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If you own or manage a restaurant, there’s one segment that you have to reach out to – that you simply cannot ignore: hungry customers with smartphones or tablets who are looking to eat right now and right here. Or at least somewhere nearby.

That’s according to findings from a study conducted by mobile-local ad network xAd and call measurement provider Telmetrics. In “Mobile Path-to-Purchase,” it was found that mobile search behavior – by people who search the Internet for good food using their phones or tablets – has a nearly 90 percent conversion rate. This only goes to show that location is extremely critical in driving mobile searchers to restaurants.

Moreover, 64 percent of searchers with smartphones convert within an hour of their mobile search activity. This represents a much higher conversion rate than that for tablet users, only 44 percent of whom make a purchase decision within an hour of mobile search activity.

While the study confirmed that location and decision timing indeed have a significant influence on mobile purchase behavior, it also revealed distinct behavioral differences between people who are searching for restaurant information and those who are looking for travel information or automotive services information. Restaurant consumer activity is much more locally driven and far more urgent than these two other categories, and that’s why the mobile search process of hungry people was represented in the study as follows:

For smartphone users:

  • Call a restaurant
  • Look up directions
  • Look up local business locations nearby

For tablet users:

According to the study, 85 percent go on to complete a purchase as a result of these mobile activities.

“Calls are a key mobile restaurant activity, with more than half of restaurant searchers placing calls and 30 percent saying they contacted the restaurant or made a reservation by phone on their last restaurant search,” said Telmetrics President Bill Dinan in a press release. “Ensuring that consumers have easy access to restaurant phone numbers – whether individually operated or the local franchise – is key not only to securing the mobile consumer’s business in the last phase of their purchase path, but also for advertisers to be able to measure mobile traffic and monetize the leads generated.”

Read MORE: How Customer Reviews Can Save Your Restaurant

Here are other key highlights of the research study:

  • 65 percent of smartphone users looking for restaurant locations are looking specifically for locations within walking or driving distance. Also, 66 percent look for directions, while 51 percent look for a local phone number.
  • The most popular applications used by restaurant mobile searchers are multi-purpose online restaurant review aggregators like Yelp, Urbanspoon (now Zomato), and Zagat.

These findings are based on an online survey of 1,500 smartphone and tablet users in the US, as well as on observed consumer behavior measured by Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users.

Check out the infographic below:

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.