We’ve all seen those loudspeaker/magnet graphics. How traditional marketing represents the loudspeaker: print and broadcast media ads, leafleting, trade shows and telemarketing. And how the magnet is digital marketing: SEO, social media, blogging and content.

In case you haven't seen one (source www.artillerymarketing.com)

In case you haven’t seen one (taken from www.artillerymarketing.com)

Although there is still a time and a place for traditional marketing methods, it is widely regarded by marketers that inbound digital marketing is more effective. And, according to website Street Fight, local businesses agree.

67% of 100 small businesses surveyed believed social media to be the most effective marketing method, along with SEO (43%), email marketing (35%) and review sites (28%).

As well as manage your restaurant bookings, simpleERB can help boost your digital presence in ways you might not have realised. Below we explain how we can help your restaurant’s digital marketing.


Graphic from streetfightmag.com

Graphic from streetfightmag.com

Review sites

Here on the simpleERB blog, we have spent a lot of time talking about restaurant reviews. We have discussed how negative restaurant reviews can help your business, how negative reviews can hurt your restaurant’s valuation, how to get a good review of your restaurant published on Yelp, and the benefits of publishing negative reviews of your own restaurant.

We have focused a lot on online restaurant reviews because we recognise their importance to your business. And it turns out we’re not alone. Street Fight’s survey revealed over one third (37 percent) of local businesses surveyed thought reviews had a positive effect on their business.

However, most SMBs used pretty unsophisticated means of encouraging customers to review them. About one-third asked them directly while 40 percent did nothing at all.

simpleERB has a one stop option that allows restaurant owners to easily monitor negative reviews as well as encourage customers to share positive ones  on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook (you’ll need to be logged into simpleERB to see this feature).

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You can add a link to the customer confirmation email which allows the customer to submit feedback to you after their meal.

When you get a good review you can tick a box on the email copy which sends them a request to share their review, along with links to your restaurant Facebook and Trip Advisor profiles.

Email marketing

When a customer books a meal using simpleERB they enter their email address, which can be downloaded from simpleERB at any time (providing they give permission for you to send them email).

These email addresses are gold dust for your marketing campaign: customers who have already chosen to spend money at your restaurant.

You can also see how many bookings the customer has made, so the customers who have only visited once can be tempted back with a promo code or special offer, and the customers who have made many bookings can be kept up to date with new dishes and menu changes.

Daily deals

9% of businesses surveyed claimed daily deals/digital coupons were their most effective marketing method.

Daily deal sites can be a great to boost your restaurant’s profile and sell covers, but dealing with the barrage of phone calls afterwards can be a pain.

By giving the deal provider your simpleERB widget url as a booking instruction, customers can make bookings directly into your diary based on your availability, without having to phone.

Social media

The confirmation and follow up emails from simpleERB to your customer can contain links to your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, encouraging customers to like and follow your profiles.

As detailed above, simpleERB allows restaurant owners to encourage customers to share positive review on Facebook.

Are you a restaurant owner who obsesses over your TripAdvisor reviews and rankings? Well, you’re in luck (or not, if you’re trying to wean yourself off it). The daddy of restaurant review websites is launching an analytics dashboard which will feature insights and trend data on  reviews, ranking and competitors.

Previously only available to TripAdvisor accommodation partners, the dashboard will allow restaurants to track trends over time and track their performance against competitors.

The review performance report will enable businesses to easily monitor competitor performance in weekly, monthly and quarterly displays.

Minesh Shah, senior director, global hotel partnerships, TripAdvisor, said: “The review performance report has been designed to make it easier for businesses to engage with their TripAdvisor listing and their guest feedback.

“What makes this new dashboard so valuable for registered business owners is that it automatically aggregates performance trends and presents them in an easy-to-digest display, placing valuable learnings at their fingertips to help them drive engagement and optimise their presence on TripAdvisor.”

Manage Tripadvisor review with simpleERB

For all you restaurateurs who do obsess over TripAdvisor and have no intention of going cold turky, managing your reviews is made much easier by using simpleERB.

simpleERB has a one stop option that allows restaurant owners to easily monitor negative reviews as well as encourage customers to share positive ones  on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook (you’ll need to be logged into simpleERB to see this feature).

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 16.22.47

You can add a link to the customer confirmation email which allows the customer to submit feedback to you after their meal.

When you get a good review you can tick a box on the email copy which sends them a request to share their review, along with links to your restaurant Facebook and Trip Advisor profiles.


There’s nothing that makes a restaurateur’s blood run cold than the sight of a negative review.


Scathing words from some punk who thinks they’re a restaurant critic. Swanning into the business you built with your own hands and tearing it to shreds with no regard for your livelihood.

To any restaurateurs reading this article, we suggest you sit down, take a few deep breaths, and read this next sentence carefully. Negative restaurant reviews can actually be good for your business. No, don’t laugh. We mean it.

This article written by Rodney Gin of SiteJabber, makes some excellent points about how negative restaurants reviews can actually benefit your business. Here are the main (and very sensible) points he makes.

They improve conversion rates

Businesses with 10-30 percent negative reviews receive more than 10 times more leads than businesses with nearly all five-star reviews, according to Gin. Other studies have shown that 68 percent of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad reviews.

Gin believes this is because customers want to understand “worst-case scenarios” before dining at a restaurant. If they feel they can live with the worst case scenario, i.e. slow service on a busy night, customer a little disappointed with their starter, they may decide to go for it anyway.

