Seven Easy Tweaks You Can Make Today.
Destination Irvine, the Convention and Visitors Bureau website of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, lists no fewer than 389 Irvine restaurants, cafes, eateries, supper clubs and dining rooms all over Irvine. Probably every one of them gets a handful of visitors every month from their listing on the site. The number of qualified sales they’re getting from that traffic is probably right down there next to zero, in the .0001 monthly sales range.
Standing out is important, but standing out in a list of 389 is next to impossible. These are just seven easy things you can do today to ramp up your sales and get your own website to finally pay for itself.
1) Make Your Contact Info, Location and Hours Obvious.
Make it really obvious. Put it on every page, and in the header and footer if possible. That’s all that half of your Internet visitors want, so give it to them. Let them make the call and you’re half way there.
2) Spell Out Your Menu.
This is the second most important thing on your menu. No matter how big it is, or how often it changes, your menu needs to be in HTML coded pages and not in a downloadable PDF. A PDF is just a devastating mistake that costs you customers, keywords and money. You’re webmaster needs to be as creative as your kitchen staff, but get the information up there in as many pages as are necessary. Don’t hold back.
3) Collect Email Addresses.
This one is simple. If you tweak your website until you are blue in the face, you might get 5-6% sales from visitors. Sending out regular well-crafted emails, that promote your brand and what you offer, should get you better returns. Better than 10% is possible and the bigger your list, the better the returns. Anyone of the major email-marketing service providers can get you started, and most of them will let you start out for free.
4) No More Seduction! Branding!
Remember, guests (or potential guests) don’t visit your site to get provoked into hunger. A nice “idea” of the cuisine is ok, but it’s not your job to seduce them (like old-school television was always trying to do). Rather, give some thought to the kind of “Person” they would like, or expect, in this situation, and be that person. That’s what good branding, done well, is all about. If the experience of your restaurant is lavish, then pour some more on. But if you’re a no-nonsense, good deal for 30 or 40 bucks, then match your website to your no-nonsense customers. Either way, set up a communicative, honest space for sharing what you’re about, and share away. The higher your prices, the more information people expect to justify the cost. Chef Bios really only start to be important at the upper-ranges of the market.
5) No Slideshows and No Flash!
It’s taken years for marketers to figure this out, but slideshows don’t work. Flash, even less so. Visitors realize what a slideshow is in about 1.5 seconds and they look away almost immediately. I bet you do it, too. So, why should your visitors be any different? Just eliminate all the sliders and the bells and whistles and go with solid, attractive design, that emphasizes your brand first and your location/contact info second. Then your menu. Background music? You really need to step back from that one and probably have your head examined.
6) Mobile and Responsive Design
Most visitors are not going to come from the Chamber of Commerce website. People look for restaurant websites when they are 1) hungry 2) planning a dinner, lunch, meeting, date or something similar. Either of those can be taken care of from a smart phone, and are increasingly For the same reason as we discussed above, that visitors often have a distinct purpose for visiting, you must ensure you have a mobile website. Visitors to your restaurant website will often be on the move, making a decision on the spur of the moment. Visiting a website on a mobile device only to be presented with a broken website or one that is too large to load fast via mobile will drive traffic away. All Restaurant Engine customers get a mobile version of their website included to ensure visitors can find what they’re looking for regardless of the device they use to browse.
7) Page Load Times.
This one isn’t necessarily a “tweak” and improving your page load times can get downright complicated. Most of today’s “responsive design” websites are much faster and so you really can kill those two birds with one stone. Page load times are just like waiting for the waiter, and you probably know that some people get impatient almost immediately. Make sure your images are not too big and talk with your webmaster about the other steps you need to take to speed things up for mobile or traditional internet visitors.
Finally, let’s look again at number 4. Branding is one of the toughest things for people new to online marketing to figure out. It’s easy to say “the personification” of everything that your business represents. But obviously in writing an article like the above, we have to consider not just all the different 389 restaurants in Irvine, but all the others who aren’t on that list. All of them – probably more than 500 Irvine restaurants – are struggling to distinguish themselves and to stand out.
Most of them are going to imitate what other restaurants are doing. That’s exactly the opposite of what they should do. If you want to really tweak for sales, start doing what the people you respect do. Offer honesty, integrity, and support to your neighbors and friends. Do it on Social Media, too. Give away advice for free. Put up your other local Irvine businesses – or non-profits – for free and let people know why you are doing it. Share some of their information too.
Do all of that, and you’ll see your sales take off.