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We all have to eat. And when people are on the go — especially during the busy holiday shopping season — they’re often looking to grab a bite close by. We know this because “restaurants near me” has been the most popular “near me” search for the last five years.1

Also, despite the growth in online shopping, more than half of purchases still happen in-store during the holidays.2 And when you consider food-related and restaurant searches, like “restaurants,” “restaurants near me,” and “food near me,” commonly appear in the top 20 searches for many retailers,3 it’s easy to see why the holidays are critical for restaurants. As proof, a recent study conducted by Google and Numerator found that of the top 25 highest sales days for restaurants last year, 72% of them occurred in November and December.4

Illustration of a storefront with a maps location indicator above the awning. The text reads, “Restaurants near me” and “food near me” commonly appear in the top 20 searches for many retailers.

That said, it’s clear restaurants around the world have a unique opportunity to turn hungry holiday shoppers into your next customer. For brands looking to win more foot traffic this season, here are three ways to ensure you’re maximizing your restaurant strategy for holiday success.

Think mobile first

We know that mobile search queries in stores have grown 15% in recent years.5 And 89% of dining research prior to visiting a restaurant is done via smartphone.6

Welcome shoppers to your table by making valuable information available at their fingertips. Think of your Google My Business profile as a digital front window for your restaurant. In addition to standard information, like hours, directions, and wait times, highlighting offerings that are unique to your locations can make all the difference.

Illustration of a bowl of ice cream in a mobile search browser. The text reads, 89% of dining research prior to visiting a restaurant is done via smartphone.

Take Dunkin’, for example. Having been around for 70 years, Dunkin’ wanted to ignite fresh excitement and drive guests into its stores. The team knew that mobile had to play an integral part of their overall guest experience. So they focused their efforts around strategies like mobile ordering for the modern customer as they increasingly turn to their phone to research and plan their next meal. These on-the-go diners seek convenient ways to pay, schedule order pickups, earn loyalty rewards, and receive special offers all via mobile.

Optimize around deal-seeking days

The National Restaurant Association found that 72% of Black Friday shoppers visit either a full- or quick-service restaurant while they’re out shopping.7 And we already know shoppers are even more engaged on their phones during prime deal days. Mobile searches for “best deals” have grown by over 90% in the past two years.8 Restaurants can make the most of these moments by getting in front of shoppers with the help of hyperlocal ads.

Illustration of a fast-food meal of a hamburger and drink with straw, and a shopping bag. The text reads, 72% of Black Friday shoppers visit either a full- or quick-service restaurant while they’re out shopping.

For example, in Spain, McDonald’s was looking to drive more traffic to its locations and promote its new menu item, the Grand McExtreme. To do so, the fast feeder turned to Google Local campaigns. Optimizing the campaign during the holidays helped McDonald’s capture increased seasonal traffic when shoppers were out and about, and the chain saw a 2X increase in guest visits.

Local campaigns allow marketers to tap into a range of Google’s properties to reach potential customers. The campaigns help promote restaurant locations in local search results and on Google Maps, in addition to other properties, when people are exploring what’s around them.

Tie your online efforts to your real-world impact

Gone are the days of the “spray and pray” approach to marketing. Core performance metrics, like store visits, sales, and incremental impact, can be game-changers.

Denny’s, for instance, used Google store visits to reach a new generation of online customers. Using key data and insights, Denny’s discovered running its campaigns at the right time, particularly later in the day, yielded the strongest results for this audience. Armed with these insights, the team was able to reinvigorate their marketing approach and drive a 125% increase year over year in store visits.

It’s evident the holidays aren’t just a retailer’s playing field. Restaurants have plenty of opportunities to score too. By capitalizing on the season and embracing strategies to win hungry shoppers, you’ll be set up for success now and all year long.