6 Strategies for Increasing Conversions in Mobile Food Searches

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Consumers are overwhelmingly relying on handheld devices to conduct local food searches, and restaurant owners play an important role in determining what percentage of those searchers convert.

Sixty-three percent of consumers use smartphones and tablets to find local businesses, and 23% of those local business searches involve restaurants. Although Yext co-founder Brian Distelburger says restaurants already have the highest mobile search conversion rate of any industry, at 80%, restaurant owners still need to take extra steps to capture mobile search traffic. Those that don’t are leaving money on the table.

Here are six strategies that establishments in the food industry can use to ensure they’re not being left behind in the race to convert mobile search traffic.

1. Clearly post all relevant information. “The more information a consumer has about a restaurant when deciding where to dine, the more likely they’ll transact with that business. Restaurateurs should make sure that their business address, phone number, website and hours are accurate to ensure diners are able to successfully map directions or call the restaurant with any questions.” (Morgan Remmers, Yelp)

2. Stop overemphasizing online menus. “Restaurants tend to over emphasize menus instead of local information. Today’s guests choose a restaurant based on many other different factors, like local hours, reviews, and specials and deals. And if a potential guest can’t make it to your front door, no amount of marketing or advertising will increase sales.” (Brian Distelburger, Yext)

3. Create a mobile optimized site. “This is highly important in light of the recent changes made by Google to highlight mobile-friendly websites on phone searches. In addition simply enhancing search rankings, having mobile-friendly menus, food photos, and calls to action all help funnel visitors toward the end goal of conversion. And with services like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, that basically do all the heavy lifting for you, there’s no excuse to not have a mobile optimized website.” (Eric Kim, RushOrder)

4. Shorten the path to conversion. “Assuming the restaurant already has a mobile-friendly website, providing easy access to things like a tap-to-call phone numbers or a direct link to activate directions goes a far way to help increase those conversion rates. Mobile users are incredibly fickle, and even the slightest of hurdles can be the difference between a paying customer and just another website visitor. Thus, for any restaurant owner who’s serious about converting mobile users, it’s all about removing as many of those hurdles as possible, and making the path to the purchase smooth and straightforward.” (Eric Kim, RushOrder)

5. Let mobile searchers make reservations. “The quickest way to increase conversions online is by making sure diners are able to make reservations on the go. Nowadays, it’s a good idea to have a mobile-optimized website that includes your menu and, if possible, the ability to take online reservations with affordable cloud-based systems like Yelp SeatMe, which allows diners to make a reservation right from their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.” (Morgan Remmers, Yelp)

6. Consider additional online services. “Restaurants should consider additional online services, [such as] food pre-ordering, table booking, check payment, delivery, review and recommendation services. Take OpenTable: If you Google ‘restaurant reservation in SF’ or ‘table booking + restaurant name’ you’ll get popular San Francisco restaurants pages at OpenTable. By following this link, people can make a reservation. Or, when you search for ‘delivery from SF restaurants,’ GrubHub or Caviar usually pops up first with popular restaurants available. The same is [true] for food pre-ordering services. Mobile searches for specific ordering options will convert into immediate free online reservations or into online sales if we’re talking about food pre-orders. Restaurants should set up their businesses to as many services as possible to showcase their ordering options. Every pre-ordering, table booking or delivery site will improve their search performance.” (Stas Matviyenko, Allset)

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.