The Biggest Mistakes Restaurants Make Online

These digital missteps could be keeping customers from ever reaching your front door, explains marketing strategist David "Rev" Ciancio.

Restaurants live and die by their ability to drive foot traffic, but in the mobile age, that’s no longer as simple as setting up a sign on the street corner — or scoring a rave review in the local paper.

In a breakout session at Yext’s Location World conference (full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More details on that relationship here), marketing strategist David “Rev” Ciancio broke down some of the major digital missteps plaguing eateries today. The good news: They’re easy to address if you’re paying attention.

Information is not clearly available on the restaurant’s website: Restaurants can lose out on business for the simple reason that their hours, location, and menu aren’t clearly visible on their website. Guests want this info at a glance, and they’re not going to spend significant time searching for it. Additionally, Ciancio warns against uploading menus as PDFs; it may be easier for the restaurant, but it means that the menu items and terms listed won’t rank in search results. “Don’t [let] laziness cost you that traffic,” he said.

Website is not mobile responsive: With 76 percent of “near me” mobile searches resulting in a business visit within a day, smartphones are a major driver of foot traffic for restaurants and retailers alike. Restaurants that don’t optimize for mobile will be left out, as those mobile customers might never discover the restaurant in the first place.

Not having a website at all: It seems obvious, but “a lot of local restaurants have this issue,” Ciancio said. Get online with a proprietary website — and then claim your listings on review sites like Yelp, Google My Business, and more.

Conflicting data on top-ranking geolocation sites: Speaking of those crucial review sites, conflicting business and/or location data is a problem that plagues too many restaurants — and particularly larger chains trying to manage diverse pages and locations. If a restaurant’s hours are wrong on just one site, there is the risk that customers will arrive only to find the establishment closed. Alternatively, if an incorrect address is listed, customers might go there and wind up frustrated. “Those are the kind of negative brand experiences you just can’t afford,” Ciancio said. Developing a location management strategy can help.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.