How Successful Restaurants Are Testing the Mobile Waters

The SinglePlatform team was excited to attend the Restaurant Leadership Conference last week. While we have stressed the importance of mobile in the past, our team was grateful for the insights presented at the NoWait talk, “There’s an App for That! Stay Ahead of The Game with Mobile Technology”. Panelists from restaurant juggernauts like Grimaldi’s, First Watch, and On The Border discussed how their restaurants have incorporated mobile technologies into their businesses and what other mobile advancements they predict for the future of the restaurant industry.

Cross-Departmental Collaboration Is Critical When Adopting New Technology

The panelists shared their views on the roll of IT in their restaurants’ operations, and how that impacts mobile adoption. Jeff Dinard, CIO of On The Border, spoke of the increasing importance of IT in choosing new technology, “For brands to be successful, IT needs to be an arm that’s helping to define business strategy. It’s elemental to our success that IT gets involved early.”

Jeff was not alone in his evaluation of IT’s importance. Chris Tomasso, President at First Watch, concurred that IT was integral to a restaurant’s marketing strategy. “IT is no longer its own silo,” Tomasso said. “The shift of how much IT is integrated into marketing can make or break your marketing plan.  It has to be a lot more collaborative now than ever before.”

Mobile Payments Could Impact Customer Experience

While the panelists overwhelmingly agreed that mobile tech will be important in the years to come, they were more hesitant when it came to the direction of mobile payments. Some restaurants had tried mobile payments with mixed results while others were still waiting for the dust to settle before investing in a new payment system.

Dinard recalled, “Today, we’ve dipped our toe in the mobile payments water. It’s freezing, so we’re stuck where we are. The way that it works today, it’s a little clunky.” He was most concerned about the awkwardness of a server handing over a device and waiting while a patron chose whether or not to tip.  “It’s weird to either walk away or stand there while the customer has the device.”

Other panelists were also conflicted on the topic of mobile payments. Tomasso stated, “With the power of the phone in your hand, I think that’s where the power is going to go: to each individual’s mobile device.” While Brittany Maroney, Marketing Director at Grimaldi’s, admitted, “We’re terrified. We’re a hospitality-focused business. Incorporating technologies and maintaining customer services is a big concern for us as a brand.”

Invite Servers to Weigh in on Mobile Technology Early

As the industry embraces mobile technology, the question of how these innovations will affect front of house workers is raised.  Our panelists noted that reactions have been mixed. Dinard explains that servers appreciate new technologies, “When the IT guys and marketers get out of the office and engage with your servers, that’s when they get excited.”

While other panelist experienced more hesitancy from their servers, Maroney described her servers’ transition to newer technologies as a productivity boost, “When we started testing this, we didn’t see excitement. Once they saw how it changed the table turns, they started to get excited.”

While most of the panelists had experienced the growing pains associated with new tech, such as clunky software or iPads knocking over glasses, it is undeniable that mobile innovations will have a significant impact on the restaurant industry this year. Make sure that your restaurant or group keeps up. Learn how SinglePlatform can help your company navigate mobile and stand out everywhere it matters online.

Mobilegeddon and the Push for a Mobile-Friendly Experience

For the small business owners who prepared for ‘mobilegeddon,’ or the release of Google’s new mobile-friendly search algorithm back in April, you unknowingly put your business at yet another advantage with search engine optimization. Bing, the search engine created by Microsoft, has just announced that it will also be adopting a mobile-friendly search algorithm, favoring sites optimized for mobile by pushing them higher up in search results, while penalizing those that aren’t by pushing them down in the rankings.

Instead of completely penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly in search results like Google’s algorithm does, Bing has resolved to leave the top mobile search results for any given keyword unaffected by the new algorithm, whether the sites are mobile-friendly or not. Their goal is to favor user experience by continuing to provide them with the top results for their query, as opposed to only displaying mobile optimized sites in the search results.

Both consumers and small businesses with mobile-friendly sites benefit from the algorithm change; consumers searching on the go will be provided with easier access to the information they need on the devices they’re searching on, and small businesses with mobile-friendly sites will be pushed up higher in the search results, leading to increased discoverability by potential customers.

So just how does Bing classify if a site is mobile-friendly or not?

