When it comes to deciding where to dine, it seems like consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on their handheld devices. This certainly seems to be the case on Yelp, where approximately 59 percent of all searches are happening on mobile. In fact, consumers called businesses through Yelp's mobile app 200,000 times a day and generated over 250,000 directions a day (as of Q4 2014)! With this in mind, it's important to pay attention to how your restaurant appears on mobile. To keep things manageable, start by focusing on the top three mobile apps your target customers are likely using to find your restaurant. Once you've pared it down, make sure you catch the eye of diners on the go by following these three easy steps:
1. Make sure diners can make reservations on the go. 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. It's a good first step to make sure you have a mobile-optimized website that includes your menu, and—if possible—the ability to take reservations. 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. Seven Hills in San Francisco, Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant in San Diego, and Westward in Seattle all use Yelp SeatMe which allows diners to make a reservation right from their smartphone, and later, to be notified with a text message when their table is ready.
2. Don't be afraid of email marketing. Many people carry smartphones, and using your online guestbook to contact your guests with last-minute specials can bring people in on any given night. It's also a great way to keep your patrons loyal and eager for your next email announcing the latest specials or menu items.
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 okay, as long as you set up each business page to cater to that audience. Here are a few of the free tools on Yelp you'll want to optimize so you can stand out on mobile:
Create 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, or free item) to get started. Once a consumer "checks in" to your restaurant, they can also let their friends on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter know which eatery they're frequenting.
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.
Add Photos of Your Restaurant and Menu Items
No matter what kind of business you own, adding photos is highly recommended. In fact, people who search 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 storefront, and the ambiance inside are good starting points for showing off the great restaurant you run.
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