By Rieva Lesonsky
For local small businesses such as restaurants, a strong online marketing strategy that encompasses a website, mobile, and social media can make or break the business. Unfortunately, most independent restaurants are falling short in key areas of online marketing, reports The 2012 Restaurant Internet Marketing Study by Restaurant Sciences.
The study examined each restaurant’s website, mobile website, Facebook profile and social media channels and found that compared to other types of businesses, most restaurants still have a long way to go in using Internet marketing. Chain restaurants are more likely to have a strong online presence, but even they fall short. Here’s what the study found:
Falling short on sites. Although almost all restaurant chains have websites, many independent restaurants still have no Web presence at all. Obviously, this is a big hindrance to success, since it not only lessens the chances that consumers will find you online but also means that menu aggregators, social media and location-based services can’t link to your website to pass along information.
Falling short on mobile. While the majority of consumers use mobile devices to search for restaurants, only about half of chains have an optimized mobile website. For independents, the numbers are even grimmer, with mobile websites “almost nonexistent.”
Falling short on online search. Google Places, Bing and other search engines typically create listings for every local restaurant. Still, most restaurants do not take advantage of these free listings by claiming them and optimizing them to help local consumers find their eateries.
There is one area where independent restaurants are going strong: localized social media such as Foursquare. The study found 72 percent of independents and 86 percent of chain restaurants have a presence on Foursquare. On average, both chains and independent restaurants boast more than 300 Foursquare check-ins per location. In fact, signs show that Foursquare is slightly outpacing Yelp! as a tool for driving restaurant traffic.
That’s great news, but it doesn’t affect the fact that no matter how well your restaurant is doing on Foursquare or other social media, you still need a website to provide a “home” for your company information; link your social media, local search listings and reviews to; and help customers find you online.
Image by Flickr user tomsun (Creative Commons)