Yelp, continuing a South American expansion, launched its social-review service in Chile to increase its share of the location-based mobile space.
Users across Chile will be able to create accounts on Yelp.cl to share their opinions about local businesses and have access to free iPhone and Android applications and Yelp for Business Owners. The move fits with Yelp’s prioritizing of global expansion as consumers increasingly turn away from desktops to embrace mobile reviews of businesses of all kinds.
“As part of our ongoing international expansion, the launch in Chile sees Yelp's South/Latin American presence expand further to now include Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile,” said Elliot Adams, senior public-relations manager for Europe at San Francisco-based Yelp.
“Chile is one of the most economically stable countries in the region and has a population that is well connected technologically, providing an opportunity to bring Yelp's unique local business discovery features to the population at large, wherever they may be in the country,” he said.
Santiago will be the focus of the company’s initial community-building efforts and home to Chile's first Yelp community manager, Mr. Adams said.
Chile is Yelp’s 28th service country. Last year the company held launches in New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Brazil and Portugal.
“South America has seen a recent boom in mobile technology and connectivity, which fits particularly well with Yelp's offering,” Mr. Adams said.
“We believe that Yelp's local business discovery and review features match well with the demands of the local population in the region and provides an opportunity for consumers and businesses to interact in a way that benefits both parties and in a way that has not existed to date.”
A free platform where users can post reviews of businesses ranging from restaurants to dental clinics, Yelp supports 15 different languages.
In the wake of its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange two years ago, San Francisco-based Yelp has been building up its mobile products and advertising opportunities as nearly 60 percent of all searches on its site come from its mobile applications.
The location-based space is continuing to heat up as Yelp and its many competitors hone in on mobile to capitalize on consumers increasingly turning to their handsets as the first place to get information.
Other platforms moving deeper into mobile are foursquare, which has updated its iPhone and Android app with features that emphasize mobile search, and Groupon, which introduced a universal search feature to its mobile app.
Yelp is seen as having a big opportunity because of its focus in local restaurants and merchants, which traditionally has high levels of intent from mobile users.
Yelp’s recent moves include rolling out in-app advertising opportunities to initial brands such as Taco Bell, InterContinental Hotels Group and Miller Lite.
In February, during a conference call with analysts on its fourth quarter and full-year financial results, Yelp stressed that geographic expansion is high on its priority list for 2014.
Word of mouth
Expanding into Chile is a way to leverage the public’s shift away from desktops to mobile with Yelp’s reputation as the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists.
Holding an edge in searches for local merchants and restaurants.
“Yelp attracts over 138 million unique visitors monthly, and they make decisions based upon the content of the 61 million reviews submitted to Yelp,” Mr. Adams said. “We have found that people access Yelp content in different ways and from a range of different devices, but it is true that mobile has been a growing component of the Yelp experience.
“Sixty-one percent of searches are done so on a mobile device and around 68 million unique visitors come to Yelp via a mobile device every month,” he said. “We are sure that mobile access and Yelp's mobile features will prove popular with consumers in Chile as well.”
Michael Barris is staff reporter for Mobile Marketer, New York.
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.