For restaurants, an active online presence is one of the essential pieces of marketing strategy. A significant part of a restaurant’s online presence includes actively managing its online reputation via third-party review sites and social media platforms. Regardless of whether the review was positive, negative, or neutral, it presents restaurants with the opportunity to connect with potential and existing customers and improve their experiences.
According to statistics from the National Restaurant Association, 57 percent of customers read reviews about a restaurant on various third-party review sites. Therefore, improving your online presence can have a significant impact on attracting customers who rely on online reviews and testimonials when it comes to choosing restaurants. Whether you are trying to build your online presence or looking to boost the effectiveness of your online presence, here are six ways to have an impactful online presence for your restaurant:
- Build a mobile-friendly website: Traditional websites are difficult to use on mobile devices. According to research, nearly 90 percent of customers look up a restaurant online before booking or dining, and almost 50 percent of that traffic is from smartphones. A mobile-friendly website will be easier for customers to use on their mobile devices. Make sure your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Customers should be able to quickly find the important information related to your restaurant, including address, phone number, reservation information, and hours of operation. In addition, keep in mind to design your website to fit the style of your restaurant. Keep it up-to-date with useful information and good-quality images. You want customers to get a feel for your restaurant and be tempted by mouth-watering pictures of the food you serve.
- Leverage the power of social networks: Social media presence should be a key component of your digital marketing plan as it allows you to engage customers on a more personal level. Many restaurateurs make the mistake of focusing too heavily on their social media posts and miss the opportunity to interact with potential customers. You must remember that the quality of your posts is more important than the frequency. As long as you are producing a steady flow of content, you need not worry about skipping a day or so. Social networks are not a stage to shout out information. Instead, you should try to search for valuable followers and focus on engaging existing and potential customers. An effective social media strategy can help you gain exposure and improve your bottom line.
- Ask for customer feedback: Third-party review sites such as Yelp give customers a way to post their reactions to any local business, including restaurants. While browsing these sites is a great way to gain insight into customer experiences and to improve your service, do not stop there. You need to engage customers on these sites in order to enhance their experience even further. You must fix issues and connect with customers who have had an unpleasant experience to regain their loyalty. In order to benefit from customer feedback, you should always ask your customers to post online reviews and respond to them as much as possible.
- Use targeted posts on social networks: Facebook allows for precise and niche targeting, which is ideal for local businesses, such as restaurants. You can also geo-target your Twitter posts, ensuring that each post reaches your target audience at the right time. Sponsored posts ensure that your content or message makes it to the Facebook walls of potential customers. You can optimize your ads by targeting the audience for each ad in order to maximize the impact.
- Focus on email marketing: Email marketing is one of the most effective ways of reaching out to your target audience with the help of your CRM database. You can consider sending a welcome email to your customers and proceed with sending regular updates and offers. However, you should try not to restrict email marketing to sending greetings and delivering discounts in your customers’ inbox. A monthly newsletter is an effective way to engage your customers. You can create a personal touch with your customers by sending updates about your restaurant.
- Add Google Maps: People use Google Maps all the time, either on their smartphones or on their desktops to find local businesses, including restaurants. If your business is not listed on Google Maps, you may miss potential customers. You can use Google’s Business Photos tool to upload 360-degree-view pictures of your restaurant.
If you want to give your restaurant the best chance of succeeding and continuing to grow, you must invest in building a strong online presence. By not having an online presence, you will not give your local business the chance to develop long-term relationships with diners who rely on online interactions to build a connection with their favorite restaurants. Most importantly, you will end up giving your competitors the edge. While there is no simple formula for growing your online presence, it is very important to differentiate yourself from the competition.