In today’s world, every successful business must have a website. However, restaurateurs accustomed to the brick-and-mortar nature of the business might not embrace all the value in this important marketing and promotional tool.
If you’ve been procrastinating about creating a website for your restaurant, it is time to stop. A well-designed site is one of the fastest ways to enhance your business and we will show you which elements to include to maximize your potential.
Google typically is the first place that potential customers turn when looking for a place to eat or a venue for a special occasion. Skipping an online presence in today's environment is the equivalent of not placing a Yellow Pages add in 1984. It would be a horrible business decision. Without a website, you are essentially invisible to potential customers in today's marketplace.
A website allows you to speak directly to your customers and shape the business on your terms, rather than relying on positive reviews from Yelp & Google. Even with lots of positive reviews on other platforms, that cannot tell the full story. Only a website allows you to present yourself, your brand, and your food to potential diners, rather than letting that all be filtered through the experiences of others.
Because there is a limit to how much you can personalize a profile on a site like Yelp or Google My Business, you need a more personalized tool to shape your brand and target your ideal customers. Having your own website gives you full control over what kind of photos and content will represent your restaurant to the world. Having a website ensures that your online presence and unique brand are always kept up-to-date because you’re the one in control.
A call-to-action is a piece of web content intended to prompt a potential customer to do something, such as book a reservation or place an online order. To maximize your conversions, you need a short block of text that encourages diners to try your product. It is even better to pair that with text with a clearly visible and well-placed button or link so that potential customers can become paying ones with ease.
Even if you're already set up with a major reservation system like Open Table, it is essential to install a reservation widget on your website that allows customers to book directly from your homepage. This is very easy to do with a pre-coded widget you can simply copy and paste. There is nothing worse than a potential customer who wants to book a reservation getting frustrated and moving on to your competitor because it is difficult to reserve a table from your site. Make things as simple as possible for customers with a reservation widget.
If you offer takeout or delivery, it is essential to include a system for online ordering on your website. So many people order food while on-the-go and that if they have to phone in an order, they might move on to a competitor. Making things easy for your customers and providing them with the platforms and services they prefer is key.
Your location, phone number, email address, and social media links should all be clear, accurate, and easy to find. The restaurant rule “Location. Location. Location.” holds true even in the digital age, and customers need to be able to find you easily. Plus, your location might be a make-or-break factor in whether or not a website-viewer decides to become a customer.
Let’s not forget what’s most important about your business: the food! For the majority of customers, menu and price point are the two biggest factors a potential guest considers before making a reservation. Without any information about the menu or your prices, many customers will simply move on and choose a competitor. It's important to keep your menu and prices up-to-date on your website in order to avoid angry or disappointed customers.
Adding entertainment and special events can help make your restaurant stand out from the crowd. To maximize the potential of those additional marketing opportunities, you should feature an events calendar on your website. By making it known that your establishment offers something extra, you’ll go a long way toward attracting new guests. An events calendar will not only encourage clients to visit, but it will also help them make decisions about when they want to dine out.
One of the first rules of online marketing is that your email list is your goldmine. Email newsletters are the best ways to reach your customers and build a relationship that will allow you to market products to them directly. Start building your list as soon as possible by including an email newsletter opt-in on your website. This is another great way to connect with your most loyal clientele and speak to them directly, particularly when you have a special event or new menu item to promote.
Any good chef knows that diners first eat with their eyes. Any good restaurateur also knows that the atmosphere and ambiance are key to a diner’s overall experience. Photos are the quickest and most effective way into the heart of a potential customer. Use them wisely to show off your very best dishes and provide a sense of what diners will experience at your restaurant. Make sure your mouth-watering photos are professional quality for maximum impact on your website.
By now, you should have all the knowledge you need to build your new website! The small investments you’ll make in the early stages of building your online presence will pay off a thousand-fold as you start building better relationships with existing clients and attracting lots of new ones to share in your dining experience.