Your Credit Union Should Use Yelp

Do you ever wonder if your credit union members are using Yelp? We can answer that for you:

Yes. They are.

Here’s why you should pay attention… and why you should use it, too.

Why Credit Unions Should Use Yelp

It doesn’t matter if your credit union doesn’t want to be on Yelp. It’s on there. And anyone with an experience or an opinion about your credit union will be more than happy to take to their keyboards to share about it. At the very least, they’ll rate you (1-5 stars, Yelp style).

Getting listed on a social media page without your go-ahead might be annoying. Yelp is basically a “Ranker” or “Hot or Not” for local businesses. Unfortunately, your credit union will be visible there no matter what you want.

With that in mind, it’s best to work with it, not against it. And in so doing, you very well may do your credit union some favors. What kind of favors, you ask?

  • Gain critical member feedback. It’s no member survey, but you can learn a lot about how your credit union’s member experience from its Yelp reviews. Credit union Yelp comments won’t always be useful, but there can be some helpful stuff in there. And just think of your star review as an easy-to-understand NPS score.
  • Use it for marketing. There’s a very good chance that every prospective member who walks through your door or visits your website will check your credit union out on Yelp. Working with Yelp instead of ignoring it can really help your digital marketing efforts.
  • Connect with your community. Yelp offers you the chance to speak with dissatisfied or attriting members, giving you the opportunity to turn things around. It also lets you thank or respond to good reviews and happy members. Or, if you see misinformation listed about your credit union, Yelp will let you dispute it. Either way, interacting with your community is a great way to reinforce your brand on social media.

And while member engagement is very important, it’s nowhere near as important as what it does for advertising. If you want to grow your credit union, Yelp will help people make decisions for which institution to join, or which branch to visit.

How to Get Started with Yelp

Most of us are probably used to using Yelp to make sure a restaurant will be worth it. My wife, for instance, will read every Yelp review before choosing a place. On the other hand, I’m happy to try anything, and if it’s a lousy experience, lesson learned. But she isn’t quite as willing to put herself through that. And she’s not alone; many prospective members are the same way about their next institution. (Probably because the “steaks” are higher. Ha ha!)

Yelp is a huge part of your credit union’s digital marketing presence. In the restaurant industry, each additional star increases sales by 5-10%. That’s a huge impact on those organizations. The same exact numbers may not be true for credit unions, but the concept is the same. People looking to join a financial institution want to make the right choice about who they’ll trust with their money. And they’ll probably trust strangers’ experience on Yelp more than ads from your marketing department…

So, how do you set up Yelp?

1. Claim your Yelp page

First, claim your Yelp page. If your credit union has only one branch, you’ll need to claim only one location. If you have several branches, you’ll need to claim them all. When you do claim a business on Yelp, you’re telling Yelp you’re in charge, you’re going to respond to feedback, etc. Claiming each branch individually gives you better insight about how each branch is performing… and it ensures that any low-ranking branches or negative feedback apply only to that branch, rather than to your entire credit union. (You can still highlight positive feedback into social media and other marketing channels.)

The challenge with claiming each branch is that each location requires a unique phone number and address. You can validate that you’re the owner by phone, but a lot of times we don’t know which phone is going to answer at that branch, so plan it out and make sure your branch managers are ready to validate.

If you don’t want to use the phone, Yelp will send postcards to each branch. This is just as difficult, but it’s an option.

2. Add your influencers

Once you’ve gotten your branches set up on Yelp, it’s time to add influencers. Influencers can be anybody who is familiar with your brand. These people might be basic employees, board members, or some of your favorite members. Ask them to write a quick review about one of your branches.

Of course, Yelp’s algorithms are pretty good at filtering out fake reviews, so don’t go full-on shill. And certainly don’t spam! But it’s helpful and perfectly okay to have a few people on your team exert their presence. They can be as bold as to say, “I’m a branch member or board member. I use this branch all the time and here are my three favorite things about it.”

There’s a chance it could get filtered out, but your members may still see it.

3. Engage your members

Encourage your members to engage. Put up Yelp stickers in the branch. Hold a contest: “Write your best Yelp review! We’ll give a special prize.” Promote it on social media. At the end of the day, the more reviews you get, the better off you are. Even the number of reviews your credit union gets on Yelp make you look good.

Once you have those reviews, keep trying to get more stars. See if your Yelp rating across branches gives you any major insight. Do higher-rated branches get more inbound members? Are the members at lower-rated branches less profitable? Just remember that Yelp reviews and performance may be correlative, but they’re probably not causative.

4. Reinforce the decision through other channels

Use your Yelp reviews to educate prospective members about your value. Yelp is an amazing marketing tool, and you’re represented on there already. You might as well own it, try to improve your ratings, and use your reviews in marketing content, social media, your newsletter, and so on.

Use your members’ reviews as testimonials. Let members tell the story of how great you’ve done. People are more likely to trust other members than they are a marketing team. And as you do that, you start to create a positive validation loop.

Recap and Additional Reading

Here are the main takeaways:

  • Your credit union’s social media efforts need to include Yelp
  • Each branch location should have its own identity on Yelp
  • Monitor reviews and communicate with members (especially when it’s negative)
  • Tie your validation back into your social media an your content to create digitally memorable experiences for your members

Not only is Yelp great for marketing, but it also makes it easy for Google and your members to find your locations, hours, and contact info. In conclusion, Yelp is definitely worth your time.

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