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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 Neville




Well good, glad you learned something new Vikash!

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Guest Jasper Oldersom


Hey Marcel,

Couldn't help but notice your comment.

One thing you'll need to point out is why prevention is so important, because a lot of small to medium businesses will probably only see the value of it once it is actually a problem.

- Why prevention?

- What dangers?

- What problems can these dangers cause?

Stuff like that.

So you could have a subject line like: "Are you protected against these security issues?" > point them out > tell them how you can help them.

Hope that helps :)

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Guest Victor


Alicia and Nev,great post. As always Nev,great email too. I paused during reading because I had to run to do something, and I left off around where Alicia said she was using the custom template 2. I was going over in my head "how do you give away milk and still sell the cow?" She answered it perfectly.

Also, Raj^ has an interesting question. I'd love to hear the respose.

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Guest Neville


You're right....even a big ole company like Yelp can use some Klassy Kasual Kopy :)
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Guest Octavio


I wrote an improvement of Alicia´s email based on these concepts:

- specificity of: target b2b and expected results

- be educational with numbers and reference to a case study

- dont talk bad about outbound marketing, but tell him how to do it better

- write even shorter to the point

- social proof: drop big companies of other industries

- scarcity: this email is sent to 10 competitors but we only work with the first per city

Improvement to Alicia´s 2nd email:

I checked your current stats in Yelp of your competitors and have 2 ways that will help bring more customers in your door. If you´re placing ads in magazines, compare those results with the target audience from Yelp, who are ACTIVELY looking for your services. We can send you hot leads that you can close today.

I´ve got a 2nd way... but it`s too dang good to give away in an email (which I don´t even know got to you). If you are reading this, ring me up and I´ll tell it to you. HINT: Iti`s a trick that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Call me today



Original 2nd email:

I have 2 ways that will help bring more customers in your door, and grow your business:

1) Exposure to the RIGHT people. Too often business themselves via direct mail or local magazines. That´s great for brand awarness, however, if you´re looking for a faster return on your dollar, then that´s not the type of marketing you should be doing.

That type of exposure is called outbound marketing, putting your business in front of people that aren´t ACTIVELY looking for your business.

You should be promoting through inbound marketing, which is what Yelp is. When you advertise on Yelp we are promoting you to people that are looking for your business right now.

I´ve got a 2nd way... but it`s too dang good to give away in an email (which I don´t even know got to you). If you are reading this, ring me up and I´ll tell it to you. HINT: Iti`s a trick that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Call me today


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Guest Marcel


Thank you for pointing that out Jasper!

I'll be trying different methods then sticking with the tried and true.

Everyone is bringing up some great points here.

Love it

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Guest Corbett


Utterly awesome! I struggle with writing so much and explaining it from this perspective with an easy framework make it SO much easier!
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Guest michael yochelson


A bunch of people seem to write a lot of emails do any of them actually work. Like produce anything. I work a 12 hour day fortunately I have to be in several places during the day. I'm always interested in growing my business> I just don't want employees. being an electrical consultant. My clients are buying me.

Oh yeah what is yelp I bet it's not free.

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OMG...twinkles the party planner sounds like a party pooper. I'll bet I know what that bad review was about...

Great stuff. I like your FBVH formula and totally agree that the "H" really makes the email pop.

Business email can (and should) be enjoyable. Like Nev says, kopy should be written to real people.....I think Nev says that.

What if you added some more of that Human factor into the headline?

-Let's start dominating the PARTAAAAY business today...it costs less than Chinese lanterns.

-Walk-ins are Weird. Appointments are Awesome. Get engaged clients TODAY. (Side note...I've noticed barber shops LOVE yelp)

-Your steaks should hook up with some meat lovers we know...

Thanks again for making inboxes less boooorrring.

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Guest Tamara Groom


Hi Alicia,

I really like that you've created an easy to remember formula with FBVH. When I first learned AIDA from Nev, I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it to my monitor until it became second nature. That almost worked too well since now I have a 7-month-old named Ada! (But, of course, there's more to that story).

I work for a company that does millions a month in ad revenue and we have salespeople making 50 calls a day w/ a follow-up email. Saying, "Hey, I just called and left you a message.." adds the Human Factor in (if the salesperson knows to do it). I'm going to share your post with our sales coach because I'm sure it'll make a big impact that way.

