Haha, it turns out diners don't really pay attention to Yelp reviews. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. Or any other type of "online marketing." According to analysis done by retail researchers NPD Group, only 6% of "dining decisions" are influenced online at all. And only 14% of diners who saw online marketing were influenced by "online reviews and recommendations."
That's compared to more than a third of those decisions being influenced by deals and offers, and 27% being influenced by "general information." Which sounds a little like 27% of restaurant choices are based on simply knowing whether or not a restaurant exists.
Now, Forbes points out that 6% represents "926 million restaurant visits," which is a lot of asses in seats. Still, all the noise about Yelp extortionists and fake online reviews seems to just be a lot of hot air about 6%. So rejoice, Yelp-weary restaurateurs, and maybe add a happy hour.