Sponsored by MGH - Modern Marketing for Restaurants
Once upon a time, it was essential just to have a website if you owned a restaurant just so people could find and contact you. But now, it is simply not enough. A website needs to work harder, not just for you, but for your customers. Why? Because customers have much less patience and a LOT more choices. And they want to find what they need fast or they move on to the next. Your website can either help drive your business or turn people off, simply because it’s hard to navigate or maybe because your photos are old and don’t make your food look as appetizing as they could.
Investing in a good website can be expensive, but the long-term benefit could make the upfront cost worth it.
The survey says…
According to a recent survey my agency conducted, 77% of restaurant diners surveyed said they are likely to visit a restaurant’s website before they dine in or order takeout or delivery. Nearly 70% of those diners said a website has discouraged them from visiting a restaurant and slightly less (62%) said a restaurant’s website discouraged them from ordering delivery or takeout. That is a staggering number for restauranteurs to consider when delivery sales of restaurants are projected to grow at more than three times the rate of on-site premises’ revenue through 2023 – according to a March report from L.E.K. Consulting.
While not caring for menu items is still the main reason those surveyed (65%) are discouraged from visiting a restaurant, other factors are also important. About one-third have been discouraged from visiting a restaurant because the website was difficult to navigate (33%), menus were difficult to read (30%), or websites looked old or out of date (30%).
When ordering food for takeout or delivery, those website factors become even more important for diners. 44% have been discouraged to order takeout or delivery from a restaurant because the website was difficult to navigate, 36% because the menu was difficult to read, and 35% because the website looked old or out of date.
A photo is worth a thousand words
And in this case, photos can be the difference between increasing your business and turning customers away. 45% of surveyed diners said they specifically look for photos of food when visiting a restaurant’s website, and 36% said the food photography is what discouraged them from visiting a restaurant.
When taking a look at Gen Z and millenials, photos are even more essential. Nearly 60% of 18 to 24-year-olds (59%) and 55% of 25 to 34-year-olds specifically look for photos of food on a restaurant’s website, and 50% of 18 to 24-year-old diners and 44% of 25 to 34-year-olds said a restaurant’s website has discouraged them from visiting the restaurant because the food photography was not enticing.
Surveyed diners also noted the importance of mobile-friendly websites when ordering food from a restaurant. In fact, more than half (56%) of surveyed diners said that mobile-friendly websites are very important, and 36% said they have been discouraged from ordering food from a restaurant because the website wasn’t mobile friendly.
If you don’t know whether your website is mobile friendly or not, pick up your phone and see. If it doesn’t fit within the confines of your phone and you have to adjust your screen to see your homepage, then you need to make your website responsive across all platforms, as potential customers are likely moving on to the next restaurant.
Food for thought
Your website may be an afterthought, but considering that nearly 80% of diners who frequently visit restaurants are looking at websites before visiting or ordering food, you may want to bump it up on the priority list. Take a few minutes to examine your website and ask yourself: Is my menu easy to find? Are there enough photos, and do they make my food look amazing? If you offer delivery or takeout services, is the order button featured prominently? And pick up your phone and look at your website. It should be just as easy to navigate – no matter what device you’re using. These may seem like simple questions, but even small changes can help start to grow your business.
Andy Malis is the CEO and co-founder of MGH, a full-service marketing and communications agency located in Owings Mills, Md.