What would happen if one day you stopped everything you were doing, looked around and realized that even though you have so much going for yourself: your restaurant offers great service, the food is great, diners feel cozy inside your establishment, the menu items and the staff that serves them are top-notch, yet, most tables remain empty, there isn’t much going on, at least not as much as you had previously envisioned? A scenario like this would worry even the most seasoned business owners, they’d most probably start trying to figure out how to attract more customers. Would going online and starting a restaurant website provide the solution to such a dilemma?
It is a known fact that at least 89% of consumers look for places where to eat over the Internet and that many of them use review websites as their main reference, they look for positive comments previous users have left before making up their minds and visiting the best restaurants they are able to find. Given these trends and statistics, culinary establishments that have neglected being present online through social networks and a dedicated restaurant website, are basically doomed to disappear and become irrelevant.
Statistics also point out that the greatest concentration of active users are present and engaged with a variety of social media accounts and web portals so, it’s crucial for your business to join their communities and get involved with them. A pleasant, functional and well managed restaurant website will elevate the value of your brand and extend your reach upon the masses of consumers who are willing to give your establishment a chance.
4 reasons why a restaurant website is extremely important
1. A medium to attract more customer
A dedicated website tailored to the needs of your clients is a supremely beneficial channel that lets users get to know you better. It facilitates turning curious onlookers into loyal customers, it concentrates the bulk of members in your target audience in a single place and allows you to gather all sorts of valuable information you can later use to serve and influence them. It provides an outlet that spreads news about events, contests and special dishes; it helps your business stay in the public eye and closer to your clientele. If the content you provide is relevant, those clients you are looking to draw in will definitely start to show up and give you their business.
2. Reservations, business hours and menu items
Specialized culinary websites let you take care of simple tasks that would otherwise prove to be a hassle if the choice were not available. They let restaurant owners answer any questions interested patrons may have, state where they are located, what their business hours are and even book tables for small parties or more complex corporate events. Restaurant websites provide a convenient channel for users who are happy about the service they received and wish to leave positive comments and further words of praise. This proves how offering quality service is the best promotion: customers who spread a good word about your business help you promote your brand without having to spend a dime in costly advertising campaigns.
3. The mentality behind your brand
It is okay to come to terms with the fact that local and smaller restaurants don’t count with huge budgets that may let them launch sumptuous promotional campaigns with the goal of boosting their visibility in the countries where they operate. The best way to overcome such limitations is provided by an attractive and well deployed web portal that, along with satisfied customers willing to recommend the benefits of your brand to others, will help you stand out among a sea of competitors and increase the amount of visitors and profit both in the virtual and real worlds.
4. Low cost promotion and advertising
Restaurant websites offer a streamlined solution that lets business owners publish boundless amounts of information at a minimal cost. Forget about print ads, banners and television network promotions, those traditional means to endorse services and products remain obscenely expensive. Dedicated websites are available 24/7, any user, no matter where they live in this world, will be able to access them whenever they fancy, gather the information they need in order to choose you and sample what you have to offer.
4 elements great restaurant websites must have
We can’t stress enough how advantageous and easy to implement restaurant websites are as opposed to other incredibly expensive promotional options. They facilitate the access and influx of massive amounts of customers and don’t require hiring staff with specialized skill sets. Anyone who knows how to use a computer in the most basic way can immediately go ahead and run their own website without having to face steep learning curves. We’ll now introduce you to 4 essential elements you should not dismiss when creating effective restaurant websites:
1. Unique design
The Internet uses high percentages of visual media to represent ideas and deliver information clearly. In order to create the need for your services in customers, you must implement websites that use design styles that are appealing and attractive. You’ll get great results by trying to be as creative, colorful and original as possible since the overall look of your website will create an impression that may help you bring potential customers closer to the products and services your brand intends to sell.
2. Efficient virtual customer service
Once you have taken care of the visual aspect of your website you must concentrate on providing top-tier customer service by providing simple and effective ways to let users know where you are located, what your business hours are, what your dining rooms look like, dates of special events, which social media networks you use to communicate with them and most importantly, offer ways for them to leave feedback, interact and create bonds that will let you create communities that will differentiate your brand from so many others.
3. Interactive tools that create connections
A dedicated restaurant website paves the way to keep in touch with your clients by featuring components that non-intrusively let you gather valuable data from your clients. By paying attention to their comments and opinions alone you’ll be able to shape a better idea on what their interests and motivations are. Devoted websites provide users with questionnaires, allow the publication of information about upcoming promotions, contests and offers and even let fans create their own content by, for example, encouraging them to upload pictures of their favorite menu items. The point is to engage with your followers until you gain their respect and trust, a win-win situation where all parties come out satisfied and willing to keep coming back again and again.
4. Links to social networks
If you are trying to expand beyond what your brand has been able to achieve so far, you must be present in other social media networks. Providing links to those other accounts gives clients who haven’t been able to find you in a community get to you through other websites they may feel more familiar with. It is absolutely fine to cross-link one of your accounts with the rest, this will facilitate attracting clients who only happen to visit specific sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Such practices increase the chances of swaying increased traffic toward your business and finalizing sales.
Creating, managing and sustaining restaurant websites
If you start doing just a bit of research, you’ll be surprised on the amount of Internet sites that offer free, pre-designed templates anyone can use to start a restaurant website in a matter of minutes. Interested users only have to choose a style that pleases them (or fits the message their new brand is trying to convey) and from then on, rearrange the given elements until they are satisfied. This is an acceptable solution if you don’t want to spend grand amounts of capital into hiring professional help. You could opt to hire qualified experts later on when you count with more resources and if you need to step up your game with fancier strategies.
It is also important to pick a reliable website hosting service among the great variety of options currently available. Be aware that the cheapest of the cheap (among so many web hosting solutions) won’t always be able to provide you with some of the features we have discussed through this article.
Once your restaurant website has defined a visual style and is ready to give clients ways to communicate with your business, the time will come to start publishing quality content by following the guidelines we have outlined in previous posts. Begin by creating a monthly schedule that will let you plan ahead on the type of subject matter you will like to share, delineate smart marketing strategies that adapt to the benefits offered by social media networks and do what it takes to attract increasingly larger crowds of users willing to give you their attention, time, money and respect.