The restaurant industry has traditionally remained insulated from the economic ups and downs that affect other businesses. As consumers continue to dine out in larger numbers, innovative new approaches to cuisine and dining experiences are launched to fill demand. So, as more players move into the market it’s critical for restaurateurs to cultivate ways to engage and attract new customers in a highly competitive environment. While there are many tools out there to help restaurant marketers, the critical first step for any marketing plan is a powerful website as a foundation.
A Strong Foundation
Now more than ever, a website is the first point of contact between businesses and consumers. It allows them to get a feel for your business without having to invest much effort. Your site should provide a snapshot of your brand. The look and feel of the site should reflect the aesthetics and atmosphere of your establishment and it should provide all the information consumers need to answer the questions they have about your business. What are your business hours? What is your menu? Do you have vegan options? Is there free parking? The more information you provide, the better chance you have of converting a web visitor into a patron.
Your site must also be usable for the people who update the content. To be effective a restaurant website should be built on a Content Management System (CMS) that enables authorized users to easily add content like daily specials consistently. That information can then be cross posted in social media to increase visibility and grow the audience that can see and share the great things that are happening at the establishment. Google also rewards fresh content with superior visibility in search engines and that means more potential patrons will see your site. A stale website will sink in the search engines putting you at a disadvantage in a competitive environment.
A Great Experience on Every Device
It also critical that your site be built on a Responsive Design framework that provides a quality viewing experience on any device – desktop, tablet or smartphone. Analytics show that restaurants now get 25-50% of their web traffic from mobile devices and that percentage will continue to grow. A bad impression from a site that is not optimized for mobile viewing can send potential patrons on to another establishment.
Tools to Convert Web Visits to Patrons
Furthermore, in a study conducted by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, researchers found that approximately 50 percent of respondents said they make reservations online, and about 40 percent of those completed the reservation on the restaurant’s own website. A modern restaurant website provides opportunities to easily incorporate online reservation systems like, OpenTable, RezBook, SeatMe, and many others.
Just Get It Done
It’s easy to ignore marketing when you are busy but, an inadequate website will put you at a disadvantage when consumers are choosing where to spend their hard-earned dollars. What’s the best way to make sure it gets done? Hire an outside firm. There are many options for building your own site but in the fast-paced world of restaurants, it’s a formula for disaster. There is nothing more frustrating than a lingering website project. Hire a proven firm and it will get done quickly and you will end up with a superior product that will immediately begin to generate results. What are you waiting for? Order up!