Yelp Check-in Offers for Dental Offices: Our Complete Guide (+10 Bonus Ideas!)

We all know that online reviews and recommendations are critical to attracting new clients but Yelp Check-in Offers are often overlooked as a useful tool for generating more and better reviews while staying relevant in the minds of your guests. In this article (or should we call it a "Guide"?), we'll take a deep dive into this tool and look at ten creative Yelp Check-in Offer ideas dental practices can get started with today to encourage user reviews that will actually stick and don't get filtered into "not recommended" purgatory. 

June 20, 2023

TLDR: Jump directly to our 10 real-world check-in ideas!

10 Creative Yelp Check-in Offers Hero Graphic

What are Yelp "Check-in Offers"

Totally free to set up and the only approved way to incentivize customer reviews on Yelp, "check-in offers" are a minor but useful Yelp profile feature active dental offices can leverage to reward current and potential new guests for visiting their office and engage with them within the Yelp mobile application. When a new guest completes a Yelp "check-in" at a physical office location, they can redeem a pre-defined "offer" set by the practice that can be valued anywhere between just a few dollars and hundreds of dollars based on the promotion being offered.

Check-in offers can range not only in value but the types of products, services, and other exclusive deals depending on the practice's specific goals and budget for the campaign. In most industries, this strategy aims to encourage foot traffic to the brick-and-mortar business. But for dental practices, it offers a useful tool to supplement their existing review generation strategy and help grow the number of positive reviews on Yelp, which can lead to increasing rankings both in the Yelp platform and, indirectly, in Google. Additionally, there is a social element to the Yelp check-in offers. Any Yelp user who checks in at your office can also share their update with friends via the Yelp mobile app, which provides additional exposure and awareness of your practice.

From a business owner's perspective, these check-in offers provide additional tools to attract new guests and retain current ones through additional engagement and incentivization through the redemption offer. As a fully customizable feature, with the ability to offer discounts ranging from minor to significant, this gives office managers and practice marketers the ability to target exactly the types of services, treatments, or dental care products that they want to focus on throughout the year. And, since they are so easy to set up or edit, you can change your strategy on a dime. Dashboard analytics provide further valuable information about what types of customers check-in and redeem offers to help you fine-tune your marketing strategies and better understand customer behavior.

Despite these additional sales and demographic insights, we will focus in this article on what we feel is the greatest potential of Yelp check-in offers: namely, the ability to generate new, five-star reviews that are much more likely to remain in the "recommended" section of your Yelp profile and not incur the wrath of the always frustrating "not recommended" filter. Read on to learn more about what Yelp check-in offers are and how to leverage them for your unique dental practice and customer base.

Approved Incentivization

Yelp is notorious for filtering legitimate reviews and seemingly floating the negative ones to the top of your profile. The "squeaky wheel gets the grease," right? And some have speculated that the Yelp review filter is suspiciously manipulated by whether a dental practice decides to advertise with Yelp or not. While most of this is pure speculation, it's also the reason that the number of Yelp reviews your dental office is able to generate can seem to be an uphill battle or, at the very least a moving target.

We know from our research that dentists can expect to see about 30% of their reviews filtered to the "not recommended" section of their Yelp profile, despite that nationwide average of about 25% across all industries. We've also seen dental practices with more than a 100% filter rate, which means that seemingly legitimate reviews are not being displayed or read by your potential customers. The secret sauce behind this sophisticated algorithm is not widely known, publicized or easy to determine but what we do know is that incentivizing your customer reviews is a big "no go" according to Yelp's content guidelines and can lead to a higher-than-normal filter rate and frustration.

Image of Filtered Yelp Reviews on Yelp for Dental Office

*This is an actual example of the number of filtered Yelp reviews for a dental office in Southern California with only 61 published reviews at the time of writing!

The only Yelp-approved review incentive technique that won't incur the wrath of their algorithm is - you guessed it - to offer a Yelp "Check-in Offer". Why? Well, for one you are not actually giving the patient an incentive for a review, but rather rewarding them for checking in and the likely review to follow is just a natural bi-product. Additionally, check-in offers benefit Yelp by providing valuable business data and address validation (in other words. Yelp has 100% confidence the review actually visited the business), and increase mobile application downloads and social engagement through the platform which makes it easier to understand why check-in offers are the ONLY review incentive your office can leverage with impunity.

The Benefits of Using Yelp Check-in Offers to Boost Positive Reviews and Grab New Patients

Yelp boasts over 178 million unique monthly visitors and the dental industry is particularly impacted by the reach of the platform and the user reviews showcased there. Yelp, itself estimates that Check-in Offers account for 28 million unique users on average per month via the mobile app. In other words, your dental practice can choose to ignore Yelp, but would be unwise to do so, and Yelp check-in offers are a great way to get started or boost your presence on Yelp with a very low cost of entry.

