In today’s modern world, if you own a business, you should also own a website. However, restaurateurs who are accustomed to the brick and mortar nature of the business might not all see the value in this important marketing and promotional tool. If you’ve been procrastinating on setting up a website for your restaurant, we’ll take you through exactly how a website will benefit your business as well as what your online presence should include to maximize your potential.
The Benefits of Building a Restaurant Website
Google is the Go-To
Google is usually the first place a potential customer will turn to when looking for a place to eat or a venue for a special occasion. Not having an online presence is the contemporary equivalent to not having your business listed in the phonebook or not having a sign on your building. Without a website, just like without a sign advertising your restaurant to pedestrians, you are essentially invisible to countless potential customers. Having an online presence will increase your exposure astronomically; it’s that simple.
Speak Directly to Your Customers
At this point, you might be thinking: “But I have a presence on Yelp and a bunch of Google Reviews, why do I need a website?” The key difference between databases like Yelp and your own personal website is that a website allows you to speak directly to your customers. Instead of relying solely on customer feedback (which is important for other reasons), 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.
You Control Your Brand
Having a website and being able to speak directly to your customers allows you to control your brand. There is a limit to how much you can personalize a profile on a site like Yelp, but having a website allows you to create a digital extension of the dining experience customers can expect. Not only does this allow you to better reach your target customer, but it also 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 since you’re the one in control.
What Information Should You Include on Your Restaurant Website?
A Clear Call-to-Action and/or Reservation Widget
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. If you offer one or both of those services, your website should include a clearly visible and well-placed button or link so that potential customers can become paying ones with ease. There is nothing worse than a potential customer who wants to book a reservation getting frustrated and moving on to your competitor. To make things as simple as possible, consider installing a reservation widget so that customers can book directly from your homepage. If you’re already set up with a major reservation system like Open Table, this is very easy to do with a pre-coded widget you can simply copy and paste.
Don’t stop at a website: We have everything you need to effectively market your business in our Restaurant Marketing Guide.
If you offer takeout or delivery, including a system for online ordering on your website, is essential. So many people order food while on-the-go and multi-tasking that if they have to call you to do so, 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 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. Your business phone number, email address, and social media links are equally important so that potential customers with questions know how to reach you directly and can get a sense of your restaurant’s vibe.
Menu with Prices
Let’s not forget what’s most important about your business: the food! Let’s be honest, the menu and price point are probably 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 who gives them a better idea of what to expect. Furthermore, it’s very 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. In order to maximize the potential of those additional marketing opportunities, 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.
Email Newsletter Opt-In
One of the first rules of online marketing is that your email list is your goldmine. Email newsletters are the most effective way of reaching your customers. 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 people first eat with their eyes, and any good restaurateur also knows that atmosphere and ambiance are key to the diner’s overall experience. Photos are the quickest and most effective way into the heart of a potential customer, so make sure you show off your very best dishes and give them a sense of what their experience will be like when they dine with you.
By now you should have all the knowledge you need to get started on building 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.