Restaurant marketing in the modern world means customers need to be excited about your restaurant before actually visiting it. Customers want (and need) to know what your restaurant looks like, menu options, hours of operations, location, and methods of contact before coming to your restaurant for the first time. Thanks to digital evolution, the restaurant experience has been mapped to the virtual world, which allows all these features (as well as online food ordering) to be available in one spot: your restaurant's website!
How do you develop a great restaurant website? Many business owners are at a loss on the best approach to keep their restaurant visible to their target audience and keep customers engaged. If you're looking for ways to design a website for your restaurant, here is a list of steps you should follow to land potential customers.
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Define your customer base.
Before you begin designing, you have to decide the customer base you are looking for and the types of service they need and desire. Explore the area and its people (particularly their interests). The types of people your restaurant will appeal to, as well as its physical location, will determine important decisions such as menu and pricing. For instance, a restaurant situated in an academic community (near a school) is sure to have higher patronage from students than bankers and business executives. And because you are kept in business mostly by students, your menu will most likely consist of cost-effective eating options.
Keep designs and pages simple.
The next step will be developing the site. Adding a spectrum of colors that appeal to the emotions of customers is a great step to designing a website for your restaurant. The colors white, black, brown and red are known to perform wonders. Also, it is important to integrate essential pages such as the homepage and the menu.
Use customer feedback.
The success of a business is determined by its continuous sales. A good way to have continuous sales is by building customer loyalty (having customers come back for more). The first meal a customer eats at a restaurant usually determines whether they will give you repeat business or not. Sometimes they decide not to return because of bad service, bad quality of food and/or high prices.
On the other hand, if you make sure that every meal is spectacular, you secure that customer's loyalty for years to come. So, find out from returning clients. Use their responses to improve and make adjustments as needed. Improving your restaurant by following suggestions from your customers gives you unique leverage over your competitors.
Maintaining your website
When your website is launched, always put in an effort to keep it in shape and up to date. A great step to your restaurant site management is exerting effort in making changes to its contents. So how do you make these changes, and what areas need more attention than others?
Create content for your site
Keeping your site updated gives the impression that your physical restaurant is still functional. Most restaurant websites that started off on a good note had reduced traffic in later years because their content was sour to clients. Though an updated menu keeps clients checking for the latest information and meals available on your site, creating content that is relevant to your customers' needs, such as doorstep delivery options, is a better way to instill your restaurant's dedication to offering quality services.
Search engine optimization helps websites gain more traffic when used properly. So, when planning your content, you should focus on keywords that appeal to your restaurant's services – then sit back and watch your website crush your competitor with higher online traffic.
Your restaurant obviously has staff such as waiters and chefs who oversee the smooth running of the physical location. Recruit a team of webmasters to take care of the website when you're away. A good way to do this is granting permissions to site administrators to make changes and update your site with your latest services.
Integrate contact and feedback forms
Your restaurant website should have a contact form that allows visitors to keep you in the know of services they expect and why they visited your site in the first place. The feedback form helps you elicit the response from customers who placed orders on your site without necessarily visiting your physical location. You can have a bonus advantage if you integrate a map feature on your contact page. This will be helpful when visitors want to see the exact location of your restaurant.
Let social media in
Your site visitors might want their friends on Facebook to see your restaurant and the services you offer. A social media plugin allows them to share your site's posts to social media platforms. Hence, strive to integrate social media sharing buttons such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. This increases your site's visibility, since more people are getting to see your posts.
What software should you use?
Most of the time, developing a restaurant website leaves owners in a state of despair because software for the development is not familiar to them. But you might not necessarily need software to develop your restaurant website. There are tons of websites offering customized templates that will suit your specifications. Websites such as Restaurant Hill, Wix, Jimdo and HappyTables allows you to use built-in software and templates when designing your restaurant's website.
If you're not familiar with web design or you have little time to spare for your restaurant website's design, soliciting the services of a webmaster will be advantageous. A webmaster can ensure your website gets the facelift it might need during and after the design/launch. Also, you will probably need a webmaster to help you out with SEO tools and site administration, such as content creation and overall improvement of the client experience.
Mobile vs. desktop friendly
The smartphone industry is on the rise, and there are more smartphone devices in the hands of users than computers. Placing your business on the screens of your clients' smartphones should be the top priority; configuring your site to be mobile friendly is a great way to have clients coming back for more meals.
To this end, your restaurant website should be optimized with more emphasis on a mobile, user-friendly interface or create an app. A mobile-friendly website is certain to have more traffic than one that doesn't support such a feature, because your customers are more likely to visit your site on their smartphones. So, be sure your website design is optimized in a way that different devices can access it without hassles. If you are looking to create an app for your restaurant, here's a blog post that will help you understand how to do it.