Boosting Review Count

Each guest that checks-in with Yelp is automatically provided a notification a few days later asking them to rate their experience at your office. You don't have to worry about asking them for a review because Yelp does it for you and reviews will naturally come from active Yelp check-in redemptions.

New Patient Leads

Although not a huge needle-mover, a guest who might be deciding between 2 or 3 local dental offices will naturally be inclined to visit the one that provides them a discount or free product on their first visit. Additionally, guests who share their check-in on Yelp help spread the word to other Yelpers and potential guests.

Support Local Businesses

Giving out gift cards or promos to local businesses - let's say, you have an Italian Deli just a few doors down that offers great lunch specials - is a great way to connect and promote those businesses while promoting your services and delighting your guests with a redemption offer they can use right away!

Reviews Likely to Stick

Because of the digital footprint left by your guest when the complete the Yelp check-in and because it requires having the app on your phone, Yelp check-in redeemers often tend to be more active on the platform and Yelp has 100% certainty through location tracking that the guest visited your office. Therefore they have almost no reason to filter the review.

Promote Specific Services

Since Yelp check-in offers are fully customizable and any discount, free product or fixed price can be chosen, you can use them to (for example) promote teeth whitening services as you go into summer or fill holes in your Perio schedule by offering a discount specifically targeted to those patients.

Stay Top-of-Mind with Guests

We know that patient communication and birthday cards only go so far. It's important to stay "top-of-mind" with guests, and Yelp Check-in offers to provide a low-maintenance digital way to enhance your passive patient messaging.

It's important to remember that Yelp check-ins can lead to customers leaving feedback of any kind, both positive and negative. Dental practices can typically expect to leverage check-ins to increase positive, five-star reviews, as satisfied patients are more likely to share their experiences, and their experience will be more positive if they receive a special discount or product for free when checking in. These positive online reviews can go a long way in helping improve the dentist's overall rating and attract potential patients who rely on peer recommendations when choosing their provider.

10 Creative Yelp Check-in Offer Ideas for Dental Practices You Can Use Today

By now, you may be on board with the idea of using Yelp check-ins or trying it out to help generate more online reviews and engage with more guests, but you are wondering what kind of offers work well. Or, how much of a discount or product should you offer? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and it's up to each individual dental team to determine what every new five-star review on Yelp is worth to them based on their current count or average star rating. At Circulation Dental, we think that each published five-star review on Yelp is worth at least $50. So keep this in mind as you read through our suggestions below and don't be afraid to start small, go big, or get creative!

  1. Discounted Services: Ok, so this one isn't exactly creative, but we would be remiss if not including it in our list of possible check-in offer ideas. Offering a discount is pretty much the main reason this feature exists so check with your front desk or office manager for the best, most cost-effective discount to offer guests who check-in with Yelp. Just be sure that you're not offering the same discount or new patient special that you provide all guests. We want Yelp users to feel special and rewarded for using the platform and checking in. We recommend a discount value between $15-$25.
  2. Free Dental Hygiene Kit: Many practices already have dental hygiene kits on hand, which may include a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, etc. By providing these to patients who check in and complete a dental cleaning you'll be able to promote good oral hygiene practices and leave your guests with a tangible reminder of their visit to your dental office.
  3. Free Starbucks/Amazon/Google Play Gift Cards: This is probably the easiest way to get setup with a free gift for your new check-in offer. These gift cards are easy to find at the grocery or convenience store and can usually be customized to any denomination you want ($5, $10, $20 etc.). The great thing about Amazon, Apple or Google gift cards is that because of their digital nature and streaming services such as movies or music, everyone can use them. And if your Yelp check-in offer is not a success, they can easily be repurposed as gifts for the annual holiday party or given out to team members.
  4. Discounted Family Packages: For couples or families that have treatments on the same day, incentivize a family check-in discount on dental services. This not only encourages family visits but has the added benefit of generating two or more new reviews as well as showing loyalty to your guests an community.
  5. Gift Card to Local Eatery or Retail Store: It's likely that your dental office is located in a commercial or shopping center that shares a parking lot with local restaurants, cafes, coffee houses and other retail stores. By purchasing and providing gift cards specific to these local establishments your Yelp check-in offer not only supports your neighbors and potentially encourages cross-business referrals but makes it more convenient for your guests to redeem their shiny new gift card that day or at their next appointment.
  6. Bonus Aromatherapy Session with Tea : We call this the dental check-in for dental chickens! Many people have anxiety about visiting the dentist so offering a free pre-treatment aromatherapy session with a hot tea or other healthy beverage is a great way to help them unwind and get a little added bonus from checking in on Yelp.
  7. Monthly Raffle for Check-ins: Keep track of all your Yelp check-ins during the month and hold a raffle for this group of patients for the chance to win something larger like a $50 Amazon Gift Card, a high-end electric toothbrush or significant discount on a treatment. This will encourage patient loyalty and provide additional posting opportunities on your social media channels.
  8. Offer a Free or Discounted Take Home Teeth Whitening Kit: Offer a complimentary or heavily-discounted take home teeth whitening kit to patients who check in on Yelp and book a comprehensive dental exam or cosmetic service. This does two things: it incentivizes patients to visit the dental practice but also provides them with a valuable cosmetic treatment to enhance their smile at home.
  9. Custom Re-usable Water Bottle: Water is great for overall oral health and a custom BPA Free water-bottle with your practice's name on it can help encourage guest loyalty and remind your Yelp check-in redeemers to keep their routine cleaning appointments in the future. These can be found cheaply on Amazon or Etsy.
  10. High-end Toothpaste, MouthScraper or Mouthwash: These items not only promote great oral health but can be picked up in that cost-range you want to be targeting with your Yelp check-in offers. Sometimes it's a little luxury that we, as humans enjoy by being provided with something we wouldn't normally spend that much on, ourselves but would certainly enjoy.

