When it comes to establishing a strong online presence within the food service industry, some of the latest adopters to web technology are the owners of coffee shops and cafes. Dependent upon local area foot-traffic and word of mouth, these shops have long been self-sustained in a traditional manner without flexing much online marketing muscle. Over recent years, many have slowly adopted social media as their primary means of web-based promotions, yet have not paid as much attention to developing a powerful presence with their own website domain. As we reside here in 2015 (and beyond) owners are noticing that their existing marketing efforts are no longer as effective as they once were. Both the competitive and marketing communications fields have changed dramatically. Finally, owners and managers are on the hunt for the best alternative to create and maintain a strong online existence to attract new customers to their cafe. Are you in this position, or are you still on the fence about building/re-building a website for your local coffee shop/s? Read further to find out why you need a new website, and what you need to know before choosing among alternatives.
5 Reasons Why Coffee Shops Need to Adopt (or Convert to) an Optimized Website Template to Attract New Customers
1. Ferocious Competition for the Same (Online) Customer Base
In today’s “coffee shop on every corner” climate, your competition is everywhere. That’s no secret and likely has been addressed in your business’ marketing strategy for quite some time. However your competition now has access to the strongest marketing tools to date – all of it on the web. Savvy competitors have swapped their neon-chalked sandwich boards for well-optimized websites to lure customers in from the local area (see more below) into their establishment. It is essential that you too maintain a strong online presence via your own online domain. In regards to those competing cafes that are not doing so, you will gain an immediate leg-up on them.
2. The Rise (and Dominance) of Local Mobile Search
Local consumers are searching for cafes, like yours, from their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). To keep the above-mentioned competition from taking these customers you will want to earn a higher position on the map delivered in Google search results. At the same time, you want to claim a non-map position on page one, for keyword searches that include keywords such as “coffee shop”, “café”, and “(your city and/or neighborhood)”. The first thing you need to do is set up an optimized Google My Business profile and verify your shop’s new website there. This can help get you on that valuable Google map. After that, you will need to integrate a combination of on-page and off-page SEO to improve your search engine position. But you’re not ready to reach these mobile customers yet!
As of April 21/2015 Google flipped the switch that essentially made maintaining a mobile-optimized website mandatory. From now on, local websites that are outfitted for responsive design have the best shot at ranking on Google local mobile search. This is an extremely important issue to address before choosing your new website design.
3. Social Networking Needs an Anchor
There is a thought amongst many locally owned cafes, those that have functioned well-enough with traditional marketing and word-of-mouth, that a strong social media presence is enough to adapt to today’s consumer communication demands. Social media can certainly drive public interest and customer loyalty but without a strong website to anchor these efforts social networking success either plateaus or spins out of control. Delivering interesting and engaging content on a frequent basis is essential to growing your customer base on social media. While you can post photos and videos on your cafe’s networks all day, the core content that customers really want to see comes from your website. This includes links to your cafe’s menu, specials, events, promotions, and insightful articles from you, the owner. This content needs a place to call home. That home, is your website, a website where you can easily update the content on your own without the need of a developer to do it for you. When this content is posted on your site it gives you that interesting and engaging information to use on your social networks. It becomes the driving force of your social media efforts. Without it, your following will eventually become less-impressed by your daily updates, view your posts less often, and you’ll slowly slip out of their social network news feeds.
4. Reduce Dependency Upon Local Review Directories
Reducing dependency upon what other online resources have to say about your café is extremely important, even if you are the recipient of rave reviews. Directories such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Urban Spoon can certainly add value to your online marketing plan but in the end they alone don’t allow the control that you need over your online identity. When people have caught wind of your establishment (via word-of-mouth, social media, etc.) and want to learn more, they type your coffee shop’s name into Google search. It’s safe to say that YOU want to dictate the first thing that these prospective customers see. Without an optimized website, the aforementioned directories will be the first to deliver the message to the public about your business. To keep this from happening, a website designed not just for user-experience, but one that has been designed for optimal search engine performance, is needed. With this in place, you are also afforded the opportunity to put your best foot forward with respect to these review directories, which allow you to add a link to your website for visitors to view and click-through to.
5. The Only Cost-Effective Marketing Alternative That Allows You to Track Your Success
Unless you manage a chain of coffee shops and have a large budget to allocate towards marketing initiatives that may or may not prove any sort of tangible ROI you will be conscious of every dollar that you spend. Unless you have distributed coupons within mail-out flyers (recycle bin fodder) all other offline marketing initiatives are basically un-trackable. A web design with an integrated Google Analytics platform set-up to deliver a monthly traffic report will provide you with that visitor (prospective customer) information. And if you select the right website template subscription for your coffee shop, this detailed customer tracking information is delivered right to your inbox, complete with suggestions of how to adapt to the behavior of those currently interacting with your cafe’s website.