By Rieva Lesonsky
Is your restaurant marketing stuck in the 1950s? A study by research firm Restaurant Sciences finds that far too many restaurants are failing to take advantage of the advertising, marketing and promotional opportunities the Internet offers.
Here are some of the shortcomings Restaurant Sciences found:
- More than half of independent restaurants do not have a website.
- Of those that do have a website, fewer than 40 percent display a menu on the site, even though access to menus is among the most popular reasons users visit a restaurant website.
- Fewer than 1 in 8 full service restaurant chains and fewer than 1 in 20 full service independents have a mobile website, even though some data has shown that more than half of all visits to restaurant websites are from mobile devices.
- Just over 1 in 8 restaurants has a blog.
“One of the most surprising aspects was the large number of restaurants with no online presence at all,” said Chuck Ellis, President of Restaurant Sciences. “An online presence today is critical to the success of any food or drinking establishment.”
Ellis notes that there’s no excuse for not having a restaurant website today, nor for not having a mobile site. What else should restaurant owners do to effectively market their businesses online?
- Use emails, email newsletters or similar enrollment vehicles to keep customers informed of what’s going on at your restaurant.
- Make it easy for customers to make reservations. At a minimum, prominently display your restaurant’s phone number on your website. However, consider adding more convenient options such as a click-to-call button so they don’t have to dial, or adding OpenTable or similar online reservation tool to your website.
- Make it easy for customers to buy gift certificates online. Prominently display a link to a gift card order form.
- Have a consistent presence on local search sites such as Bing, Local.com and Google Plus Local (formerly Google Places), as well as restaurant rating sites such as Yelp!
- Use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. These are especially important to attracting younger customers. Posting photos of your menu items, ingredients or chefs in action is a great way to engage customers. You can also post or Tweet current menu items, limited-time offers or special discounts.
Image by Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives (Creative Commons)Google+