Anyone who’s been in the restaurant industry since 2004, when Yelp started its foray into the world of online reviews, knows how even one bad or good review can take you down or make you a star. Here’s a few facts, however, that you may not know:
The Average Person Reads Seven Reviews Before Deciding Where to Eat
Yes, you read that right—Seven! Gone, apparently, are the days when customers flocked to the neighborhood eatery because it was close at hand or consumers threw the dice when picking out which new restaurant to try on any given Friday night. As the world grew smaller with sites that share personal opinions and reviews, so to did the importance of friend’s and family’s views. Today, 85 percent of your potential guests trust online reviews as much as personal opinion.
Google is the Fastest Growing Review Platform
And that growth has been exponential. According to Search Engine Land, Google reviews grew by 80 percent from 2013 to 2014. The next year saw its use mount to 114 percent. And from 2015 to 2016, its growth reached 278 percent. Remarkable. Today, six in ten consumers look to Google for reviews. Part of this growth is due to Google’s My Business pages and their online reviews in search engine results. They have also upped their review requests by increasing the number of notifications customers receive after going to a business.
Facebook is Number Two in Terms of Online Review Growth
What happened to Yelp and TripAdvisor? In just a few years, social media whiz, Facebook, has taken the lead in terms of reviews. How could that be? Most likely, it has to do with ease and the fact that people are logged in to their Facebook accounts on an everyday basis. Why not leave a review?
So, how can you, as a restauranteur or manager, take advantage of this extreme marketing potential? Here are a few recommendations from top online marketing strategists:
Did you know that 70 percent of consumers will leave a review if you ask? We know you don’t want to come off as needy or pushy, but there are gentle nudges that can lead to an increase in reviews and an upswing in traffic. Restaurants, after all, mark the number one type of business that consumers read online reviews for. And just what are they looking for when checking out these reviews? Almost 60 percent put the most weight on the overall star rating. According to a study reported in Harvard Business School, raising your Yelp review by one star can lead to a 9 percent increase in a restaurant’s revenue.
One easy way to “ask” is by sending a text to your customers following one of their visits. Ask them how their experience was and leave a link to a review site.
According to Review Trackers, over 50 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their online reviews within 7 days. The surprising statistic here is that over 60 percent of consumers never hear back from a business after leaving a review. Over 60 percent! And what about those negative reviews that 94 percent of consumers say have convinced them to take their business elsewhere? Responding makes a big difference. In fact, 45 percent of customers say that they’ll visit a business despite negative reviews if it has responded to them.
Update your Website
After checking out your online reviews, over 50 percent of these potential customers will then turn to your business’s website. Make sure it is Search Engine Optimized, contains customer testimonials, and includes a compelling story with professional pictures of your restaurant and food. Keep your Facebook and other social media presences active and updated.
If you serve consistently great food and provide compelling service in a well-designed space, chances are customers will regularly leave those all-in-important five-star reviews.
Of course, you can’t please everyone. When Home Run Inn analyzed reviews, they found that there were some cities where customers had a tendency to leave negative comments. The top three were Austin, Houston and Los Angeles. If you’re looking for more reviews, Chicago would be your destination—the top city for the most reviews in Google, Yelp, and Facebook.