In recent years, online food ordering and delivery has increased in popularity. And the current global pandemic has accentuated consumer demand for having the option to order restaurant food to enjoy at home. Research from the National Restaurant Association found that 66% of U.S. consumers said they ordered takeout or delivery for dinner last week.
With nearly three-quarters of consumers saying they’d rather order directly from a restaurant, the food service industry is faced with increasing pressure to adapt and offer more online channels for ordering food.
For some, this is a brand-new task, while others are faced with sharply increasing the volume of online orders to support their restaurant.
Here’s a look at how you can attract more attention to your restaurant website and increase your online orders.
Get listed in local directories
Once you have your website set up, the next step is to make sure your food and drink outlet is discoverable and listed in local online directories such as Yelp. You can check your existing listings on Moz and update them as required. If you haven’t done so already, claim your Google My Business and Bing profile as this will help your outlet appear in local search results.
Use local keywords on your website
Another way to increase the chances of discoverability is through keywords. Keywords are the terms and phrases people punch into a search box. Search engines use them to understand and rank your website in search results. Use hyper-local keywords across your site, such as in blogs, page titles, captions, and URLs, to improve your visibility in local search results. For example, a customer’s search for “independent coffee shop in downtown Seattle” would bring up your business if you use the right keywords across your website.
Use social media
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are great for engaging people in conversation and learning more about your customers. To better understand your followers and what food offerings and services they’d be interested in, consider running polls and contests. You can look to the results for insights to update your online menu and give your customers what they want, with the ultimate goal of keeping their attention and increasing repeat business. You can also use social media to advertise your restaurant website and any promotions or new items that you’ve added to your menu.
Optimize your website for mobile
About 79% of customers order online via a mobile device. This means it’s essential your restaurant website menu design is just as quick and easy to use on smartphones and tablets as it is on desktop. Some easy ways to make your website more mobile-friendly include using a mobile-friendly online ordering platform and ensuring your menu structure is clean and easy to navigate on a smaller screen.
Explore targeted ads
It can be tough to grow your visibility on social media organically, so consider setting aside budget for paid advertising to kick-start your channels. Start by running and testing small campaigns with niche audiences, and using the results to better understand how to adapt your online store and restaurant to what your customers are most receptive to. Platforms like Facebook allow you to narrow down your targeted audience to specific demographics such as local area, income level, interests, and hobbies, to make sure you’re reaching the right prospective customers.
People dine out for more than just the food, they do it for the experience. It might be that they want to catch up with loved ones in a relaxed and warm atmosphere, try new cuisines, or simply want someone else to do the cooking and washing up for them. Whatever their reason, delight your customers by helping them re-create the dining-out experience at home. Get creative and try ideas like themed evenings with suggested music playlists, cooking live-streams, or virtual supper clubs with live music on Zoom. For customers that want to dine in their own homes, you can create an enjoyable experience through your website. With an easy-to-navigate website and seamless checkout, customers can still gain an appreciation for your business from the comfort of their homes.
Incentivize newsletter sign-ups
Email is one of the top-performing marketing channels. In fact, it’s estimated that for every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. Attract newsletter sign-ups by offering a sign-up incentive, like coupon codes and early access to sales, and then ongoing promotions and rewards for only your subscribers. Keeping your customers engaged keeps you top of mind and strengthens their loyalty.
Show your loyal customers how much you value them by setting up a loyalty program. It could be that you reward customers with points and vouchers that are redeemable against future purchases. Or perhaps they have early access to limited-time deals or promotions on special occasions.
Boost your reviews
Make it really quick and easy for customers to review your outlet, whether that’s on social media, your website itself, or on a business listing. Include a review link in post-order emails and respond to as many reviews as you can, even if it’s just to say thank you.
Share beautiful visuals
People love beautiful visual content such as images and videos, which never fail to get mouths watering. Take high-quality shots of your meals and behind-the-scenes footage of your chefs at work and share them on your social channels, particularly Instagram.
Finally, pay attention to the performance of these tactics so you can compare which avenues yield the best return and where to focus your attention and resources. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different ideas!