We recently performed a manual analysis of the restaurants in an entire community in the Pacific Northwest. We pounded the pavement, took to local directories, and opened up that fat yellow book households use as a stepping stool to reach items in upper kitchen cabinets. Of the 102 eateries in this local community we found that only two had websites. One hundred of these local businesses did not have a uniquely owned online presence. Sure, some of them had a Facebook page. A few had Twitter. But no visible website. Yet miraculously, in today’s day and age, they remained open for business. Is it possible that not all restaurants need a website?
While the region in question indeed has proportionately more rows of mom & pop establishments compared to that of most major metropolises in Canada and the U.S. it is not uncommon to hear restauranteurs from everywhere pose this question to our restaurant website design company on a regular basis. In response, we tell them the following:
5 Reasons Why Restaurants Need Websites to Grow Their Customer Base in 2015 and Beyond
1. Word of Mouth Has Moved Online
Traditionally, the biggest argument against the need of a website (or updated one) for restaurants was the concept of word of mouth. There’s no doubt that word of mouth has worked its magic in keeping many a restaurant in business, since the beginning of restaurants. While word of mouth as a concept remains stronger than ever before, it is the where of word of mouth that has changed forever. People are no longer communicating face to face about the best places to grab a bite to eat. As soon as they discover a spot that they enjoy they immediately hop online to share their positive experience with their friends on social media. When doing so, they provide a link to where their friends (and followers) can learn more about the establishment. If the establishment has a website, that becomes the target. If not, individuals will share the alternatives. This may be a Facebook page or the profile of the restaurant on a directory such as Yelp. Which foot would you like to put forward to ensure that online word of mouth spreads the best message about your restaurant? A website, controlled by you without restriction, allows you complete control of how visitors view your establishment. Provide the wireless wave of word of mouth with the access that it needs get your restaurant on the tips of everyone’s tongue.
2. Hungry Customers Are Mobile
When hunger pangs strike, the public of today pulls out their mobile devices in search of alternatives to satisfy their cravings. They no longer walk around town to scout out options, they do so virtually on their smartphones based upon proximity to their location. They either perform a general online search for places to eat in their direct area or filter the search using keywords (e.g. pizza, sushi, etc.) and location as identifiers. Of course, only eateries that have a website optimized for this mobile search engine experience will be the ones to show up on the first page and online map of the device customers are using. The only way to make the cut, is to have a mobile website to grab their attention.
3. Opportunity Cost of Lost Deliveries
One thing we can guarantee is that no matter how many tables your establishment seats and no matter the line wrapping around the corner on a daily basis, you are not maximizing your delivery business. As a restaurant, this is the one zone allowing unlimited growth (as long as your kitchen can handle it). The public is not looking to that fat yellow book for delivery menu options, nor do they keep the paper-waste flyers in their mail anymore. They look for delivery options online. The only way to capture these “for delivery” customers is to maintain an easy to navigate website optimized to show up on their search engine results page.
4. Your Competition Is Doing It / Your Competition Isn’t Doing It
There are two opposite scenarios here. First, if your competition has a website and you don’t, then you need to get one ASAP in order to continue competing with them for the same customers. On the flip side, if your competition does not have a website you gain an immediate advantage. It’s becoming pretty clear cut at this point, isn’t it?
5. It’s the Cheapest Way to Market to the Largest Audience with Trackable Information
By focusing on website marketing you are not a slave to how many people pass by your bus stop or billboard ad. You do not depend upon the up and down readership of your local newspaper or viewership of local TV/radio. And in case you haven’t picked up on another key message here yet – Yellow Pages are dead. With all of the above you can’t even prove ROI. A website and ongoing SEO campaign comes at a mere fraction of the cost of all other monthly marketing alternatives, allows you access to an online audience that dwarfs the number of passer-byers, readers, and viewers combined, AND you can track the progress of this customer interest via Google Analytics. Smart website marketing allows you to immediately adjust and test different campaigns in real-time without breaking contracts and incurring large additional expenses. Simply put, there is no marketing alternative to a website that will allow you a better shot at reaching your customers at a better price.
Convinced? We understand that you must arrive at your own conclusions after considering the prospect of a new (or improved) website for your restaurant. We simply wanted to provide you with the information to help get you there. There is a reason that our firm of website developers, designers, and content marketers decided to specialize in the food service niche – there is a big gaping space ready to be filled with previously untapped patrons for the hoards of restaurants on the verge of making the right decision to get online and build a strong online presence. The SEO Chefs are here to help you with this transition. Feel free to contact us when you are ready, anytime.