local search, yelp, google, foursquare, mytime

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Yelp drives an average of $8,000 in business to small businesses that have profiles on the site, according to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group but funded by Yelp.

Businesses that advertised on the social reviews site Yelp drew an average of $23,000 in additional businesses, after spending an average of $4,200, the study found after polling 4,800 small businesses.

But the benefits of advertising varied widely depending on the type of business. Restaurants, for example, saw a very small benefit from advertising on Yelp as opposed to simply having a profile. Businesses focused on arts and entertainment businesses drove, on average, more than $55,000 in business from advertising on the site.

(It’s not clear from the survey results whether these businesses also spent more on their advertising on Yelp, however.)

The study offers compelling context for the current battle to serve small and medium-sized businesses. There are 23 million small businesses in the United States, according to the study. They drive half of all sales and account for two-thirds of all jobs added to the economy since the 1970s. But just 3 percent of their advertising budgets goes into digital marketing.

Small businesses pump digital marketing dollars predominantly into their own websites and search engine advertising. Although Yelp follows behind search engines among digital marketing channels, just 11 percent of the businesses surveyed had claimed their profile on Yelp.

The numbers indicate that there’s still a lot of money to be made by Yelp and its competitors, including Foursquare and MyTime, that offer marketing services to small businesses.