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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 Alicia


Great to read your story James. I can relate to sending out the X+Y=Z type of emails. Hopefully the FBVH formula will be helpful for you :)
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Guest Alicia


Dope komment Chung! I LOVE both version and will give it a shot at work. Gracias!
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Guest Alicia


Thanks Kyle! Great question, I handled it by just giving them a call. My job's metrics require me to make 60-80 outbound calls a day to set appointments with DM's, so the few emails I get back aren't really an influx or difficult to manage.

Plus not every email response was positive (the Twinkles of the world), so I didn't reach out to those business owners. :)

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Guest Tamara Groom


If it was my company I'd already have you on retainer, Nev. BTW, Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer (which is why my baby's daddy suggested it) and (although he didn't know it at the time) Ada was also my late grandmother's name. So it felt like it was meant to be.
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Yup, you're right Neville.

I'm testing out the mugs and some other products locally first, to see what sells and what feedback people (yoginis) are giving me. The launch page is a tad premature, I agree. Thanks a lot for the thoughtful feedback!

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Guest Matt Berry


Well, even before reading your stuff I had trimmed all the crap from my emails.

Made them personal. Rarely any images.

Switched over to infusionsoft from Mailchimp.

Using the AIDA template and ROTR.

Using Sumome to capture emails.

Not worrying so much about how many likes I get on social media.

Focusing more on email.

Major changes. Life changes. I get people all week commenting on my emails and how much they love them with my new style, all from people like you.

Used to HATE writing. Now I am loving it.

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Just starting a new campaign on Monday and I've been going back and forth on how personal I want to make the e-mails. You convinced me. :)

And I really like stacking your formula with AIDA. The combination pushes my brain into the right space to communicate that value. Really excited to try this out.

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Guest question?


Alicia, maybe you can answer this:

How is what you're doing not spam?

Sending an unsolicited email, even to people you have a prior contact with, is non-compliant with anti-spam regulations.

Or am I misunderstanding something here. Thanks!

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Guest Chris


This could have been a great article, but it all went downhill with this line "Shouldn’t businesses WANT to be in communication with Yelp?" Making that one assumption alone turned what could have been great emails, into, better than average emails.

The fact is, if people don't trust your business or don't like your product, no amount of copy is going to make them buy. If instead she made the (correct) assumption that 50% of the businesses out there hate Yelp, she could have gotten higher open rates, higher responses and "SHOCKING" higher conversions of those calls to paying customers.

Think about the open and response rate with a subject like "How even businesses with bad reviews can benefit from Yelp" or, "Why three businesses that hated yelp advertised with us". Instead, she decided to poo poo (like many of you did in the comments) what many customers think of Yelp instead of trying to figure out a way to turn that around.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course with Yelp... Meaningless numbers with little context, and understanding little about how their customers think or feel.

Remember people, understand your customer first, then write compelling copy that speaks to them. If your potential customer hates you, then guess what... "Businesses DON'T WANT to be in communication with Yelp because they don't trust you and don't like your product..."

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Guest Raisul Kabir


I'm interested to know, how do Yelp employee live with themselves or Yelp changed. From online what I see unquestionably is, positive reviews are removed and negative reviews are promoted. Once you pay, you can remove/modify negative reviews. Is it still the same? Then how do you write emails to people? Why don't you sell drugs then? I mean, isn't it all the same? I have been always a loving follower of Nev, but really it got me disappointed associating with such scammers. Or, they have changed?
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Guest Marcel


If she has plenty of bad reviews all I've got it say is: where there is smoke there is fire.
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Guest Adrian


Gold, Neville! Gold!

I'm going to try both Methods with the next clients I land (if they object.)

First I'll show 'em this post, then I'll propose the '10% experiment.' Let's see what happens.

I can see how the 10% thing would work - wonder how I didn't think of it myself :)

SO FAR, all I've done is be petulant and (indirectly) say "if you know my job better than I do - why did you even hire me?"

This seems a much more 'wallet-friendly' way to show 'em the light.

