By Morgan Remmers,
Manager of Local Business Outreach at Yelp.com
It's no secret that consumers consistently turn to their smartphones and tablets to figure out where they'd like to have their next dining experience. In fact, people have become so dependent on their handheld devices that in Q4, consumers called businesses through Yelp's mobile app 200,000 times a day and generated over 250,000 directions a day. With this in mind, doesn't it make you wonder how you stack up against your competition when it comes to capturing the attention of these highly engaged customers?
Make sure you catch the eye of diners on-the-go by following these three steps:
1. Determine where you want to focus your attention. To keep things manageable, start by focusing on the top three mobile apps your target customer is likely using to find your restaurant. You can either manage each profile yourself or select a trusted staff member to keep an eye on each page and notify you of new updates and reviews as they come in. It's also a good idea to make sure you have a mobile-optimized website that includes your menu and, if applicable, the ability to take reservations.
2. Allow diners to make reservations on mobile. The easier it is for diners to make a reservation at your restaurant on their smartphone or tablet, the more likely they'll book with you. Restaurant owners can also use table management tools to keep waits to a minimum and text guests when their tables are ready. Historically, online reservation systems and table management services have been expensive, but now there are several cloud-based options that are much more affordable like Rezbook and Yelp SeatMe. Delaney BBQ: Brisket Town in New York City uses Yelp SeatMe which allows diners to make a reservation right from their smartphone, and even get a text message when their table is ready.
3. Stand out on mobile using the free tools available to you. Once you've selected the mobile apps that you feel your target customer will use to find you, optimize each page. Start by asking yourself, "What would cause a potential customer to walk through my door — a discount? Photos? Our menu?" Your answer to this question may vary from site to site, and that's ok, so long as you set up each business page to cater to that audience. Here are a few tools you can use to optimize your mobile presence:
- Post a Check-In Offer: Posting a check-in offer allows you to attract potential customers on the go who are searching for your type of restaurant with Yelp's mobile app. Structure your check-in offer by selecting the offer type from the drop-down menu (percentage off, price off, fixed price, free item) to get started.
- Describe Your Business: The more information a consumer has when making a buying decision, the better. For those using Yelp's mobile application, make sure to add your website, business hours, a link to your menu on your website and other basic business information.
- Photos: No matter what kind of business you own, adding photos is highly recommended. In fact, people searching Yelp to find a business that fits their needs stay on a business page with photos two and a half times longer than on one without. New menu items, staff photos, your business' storefront and the ambiance inside are good starting points in showing off the great business you run.