Today, customers are dining out in an entirely different way. A large portion of foodies aren’t even visiting restaurants anymore and have turned instead to ordering take out through different delivery platforms. One way to get these customers back in the door is to offer your own delivery service, but we understand that’s not always possible.
Many restauranteurs are stretched thin as it is, relying on a barebones staff to do the same amount of work an entire team used to take on every Friday night. Now, it is more important than ever to draw upon the resources you have at your disposal — which may be more valuable than you think.
Today, research shows that roughly 93% of customers view a restaurant’s menu before dining with them. This means that whether you know or not, the majority of your “new” customers are well acquainted with what you have to offer before they step in the door.
That being said, this is also a great way to gauge the success of your online menu. If you feel like a lot of new customers are entering the restaurant and ordering pretty quickly, then it’s safe to say they read through your lineup earlier. If you want to build more new business, it could be very helpful to review your menu to ensure that it’s making a fantastic first impression.
Try to examine the copy (or text you use to name and describe the food) as well as the graphic design of your menu. Both of these factors are elements of branding and an opportunity to set the tone for your customers before they visit your restaurant. You can use your branding to emulate other successful restaurants you want to draw inspiration from or target a certain trend-conscious consumer base.
When customers view your restaurant on a delivery platform, you’ll lose aspects of your menu design, but there are still plenty of things you can control. Including professional food shots and careful culinary photography may be enough to help your restaurant win business from your competitors. Similarly, making sure that all your photos are up to date and of the highest quality possible will lend a tasteful eye to your process.
Wherever you can, try to update the menu “copy” to read as clearly as possible. If the descriptions of your food are too confusing, customers may choose another option that is easier to understand.
Of course, if you’re really feeling creative, you can always try to write the most appetizing descriptions possible — but be wary. Customers won’t trust broad descriptors like “delicious” and are usually more curious about the actual ingredients you’re using, as well as the flavor profiles of your dishes.
Perfecting your copy and photographs on delivery platforms is often even more important than working on your own restaurant’s menu because of the amount of competition. Given the ease of perusing multiple options at a time, most customers will probably have several restaurant tabs open, so make sure you’re doing your best to stand out.
Think About What They’re Searching
Another means of winning new customers is to anticipate their needs. While many newbies may not search your restaurant by name, they may search for “Mexican Food Near Me” or even “burritos near me.” Showing up in these kinds of searches is one part optimizing your website (choosing the keywords and phrases you want your website to show up for) and one part retaining a degree of online popularity.
Keep in mind that if you upload your menu to your website as a PDF, Google won’t be able to “crawl” it. This is the process by which the search engine reads all the text on your page to determine what the page is about. And if it can’t crawl it, your menu won’t trigger any keywords or show up as often in search engine results.
For example, if you upload a PDF of your menu that lists twelve types of burritos, you may be frustrated that your page doesn’t show up for the search “burritos near me.” However, a PDF functions like an image online, so Google’s bots won’t be able to read the text on the page. Consequently, it will be difficult to show up in search results and reach new customers.
Emphasize Your Specials Online
When you start building your social media presence, you can use your platforms to bring attention to new specials. Sharing photos of new dishes, or a delectable shot of a fan favorite, may be enough to create new buzz around your classic recipes. Moreover, when you put that content out there, you give fans the opportunity to share your photos with their friends and advertise for you through “word of mouth.”
Through the use of several social media management programs, you can even see how many times your post was shared or saved. Using this data to create more “sharable” content will help you win over more new users and allow your fans to do your outreach for you.
If you’re still in the process of building your platforms, one quick hack is to look into grocery store advertising. By running a coupon-receipt campaign, you can create supermarket advertisements on the backs of grocery store register tape. That means every single shopper will leave the store with your coupon in their hand.
With thousands of people visiting grocery stores each week, those impressions can quickly add up and lead to a ton of curious locals. This, plus the hyper-local targeting offered by these campaigns, is why so many small businesses choose grocery store advertising over other platforms. Plus, campaigns like coupon-receipt advertising are extremely customizable, so you can choose if you want your coupon to include a link to your online menu, social media platforms, or website.
When customers read about your restaurant at their local grocery store, they’ll feel your business is more connected to the community. Supermarket advertisements grease the wheels for these connections and remain an awesome forum for any small business looking to make a big splash in their town.