Online Reputation Management
Apart from conventional marketing strategies and paid advertising, Restaurants have always relied on word of mouth to reach out to their customers and build their brand. From $100 cheesesteaks to iconic commercials we have seen prominent restaurant chains coming up with new strategies each day to get their loyal customers talking about them.
The era of the internet added a whole new dimension to the marketing of restaurants. According to a recent survey, the millennial customers prefer to check out all available information before trying out a new place. In fact, 80% of the customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
While the proliferation of the internet presented opportunities to showcase your brand to a wider audience, it also presented several challenges. Maintaining an online presence does not cut the mark, you have to constantly monitor and update your online listings. online ratings and reviews play a major role in attracting customers to the restaurant. A negative review no longer remains constrained to the immediate friend circle of an unhappy customer, rather it can reach millions of your potential customers. Online Reputation management is therefore extremely important for your restaurant.
Build Your Online Identity
Apart from your website, social media provides multiple platforms to build and promote your brand. You would want to ensure that your online identities are a reflection of your brand. Devote some time to developing your profile on sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Post enticing pictures of your food and restaurant. Provide all information which you think your customer could use like location, phone number, your business hours, your website, online ordering link and your menu. If a publisher doesn’t allow you to add a menu, listing your website with other relevant information would also suffice. Keep your pages updated with the latest information on offers, specials, and menu items.
Listing your restaurant on online food guides and review sites like Yelp, OpenTable or Tripadvisor is an option which you would not want to miss out on. Apart from giving you access to a much wider audience, these platforms can also help you to leverage from positive reviews. Spend some time sprucing up your profile on these sites and showcasing your best products. Double -check to ensure that you have provided all information that may be helpful to your customers.
Monitor Your Brand
a. Respond to Reviews
Maintaining and Updating your online identities is only half the task, the next big challenge is handling customer reviews. Customers can also leave a review or feedback on your Facebook, Google or Instagram page apart from review sites like Yelp or OpenTable.
b. Replying to reviews both positive and negative should be an important part of your strategy.
A negative review can do substantial harm to your business. You should be very careful while handling negative reviews. At no point should your customers feel that you do not value their opinion. Be polite and assure your customer that their grievances will be addressed. We, at mKonnekt, have experienced several instances where we turned around a beleaguered customer into a loyal advocate just by replying to their reviews. My personal favorite is the time when a customer- after reading our response- went back ad updated his initial review and even gave our client extra star for the quick response to his review.
c. Leverage Positive Reviews
Positive reviews about your restaurant improve your rank on search engines and convince customers to try out your business. While most of us realize the importance of responding to negative reviews, there are still some who feel that reaching out to customers who left a positive review is a waste of time. However, an intelligent marketer knows that replying to positive reviews gives you a chance to cross-sell or upsell products and also to win over loyal customers.
As a restaurant owner, you may not have time to respond to reviews personally, you can hire a marketing firm or use an automated platform like mKonnekt marketing platform, which collates your reviews over several online listings and brings them in one place so that you can easily manage your response.
d. Social Listening
Social listening is another big part of your online reputation management. Keep a track of all mentions of your brand in online conversations to keep a tab on the popular sentiment around your business. You could set up Google alerts for any mention of your brand or use other social listening tools to respond to brand mentions, keep an eye on the competition or collaborate with others.
Promote Your brand
a. Encourage Your Customers to leave a Review
While dissatisfied customers never waste a minute in expressing their discontent over one or more sites, you would usually need to nudge a happy customer to leave feedback. A solution to this would be to have a well-formulated strategy to collect feedbacks. The age of collecting feedback on flyers is long past, you should be using a digital tool like Kritiq which allows customers to offer feedback at the time of checkout. You should also be training and incentivizing your staff to collect customer feedback.
Many restaurants even go to the extent of offering a surprise gift for a customer who left a positive review. This small gesture may go a long way in building a loyal customer base.
b. Influencer marketing
Collaborating with key influencers is one of the most effective ways to build your online reputation. When an established food blogger recommends a place, the chances of their followers walking in the store increases. Influence marketing is coming up in a big way. We will talk about how a restaurant can use influencer marketing to expand their customer base.