Yelp gone frat boy!

I love Yelp. They’ve done a great job to date of executing on a very logical idea and the product continues to be relevant and useful on a regular basis. I read reviews, write reviews, find great information and often comic relief on Yelp. But when I get an email encouraging me to ‘show my Yelps!’ (it’s Mardi Gras… get the reference?), my inner Yelper dies a little. Here is a snapshot of the email I found in my inbox this morning:


Normally I would think “eh, sex sells” and move on, but I thought this was an interesting topic for a post… not the use of sex to promote a business or an event, but the use of that precious user data to appropriately segment and target your customers. Given the requirements for opening an account, Yelp must at least know my age, gender, and location… (30, female, San Francisco). Were I 30 and male, or 22, female, living in Miami, this campaign could be rationalized. But at 30 and female, “thoughts of girls (and guys) going wild” (a.k.a. public orgies and vomit) aren’t enticing. Neither is the thought of being surrounded by skinny, hot, half-naked girls.

So I wonder… does Yelp even target by demographic, or is this the mass mail that was sent out to all of their users? And if it’s the latter, why not use imagery that’s more Mardi Gras themed (notice that only one girl in the photo is sporting beads… and they might not even be for Mardi Gras)? Beignets and Hurricanes, perhaps. Colorful masks, floats, jesters, Krewes, etc.

User opinions are helpful if a) they are likely to parallel your own or b) they span a diversity of opinions, allowing you to make a well-informed decision. Receiving marketing emails like the one above leads me to believe that frat boys are Yelp’s primary demographic; therefore, Yelp reviews don’t satisfy either of these conditions for me.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not quitting Yelp – I still love it!  I just feel that they should think more with their brains and less with their…


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