Restaurant Marketing Tips: More Ideas on How to Use Review Sites to Grow Your Restaurant Business

When we left off with Part 1 of How to Use Review Sites to Grow Your Restaurant Business, we were discussing how you, as a restaurant owner, can use Trip Advisor, Yelp and a host of other review sites to grow your restaurant.

We talked about the changes in your customers’ decision-making and the development of a post-purchase phase and a stronger consumer advocate group.  We went on to discuss the importance of trust in building customer loyalty, which ultimately leads to more advocates to promote your restaurant.  And, finally how advancements in technology have not only amplified but also accelerated the voice of the restaurant advocate.

As we discussed, in the long term a broader restaurant marketing plan, which encompasses traditional, digital and social media, should be created.  However, to help you in the short term, we wanted to give you some immediate suggestions from my trip to the recent London Restaurant Show where American Express, OpenTable, TripAdvisor and Yelp all shared their insights on the Consumer Trends panel sponsored by OpenTable.

Last week I suggested you:

1)    Look at your restaurant website in all digital formats.
Check it online, on an iPad, on an android phone, on an iPhone, etc.  Make sure that it is visible on all of them and that your telephone number can be clicked to call from the mobile phone or even better (according to OpenTable) that there is an online booking capability.

2)    Join some of the key online consumer review sites.
It’s free to activate your restaurant on TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc., so do.  Make sure you fill out the basic information about your restaurant and share a photo or two.  TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google Places are must-have restaurant review sites. Try also SuperPages.

I’m hoping you’ve had a chance to do them – if not, by all means do them soon since here are two more items for your ‘to do’ list:

3)     Respond to every review – positive or negative.
This is your chance to strengthen your relationship with the restaurant customer and build customer loyalty toward your restaurant.  It is a good idea to send most responses privately to the customer.  The exception is when you need to set the story straight – i.e., customer has said the fish was awful and you don’t serve fish – or when it presents a proactive opportunity to demonstrate you have proactively addressed a greater restaurant customer concern.

4)     Set up Google Alerts for mentions about your restaurant.
It’s a great way to find out about conversations you weren’t even aware of!  Just like the consumer reviews, be sure to promote the positive and address the negative.
Set up your alerts today:

a) Simply go to Google Alerts
b) Enter your company name in the ‘search query’ box
c)  Select what you want to know, how often and how much you want to see
d) Provide an email address for results to be sent

Finally, while the technology du jour will ensure your restaurant is talked about, the focus should be on providing a good food and service –ultimately that is what builds trust and repeat business for your restaurant.

So remember:

1)     Good food and service are most important to your restaurant customer

2)     Your potential customers listen to your current customers

3)     The growth of social networks allows your customers’ opinions to be heard far and wide

4)     Web-enabled phones allow all customers to make real-time decisions about where to eat

Hopefully these digital restaurant marketing suggestions will empower you, the restaurant owner, to take some steps forward to embrace the technology and the changes that have come with it, and more importantly help you grow your restaurant sales!

All the best,