*Note: Our goal is to make this the best, most useful Yelp Check-in Offer for Dentists article out there so if your dental office has employed any of these or other tactics successfully, we want to hear about it. Let us know in the comments which offers have been most successful in your travels to engage patients and generate new reviews. We will update our list of ideas and give credit accordingly!

Setting Up Your First Check-in Offer

Implementing Yelp check-in offers is a straightforward process that can yield some nice benefits for dental practices. First and foremost, dentists must have claimed their Yelp business page and ensure all the information is accurate and up-to-date. This includes adding photos, descriptions, and contact information, as well as verifying the business's location. Once the business page is optimized, dentists can start creating Yelp check-in offers that align with their practice's goals and target audience.

To implement Yelp check-in offers, dentists must create a Yelp business account (this is often done during the claiming process) and navigate to the "Check-In Offers" section near the lower left sidebar of the dashboard. From there, they can select the offer type, set the terms and conditions, and customize the message that patients receive when they check in on Yelp. Depending on their business objectives and budget, you can choose from a range of offer types, such as discounts on services, free consultations, or complementary products. By offering these creative incentives, dentists can attract new patients, retain existing ones, and foster a strong relationship with their customer base.

Yelp Check-in offers currently fall within four offer types:

  1. Percent Off: i.e. 20% off your first visit or specific service treatments.
  2. Price Off: Similar to "percent off" above, you can specify an exact value such as $500 off your first dental implant.
  3. Fixed Price: Rather than advertising a percentage off your service, fixed-price offers cut-to-the-chase and work better in industries other than dental.
  4. Free Item: Use the "free item" offer for providing guests with physical gift cards or hygiene kits when they check-in with Yelp.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these four "check-in" offer types. For example, setting a percentage or price off offer allows you maintain a discount for your product or service despite pricing updates whereas free products often require more coordination with the front desk and keeping an inventory, of, say Starbucks gift cards or dental hygiene kits on hand.

Create a New Yelp Check-in Offer Setup Screenshot

Some considerations for writing an effective Yelp check-in offer:

  1. Be concise: You only have 39 characters of text for the headline and 140 characters of text available in the "optional details" section.
  2. Indicate the exact value of the offer: People want to know exactly what they're getting to determine if checking in is actually worth their time. If the gift card is valued at $10, specify this.
  3. Give clear instructions for redemption: Be sure to specify in the "optional details" section how to claim and receive their free gift or discount. Will it be mailed or handled to the guest directly at the front desk? Will the discount be applied today or in the future?
  4. Don't mention anything about reviews: Authentic reviews are a nice bonus to Yelp check-in offers, but not the main reason to offer them. Let the process happen naturally.

Yelp check-in offers don't take up much real estate on your profile and although they're easy to find, you don't have a lot of copy to work with. So be concise, clear and engaging when writing yours.

Promoting Your New Yelp Check-in Offer

Because the check-in offer is not displayed prominently on your Yelp profile you'll need to find ways to spread the word that you're offering one. Here are five effective ideas for letting people know that if they check-in with Yelp, you've got something for them!

