Word of mouth has always been vital to restaurants, but it has significantly evolved in the last decade with online review sites. While the rules of the game may have changed, word of mouth is still top of mind for consumers. Now online restaurant reviews are the most read as 61 percent of consumers report reading restaurant reviews, nearly double that of any other review category. With a one-star increase potentially increasing revenue 5-9 percent, it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety of the next review. However, review sites are also a great marketing opportunity.
Here are three steps to marketing your business on review sites for free.
Claim and update your business listings
First, make sure that you claim your business listing on the review sites that your customers use. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, UrbanSpoon, Zagat, and OpenTable (if your business uses their services) are great sites to begin with. If you have not, many of these sites allow business owners to claim listings that may have already been started by the service or reviewers.
Add rich content about your business
Once you have claimed your listings, you can start updating the content to tell your prospective customers about your business. Making sure that your business categories, hours, location, and menu on certain sites are up to date allows customers to quickly learn about your business when searching review sites. When a consumer finds your business profile, you have the opportunity to tell them more about your business with photos and descriptions. Be sure to put your best foot forward and use this content to describe the experience of your restaurant.
Leverage reviews to tell your story
Another opportunity to market your business for free on review sites is through reviews. The best way to build positive reviews is by focusing on what you do best: providing great food, service, and experience. However, the more positive reviews your business has, the better, so encourage customers to post reviews. For example, including signage such as Yelps’ “People love us on Yelp,” or displaying TripAdvisor awards in your business help remind customers not only of the positive feedback, but that your encourage reviews on those sites. When negative reviews are posted, it’s helpful to think of them as opportunities to market your business. Focus on the message, not the tone of negative reviews and try to turn a negative review into an opportunity to create a return customer. Thank the reviewer for their feedback, acknowledge their experience (without arguing), and invite them back to your establishment. This will demonstrate to consumers that you value every customer’s feedback and that you’re actively working to make every customer experience a good one!