Much Thanx Nev

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Guest Zoran


I was thinking the same :) Even though the techniques are great and Nev, you confirm them, why not run the test for a few days and show more significant numbers? In 10 days that would be 500 emails! Adding a few Analytics screenshots would just make the post hit the nail on the head that much harder :D
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Guest Danny


Amazing job Alicia!

If you want to close more deals right after your phone calls, start adding a quick 30-50 sec video personalized video email.

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Guest Scott Barlow


Great stuff!

I actually do this as a freelancer for several web agencies in the UK.

Here is one more tip that will inject steroids to your campaign. If you really want to get in front of someone and don't want to fuck it up, then invest some time in researching them online. Try your best to get a flavour of of the writing, style, humour and honesty and match it.

Writing like them means when they read its like a perfect fit.

I landed a £30,000 charity sponsorship doing this only 2 months ago for a client. I spent 3 hours researching and rereading everything this CEO had put out there even down to watching YouTube interviews with him. I found out that he had upset neighbours as he was having stables built and so dropped a link into this with a touch of humour and bang - got a one liner reply which led to three to four emails back and forth and then a 15 minute meet the following week for our client who closed £30,000 for his charity.

Boom shackalacka

And remember to keep changing your copy and measure it

Its not your process improvement policy thats important but your process to keep improving your process improvement! :)

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Guest Christen


Hi Alicia and Nev,

Great advice! I have a friend who is a Senior Community Manager at Yelp. I'll send this to her right away.

One tip worth experimenting next time... Instead of using "What is your availability this week" to get a meeting, try giving the potential customer two specific time windows. EX:

"Do you have 15 min to chat via phone on Tue between 10-12 or Wed 2-4."

My logic on why this works for me:

* It's actually easier on the client to agree to a meeting when given specific options to compare to their calendar.

* People don't like getting on the phone early morning, during lunch, or late afternoon. Therefore, there are basically only 2 preferred time slots.

* Using "Tue and Wed" or "Wed and Thu" is best because Mondays and Fridays are generally bad days to try to meet people. They have family or other personal obligations. Using "Tue and Thu" as a time slot is not optimal because the business owner may have a regimented work schedule. I think of it as picking an odd and even number day instead of picking two odd number days.

Good luck with your job. I know selling to restaurants and small business owners can be really hard. But, Yelp is a great company and I'm sure you're helping these business.

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Guest JoZackP


I can attest they work too, heck, i know for sure off my head 6 friends who have bought kopykourse after checking it out because of success I'd reporting using - it's awesome material - who then also saw awesome results on everything from email to web copy... so apologies for coming off as sour grapes / annoying math genius.

just the other week for example, used your techniques to change header text on Landing Page w/ high traffic, testing corporate vs. personal copy for a client the other week. After 1 hour of A/B test, had 12 conversions on variation compared to 2 for control. After 2 weeks with test running, ended up measuring a 15% improvement, lower than first hours data, but... STILL AWESOME!

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Guest Neville


Ha......probably not Karl :)

There's some pretty damn good competition for the nevbox in the comments!

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Guest iyasostuff


Hmm... Is there ever a time when it's not beneficial to add the Human factor? I mean, can someone come off as unprofessional when the "Human factor" is included?
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Guest Chung


Good points on days and times of the week to suggest.

Might test adding this as well:

"Or let me know how your calendar looks and I'll send an invite"

Because I'm approaching them first, I want remove all friction of them contacting me. So i offer more options.

I've also sent someone who said she wanted to talk but 2 months past and still no meeting, so I went ahead and sent her an invite.

And in the "description" I told her what SHE would get out of the meeting.

She replied back saying that time didn't work and suggested one that did.

I tried this again with another dude and he said, " take me off your list."

My 1st favorite answer is a "yes", followed by a "no".

Least fav? no reply.

Sometimes a confused mind says nothing so that's when I'll send an invite.

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Guest Neville


Well if you act like a silly clown then yes, it can come off as unprofessional.

But if you talk with the normal personality of a normal human, it's unlikely you'll come off as unprofessional.

Even clients in the banking world (which is traditionally super stuffy) have seen huge increases in response when they talk normally instead of like robots.

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Guest Neville


So anytime I send my friend a funny link in the email it's spam? Dude....come back to reality.
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