Being the owner of a small business means a lot of spinning plates.
Being the owner of a restaurant means trying to put food on them.
For today’s restauranteur, most of their daily battle is dealing with what’s right in front of them, like inventory, equipment, and people. So it makes sense that they might neglect the development and ongoing care for their website. And that’s understandable when so many things have to happen just to get one plate of food in front of a customer.
But marketing has a huge role in all of this, one that might be often overlooked. It maps the journey a customer takes to go from zero awareness to full loyalty. And a website is a key part of that. So let’s get into just a few of many reasons why having a strong website is worth the extra thought.
Drawing in customers
This first one may seem fairly obvious, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the fundamentals.
Restaurants are a butts-in-seats economy that relies heavily on the number of people that come through the doors.
In a study done by the Pew Research Center, we learned that more than half of adults that get information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs, rely on the internet as their source. And this study was done in 2011 which is ages ago when it comes to technology and smartphone use. One can only assume this has increased dramatically since then.
With Google at the fingertips of almost everyone, it is more important than ever to show up in their searches. And having unique and live content on your website acts as a great introduction to you—ultimately converting those website visitors into restaurant visitors.
Conveying your brand
While Yelp, TripAdvisor, and every other review platform are necessary, the website is your flag to plant that can give people the fullest sense of who you are. It’s your domain, your territory—not tainted or restricted by the corporate branding and layouts of social networks. Instead, it’s a free place for you to work out your brand and message however you want.
For the local restaurants, branding is a big deal. It immediately sends a message to your audience about what they can expect throughout their entire experience. Whether you are trying to or not, you have a brand and it is conveying a message. And if that brand doesn’t resonate with an audience, they will most likely go somewhere else.
As you can tell from our name, we love good tasting food and beverages. Amazing flavor can be enough to change someone’s mood, bring them comfort, or stop them dead in their tracks during a hectic day. It is a powerful force. But every bite and sip extends beyond the tastebuds, reaching our other senses. Those are less physically tangible sensations but they often form our lasting associations with a certain place.
Your website should provide a taste of who you uniquely are so that when a customer exits your website and enters your doors, they already have a sense of familiarity and comfort.
Need help developing that brand that communicates all of this? We can help with that—just reach out!
Alright, so far we’ve spent a lot of our energy on the introductions to your restaurant. But what about if they’ve already visited?
Let’s assume and hope for a scenario where they came in and had an amazing first experience. They found your website on a quick Google search for the best breakfast/cocktail bar in the area, scrolled through the mouthwatering pictures that jumped right off the screen, resonated with your brand and messaging, and then came in and had a great meal with great service. Now what?
The key word here is engagement.
Our first inclination might be to just smile, waving goodbye as they leave while crossing our fingers in hopes that they happen to come back. Smiling and waving is great, but there are better ways to help increase their likelihood of returning.
Email newsletter subscription is a great start. The goal of your website is to get people in the door, but I would say that the very next goal is to get them to sign up. The act of giving up one’s personal information is an open invitation for further contact, opening up a door for messaging that can be delivered straight to their virtual doorstep.
A simple form on your website that offers some sort of sign up incentive can be the first step in creating a loyal customer who keeps coming back every time there is something new.
And when there is something new, there’s a great opportunity to show it on the website. This is where the ongoing website care comes in. It’s easy to think that once the site is up, it will do its job for the rest of eternity. People will come from web-miles around just to see nothing change.
But restaurant-goers want to see fresh.
Whether it’s weekly specials or special events, your website can act as an ever-changing source of content that continually elaborates on your brand.
So back to this crazy busy restaurant owner who just wants to get food on plates. Often the factor that gets them held up when it comes to building and caring for a website is the sheer amount of brain capacity it takes to add that in with the rest of their responsibilities. It’s not sustainable to keep it high on their priorities list.
And we totally get that. As a restaurant owner, your job is to make sure that people are enjoying good taste with good company. And we take it on ourselves to translate that experience to the digital world so that even when you’re closed up for the night, your restaurant can continue to work for you—drawing in customers, conveying your brand, and creating loyalty.