Why Your Restaurant Needs An Online Presence
Indeed, just because everybody does something, it’s not really a reason to try it too. But in this particular case, there is a very good reason why “everybody does it” and in order to decide whether or not to act upon it, you should at least know more about it.
Nowadays we are more connected than ever. Whatever question you might have, the answer will many times be: “google it!”. I’ve just googled “where should I eat tonight”. 70 milion results. 70 million pages committed to helping me figure out this. Most of these results serve information about various businesses through a website that people can find and others can link to. No matter how big or small, no matter the industry, every business just needs to have a basic web presence. So even in the food industry, if you haven’t yet created a webpage about your place and some profiles on the social networks, somebody else already did and benefitted from it.
The real challenge is not for restaurant owners to understand why they need an online presence, but rather to acknowledge the opportunities that “doing online right” would represent to their businesses.
Let’s look at the famous “One internet minute” infograph (source: www.domo.com).
Yes, you only need a micro-fraction of the 2.4 billion to be instantly reachable and learn more about the things you can offer but in order to get there, you have to be part of the conversation with “the holy trinity”: website, social networking, online ordering.
Website - You need a website that is clean, appealing and easy to find. Why? Because a clean website reflects your professionalism in the kitchen, the appealing images create appetite and some basics SEO rules guarantee that people can find/ discover you online. Do not overcrowd your website with a lot of things. Mainly people come to learn a few words about you, check the menu, check pictures, get contact details, and see the info about special offers or events. That’s the focus. That’s what you SEO!
Social networks - An incredible amount of time is spent on social networks. And you should see this as an opportunity, not as a burden. Isn’t it incredibly convenient that people love to take pictures of everything they eat and share them with friends? Isn’t it great that they rely so much on reviews and recommendations when your restaurant is so appreciated? And isn’t it great that they feel this need to be part of communities and groups of people having the same interests? Great, because I’m sure your restaurant has a beautiful story to tell and interesting things to share with its followers.
Online ordering - Yes, people spend more and more money online. Technology has brought e-commerce in our everyday life and habits, and the younger generations have no barriers in adopting new ways of shopping. The food industry makes no exception. About 69% of consumers order food online using a mobile device (Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Viggle), while apps allow users to place orders without even leaving Facebook. It’s actually more expensive these days to miss online opportunities than to use the relevant technologies and follow up on them.
In other words...
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” - John Wanamaker
The great opportunities come from the new means of reaching your customers online, which are much cheaper than in traditional marketing.
Let's take a look at this survey done by Rochester Institute of Technology. A large majority of consumers (80%) indicated that a restaurant coupon in one coupon booklet would encourage them to consider going to that restaurant. 67% said an email from a restaurant or a marketing piece sent via email would produce the same effect.
TV is another classical channel that scores high. But how many of you have the budget for a TV spot? And is it even worth considering TV or local paper when Facebook and Google Ads are so popular for an incomparably lower budget?
We are not suggesting to just cut off traditional marketing from your budget. Flyers distribution, for example, is still cheap and effective and we do encourage it. However, a redistribution of your efforts at least equally between online and offline would probably be a good start-up mix. And it all starts with a proper online presence.