Leveraging your website to grow your restaurant brand

March 11, 2014

By Brian Casel,

Founder of Restaurant Engine

In today's day and age, the World Wide Web seems to be the be-all and end-all when it comes to finding out information — including restaurants.

Given this fact, a website is one of the most valuable marketing tools for a business. If you own a restaurant, this means that having a website is an absolute must in order to promote your business. But, you aren't an expert when it comes to marketing or website design — you know food, drink and hospitality. So how do you use your website to grow your business?

Here are five simple strategies that can turn your website into a marketing powerhouse that will help your restaurant.

1. Increase your visibility

Increase your customer base by increasing your visibility. One of the easiest ways that you can use your website to grow your business is to make it as visible as possible.

Take advantage of mapping services, such as Google Places. Mapping services allow people who are searching for a local business to be able to do so with the click of a button. All they have to do is type in their location and the type of business they are looking for (a restaurant), and your website will pop up in their web results. Increasing your visibility in this way is simple and will have a huge impact on the success of your business.

2. Integrate social media

Your social media programs like Facebook and Twitter should be extensions of your restaurant website.

Use social media to promote your website content. Different ways to do this include:

  • Promoting new menu items
  • Promoting featured menu items
  • Promoting guest posts
  • Sharing customer testimonials
  • Sharing new services like pick-up or catering

Add social media icons to your website to integrate social so website visitors know where to follow you on social media. Add social icons to these areas:

  • Header/Footer
  • End Of Blog Posts
  • Confirmation Pages (for online ordering)

3. Grow your email subscriber list

Social media can be a great way to market your restaurant, but don't overlook email marketing. Email is a marketing channel that gives you more control. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can change the design of the news feeds and they can even change the rules for marketing to your followers.

With email, however, you control everything from the content to the frequency and you can even segment your lists if you want to send different messages to different subscribers.

A good example is MailChimp, which allows operators to use templates to add signup forms to a restaurant website.

Good places for email signups include:

  • Header: Adding a small signup form to your header makes it easy for repeat visitors to find your email signup form especially if you tell people to visit your website to signup for your email program while they're eating in your restaurant.
  • Sidebar: The sidebar is another common area for an email signup. It works on nearly all pages and blog pages.
  • Below Blog Posts: After reader posts your readers may want to subscribe to future content. A signup form at the bottom of every post makes this possible.

4. Display your menu

Make sure to include your menu on your website. Include the food and drinks that you serve, and you may also want to include prices. In these economic times, people like to know how much they are going to be spending.

Online ordering is becoming more common in the restaurant business. Customers expect to be able to place quick orders online. This saves them time from ordering at the restaurant or even ordering over the phone. If you offer pick-up and delivery orders, online ordering is now considered a requirement.

5. Include a blog

A blog is a great way to increase your business. A blog allows you to really connect with your audience by adding regularly updated content related to your restaurant, and it also helps to increase your search engine rankings, thus making your site more visible.

What should you include in your blog? Any new menu items, new pricing, special events that you will be hosting and anything at all that you feel the general public would be interested in learning about your restaurant.

Brian Casel is the founder of Restaurant Engine, a website design solution for restaurants. Get a free Restaurant Website Checklist on the Restaurant Engine Blog. Email Casel at brian@restaurantengine.com.

Photo provided by Wikipedia.

Topics: Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Online / Mobile / Social

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