I'm in marketing so I'll try it in my corporate emails, too. Thanks for the sharing your success!

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Ada doesn't sound very interesting......jk. That's a pretty sweet name.

Also, it looks like Nev's brain control experiments are working.

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Guest Jeff McMorris


You know the most interesting thing about this article? It was your customer (Twinkles) response about the fake review yelp had on her business. Also your response tells me you don't take this seriously and Yelp is missing a serious opportunity to make things right for this and other business owners.

There is something known as integrity. In any business, you either have it or you don't. It is far more important than response rates or anything else to the long term success of a business. What Yelp does is very shady. They do put bad reviews up for businesses and then contact them to advertise. This should be illegal, however the courts ruled in Yelp's favor. When a company loses their integrity what does all this other stuff matter? I don't know about you but I want to have integrity when running a business.

Yelp has a major problem as Twinkle pointed out. Yet you make light of it? You want better response rates? Treat your customers with respect and not as marks...

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Guest Travis



I thought it was clever how you used your own formula (FBVH) and mixed it with the AIDA formula. It seems like a little bit of planning goes a long way. Seems like you essentially use these as a checklist for making sure your emails hit important talking points (or pain points).

When it comes to copy writing, Nev usually mentions that one should write each sentence in order to compel the reader to read the next sentence. It's awesome to see you finding more ways engage with your customers in a way that compels them to respond! Great work - Keep going!

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Guest Matt Berry


Hi Neville. I eat this stuff up. I started with Sumome and then found you through Noah and your webinar.

Dude. My sales are up 30% over the past three months. No joke. I haven't seen growth like this ever with our family business and we have been running since 1919.


I keep getting better at your methods. Love AIDA. Use it every day.

Keep 'em coming.

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Guest Kyle Reed


Very insightful stuff Alicia.

What I appreciated most about your post was your willingness to test and get better results. I find one of the most challenging things with increasing response rates is the willingness to test and try new things.

What I liked the most about what you did was give all of us a peak into your thinking on how to grow response rates. Which for me, was encouraging to go back and review some of my different methods and come up with some different test myself.

My question for you, once you add some personality into your post with business owners, how did you manage the influx of request and response back asking for more information or help?



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Guest Chung Tang



Thank you for sharing. Very cool.

I have suggestions and Komments below.

Test as you please.


Subject line: [Joe’s Restaurant]


Are you trying to [get more bums in seats] with [direct mail and local magazines]????

Whhhhy? (it’s like soooo yesterday)

That approach (aka outbound marketing) works great if you're looking to build your brand, and “get your name out there”.

The problem with the “getting your name out there” approach is, they’re NOT looking for you.

Can you imagine spending cash to show YOUR goods to people that aren’t actively looking for them?

My gosh. Talk about waste.

It’s like you’re putting a steak in front of a vegetarian.

They ain’t looking.

So what’s really happening is money is being spent to promote to 1000 people, hoping 5-10 will “bite”.

Not the best or fastest way if you have a small budget.

What you want to be doing is, promoting in a way that “gets their bums in here” (aka INBOUND marketing). This would be like [you putting a steak in front of hungry meat eaters.]

They’re ALREADY looking for [meat] and your business shows up at the exact moment they’re looking for [meat].

That’s what Yelp does.

We promote you to people ALREADY looking for you.

So, there’s no waste in your advertising.

And It works best for [restaurants with small budgets.]

But we can’t put “every” restaurant on Yelp. Not because we don’t want to (we do) but, because often the listing has already been taken.

So waiting to reply is not recommended.

Call/text me: 123-456-799




Subject Line: [Case Study - Bar Owner]


Is Ricky’s Bar trying to [grow with a small budget?]

If so, would you take a look at this case study?

Case Study - Bar Owner

And let me know if you’d like to have a chat about it.




"Case Study - Bar Owner" is hyperlinked to short case study, testimonial, useful/helpful info.

Words in brackets […] are areas you can templatize.

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For work I don't even send sales emails.

I send mails with info, or asking for info, so that we can help them.

Still my response rate sucks.

I will most def be giving this a try.

