With takeout and delivery being the only available options for “dining out” right now, the competition to get found online is more saturated than ever. Make sure guests are finding your online ordering (OLO) page and that you are utilizing the best OLO options available to maximize revenue with these tips.
Continue reading for our tips, or, feel free to check out our webinar below for advice from experts! [Video available at the bottom of the page]
Your Digital Storefront: Set Up a Website
If you don’t already have one, a website is an important component to taking your restaurant online. It is your digital storefront and any information that is available to customers in-house should be on your website as well.
How to Create a Website
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a web developer to get a beautiful website. Services like Squarespace, Wix, and others make it easy for anyone to build their own website with pre-designed templates. All you need to do is supply the information and images and you’ll be online in just a few hours for a reasonable yearly or monthly fee.
What to Include on Your Website
Try and answer as many questions as possible on your website to make the decision process easier for customers. Here are some absolute must-haves for any restaurant website to be successful with online ordering.
- Hours: When are you open? Are takeout hours different from delivery or dine-in? If you are closed on a day you are normally open, make that abundantly clear with a banner or pop-up notification on your homepage so everyone visiting the site sees the message.
- Contact info: Physical address, email address, phone number, and any other methods you want customers to use to get in touch with you.
- Links to social media accounts: Social media is another important part of running your restaurant online, so make your accounts easy to find. (Scroll down for more on social media.)
- Full menu with prices: People want to see what you have and how much it will cost them so make it easy to read and updated.
- Link to your online ordering page: Even if people aren’t intending to order from you while browsing your website, something may catch their eye and sway them. Make sure your online ordering button is “sticky,” meaning it shows up on every page.
For more details on running a great restaurant website check out: The Benefits of Building a Restaurant Website and What You Need to Include.
Update Your Local Pages
With the day-to-day uncertainty during this pandemic, things are moving faster than usual in the restaurant industry. If you change your menu, update hours, or make any other changes that will affect customers, make sure they are reflected and consistent across all platforms, including your website.
- Google My Business
- Reservation sites like OpenTable, Resy, and Tock
- And anywhere else your hours, menu, and contact info are listed
As of May 27, 2020, Google has updated their “Google My Business” features to include links for a fundraiser or gift card purchase. You also have the ability to mark your restaurant as “temporarily closed.” According to the Google blog, “We added attributes like ‘curbside pickup,’ ‘no contact delivery,’ and ‘dine-in’ so that restaurants could easily share these important details on their Business Profiles in Search and Maps.” Be sure to keep your Google business console updated whenever you make changes to your website or social media about your business.
Optimize Your Online Ordering Page for Search Engine Performance
With people not being able to go outside and online ordering being the main source of revenue for restaurants, it’s more important than ever to have a solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy for your business. With more customers each day searching for restaurants that have online ordering near them, there’s a lot of competition for Search Results Page Rankings (SERP). Here are a few tips on how to make sure your online ordering page gets found as often as possible.
Location, Location, Location
Restaurants are looking for customers who are within a few miles of their establishments, and that’s why you need to make sure you’re optimizing your online ordering page for local SEO performance.
In order to do this, you have to be very clear about where your restaurant is located. Make sure your address is both on your online ordering page and included in the title of your restaurant, to differentiate from similarly-named restaurants.
For example, if someone in Boston is searching for “Ryan’s Cafe” and the town or city isn’t included in the title, a “Ryan’s Cafe” from hundreds of miles away could show up. To show up for customers near you, make sure your restaurant is titled “Ryan’s Cafe Boston” to capture local searches.
Give Customers a Taste of Your Restaurant
If people are craving tacos during their quarantine and you’re a restaurant serving Mexican cuisine, you’re going to want to make sure that Google knows what kind of restaurant you are. So in your title, description, and display groups, make sure to give more details on the food you serve.
For example, if your Mexican restaurant is named “Ryan’s Cantina,” change the name on your online ordering page to “Ryan’s Cantina: Mexican Food.” This will tell Google exactly what you serve and convince them to show your online ordering page to customers who are searching for “mexican food near me.”
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Orders
To put it simply, Google rewards sites that look pretty. And what better way to spruce up a boring page than with photos! Make sure you have images for all of your menu items, a photo of the outside of your building, and be sure to post pictures on all digital platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and Google. The more pictures related to your restaurant, the better chance it has of being shown on a SERP.
Want to see how your photography game stacks up against the competition? Check out Upserve’s free Restaurant Marketing Grader to get your score, and tips and tricks on how to boost it!
Online Ordering, Takeout, Pickup…Whatever You Want To Call It, MAKE IT KNOWN YOU HAVE IT!
If you are offering curbside pickup, online ordering, takeout, delivery or any other ways of getting food to your customers outside of a dining room, you’ll want to make sure everyone knows it by having a separate page on your website dedicated to online orders. Then, when people search “[restaurant name] online ordering,” that specific page will show up for them.
In the URL for your online ordering page, be sure to include that phrase “online-ordering.” In the copy on the page, be sure to use “online ordering,” “pickup,” and especially “takeout” as that is the most commonly searched term out of the three. This will give you a leg up on the competition when customers are searching for something as general as “takeout food near me.”
Promote Your Online Ordering Page on Social Media
An online ordering page is useless if nobody knows about it. The best way to get the word out about your OLO site quickly and for little-to-no cost is on social media.
