In the restaurant business, there is always noise about the newest app or website that is guaranteed to bring in guests. However, these flash-in-the-pan approaches are often shortsighted and unsustainable. Long term growth in this industry is an organic process that does not devalue your restaurant with debilitating price cuts for a short-term buck. The following is some of our best approaches to creating a fertile internet presence for restaurants.
1. Designed by a Pro
Professional design goes beyond simply being aesthetically pleasing. You need prominently displayed contact information, forms, menus, catering information, all wrapped in an easy-to-navigate package. The first step is to not cut corners and to invest in a strong website as the cornerstone of your internet presence.
2. Mobile is Now
Not only has mobile search surpassed desktop in quantity of searches, mobile has surpassed desktop in terms of quality. Mobile clicks convert at 3 times the rate of desktop clicks – meaning when guests find your site through search or listings, they’re looking to call and get a reservation or browse your menu immediately. Which brings us too…
3. Consistent Contact Information
If a potential guest finds your listing, but calls the wrong number, you lose their business twice. First, they’re not likely to try and find the correct number if they’re looking to get a table immediately; and second, they may not give your restaurant a second thought. 73% of internet users lose trust in a business if their listing information is inaccurate. Updating your listing across the various directories, search engines and social platforms should be priority.
4. Get Reviewed Online
Engaging with guests on review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google will have a positive impact on your bottom line. Customers will spend 31% more on a business if they read excellent reviews. Need another stat? A Harvard Business School study found that just a one star increase on Yelp is associated with a 5.4% increase in revenue for restaurants.
5. Build Relationships through Social Media
Engagement isn’t just for review sites and directories, customers want to see a restaurant engage on social media through updates, contests, and more. Share your specials weekly, provide seasonal content updates, and if a customer shares an experience at your restaurant, engage with them. 71% of customers that have a good experience with a business on social media are likely to recommend it to others.
6. Target Your Offers
When you want to use a coupon or deal to get customers through the door, opening the floodgates is rarely cost-effective. The most economical and effective way to bring a sustainable increase in business is to target offers to customers that have demonstrated they are ready to come in or set a reservation. Sending a targeted email or text message offer to entice customers that are closest to the purchase decision will save you thousands in ad spending.
7. Tell Your Story with Native Ads
We’ve seen a pattern with the previous tips, and that is that customers want to feel connected to your restaurant, and that will feed the organic growth you want most. One of the great things about the internet is that it has created so many new ways to tell your story. Create content that tells that story, through blogs, articles, and business profiles. These can be posted to your site but are most effective when the message is spread on trusted sites through native advertising. Posted alongside editorial content on highly traffic sites, native ads have been shown to increase customer’s intent to purchase by 53%.
8. Nurture Returning Guests
The lifeblood of the restaurant industry are the regulars, the returning customers. The National Restaurant Association produced a study that found return business accounts for 50% of sales at fine dining restaurants. If you’re not investing in ways to nurture those relationships and organize your customer list through automated marketing software, you’re truly missing out on a major source of revenue.
Keep serving your customers and grow your restaurant’s online presence with a little attentiveness and foresight in the beginning. You’ll eventually nurture sustainable growth that will spread your story and get new and returning customers through the door.