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Guest Liz Froment


This is awesome, thanks for laying it all out in a nice actionable way, Alicia. I deal with a lot of people who are sending out cold emails frequently and so many of them are just bad and super generic. I love your concept of combining FBVH with AIDA to give emails that both offer value and still sound like they are coming from a person (not a generic template). Absolutely will be passing on your tips, and using them myself to improve my own emails. Plus seeing the reaction from Twinkles was a nice bonus ;) Thanks!
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Guest Jasper Oldersom


Damn Chung, version 1 definitely rocks :-)

I hope Alicia tests that one out. I'd be Kurious to see the re$ult$ of that!

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It's a good post Alicia but I also agree with Jeff's comment here.

I would be pissed off too if Yelp is showing bad reviews for my business while hiding all the good ones (probably something to do with Yelp's review filter but obviously the biz owner doesn't know anything about that) and then I get an email from you asking if I would be interested to chat and potentially spend money...

Just wouldn't make sense to expect anything but negative response here from Twinkles.

In fact, my guess is that you would've received the same response had you sent out a "generic email".

Anyways, out of curiosity, what did you end up telling Twinkles regarding their good/bad reviews?

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Guest James Lopez


Alicia and Nev,

Per taking the advice of Nev from his "Newbie Advice for Copywriting" and starting down the rabbit hole of reading the Boron Letters and reading your post here, i am happy to say that I am constantly being motivated to push myself to learn how to write better copy. More importantly, how to write information that is relevant, meaningful, and human.

I currently work for a non-profit in job Development for Refugees and use Catchafire, an online Volunteer Match service, to develop marketing material and crowdfunding campaigns for Non-Profits across the US. For me, I need to reach out to people on a pretty regular basis, overcome a multitude of barriers and resistance to disruption services and introduce more rural communities to modern ways of thinking and doing business.

The challenge for me was always sending out cold emails that didn't sound either too much like "Please hire my people, I'm desperate!" or "I am a robot sending out spam email for a staffing agency."

There were two key pieces that I started to notice were missing and really inhibiting my ability to make genuine and engaging contacts with people. The first is that I was not setting up my emails in the AIDA or as you say, FBVH formula. I was simply stating I had X, you need X so why don't we create solutions Y which will equal Z! A simple X+Y=Z formula. Easy. Adequate. To the Point. However, this generic equation didn't factor in anything relevant or personable to the contact leaving them with the "why?" Why is this going to help me when I am already swamped in resumes and candidates?

The essential point in any type of sales or relationship is the building of trust through mutual respect and appreciation. Your FBVH formula has substantially reinforced the lessons I have had to learn through my own trials and tribulations. When you are trying to convert people to a new process or way of approaching their own business, you are essentially invading their territory and addressing their shortcomings. "Your business could be working more efficiently with this," or, "Your having problems hiring and maintaining a quality workforce may come down to your hiring practices and I can help change that."

If the human aspect isn't there and a sincerity built on "I am here to help you become a better person" then your approach and message will fail. Ultimately because you are pointing out their flaws from a top down approach or not reinforcing your credibility and genuine sincere caring for the client/customer your creating a defensive and somewhat argumentative conversation.

I really appreciated your honesty and I too can say that I have seen about a similar response to my cold emails. Even if a majority of them are coming from staffing agencies or crazy people on Craigslist just wanting pictures of my naked Butt and not a job posting, I am getting responses. For me, that has drastically improved my confidence and motivation to work hard and continue aiding my clients in finding work.

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4.5 of 5 Stars

Mark E.

21 Reviews

Milwaukee, WI


"I found this link through Neville's email which I love. I wasn't sure how someone from Yelp could help me but I was really impressed with the content. So often I go to these pages and they just give theory without actually showing you how they did it. Not with this post. Alicia did a great job of fully detailing theory and then how it actually works.

The content was refreshing, and I have already started to use her advice. I'm excited to see what results will come of this.

I would highly recommend this post to friends and have already joined the subscription list.

Only reason I didn't give it a 5 was because of the lack of parking."

Was this review....

Useful? Funny? Cool?

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Guest JoZack


Really cool to see, but there is 8.2% chance conclusion could be wrong (not quite statistically significant...) Would be really cool to get an update w/ more data!
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