Optimizing Digital Presence for Restaurants

Today we will look at suggested frameworks for optimizing ratings and reviews for restaurants.  These thoughts build from a previous post that you can find here. As always, I would like to start with suggested objectives for restaurants.  Some of these are universal, and others particular to the industry:
  • Increase visibility
  • Increase quantity of reservations and walk-ins
  • Increase quantity of delivery or take-out orders (basically this is e-commerce with brick-and-mortar delivery – a concept worthy of its own post)
  • Increase per-guest spend
  • Grow loyalist audience
  • Meet needs of non-consumers (such current/potential franchisees and employees)
While the previous post described the important role that reviews play when making restaurant selections --a review optimization program can increase visibility and improve conversion rates-- reviews obviously are not the only factor in the decision-making process. Here are other fundamental decision points that can factor in:
  • Distance
  • Franchise or local restaurant
  • Guest is a local or a visitor
  • Price
  • Standard restaurant characteristics such as cuisine and atmosphere
Optimization efforts should assume that patrons often need more than just a good review and that these other factors can sometimes play an even more important role. For example, let’s look at the relevance of reviews for local restaurants vs. franchise restaurants:

This framework tells us that…
  • Patrons rely on reviews less for franchise restaurants (because there is a higher likelihood of the patron experiencing the restaurant previously, even in a different locale).
  • Patrons will rely on reviews and ratings more for non-franchise restaurants, however, because less is known about them.
  • Optimization: For non-franchise restaurants, a review optimization program is particularly important. Franchise restaurants should not ignore reviews, however. While the cuisine, atmosphere, and price points are well-defined by the brand, reviews can help individual franchise restaurants to differentiate themselves in categories like service.
DMW have defined a full collection of frameworks for restaurants, but let’s look at just one more for today’s post:

This chart describes the waning influence of reviews for restaurants that are increasingly farther from the patron. This concept is hardly a breakthrough in its own right, but how do we optimize for it? Answer: Ensure that your venue is optimized for local listings in Google places/maps -- for both traditional and mobile web. Addresses should be as consistent as possible in all online mentions of your venue so that Google and other search engines to display your venue consistently and accurately to patrons. 

The big picture with restaurants is that there are several important opportunities for optimization, and most of it is in mobile + reviews and ratings. In a later post, we will zoom in on how social media can work to support restaurants’ objectives.