I remember I was walking past my father-in-law while he was searching online for a restaurant to make reservations at for his wedding anniversary, and each time he'd hit a search engine (Google) results page, he'd see an OpenTable result.

OpenTable was dominating both the paid and organic results for just about every restaurant in the Nashville area.

He was a little confused as to why the actual restaurant websites weren't showing up.

I smiled. OpenTable has out-SEO'd and out-SEM'd everyone.

This may not last forever, but in the present, it appears OpenTable needs to be weaved into the marketing strategy for all types of bars, restaurants and cafes.

In addition to reservations, their platform provides the ability to do offers, promotions, and - to our delight, of course, see all kinds of advanced analytics to drive marketing actions that should focus on increasing foot traffic during downtimes.

It's quite easy to log into your account and create a promo...

One type of promotion on OpenTable is a "Featured List Promotion." It's where your establishment can flaunt its unique qualities, like a Vegan menu, special brunch, cocktail deals, happy hour, or even fitness friendly meals.

Another kind of OpenTable sponsored post or promotion is called a "Special." OpenTable Specials help restaurant owners and marketers fill tables during slow times, preventing empty tables.

Then, there's the good ole' Custom Promotions. These are super easy to create, customize, deploy, and see the return on investment by digging through the data in OpenTable.

Custom Promotions in OpenTable include the ability to show for search results when a user searches for a competitor. This is my personal favorite way to build awareness. You might not book the reservation immediately, but you'll pull in a new set of eyeballs that may not have previously been considering dining in your establishment. See below for my example where Mere Bulles in Brentwood, TN shows under a search result for The George Jones.

So while OpenTable books approximately 23 million restaurant reservations world wide, it needs to be a part of your restaurant's marketing strategy, but it certainly shouldn't be the only part of your marketing mix.

We still recommend running Google Adwords Express Ads off of your Verified Google My Business Listing, to get a ton of data on how your website's organic search efforts and Google My Business Listing are driving foot traffic.

Marketers & Small Business Owners Need To Know:

Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!


Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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