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  • Writer's pictureMaya

Increase Your Online Sales With 7 Simple Steps

We’ve written before on ways to optimize your online ordering page, but you may still be wondering: How can you actually drive customers to use it after it’s polished and ready to go?

It’s essential to build strong relationships with your customers, and that process starts the first time they hear about your brand. Reputation is everything. Proper branding is a perfect place for any restaurant to begin building their online presence and customer base.

1. Make Yourself Visible

People need to hear about your restaurant before you can build a relationship with them or teach them anything about your brand. These days, word-of-mouth and print advertising isn’t enough; establishing a presence on the web will draw in those customers you want to attract. You can do so by making profiles in places like Google My Business, where you can claim important keywords too, so that your name is high on the list when customers search things like “Thai food in downtown” or “Orlando seafood restaurant.”

Your profile should include all the relevant data that customers might need to know, like your hours of operation and contact information, so that it’s a one-stop shop when they click on your name on Google. Customers work fast nowadays, and with so many dining options to choose from, it’s necessary to get on important search engines and optimize SEO so that your restaurant stands out.

2. Improve Your Website

All of your business pages should be professional, easy to use and up to date so that any customer, new or old, who’s checking out your website can browse and check out smoothly. Your online ordering page should be optimized for fast, efficient service, and placed in easy view of the homepage so customers don’t have to click through a million tabs to find it. Since so many decisions happen on the go, your online ordering page should be adapted for mobile devices as well so that customers can view your menu and order food no matter where they are.

3. Exclusive Offers

One of the best ways to get people talking about and supporting your restaurant is to incentivize their visit. Offer special deals or discounts on first-time orders or set up loyalty programs to encourage their continued use of your business.

Some restaurants find it beneficial to partner with third party apps who promote their name to a ready-made base of loyal users, but that shouldn’t detract attention to your online ordering page and you can even use it to your advantage: While using those platforms for marketing purposes, add a little note to the receipt or in the bag with each order to let new customers know that going directly through your website next time will save them 10% or something similarly enticing. Next time, they’ll be drawn straight to you.

4. Unique Branding

To make yourself more discoverable, tag your social media posts with popular hashtags that people might browse—stuff like your city, “food,” the type of cuisine you serve and anything else that foodies might search in your area, as long as it’s relevant. If you show up on their Discover pages, there’s a higher chance that they’ll try out your restaurant and you could even get the algorithm to show you to more and more accounts.

While it’s important to align your brand with popular hashtags, it’s just as critical to carve out a unique space for yourself online. Make a particular hashtag just for your business that captures your brand identity and the “feel” of your restaurant. This should flow with the rest of your marketing campaigns, social media posts and website. The more uncommon a hashtag you choose, the more you can make it your own and encourage your customers to join in on the fun.

5. Promote, Promote, Promote

The best way to get people to notice you is through strategic marketing campaigns, both direct and indirect. By gathering customer data through loyalty programs and the like, you can create better targeted marketing which will encourage those guests to return and ideally even invite their friends. You can also pay for online advertisements, but the most effective promotions occur via social media. It’s one of the reasons that it’s so crucial for businesses to have socials—that, and customers are online a lot so these pages are a great way to connect on a personal level and improve your customer relationships.

Create multiple social medias to reach as many demographics as possible; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are great places to start—but don’t stop there. Limiting yourself to only-online promotion needlessly ignores other important modes of advertisement, notably print. Though newspapers are going the way of the dinosaurs, foot traffic is an invaluable commodity. It would be best if you put up signage in your storefront and posters around the area so people will notice your name when they’re walking around and be drawn to try out your fare.

6. Capitalize on UGC

Your customers can be your greatest asset when it comes to getting your name out to a broader audience. This doesn’t just apply when an exceptional customer experience or incredible special offer convinces them to return with their closest friends; they can create advertising material for you, which you can repost to your own accounts to show everyone how much people love dining with you. Genuine love for your business is the best advertisement of all.

UGC means “user-generated content,” and generally means that someone has shared a picture or post about the great experience at your restaurant. You can encourage this kind of interaction by rewarding tagged posts or hosting small contests, where the winner receives a free appetizer, a discount of some kind or any similar incentive.

7. Revitalize Customer Relationships

It doesn’t take much time to cultivate more positive customer relationships, and even small gestures can really raise your business’s opinion. On top of quality service with a smile, you can put a custom funny or sweet recording on your answering machine and on-hold message; even writing a nice note on each receipt or alongside any deliveries will go a long way.

Make your online ordering system even more effective via outreach, advertisement and customer connections. Online ordering is one of the fastest growing food service trends, and with these seven tips, your restaurant’s online ordering sales will thrive.

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