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    How I tripled Yelp’s email response rates with just 3 changes.

    This is a guest post by Alicia Glenn:Alicia GlennShe works for Yelp as a salesperson, and this is how she tripled her B2B email marketing response rates with better copy.  Tell us your tips & secrets!

    ---------------Alicia takes the keyboard now-------------------

    You can also download this entire post as a PDF by clicking here

    ---------------Alicia takes the keyboard now-------------------

     As a salesperson for Yelp, I noticed that there was a lot of room to improve our sales email templates. On an average day, I might send out anywhere between 20 to 50 emails. If I got one email response back that day, sadly I considered that a win.Where was the disconnect? Shouldn't businesses WANT to be in communication with Yelp? If for some odd reason you never heard of Yelp, it’s the number one online business directory -- think of it like the modern day Yellow Pages. We affect businesses on a daily basis and are reaching out to help grow those businesses through advertising.Eventually, I realized what was holding us back and preventing higher response rates, our salesforce sounds like a bunch of robots...like little Yelp Robots, with no personality, being manufactured and churned out.....image04Yelp’s emails don’t sound like a person wrote them. Therein lies the problem. People don’t feel the need to respond to generic non-human sounding emails like this………image01This is understandable, because you don’t feel like someone is actually waiting for you to respond. What would happen if a business owner knew or felt that an actual person was waiting on the other side of that email? Wouldn't they feel more compelled to respond?PROBABLY. 

    My First Try at Customizing Emails:

    I started writing more customized emails, and surprisingly business owners would respond. Whether it was positive or negative, I didn’t care. All I wanted was a response. My main goal when crafting emails was to convey that I’m human and waiting for them to get back to me. Showing that you’re a real person also builds a sense of urgency.Example:image06After sending out a few successful custom emails, I came up with a formula for crafting effective sales emails:

    Feature + Benefit + Value + Human Factor = Dope A$$ Email

    Now let’s use the above email to see if it passes the test:Feature: Linked to his restaurants’ Yelp pages.Benefit: There’s opportunity for him to grow his business through Yelp.Value: Over the past year we’ve brought him over 600 leads.Human Factor: I had a leg up because I had spoken to him briefly over the phone, but he preferred to communicate via email...even though he had NEVER responded to any of my emails prior.So I added this as the headline, which also added a human factor:image05That put pressure on him and made him realize that I waiting for a response!

    Experiment to Increase Yelp’s Email Response Rates:

    After a while I pondered, how can I take this to the next level? Then good ole Nev popped into my head. I thought to myself “dang, he could really do damage if he redid all of Yelp’s email templates”! Almost like what he wrote about Uber emails (I guess great minds think alike)!Anyways, I decide to channel my inner Nev and do an experiment, especially since I love coming up with creative ways of getting people’s attention. For this experiment, I simply sent out 50 custom emails and 50 Yelp emails, then measured which one had a higher response rate.Guidelines for the experiment:
    1. Businesses could not be ESL (English as a Second Language).
    2. The business owner needs to know what Yelp is. The way I gauged that was whether or not the business owner had claimed their Yelp listing.

    (Below is what an unclaimed page looks like)


    How I Revamped Yelp Emails with AIDA & FBVH Formula:

    Before starting the experiment I needed to come up with a couple of custom templates to use. I did that by taking my most commonly used Yelp templates and giving them some oomph! This wasn’t my first rodeo. I took a crack at cold emailing back in college, which was pretty successful.

