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Restaurants: Are You Fully Mobile Yet?

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

It’s time for restaurants to get with it and take their online marketing efforts to the next level – go mobile! Integrate mobile into your marketing plan and capitalize on those who spend their time ‘on-the-go’, which is the majority of Americans.

Seemingly, most restaurants and dining establishments have socialized their businesses by adhering to consumer demands of engaging through a website and social media platforms. At minimum, most have three to four social profiles; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn  and/or Google +. Anyone will tell you, this is a great way to broaden your customer base, market and promote your events, be the bearer of information, and develop lasting and nurture existing relationships. The thing is – most are still thinking in terms of computer and laptop screens.

Mobile devices such as smartphones, e-readers and tablets are becoming increasingly efficient, on their way to replacing both computers and laptops due to device demand and steady usage. Currently, there are over 242 million U.S. smartphone users. That’s nearly 78% of the population. By 2016, smartphone users will rise to an estimated 259 million.

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What does this mean for restaurant? It means that customers want to interact and engage with your brand via their mobile devices. These devices will remain ever prevalent, so it’s up to you to get creative, revamp your marketing efforts and meet your target audience halfway. Let your customers know you are aware of their wants and needs and that you know how to reach them with the information they are seeking.

Here are a few mobile marketing tactics to get you started:

  • Create a mobile website or optimize your current website for the best possible mobile experience. Suggested tips are: place contact information, menus and other important information at the top, avoid the use of Adobe Flash and use features specifically designed for mobile devices such as digital coupons.
  • Use search engines to your advantage. To start, add your listing to Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local. Furthermore, don’t forget sites such as Yelp, Superpages and MerchantCircle. This will not only help mobile users find your restaurant, you will also reap the benefits of better search engine optimization; increased traffic. Increased traffic = new business, more business and repeat business.
  • Mobile and social media go hand-in-hand. Mobile users have access to social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare… As we all know, people share their experiences online and use social media sites as the vehicle. Essentially, this is free publicity, but free does not insinuate good publicity. Be vigilant when it comes to the comments that your diners post and share with others. Whether they are good or bad comments, make a concerted effort to respond. This tactic will boost your credibility and portray a transparent presence.

What other mobile marketing tactics have your implemented? Which have worked best for you? Tell us about your experiences, successes and failures.

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Comments

  • Foodem's advice is spot-on. Restaurant Sciences (the company I am President of) just released yesterday a comprehensive, in-depth survey of the restaurant industry's online presence and functionality (you can download the free Executive Summary at www.restaurantsciences.com). You'll be shocked to learn that less than 5% of all independent restaurants even have a mobile website, and that even more sirprisingly, less than half of all independent restaurants even have a website! To Foodem's advice to utilize the search engines, we found that only 17% of independents had either owner-verified or even contributed any content to their FREE Google Places listing - pretty unforgivable. This particularly flies in the face of the fact that while owners were not participating in either their Google Places or Bing Local listings, their customers were in fact quite active in contributing reviews, info, commentary, etc. Your customers are already there...you just need to pick up the pace a bit and join them. 

  • @Chuck Ellis @John Haden, thank you both for you comments and for sharing you thoughts and experiences.

  • John - The www.thriveSpot.com "Create Your Own Mobile Site" application does indeed have a Tab towards the end of the site-creation process that handles the re-direct code you are talking about. That code gets placed on your existing website and automatically redirects mobile surfers to the mobile version of the website. The create-your-own app gives the option to have Thrivespot do that piece for you (free); email the code snippet and instructions to your webmaster for he/she to do; or let the restaurant owner place it themselves.

    As to your looking for reliability with online orders, there are a number of answers:

    1) The online-ordering system or service providers out there (a dozen at least, not including the POS companies themselves) routinely offer a (more expensive) POS-integrated version that puts the orders right into the POS electronically. These are significanly more expensive, but significantly more reliable and operationally streamlined.

    2) The major online-ordering and delivery providers - GrubHub, Seamless, DiningIn, etc. - have multiple layers of backup built into their operations to assure an order gets thru - after all, their reputations rely on it ias well. Virtually all of them have automated phone calls made to the restaurant post-order transmission that require someone at the restaurant to "Press #2" or somesuch to positively assert that they have indeed recieved the order on their fax or whatever machines, and if no such response is received, human beings step in and call the restaurant operator. This process has proved to be quite reliable in the marketplace.

     

    Thanx

     

    Chuck Ellis

  • Chuck..... my bad!  You ThriveSpot indeed has the redirect code!!

    Nice solution.....  you guys are killing me though,  because we put together

    mobile site (albeit with a little more customization, than ThriveSpot)  but we

    charge $15-$20 per month for the service + maintenance.  How are you doing

    this for free @ Thrive?  At some point you guys have got to make money :)

  • Hey Chuck!

    I filled out a site and it's a pretty cool solution.  Perhaps it's in your product road map,  but it would be cool if your platform generated code you can place on an existing site so that when it is being accessed by a mobile device, it will automatically serve up the mobile version.  We've done this for fcpoc.com and it seems to work well. 

    On another note..... if there are any restaurant owners on here.  I would LOVE some success stories about adding on-line ordering to your services.  I have a client who is EXTREMELY customer service oriented and is fearful of potentially missing any online orders (email doesn't come thru, printer or fax is broken, etc).  We've looked at mypizza.com, grubhub, etc. BTW... the guys over at OLO,  they are pretty snobbish.  They won't talk to you unless you have 25 or more locations. #fail.    But back to my client.  I know we can increase their lunch business by adding online ordering..... I just need some "real-life"  ammo that will convince them it's the right move.  Thanks!

  • Good advice for any restaurant operator. At www.thrivespot.com operators can create their own full-fledged mobile sites that use there same web address (URL) for free. It'll take a good 30 minutes to fill out all the content info for the sites, but you don't need to know anything at all about building websites - just answer the questions about your hours, holidays, address, etc. This is a true freebie, there are no costs and no advertising and no committments required. And they won't be free forever !

     

    Chuck Ellis

    ThriveSpot

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