Written by Tyler Albuquerque
Convincing anyone to buy your product is a tough task. It is slow, tedious and requires the trust of your customers that the product they are presented with meets their expectations every time they visit the restaurant. On-premise dining also creates atmospheres where customers can come and enjoy the great-tasting food they are served. But there is one thing to remember – everyone loves food. Did you know that only 2-3% of restaurants have online ordering capabilities? With this in mind, taking advantage of the booming market right now in online ordering and delivery is a must. Turn those one-time customers into repeat buyers by using online ordering.
Now saying all of this, creating a website for customers to order from sounds easy in theory – put some high-resolution pictures, add a description, and slap on an order button. In reality, the toughest part of this process is attracting customers to the order site. Many businesses have failed because they do not take the right steps to achieve this goal.
Here, we are going to discuss some of the methods you can use to get more customers to order online along with answering some of the common questions owners face when taking their restaurant online.
- Online Advertising + Newsletters
If you want customers to come to your website, the best place to target is those people who are already online looking for food. The internet is an ever-growing place, so there are a few ways to zero in on the audience you are looking to attract.
The first thing to understand is who your target audience is. Which customers come in most often and who do you want to bring in? This is where you need to analyze your current restaurant and keep a tally of which demographic brings in the most revenue. After understanding this, you are ready to begin online advertising.
There are a multitude of avenues to explore online advertising, so using the platform where your demographic is the most prominent is the best place to start. Online advertising is also inexpensive, so pushing your message will not break the bank if you do not want it to.
The most important thing to remember is that consistency is key. According to a Hubspot study, posting once per day is optimal and at a minimum, 3 times per week. You also need to make sure you are not flooding customers with advertisements because it is seen that there is a 50% drop off in engagements when companies post on average more than once per day.
Using multiple social media avenues like Instagram and LinkedIn is your best bet to find customers looking for your business but there is also a huge online advertising stream that will create the most repeat customers.
I am talking about newsletters. Customers who actively decide to sign up for your newsletters either believe in the brand or just want discounts. You can use this to your advantage by enrolling them in biweekly or even monthly newsletters informing them what is going on and attaching a small discount for them as a thank you. The best part of this is that it is very inexpensive.
It is up to you to create quality pieces of content that would be appealing to customers. Look at it in the eyes of a customer – would you be interested in it if you stumbled upon the ad or would you just scroll by.
There are so many things to learn when starting with online ordering so look at what competitors are doing themselves and take inspiration from what is working for them. It is a lengthy process and you most likely will not blow up overnight, so be consistent and learn from past mistakes to attract those online users!
- Appetizing Promotions
Building off on my last point, online advertising is the most popular form of advertising in this day and age. Over 65% of businesses worldwide are online promoting their business. Knowing this, it is important to pair up advertising with promotions. Promotions and offers discounts are a great way to bring in new customers to your business.
Everybody wants to save money so use promotion to get people through the door and make them come back with how good their experience was. Since we are looking at strictly online ordering, offering promotions like “order from our online site and use promo code welcome20 for 20% off your first purchase” are excellent ways to introduce customers to your online order site.
I should note – everyone uses promotions for this exact purpose. So giving away appetizing promotions that are genuinely good deals for the customer is essential to bring the most amount of people to where you want them to go.
A different way to go about promotions online is via giveaways and contests. It is a similar concept that allows customers to get involved and create a buzz around the restaurant so more people get familiar with the brand. Holding frequent giveaways is great because as we know, everybody loves free things. Make it worthwhile for users so they are made aware of the brand and can share it with the people around them.
- Google Business Profile
Google is the place where over 92% of all internet users come to when using the internet. Knowing this, creating a Google Business Profile is important if you are looking to push people to order online.
First, let me explain what a Google Business Profile is. Essentially, it is a completely free tool offered by Google that allows you to modify the way your company shows up on Google searches. You can also get in touch with customers, post updates, list your products, and even accept online orders.
Your company needs to look professional and established when people search for restaurants so creating a Google Business Profile will do this for you. Not only is a Google Business Profile a benefit for the restaurant, but it is also a great feature to have for customers. Now, it is so easy for customers to see food previews, and restaurant times, and get in touch with the company. Use this to your advantage and make sure to link your online ordering site on the profile for customers to order from.
- Fast Delivery
60% of U.S consumers order delivery or take out once a week. When customers decide to order online, more often than not it is because they are saving time doing it. Word of mouth travels fast and if customers find out it takes an hour for their food to be delivered to them, they will choose a different restaurant to order fro4m. That is why it is crucial to establish a fast and consistent delivery method. There are a couple of options to choose from.
You could have in-house delivery where a member of your team delivers food to customers who order from the site. This can be cost-effective as you are not paying a third-party company to do it for you. If you are adamant about ensuring the safe transportation of your product, in-house delivery is the best option.
The second way is to use third-party companies for online delivery. DoorDash is a great tool for restaurants to use if they don’t have their in-house option for delivery. The delivery service is an extension of your brand so offering good service is critical. It is the last thing a customer sees before getting their meal so the impression they get is important. Getting their food intact with no spilling or mess is a make-or-break factor that needs to be highlighted when choosing your delivery method.
The main reason people order food online is for convenience, and timely delivery is a huge part of that. People are living busy lives so making it easy, safe, and effective for customers to order online is how your business will become more appealing to them.
- Excellent Customer Service and Chatbots
Making it a seamless experience for your customers to use your online site is a great way to improve customer satisfaction. If you are ordering food and there is a problem on the site, chances are you are busy and are going to order from a different restaurant.
This is a common scenario that can be mediated if a problem does arise. Introducing a chatbot to your site is a great way to answer the most common questions that come up when ordering from the site. If the question can not be answered via chatbot, customers will then be redirected to the store where a real person can help them out. This helps staff dedicate their time to the most important and complicated queries.
It can be intimidating figuring out how to get people to order online. It may take time to establish, but a study from Restolabs found that orders placed online are 20% larger on average, meaning more revenue. All that time spent will be with it.
Regardless of how much money you spend on the design of your ordering site or the production of your advertisements, there will be no magic formula to get you rolling in online orders. Learn from what you are doing and constantly innovate your methods until you find what is working for you and your restaurant. In the end, the customer will choose where they have the best experience and if you do what is listed above, they will turn from a one-time customer to a customer for life.