    Here is one of my most used generic templates from Yelp (fyi I inserted my name and a fictitious business name):image02The reason I like this template is because it gives a lot of value and shows the opportunity.But, there’s something wrong with this email. It almost passes my FBVH formula and Nev’s AIDA formula. I readily use both now when crafting sales emails.My FBVH formula: Feature + Benefit + Value + Human factorNev’s AIDA formula: Attention + Interest +Desire + ActionNow as I mentioned, this template TECHNICALLY follows the AIDA formula which covers most of FVBH…but what is it missing? The H...Human factor.Let’s break it down:Attention: 5 directions mapped to you from Yelp.Interest: What has happened on your page?Desire: You could be seeing a lot more business from yelp.Action: What is your availability this week?Now that we determined that it passes the AIDA test and only missing the H in the FBVH formula, we know what to fix. However, the email is also borrrrringgggg, which makes it easy to ignore...The reason emails need a human factor is not only to make them realize that a real person is waiting on their response, but it’s also to relate to them. It’s possible that the business owner doesn’t know what a mapped direction is, or other metrics you mention to grab their attention. Your product/service could be going over their head.Most of these business owners are upwards of 40 years old, so the goal is to get them excited and interested in learning about your product/service. I decided to rewrite the email.Here’s a custom email I wrote along with a REAL RESPONSE from a business owner:image03Twinkles wasn’t too happy. Funny response from a lady that runs a kids party planning business (you would think she would be nicer).Custom email template 2:image08Much better right?  just adding personality to your email can make a world of difference.I also tried a mix of different email headlines:
    • Hi [biz owner name] (wanted to try a simple one)
    • One with a mystery factor: The secret to getting more customers (which I realize now probably sounded a bit gimmicky).
    • Then I also tried a few that I came up with using Nev’s headline formula:
    [End result customer wants] + [specific Time Period] + [ Address the Objections]My headline: [Get More Business] + [Right Now] + [Even If You Have a Small Budget] Ok, so I’m sure you want to know how everything turned out. The results of the experiment are below….drum roll please….Experiment Results: Going from 3% Response Rate to 11%Results of the Experiment:

    Yelp Template Email Results (Before):50 Sent33 Opened1 Response3.33% response rate :-(

    Through this experiment I found that while using Yelp’s email marketing templates, I was averaging around a 3% response rate. This was in line with my peers as well. I asked my coworkers about their email response rates, and it was unanimous that they typically send out upwards of 50 emails without getting one response back.

    Custom Email Results (After):50 Sent35 Opened4 Reponses back11.43 % response rate :-)

    Success! I nearly tripled my response rate and slightly increased my open rate as well!The benefit of Yelp or any business revamping their sales templates is to get prospects in the HABIT of responding. Right now they are in the HABIT of ignoring Yelp emails because they lump it together with all the other sales emails they get from companies like Yellowpages, Groupon, Seamless, etc.At the end of the day, generic emails can lead to missed sales opportunities. One of the sayings at Yelp is that “deals don’t get closed over email,” which is true. However, email is a very powerful tool, and if used correctly it can provide an opportunity to reach the DM (decision maker) that you might not have had otherwise.Now I know my custom emails are probably not Kopywriting gold, but what I realized is that making yourself sound like a human can, and does, make a difference.Sincerely,Alicia Glenn 

    ------------------Neville steals back his keyboard------------------

    These are some MIND BLOWING RESULTS.  Imagine working everyday, sending the same 50 emails, and getting 3X the results by changing the words around??That's pretty awesome. Let Alicia know what you learned (or any improvement suggestions) in the comments below!

    Download this entire post by joining my email list:


    This post has some juicy insider B2B email info that most people won't ever share. Keep this post in your own swipe file. It contains:

    --All the info in this post.

    --Full sized (easier to read) images of the examples.

    --Your own copy of all the scripts contained in this post.

    --A great resource to share with your sales team.


    Enjoy it and use it wisely. Sincerely,Neville Medhora

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Guest Antoine


    This is amazing. Sharing for sure. We use internal emails that look a lot like the before emails. Thank you Nev and Alicia!
    Link to comment
    Guest Alicia


    Thanks Antoine! And really?? It's unfortunate that companies are settling for such generic emails.
    Link to comment
    Guest Laurie


    Thank you for sharing Nev and Alicia. I'm responsible for our company email campaigns and it is a challenge putting in the human factor without sounding to colloquial or informal. I think you've got some great tips, we people reaching out to people at the end of the day.
    Link to comment
    Guest Tomas


    Writing emails the way you speak... this sounds to RIGHT and WRONG at the same time.

    That should have looked like:

    What???? Writing emails the way you speeeeaaaak? this SOOOUUUNNDDSSSS so RIIIIGGGHT and WRROOOONNNG at the same time!!! :)

    Link to comment
    Guest Vikash Koushik


    Looks like Twinkles wasn't in a very sparkling mood when she received your mail. I loved the way you spoke about AIDA & FBVH. AIDA model is something that we've been using for creating ad copies that converts. I haven't tried FBVH, yet. Maybe I should. Thanks for this awesome post, Nev & Alicia. :-)
    Link to comment
    Guest Simon


    Hi Nev, thanks for sharing this. I'm a business owner and also responsible for the marketing. Just today I sent out a new email to our slowly growing list. I had to think about the subject line and instead of creating a boring one, I remembered your post about successful subject lines. I created a more funny personal subject to get the readers to open the mail. I'm pretty lucky to have an engaging email ist, because our average open rate is 69,3% and the click rate is 10,1%. Anyway, I learned something new today and will integrate the human factor into our next email campaign.
    Link to comment

    Looks like Alicia also used your Klassy Kasual Kopy lesson! (https://copywritingcourse.com/klassy-kasual-kopy/)

    That was my favorite one from you.