They show you’re not faking it

Ever seen hundreds of five star Trip Advisor reviews appear for a recently opened restaurant and thought to yourself, “yeah right?” Today’s digital native restaurant diners are savvy. They know restaurants are perfectly capable of buying Facebook likes and asking their friends to post Trip Advisor reviews, and if something appears to be too good to be true it usually is. If the odd negative review appears alongside the positive one, it humanises your business and assures your customers the positive reviews are legitimate.

They show off your customer service

Rather than a nail in your coffin, negative restaurant reviews can be an opportunity to show off how great you are. A quick response to a customer complaint apologising for the mishap and inviting the customer back with a discount, shows you take complaints seriously and care about your customers. And who doesn’t love to feel cared about?

They educate future customers

We recently saw an excellent response from an Edinburgh restaurant to a negative Trip Advisor review. The customer was unhappy because they phoned to book a table, were told there was availability, and when revealed they had a deal voucher, was told there was no availability. The unhappy customer left a scathing review blasting the restaurant to smithereens. The restaurant posted a detailed reply, informing the customer (and any future customers who were checking out the restaurant’s Trip Advisor reviews) that half their restaurant is reserved for deal vouchers, the other half for walk in customers, and that if the entire restaurant was allocated to deal vouchers they would be forced to turn away full paying customers. They also pointed out the customer phoned to reserve less than a day in advance and if you have a deal voucher you really need to book further in advance as availability is limited. The response was a fair, concise explanation as to why the restaurant’s voucher policy works the way it does. It is highly unlikely it would deter future customer from dining there and it would also inform them availability is limited if they have a deal voucher.

They are a goldmine of information

Traditionally, large corporations have spent a lot of money on customer survey and feedback forms. Negative restaurant reviews can fulfil the exact same purpose. When reading a negative review of your business, put your ego aside for a second. Does the reviewer have a point? Could this area of your restaurant be improved? If you search to the bottom of your heart and can 100% honestly say no, fair enough, disregard the reviewer as an idiot. But if you think they may have a point, utilise it, and make the changes needed for your restaurant to be the best it can be.


Okay, no restaurateur likes to see their business get criticised on a public forum.

simpleERB can help you manage your negative restaurant reviews, and learn from the constructive criticism, without the review being splashed all over the review sites.

Our system allows reviews and ratings from diners to go directly to the restaurant, allowing negative feedback to be dealt with in house instead of on Trip Advisor (and if the feedback is positive, simpleERB also has a feature that allows diners to post their rave review on Trip Advisor and Yelp).

Referring to the points made above, consider this quote from the Dalai Lama: “One’s enemy is the best teacher.”

And if all else fails, consider this other Dalai Lama quote instead: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

There are few acts as culturally divisive than restaurant tipping. In the UK 10% is considered good manners (if the service is good). In the USA anything less than 20% is unacceptable. In Japan tips are not left at all and the server may even try to return your tip if you choose to leave one.


Dining in a foreign country often includes a mild panic at the end of the meal and a scramble for the Lonely Planet to check you are tipping in adherence to local expectations. However, one prominent New York restaurateur intends to do away with this awkward scenario….by banning tipping around the world.

New York restaurant influencer

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But when one of the most influential restaurant figures in the world, a man who banned smoking in his restaurants over a decade before it became the law, announces he plans to ban tipping in his thirteen NYC restaurants, it’s fair to assume this will have a ripple effect.

Danny Meyer, Chief Executive of Union Square Hospitality Group, the force behind some of New York’s most important restaurants, announced that starting in November he will eliminate tips at every one of its thirteen restaurants as well as increase prices.

In a letter on the Union Square Hospitality Group website he said: “We believe hospitality is a team sport, and that it takes an entire team to provide you with the experiences you have come to expect from us. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues — our cooks, reservationists, and dishwashers to name a few — aren’t able to share in our guests’ generosity, even though their contributions are just as vital to the outcome of your experience at one of our restaurants.”

Higher menu prices

Meyer plans to increase his menu prices 30-35%, the extra cost ensuring a fair wage for all restaurant staff not just the waiting staff, eliminating a scenario where the waiters earn a higher salary than the chefs.

All great for the staff. But how will diners feel about having the tipping practice taken away from them?

Customer reactions

There’s the practical aspect of the hike in dish prices: it remains to be seen how diners react to paying £39.10 instead of $29 for Maialino’s famed Devil’s Chicken, even without the tip.

But there’s also the psychological factor. As Meyer himself told New York Eater, the diner may think “I no longer believe I have a sword to punish a waiter with, or a pat on the back to praise with.”

His solution is a system such as Uber that introduced a culture of both tip-free payments and open customer feedback an an industry not used to either.

An online feedback system, he points out, “would give us all kinds of data. Today, if you leave a bad tip, I probably don’t even know about it.” But with mobile payments and experience-specific feedback, “I can follow up and say ‘Help us get better,’ or ‘Let me refund some of your money.’”


Well what do you know. Who already offers an online restaurant feedback system? simpleERB.

simpleERb allows diners to comment and give ratings on their meal, feedback which goes directly to the restaurant.

This allows restaurants to see where they are going right and wrong directly from the source and if the feedback is negative deal with it in house instead of on Trip Advisor (and if the feedback is positive simpleERB also has a feature that allows diners to post their rave review on Trip Advisor and Yelp).

So if the restaurant world does indeed become tip free, you won’t be unaware as to whether your customer enjoyed their meal.

You’ll see their opinion for yourself on simpleERB.

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