According to their blog, there are four criteria that a site must meet in order to be considered mobile-friendly:

 1.) Site Navigation: How easy is it to navigate the site on a smaller touchscreen? Are the buttons far enough apart that the user can easily click on a link without clicking on something else accidentally?

2.) Readability: is the font large enough that it doesn’t require the user to zoom in or scroll to access the specific information they’re looking for?

 3.) Scrolling: The site content should fit to the width of the device being used – scrolling up and down is considered acceptable, but scrolling horizontally makes content harder to digest and access.

4.) Compatibility: Is the content on the site compatible with the device? Some plug-ins are inaccessible on mobile, making it harder for users to view and access content on the site.

Considering over half of consumers are more likely to purchase from a mobile-optimized site, ensuring that your site meets these requirements will give your business a better chance at being discovered by consumers searching on the go, increasing the likelihood that they will choose to purchase from you.

As search engine giants continue to tailor the online search experience to be compatible with mobile, making your business’ site mobile-friendly will ultimately result in a greater number of potential customers discovering your business.

Mobile Marketing: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

With so much buzz about the importance of making your business visible on mobile, you may be tempted to put all of your marketing eggs into the mobile basket. While there are definite advantages to mobile marketing, there are also a number of pitfalls that can hinder the success of your campaigns.
Here are 4 basic mobile marketing mistakes to avoid:

1. Running a Mobile Campaign Without a Mobile-Friendly Website

If your campaign links back to your company website, you’re bound to lose out on conversions if your site isn’t optimized for mobile. Get your mobile site in shape before investing in related marketing.

2. Repurposing Existing Creative for Mobile Campaigns

Mobile ad units have a different set of design needs than other digital or print creatives. You may be tempted to modify existing marketing collateral to save costs on mobile campaigns—but it will cost you in the long run if a poorly-executed concept leads to diminished returns.

3. Failing to Provide Unique, Valuable Content

Is your mobile marketing campaign built around a special offer, discount, or piece of content not available elsewhere? If not, your audience may not be motivated to connect with you. Be creative: Consider how you can use the mobile channel to your best advantage. A high-value offering will contribute to high-value results.

4. Not Tying Discounts to In-Person Visits

Getting someone to visit your establishment is a big step, but it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll ultimately make a purchase. Encouraging onsite conversions with offers tied to check-ins on location-based apps or QR codes placed exclusively in your store can help you make sales and also generate social activity around your business—a definite win-win.

The Bottom Line

If you’re going to invest in mobile marketing, be sure to optimize your content and offers to make the most of the medium.

Looking for New Customers? They’re Looking for You on Mobile

Whether you’re a smartphone junkie glued to your screen 24/7 or a reluctant cellphone user, the reality is that mobile devices are an essential part of 21st-century life. But are you taking advantage of this fact in marketing your small business?

SinglePlatform’s newest brief, “How Mobile Search Can Help You Find Your Next Great Customer,” highlights the importance of being present in the mobile space. A few key takeaways include:

Consumers Are Using Mobile Search to Make Decisions

According to current research, 75% of mobile searches are conducted to get real-time, location-based information, and 45% of mobile searches are goal-oriented. Consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to make decisions about which businesses to visit and which products to buy.

How can you capitalize on this widespread shift toward mobile search? Make sure your information is available and up-to-date on mobile.

Accurate, Detailed Business Listings Are a Must

The first step is to take control of your listings on search engines, map services, online directories, social media, and mobile apps. You can find and update your listings manually, or partner with a company like SinglePlatform to mange all your listings in one place.

Mobile-Friendly Websites and Apps Can Help You Secure Business

The second step is to invest in a mobile-friendly website or app for your business. There’s nothing more frustrating for a potential customer than visiting a site that’s hard to navigate and view. Check your current site to make sure you can easily get to (and read) key information such as store hours, location, and product listings. And if you don’t have a mobile site—consider investing in one.

Mobile Services Trigger Quick Actions

Customers who find businesses on mobile act quickly. Within an hour of search, 56% call a business, 54% make a purchase, and 51% visit a store. You don’t want to miss out on this kind of customer engagement.

The Bottom Line

If you’re investing in your business’s mobile presence, you’re already on the path to success for reaching new customers. If you’re not, there’s no better time than the present to get started.

Want more information on how to make the most of mobile search for your business? Download the full brief now.