    This case study proves that casual copy works even when you're writing from a big company like Yelp.

    Well done Alicia!

    P.S.: I want my NevBox bro!! Give it to me, JUST DO IT! Yesterday, you said tomorrow!

    Link to comment
    Guest Hoo Kang


    I occasionally write emails for my dad's small business.

    I always put in a personal story at the beginning and people really connect with my family.

    Some of our customers have been with us for decades and we are the first to try to connect more than just being a dry cleaner.

    Link to comment
    Guest Liam Atkins


    Great post! My family have been in sales for - forever really, whenever I write a piece of copy for emails, direct mail etc I end up passing it around for *brutal* but honest feedback.

    AIDA - something even my grandparents used back in the day, something as old as marketing itself, but still - seldom used today.

    Will be using this post as PROOF to my email marketing clients who insist on generic blanket emails. Thanks for all of your help as ever!

    Link to comment
    Guest Dejan


    I wanted to read the first initial email from Alicia but I fell asleep. I woke up and skim to the end of it. Saw this line: "I look forward to hearing back from you." which resulted of me hard resetting the computer. I turned it back on to write this post for the chance of getting a NevBox (come to me mysterious cardboard!).
    Link to comment

    This is some good stuff. I'm far from a Kopywriter, but I find myself called on more often than I would like to be for my customers.

    I always feel like I'm hindering things when I'm the one writing for my clients, like I'm almost setting them up to fail.

    I'm going to start applying what I think I just learned and see what happens.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Link to comment
    Guest Arnaud


    Hi Alicia, great job with 3x the response rate! Getting prospects to reply instead of thrashing your email is a big win!

    How did you reply Bob and Twinkles? It would be interesting to show the email exchange between you and them, and see how you handle difficult clients.

    I think the follow-up would be a great learning for everyone.

    Link to comment
    Guest Adrian


    I dumped two copywriting clients because they insisted on drone-tone. And they are in niches where it ABSOLUTELY does not serve them.

    As a newb, I always get the 'maybe I shoulda took the job' voice in my head... But the Gods of Copy-Lympus told me to niche down and specialize. So I'll stick with that.

    Nice to know that someone in B2B is writing like a human, and seeing massive success with it.

    Gracias Alicia!

    Link to comment
    Guest Jasper Oldersom


    Lol, do you talk in SLOOOOOOOOOOWMOoo000OTION Thomas? Becaaauuuuse to MEEEEE it's not WEEEEEEIIIRD at AAAAALLLL. ;-D
    Link to comment
    Guest T.J. Eagen


    Kutting through the krap is hard. Unless your subject line hits home in a human way you don't have much of a chance of getting it opened. Your e-mails coming from Yelp gives you major credibility. The formula for success has a chance to work once the e-mail is opened.

    Congtats and Thanks!


    Link to comment

    I've been going crazy for figuring out if I should send corporative style emails or cheeky/real style emails to business owners, more like - scared, to try the human writing style.

    But talking to some business owners and reading this - well, I'll be d..

    They really, really, really,r... don't have time to get emotional into our mails, most of them (to whom I've talked to) reads the subject, opens (if opens) the email, give a 2 second look and if it seemed important - re-read, seems spammy and BS type mail - delete without thinking, doesn't matter who sent it, it could be even the president him self, but if in those 2 seconds there is nothing that captures attention - delete and better luck next time.

    And a lot of business owners have their secretary or little helper that goes through 100s of emails every day...

    So, yes - this is an eye opener, another proof, that being human and cutting to the chase works better.

    One question though, why 50 mails/d only? Are every single one of them very specific, depending on some factors or just there aren't more time for this?

    Link to comment
    Guest Jeremy Conn


    Response rate increase from 1/50 to 4/50 could be even an Analytics error. So, there is no measurable success here. But there are still good ideas in this post such as "Human factor" which is very key for the success of small businesses.
    Link to comment

    Love these example posts that put everything together in a real way.

