If done correctly, a website can be your most powerful marketing tool . It is the hub of any social marketing campaign. All roads from Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and the other countless social networking sites, should lead to your website. From there, customers should be able to do everything from book reservations to buying gift certificates.
First, you need to know the basics of a business website. Every website, regardless of business type, should contain the following:
• Contact information - Such as phone, email, manager or owners name, directions.
• Photo Gallery – Add some pictures of your dining room, pub, customers (don’t forget to ask permission before posting their pictures online) and outside dining area. Time permitting, update your photos periodically, to avoid looking stagnant.
• About Us – This is a good place to offer a brief history of your restaurant, such as what inspired you to open a restaurant, any pertinent history to the location. You can also have a Meet the Staff section, with a little background on key staff members.
In addition to the above, you should include a page dedicated to your menu. This, more than anything, is what new customers are looking for when they visit your restaurant website. Make sure the web pages that feature your menus are clean and easy to read. Avoid PDFs or scanned copies of your paper menu, which look like a poorly done photocopy.
Marketing and Promotional Ideas
Once you have the basics for your restaurant website, you can expand to include your social networking sites, which is really the crux of your online advertising campaign. You should have links to the following:
• Upcoming Events -Post all the pertinent details of what’s coming up at your restaurant. The where, when, how (reservations, tickets, etc…). Be sure to keep this section updated regularly.
• Videos – Youtube has made is easy to post videos online and link to them through your website and Facebook and twitter pages. Video ideas can be anything from cooking tutorials with your chef, to how to mix the world’s best martini with your head bartender.
• In the News - If your restaurant has been in the news, share it! If you helped with a community fundraiser, brag about it! Add links to any newspaper articles and newscasts that feature your restaurant. Also link to any and all awards and accolades your restaurant has earned.
• Online Reservations - Software like OpenTable makes it easy for customers to make reservations right through a website. Encourage them to commit to a dinner with you by making it as easy as a click of the mouse.
• Link to Social Networks - Make it easy for customers to like your pages and follow your tweets. Whichever social media sites you use, be sure to include links to them in your website. • Purchase Gift Certificates and Other Merchandise - Encourage out-of-towners to buy gift certificates for their friends and family in the area. You credit card merchant can help you set up an online payment account on your website. Or you could opt for a program like Paypal. Along with gift certificates, if you have merchandise like beer glasses, t-shirts, ball caps, why not sell them online too?