You can spend all your money and time building an impressive visual restaurant website. You can add all the bells and whistles: images of burgers fading in and floating across the screen, 3D tours of your dining area, a fancy animated logo, etc.
But none of these superficial effects will mean anything to your bottom line if your website visitors aren’t contacting you or placing an order. The #1 goal for every restaurant website is to seal the deal; that is, convince the visitor to become a customer.
Then there’s the issue of not continuing the customer journey following your advertising and search optimization efforts. You invest time and money on bringing people to your website - Facebook ads, SEO, etc. And then when your traffic doesn’t convert, you end up leaving money on the table.
These days, anyone can build a good-looking website and develop ways to drive traffic to the site. But building a profitable website takes additional consideration and skill.
Most of the conversion optimization techniques we discuss below will be tactics that you can employ on your own (or with the help of the person who oversees your website). You may need to enlist the help of a skilled marketer or designer for the more advanced tips.
Ready to find out how to make it happen? Let’s jump in!
Before you begin with any optimization, it’s important to identify what metrics you’re trying to improve. Otherwise, how will you know the changes you’re making are effective?
Yes, when the phone is ringing more often, and your monthly sales are increasing, that’s great! But the more you know why it’s happening, the more comfortable you’ll feel allocating time and resources to certain techniques.
When you’re optimizing your website for more conversions, the main KPI (key performance indicator) that you’d want to improve is your conversion rate. This is a simple calculation of the percentage of visitors to your site that convert (become a customer).
Do you know what your current conversion rate is? If not, let’s explore how you can determine a baseline rate.
First, are you tracking how many website visitors your site is getting each month? The most common way to do this is by using Google Analytics, a free tool that will give you details about your web traffic. You’d install a piece of code on your website pages that tracks visitors, so you can learn how many people visit, where they come from, what device they’re using, and other juicy details that can help you understand more about how your website is performing.
Then, you should define your conversion(s). This could be a number of actions visitors can take on your site, such as:
Once you know how many conversions you’re getting (which can also usually be tracked via Google Analytics), you would simply divide the number of conversions by the number of website visitors (and multiply by 100):
[number of conversions] / [website visitors] * 100 = conversion rate %
So for example, if you get 300 visitors, and 10 of them converted, you’ve got a 5% conversion rate. Choose a consistent period of time (e.g. a month) when counting the number of visitors and conversions, so you can see how your conversion rate improves month over month. Google Analytics calculates the conversion rate automatically, and you can easily define the date range and compare periods of time.
With accurate measurement in place, you’ll be ready to run tests by updating certain aspects of your website, to see how they affect your conversion rate. Remember: each conversion rate percentage point increase can represent a significant boost to your sales.
Measuring your website's success is a big topic with lots of opportunities for restaurants, so we wrote a whole article about Google Analytics for restaurant websites!
While hungry website visitors will often scan the website copy and make decisions based on images (worth thousands of words each!), your copy will still make a big difference in conversions.
This doesn’t mean adding lots of text to the page just for the heck of it. It means understanding where your visitors are coming from, and where they want to go, so you can efficiently lead them with words to the promised land of eating your amazing food.
Here are some places on your website where you can include conversion-optimized copywriting:
Your job is to sell the sizzle AND the steak.
First, you can describe your items with language that makes it sound delicious. For example, use adjectives that make the reader salivate, like “melt-in-your-mouth”, “flavorful”, and “aromatic”.
Then, you can describe the benefits of your food, like “Will leave you satiated” or “A meal your kids will love”.
Besides letting the reader know facts about how long you’ve been in business, or the kinds of ingredients you use, you also have an opportunity to appeal to the reader’s emotions. For any business' website copy, the more you can connect with your visitor, the more willing they'll be to do business with you.
Tell your brand story by letting the reader into your world, so they can feel a connection with your brand and the people behind it. Your food may speak for itself, but you need to convince someone to eat it first. Showing your human side is one way to do that.
Humans are programmed to act on certain desires. One of them is FOMO, or the fear of missing out. If you have a limited time offer, the scarcity of that special can urge a website visitor to take action NOW. Don’t just let them know time is running out - let them know what they’re missing!
For restaurant websites, it’s all about the visuals. You can be as descriptive as you want with your words, but an image or video will go a lot further to connect with hungry website visitors.
Since people are used to quickly scrolling through digital content all day long, your restaurant's images need to rise above the noise with compelling, quality visuals to attract a potential customer's attention.
Here are some ideas for optimizing images in your website's design for conversions.
Restaurants have a big responsibility to put their best foot forward when presenting their dishes to people browsing online. The more professional your food images are (i.e. well-lit, nice composition, editing touch-ups), the more likely a visitor will want to order it from you.
With website images, there are also a few technical things to keep in mind. Images need to be:
That depends on how well you can leverage your smartphone camera and personal skills to take quality pics. But it doesn’t hurt to get someone who is proficient at photography to take photos for your site.
Once you get great shots for your website, don’t forget you can use these images elsewhere online: your Google My Business listing, social media accounts, email updates, etc.
Learn more about optimizing your images for websites.
If you can convey an inviting atmosphere to your dining area, you’ll encourage more website visitors to book a table.
Seeing your chefs at work, or the smiling faces of your friendly floor staff, can go a long way when someone is deciding whether they’d want to visit a restaurant.
Similarly, any video assets you create for your website can also be used as marketing materials. Especially for social media, where posts with video get attention when mixed in with all the other noise.
Video can be used effectively for the same reasons you’d use images, but with some added benefits. For menu items, the motion of steam or dripping sauce can make an item look even more delectable. For your restaurant’s interior, video can really immerse the viewer in the dining experience. An interview with your chef can tell his or her story and what he or she brings to the cuisine.
Another way to leverage video is by filming customer testimonials. One of the best ways to let potential customers know how your restaurant is awesome is through a genuine positive video testimonial from a regular customer.
Have you ever visited a website that you left almost instantly, because you got frustrated trying to figure out how the heck to find what you were looking for? This is especially frustrating on mobile devices, when websites are not optimized for mobile viewing.
The navigation of your website (i.e. the main menu of links to your web pages) needs to be easily accessible with clear descriptions of where you’re taking the visitor.
In a nutshell, your whole website, starting with navigation, needs to be user-friendly and mobile-friendly, or your website visitors will abandon your site in seconds.
Some important navigation tips for restaurant websites:
Probably the most important tip of all for conversion optimization! If a website visitor can’t easily find how to order or contact you, they won’t waste time looking.
Your visitors will want to bounce back and forth between categories and menu items as they browse your menu. You can make this easier by including breadcrumb navigation, back buttons, or suggestions of other related items.
Always remember to optimize for mobile devices!
You may have a lot of items on your menu, along with lots of details about delivery, catering, your dining room, etc. Don’t add every option to a single menu. Instead, try to create nav menu categories that allow users to naturally discover what you offer.
Check out the second part of our Designing Restaurant Websites that Convert to learn more ways that you can convince strangers to place orders! We cover more important design features like calls-to-action, social proof, and security that can boost your conversions.
eHungry’s online ordering software is built for conversions using many of the techniques mentioned above. For example:
Plus, since you can create unlimited, customizable pages, you can build your whole website with eHungry's platform. With no monthly hosting fee!
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