Get Your Followers to Engage and Share
Post about your online ordering page on social media and give your followers a reason to share – a discount on their next takeout order, free dessert, or a complimentary bottle of wine are a few popular ideas. Contests almost always lead to high engagement on photos and get more views on images. But keep it simple! If it’s too complicated it will deter people from entering. A popular contest method on Instagram and Facebook is to share the post and tag 2-3 friends in the comments for entry.
View this post on Instagram
Thanks for the tag @tingbarnard ! We’re showing off our masks for @mask_up_ri ! The @cdcgov recommends everyone wear face masks in public settings where social distancing may be difficult to maintain. Now is the time for everyone to try to do their part to flatten the curve. In honor of this, we’re giving away two $25 gift cards.??? ??? Here’s what to do:??? ? Post a pic of you wearing your face mask.??? ? Tag a friend and @hometownpoke. ??? ? Have your friend post a pic of them wearing their mask and tag @hometownpoke.??? ? We’ll announce a winner Monday night and send you and a friend an e-gift card for $25 each.? ??? Stay safe everyone! Thanks for being troopers and helping keep each other healthy. We love you to pieces! ?
Post as Often as Possible
Social media sites run on algorithms, and those algorithms give preference to the most active users. Translation: if you post more often, more people will see your images. It can be a lot of work to come up with something to post every day, so encourage customers to share photos of their takeout orders on their accounts by offering one of the incentives listed above or something similar. Not only do you get them to spread word about your restaurant on their accounts, but you also get free content to share on yours.
View this post on Instagram
Show Behind the Scenes
What would you and your staff be doing to delight guests if they were in-house? Once you answer that question, see how it can translate online – do a cooking tutorial on Instagram Live, share your new menu ideas for when it’s time to reopen, or just check in with your guests and say hello. This let’s guests know you are eagerly waiting for the days when you can invite them to your restaurant for a meal again and gives them something to look forward to.
Sister restaurants Gracie’s and Ellie’s in Providence have been doing a great job of this by featuring their beloved staff on Instagram, highlighting the strengths each person brings to the team and asking guests to share memories with that person.
View this post on Instagram
Guess who? This lovely lady, now a barista at @elliesprov, is known for her outstanding efforts to make each drink outshine the last and anticipate her guests’ needs before they even place their orders. Drop a comment if you know her name and tell us your favorite memory! ? #graciesfamily #elliesfamily #staffappreciation
Additionally, we’re seeing a lot of guests commenting on social media with concerns about what measures restaurants are taking to ensure the health of customers when it comes to takeout and delivery orders. Take a minute to post a behind the scenes photo of your BOH and FOH staff in their gloves, masks, and other protective gear and share your sanitizing methods to ease any fears a potential customer may have about ordering out.
View this post on Instagram
Try Paid Advertising On Social Media
Most social media platforms have very easy-to-use advertising platforms for businesses. You can set your budget, pick who you want to target by demographic, location, and interests, and tell hungry customers scrolling through their feeds that they should order from your restaurant. Upserve believes in this method so much, we’re giving customers $100 in Facebook Ad Spend when they sign up for Upserve’s virtual POS, and you won’t have to do a thing.
Own Your Online Ordering System
Any restaurateur who has used a third-party online ordering app knows that the fees can sometimes cause you just to break even on smaller orders. While some of these apps are lowering their fees during this pandemic, many business owners are saying that’s not good enough. By owning your own online ordering you’ll keep those 20-30% in commission fees in your pocket, but there are other advantages as well.
Customize Your Menu
On third-party sites, you’re limited in what you can sell. With things changing week to week, now more than ever you need the option to sell more than just meals. When you own your online ordering you’re only limited by your own stock – you can sell gift cards, offer merchandise, collect donations, and more.
For example, La Catrina in Boston wanted to donate burritos to local healthcare workers and asked the community for help. They offered a donation item on their OLO page where customers could pay for one burrito and the restaurant would match it by donating two. In addition, they’ve added an entire section of “Quarantine Specials,” featuring items that they don’t normally offer for OLO.
Meanwhile, Allagash Brewery in Portland, ME is delivering cans, bottles, and kegs to local customers and has also added gift cards and merchandise to the menu so customers can pick up a gift for themselves and help support the business further.
Get to Know Your Guests Better
When you process online orders through a native system that syncs with your restaurant POS system, you gain valuable insights that get missed when someone orders through an app. It’s extremely important now to know what’s selling best and how customers are ordering so that you can be better prepared, save money on inventory, and make the most sales possible. Guest insights will also show you who your most loyal customers are and allow you to target special offers to them based on their ordering history to keep them coming back again and again.
Offer Promotions for Loyal and First-Time Customers
To grow your customer base, offer a first-time ordering promo code on your website, or a discount for new followers on social media. You can also use your guest management data to offer a promo code to loyal customers for orders over a certain size to drive up revenue and encourage larger orders. When you use a third-party delivery or ordering platform, the promotions they offer your customers come out of your pocket (on top of the commissions they collect).
Find the Right Delivery Solutions
When using delivery services, you have no idea what happens to the food once it leaves your restaurant, how it will be handled or how long it will take. 43% of restaurant professionals said they believe third-party apps interfere with the direct relationship between a restaurant and its customers. When you own your online ordering service you get to determine whether it’s takeout only or delivery as well, and you get to hire and train both in-house staff and drivers to provide the highest level of service to guests from start to finish.
Use in Tandem with Third-Party Apps
A clear benefit to listing your restaurant on a popular app is getting your menu in front of customers who might not already know about you or haven’t yet ordered from you. Using these apps are great for capturing new business, but once you have a new customer’s attention, you can try and sway them into using your native OLO with exclusive offers.