search Association, polled more than 8,000 consumers (2016) and found they were more likely to connect with a local business (call, email, store visit and so on) after a visit to a review site vs. other channels:

  • Ratings/review site: 65 percent
  • Social network: 61 percent
  • Search engine: 59 percent

Finally, a large majority of Yelp searchers’ queries now happen in the Yelp app on mobile devices. These users are often closer in time to a purchase decision as well.

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