Jump to content
Learn & utilize persuasive language.

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 Romeo Jeremiah


I like the first email best. SUBJ: 5 Directions Mapped to You from Yelp

Why? Short and sweet with lots of white space.

If an email is too long, I'll open it but won't read it right away. You have to be in a different mindset. So, I'll just flag them and MAYBE get back to reading them.

Same as these long ass comments in this thread. Skipped right pass them. Hell, even this comment is too long.

Combining the first email with one final "human" sentence should likely get even more of a response.

At least I'd open & read it, for sure.

Link to comment
Guest Austin Peterson


**AWESOME stuff**

I've been awake for two days now setting up ad campaigns, email outreach, and reading through (wading through) online marketing crapola. It's good to read a post that's really actionable, informative with great examples, easy to follow, and personable (you don't sound like a marketing robot or Yelp Drone).

Thanks Nev and Alicia!

If my start-up wasn't broke af right now I would totally buy stuff, but if you want some free Coffee from Cartel Del Cafe *The Hustlers Choice* send me an email with that ADDY then HUSTLA!!!

Later Twinkles,

Austin is about to watch a Frank Kern Webinar now #teamnosleep

Link to comment
Guest WIlliam Maloney


Write like you're sending an email to Mom (unless you don't like Mom, then write an email to your dog, because we all get emotional when talking to our pets)

What I learned is that people like to blast thru their emails WAY MORE than reading them.......

.......BUT, when they see something that looks like, smells like, tastes like, it's from a person that wrote it for them, interest builds.

THEH just make sure it's 95% about them.


Nev Box to this address Please:

1 AmazingAnswr Way

Correctville, HI 101010

Link to comment
Guest Lloyd


Good learnings :) We've been working on our out-bound emails for the last few days. This article came just in time. This part in the article was quite helpful "How I Revamped Yelp Emails with AIDA & FBVH Formula:" On our end, I am planning to use a new engagement automation tool as part of my emails. I am hoping the email learnings + the automation increases my on site conversions.
Link to comment
Guest Alicia


HAHA I agree that it seems so wrong and so right at the same time :)
Link to comment
Guest Alicia


Thanks Adam, and yea I've learned a lot of great copy techniques from Nev!
Link to comment
Guest Alicia


Hi Arnaud, great question. I usually try to limit email correspondences that aren't about scheduling a time to speak. In regards to twinkles I called immediately after I got the email to talk to her about our recommendation software since that's better explained via phone.
Link to comment
Guest oluwole


An awesome way to look at emails even from corporates.

The challenge for us as copywriting consultants is helping big executives seeing how much they are losing by being rigid and boring with their writing styles.

How i wish they know.

Loving' the several variations proposed in the comments.

So, this is my BLATANT email variation:

Subject: Dear Nehville. Send your book to Africa.

Body: While you are trying hard to see who wins your book.

Look no harder..... there is a more effective way. It is so darn easy [let me show you how] by sending me the book.

What do you think?


A little hilarious...... :)

Link to comment

Hi Nev,

I'd like a Nev box. They look fun, and rectangular.

I like rectangles.

Thumbs up on the post. You should do a similar one for telemarketers to see if they could cold-call better.


Link to comment
Love that you put so much time into a free blog post. Thanks for sharing Nev!
Link to comment
Guest Alicia


Hey Tom, I just decided to use 50 for testing purposes, but depending on the day, I could send more or less. For instance, if I've been talking with a client for 2hrs that day, then I prob won't have time to send 50. Each email isn't specific, it's just a matter of inserting correct names and metrics in the template.
Link to comment
Guest Chung Tang


By the way, who noticed one of the screenshots Alicia took?

Scroll up and look.

One of them was a "negative" response from Twinkles.

You don't always see people posting "negative" responses, especially when it's open for public eye.

When people get them they get all down and don't get back up. They just stop sending emails. They feel defeated and deflated. “Days ruined. I'm done for the day.” kind of thing.

Then you have people that just keep going when the tough gets going (did I say that quote right?)

So what's the difference between these 2 groups of people?

One's pursuing excuses. The other, greatness.

What are you pursuing?

Link to comment
Guest Jamie Smith


Excuse me, Mr. Nev!! How has it been going recently? What constitutes an effective comment that has a good shot to win an INCREDIBLE AWESOME SUPER BADASS "Nev Box"? :)
Link to comment
Guest Neville


Look at some of the other comments above, they really put some good effort into giving feedback and even partially re-writing the emails!

If someone comes to this post in the future, and gets great value from reading a comment, that's usually who the NevBox's go to :)

Link to comment
Was thinking the same thing. Great results so far but the sample size is not very big.
Link to comment
Guest Anouk


Hi Alicia,

I really enjoyed reading your guest post and it reminds me how I've recently changed my email templates to get more responses. I started a science games company and I emailed EVERY SINGLE SCIENCE MUSEUM across North America.

My response rate is not so bad (around 7-10%), one of my rule is: KISS (keep it simple stupid). Also, for each email I do some research (actually, my VA does that for me) to get the person's name.

In the object, I only put: ''A cool card game at your museum store!'' (sometimes I change the object).

I got over $3000 sales with that method. Some of the responses said they were not interested (or didn't have a store anymore), but a couple of them gave me references of other museums/organizations. So even if the answer is NO, the person you email can still help you!

I think I will do some A-B testing and use your formula to see how it impacts my responses rate. Would be great to get 15% or more.

Will check out your blog, have a good day!

Link to comment

Hey Alicia,

Thanks for sharing! After reading this, I thought more about the HUMAN element in writing the copy for one of my products (fun yoga mugs).

I rewrote it based on how people who bought em actually used them...

PREVIOUSLY, it read like this (kinda general)....

- Put one on your desk to share some yoga joy

- Add it to your mug collection

- Give one to your mom, daughter, spouse or your instructor & make their day!

NOW, it reads .....

People have used these fun mugs

- for their morning cuppa tea, coffee, hot water + lemon

- Given them as gifts to their mom, daughter & spouse (they were the perfect choice for International Yoga Day gifting!)

- Someone bought it for their instructor as a thank you

- And one yogini included them in her bridesmaids' gift pack :)


I feel it makes it much more personal. What do you think?

Link to comment


Thanks so much for this case study!!!

It's just what I needed to fine tune my emails.


Link to comment
Guest JoZack


yup, def important to make sure not to make decisions based on too small of a data set.

though I've used the same techniques and seen 2x-3x improvements in email, so I'd still hypothesize it will return better.

Link to comment
Guest Neville


Oh nice, that's cool you do that.

Any interaction for a business like that is 90% more than any other dry cleaners are probably doing!

Link to comment

  • Join 55,000+ people getting our newsletter

    nev-and-logo-going-into-email (3).gif

    - Get notified of new posts -
    - Get weekly S.W.I.P.E.S. Email -
    - Get a free masterclass in copy -
    - People love our emails, see testimonials -

  • Create New...