  1. Create a graphic that says "Ask us about our current check-in offer for active Yelpers!" This will allow you to change the terms of the offer from time to time without the original post or additional marketing materials becoming irrelevant. Post this graphic to your Google Business Profile under the "posts" section, your social media channels on Instagram and Facebook and the photos section of your Yelp profile.
  2. Use either the graphic you created above or create a basic flyer on, say, which can be printed and displayed in your guest lobby. (bonus tip: We have one you can download for free below).
  3. If you have TVs or show movies in your treatment rooms and operatories, create a screensaver with a gentle reminder to "check-in with Yelp before you leave to claim your free gift (or discount)!"
  4. Train your front desk to review the new patient source on your patient intake form. If they have identified Yelp as the way they found out about your office, be sure they are reminded to "check-in" with their mobile app and take advantage of the product redemption.
  5. Edit your new patient communications emails or text messages to help your guests not only know what they need to bring to their upcoming appointment but also that if they're an active Yelper, they can check-in with the front desk to receive an exclusive discount or free product.

Struggling to come up with the perfect graphic to help promote your new Yelp Check-in offer? The team at Circulation Dental has put together a print-quality flyer you can download and print to use in your campaign!

10 Creative Yelp Check-in Offers featured Graphic

*Click on the buttons to your left to download.

How the Actual Yelp 'Check-in' Process Works

Ok, so you've setup and optimized your Yelp profile, created your first check-in offer, advertised it in your guest lobby and briefed the front-office staff on what to expect. What comes next? How does the actual redemption process work from an operational and technical standpoint? The process is actually quite simple and for our purposes, only the first step is important... i.e. that the patient actually "checks-in" using the Yelp mobile app.


The Yelp Check-in process can roughly be summarized in 6 steps:

  1. The customer searches for your business on the Yelp mobile application. (android, ios)
  2. Customer signs in to their Yelp account or signs in via Facebook or Google. Most customers will already be signed in and can proceed to step 3.
  3. The customer searches for your business, and scrolls down to the "info" section where they will see your Yelp Check-in Offer. They will now be presented with the option to add comments, tag friends, share photos or publish their check-in to various social networks. Most guests will skip this step and "check in".
  4. Front desk team members who have the Yelp for Business Owners application installed, logged in and have notifications on should get a message that the guest has checked in. If not, we recommend having the guest show you their phone for confirmation when they redeem their gift or discount.
  5. Both customer and business owner have the option to "redeem" and "award" the check-in offer but this is mainly just for record keeping and doesn't serve much of a purpose outside of helping to stay organized. Be sure to describe your preferred procedure for checking in with Yelp in any in-office materials or social media posts that you make to promote your campaign (see above section).
  6. Be sure to notate the check-in on the patient's record in your PMS for future use.

Keeping Tabs on the Results of Your Campaign

By visiting the same "Check-in Offers" tab on your Yelp business dashboard that you used to create the offer, you can see how many times it has been redeemed, awarded or triggered on the business profile. This data can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of your offer, to A/B test (for multi-location practices) or just to get a sense of how how many active mobile Yelp users your office engages with during a given month.

Screenshot of Yelp Check-in Offers.

In the above example we see that a $10 Amazon gift card offer has been used 5 times and the business owner has noted that all 5 times whereas only 3 of the customers have noted this on their side. In fact, it matters little whether the business owner or the guest keeps track of awards and redemptions. The number of check-ins is the only statistic we care about as it's those guests who will later be presented with a mobile notification and invitation to review the business.

For dental practices who have the capacity and willingness to track the minutia of their marketing efforts we recommend making a note in the patient record for those that have taken advantage of the check-in offer for future cross-reference to see if they actually ended up leaving a review or not, and if that review was "recommended" or, unfortunately, filtered.

Keep Your Expectations Realistic

We've laid out a number of reasons creating a Yelp check-in offer can benefit your dental practice and give added value to your patients. But expectations for how many positive reviews or redemptions you receive should be tempered against the relatively small amount of time and investment it takes to leverage this strategy. A busy dental practice who receives between 5-10 check-ins per month and, let's say, 3-4 of those check-ins result in a positive online review (that doesn't get filtered!) is doing great! Remember, at its basic level, setting up a simple check-in offer discount or offering a free dental hygiene kit that you may already have laying around the office only take about 10 minutes to setup. So if this results in even just a few extra reviews per month this is a great benefit. And over the course of the year that can result in 15-20 new positive reviews for your profile.

Remember to have fun, try to engage your staff and patients and keep your expectations reasonable and Yelp check-in offers can function as icing on the cake to a successful review strategy and profile listing!

And if you need additional assistance with your Yelp listing, your online review profile or anything else related to getting new patients to visit your dental practice, we're here to help!