According to Deloitte, roughly $3.7 trillion dollars are spent annually on consumer purchases in the United States. However, only 8% of that is spent on e-commerce, indicating that the clear majority of consumer purchases still happen inside brick-and-mortar businesses. In many cases, when consumers are looking for products and services that they intend to purchase either immediately or at least within 24 hours they often conduct research on mobile devices and search for a specific product or service – while not necessarily searching a particular brand name or business.
For restaurants and QSRs, an opportunity exists to drive incremental revenue from brand-agnostic consumers searching for things like “best burger near me” or “family restaurant in Denver”, if their websites and local business profiles on places like Google My Business are optimized for visibility.
Let’s look at a few key tactics that franchise locations can focus on right now to increase their chances of appearing for “near me”-related searches and send more customers through their front doors.
Google data indicates that of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase. When it comes to “near me”-related searches, Google has also seen growth in this area of more than 150% on mobile searches in the last two years alone. For restaurants and QSRs, ranking well in mobile search results and being visible to potential customers searching on mobile can be the difference between a sale or lost opportunity. Optimizing your website or franchise microsite to rank well in mobile results is even more critical today than ever before, as your mobile site performance has a direct impact on how you rank for even desktop searches. Your site should be built using responsive design elements, allowing the content to adjust properly to any screen size, and should also include key technical markup like “local schema” that indicates your site represents a physical business location to search engine crawlers. From a user experience perspective, it’s also important to consider the action you want a potential customer to take when they find your site; do you want them to call your business to make a reservation? Do you want them to find dining and menu options easily? Is there an offer that should be featured prominently on the homepage, enticing customers to visit your location? Ranking well in mobile searches is certainly critical to performance but ensuring consumers can find the information they seek with ease using your site has the potential to convert more customers in-store. Because Google dominates the search engine market, optimizing for performance in Google (and for mobile Google searches) should be your website’s top priority.
Google My Business as the “New Website”
To capture more customers searching for “near me” terms related to your QSR location or products, it’s also important to consider Google My Business as an extension of your website. When mobile users search for local business information on Google Search or Maps, the results are often displayed in what is called the Google Knowledge Graph. This information can contain key business details such as address, phone number, hours of operation, business photos and much, much more. As Knowledge Graph features continue to evolve and expand, there becomes less of a need for consumers to visit your own brand or franchise website because customers can find all of the information they need to make a purchasing decision without ever leaving the Google interface. One key local search ranking factor is a user’s proximity to your business, which is determined by a combination of their physical location and your business profile in Google. Ensuring your Google My Business profile is accurate in detail and complete with robust Knowledge Graph information about your restaurant can dramatically increase your chances of being found by a customer using a search like “____ near me”. Take advantage of options like Google Menus and GMB Posts, and always be sure to engage with your customers on Google Reviews. As more and more users turn to Google My Business as a source of truth for information about franchise restaurant locations, it’s imperative each and every one of your franchise profiles on GMB is routinely optimized and updated under comprehensive management by real people.
Ranking well for “near me” searches related to your business can have a significant impact on your bottom line revenue as a franchise owner – especially when it comes to connecting with customers on mobile devices. By having a mobile-friendly website for each of your franchise QSR locations and managing your Google My Business franchise profiles with consistent content updates, you can give your business more opportunities to capture a customer looking for a product or service in their immediate vicinity when their purchase intent is at its highest.
As Director of Marketing, Josh Allen is responsible for planning, developing and managing Location3 and LOCALACT brand strategies, with a focus on establishing new business partnerships among franchise systems and multi-location brands. He also works with Location3 client partners to establish key initiatives for increased franchise engagement and growth. He is an active member of the International Franchise Association and has previously been featured by the American Marketing Association, Franchise Update Media, MediaPost and more discussing franchise digital marketing strategy.