By Mark Goren
There’s no doubt that running a restaurant has its challenges. Whether you’re opening your doors soon or running an established business, you should seriously consider how a few simple online marketing tactics can help you drive traffic, phone calls and menu views. Follow these simple yet critical steps to build a solid digital foundation and establish your business online.
Claim and manage your local business listings
A local business listing is an online profile that contains your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, written description of your restaurant and other important details, such as your menu. When you claim your listing on search engines, social networks and review sites, more people who are looking to dine out or order in will find you, making it easier for them to call you, get directions to your location, click through to your website or share details about your business with others.
The key, however, is to own your listing, take control of how your location is presented and maintain the consistency of the listings across the web. Start with Google My Business and then look at Yelp, OpenTable, Bing, Facebook and other regional directories.
Syndicate your menu across online directories
Posting your menu online and keeping it updated with the latest changes is a challenge. But to start, it’s important that you syndicate it to different search engines, review sites and directories so that it is consistent across the board. And, as your restaurant matures and you make changes to the menu, keep in mind that maintaining this consistency is key. The worst thing from a customer perspective is searching for a restaurant and being presented with a menu that turns out to be outdated.
Luckily, there are low-cost online solutions that can help you post your menu across several networks, easily make changes when necessary and maintain consistency. Turning to an automated solution saves you time and ensures that those searching for your restaurant get timely information when they’re planning their meal schedule.
Monitor online reviews and encourage positive ones
Online reviews are critical for restaurant owners and managers. Good reviews bring customers to your doors, while negative ones can be terribly damaging to your business. It’s important to monitor reviews across key sites and be responsive. Thank people who praise you and step in to address the concerns of others. Leaving a negative review to live online uncontested indicates that you’re indifferent to the feedback you’re receiving. And when others see an unanswered review, you leave people with the impression that you don’t care about your customers, which may lead them to choose another restaurant down the road.
There are aggregators for review sites that you can work with that will help you monitor and respond to these online reviews and there are techniques you can use to encourage positive reviews. For starters, you can simply ask your best customers to review you online. And, second, you can set up an email campaign to point people to review sites and ask them to leave you a positive review.
Why should you consider including any of these to-dos on your pre-launch checklist? Consider these statistics, which were taken from the latest BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey:
- 84 per cent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to
- 54 per cent of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews
- 74 per cent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
Tell us your story!
Is your restaurant listed across the web? Where have you claimed your location? Do you have a story about how an online review has positively impacted the growth of your business? Share your stories with me; I would love to hear from you! ([email protected])
About the author:
Mark Goren is the co-founder of 10|20 Marketing, a company that helps businesses big and small optimize their online presence through business listings, online review strategies and social media listening. You can also reach us online on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.