    I know the 3x is the focus but I also wanted to say that the targeting you did was really interesting (making sure the business was claimed). I find that stuff really ninja :)

    Re using Yelp ads to do inbound vs outbound ... Hmmmm do you think it would help if you could differentiate Yelp from other popular inbound approaches? Or do figure they're using Yelp already (they claimed their biz) so they're already sold on it? Just curious.

    Link to comment
    Guest Lisa | High Priestess of the Woo


    Great article, Alicia! I am fortunate that my writing voice is very much like my speaking voice so writing less formal (and more engaging) emails is something that comes easily to me.

    However, emails to a business list are something else entirely and adding in the whole benefits piece is huge! :) (Duh, I know!) How to be authentically me AND offer to be of service was something I learned along the way.

    This was helpful to see how you shifted the tone and direction to get their attention and offered them something that could be beneficial.

    Thanks Nev and Alicia for sharing this info.

    Link to comment

    this email is GOLD. your email is ALWAYS fun to read and TIPS to take away.

    Not so sure where you get all those creative copy ideas from and your article is just way too hilarious to ignore.

    I'm going to try your headline tips and test on my emails to prospects..

    will report back :)

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Oh sweet, so glad this could be a nice guide for you to follow Antoine!
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Yes, especially if you have a whole team of people trying to send out an email. Someone a big team tends to "iron out" all the personality.....fight to keep it in (and show them this case study)!
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Lol....ttthaaaattt wwwoooulllllldddd have been a gooooOOOoOOoOoooOoOooood ttiittttlleeeeee!
    Link to comment
    Guest Jasper Oldersom


    Wow Alicia, great guest post!

    I’m seriously impressed. Those are some fabulous results. Sorry about the ladies response :-/ must’ve had a tough day.

    The generic e-mail sounded like a ‘stats update email’ – not something i’d feel compelled or pressured to respond to.

    Ok so here are my $0.02,-

    The first thing is that i would probably write the email different.

    Subject: ”Do you know these secrets to getting more customers?"

    One thing i didn’t like about your other e-mail is that you told Tim “you should be….” > that could cause some mental resistance.

    I’d frame that a little different:


    However, you don’t HAVE to interrupt people and pitch them products they don’t need. Why? because there is an on-demand stream of people actively searching for your business right now!

    How do you reach them? The answer is simple: Be visible on Yelp!

    [And then tell how you can help Tim with this]


    One thing that i really liked is the open loop. Great "response bait" ;-)

    Another thing is that direct mail and local magazines are getting less popular. So i might say:

    "Too often business are flushing money down the drain by spending on interruption marketing. this means targeting people who aren't actively searching for your products. sure, you'll get exposure. But it's expensive, and you're not Coca-Cola"

    Maybe i'm way off with this, this is just how i'd do it :-)

    P.S. sorry about the double comment. i accidentally clicked while still writing :( pls delete it for me.

    Link to comment
    Guest Marcel


    Alicia you're a BAWS (bad a$$ with skills)!

    Here's how I can relate. I started a cyber security company - boring - I know. And as the co-founder I've taken a special interest in our marketing efforts which are practically non existent besides email and a little ad spend for research purposes. I spend a lot of time emailing and sadly get NO responses ever (kudos to your one percent - try 0% with every 400 emails). I've even taken time to target businesses specifically by making everyone I reach out to a customized video which turned out to be an epic fail.

    See an example of a personalized video here: http://youtu.be/G7O0V6oex4c

    The only responses from the customized videos were from one startup and he explicitly said great copy but I have the right to never email you again.

    Super cold. But super understandable.

    So I've been looking at ways to expand our business and increase our open rates. We want to take the contemporary copy route and reach out to these executives. But we are having no success.

    I have a few theories as to why:

    1. The decision makers that we send emails too are still considering unsolicited email spam no matter how personalized and how useful. This is probably because our copy realistically speaks to the next generation of decision makers.

    2. Our copy is horrible and the personalized videos probably suck too.

    What I love about your approach is the fact that it can be applied with our business right now. Without too much to think about. Another neat feature of your email is the bullet points. I think that's solid and it might work for us.

    I'll be applying this today and commenting again if it worked it not.

    Great post and I'm pumped that you got such a boost in your replies.

    There's hope!



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