November 17, 2013

Converting website visitors into diners via incentives

Over the last 5 years or so, Flow20 has developed somewhat of a niche working with restaurant owners and building restaurant websites which keeps their restaurant(s) busy and increase their bottom line. One of the ways we’ve been able to achieve this is by starting out with a very clear objective in mind.  One that all restaurant owners should be aware of when thinking about the strategic goals of their website.

If you’re a restaurant owner, the single most important objective of your website should be this: converting your website traffic into diners whether that’s in-restaurant dining, home deliveries or collections.

The easiest and most effective way you can achieve this is by super-charging your website with incentives and ‘nudge’ conversion tools.  They relatively inexpensive to develop, especially when you analyse the cost-benefit over a long period of time and can do make a significant impact on your business when backed with a sound marketing plan.

Here are some incentives and conversion tools we regularly use when building restaurant websites and you should consider them too.

I have divided the incentives into various strategic goals. Some incentives may overlap into other goal categories. This posts refers to restaurants more than pubs or bars but most of the content mentioned here can be incorporated by pubs and bars as well.

You can also substitute discounts with other incentives such as a free starter, dessert and so on and a %discount with an absolute value.

Attracting diners, families and larger groups for in-house dining

  • Make a booking for more than x people and get
    y% discount on their total bill
    –  
    You Converting website visitors into dinerscan use this to attract larger groups of people. We find this usually works best with in-house dining. In fact,  you should perhaps only offer this for in-house dining to get more people through the door and experience your quality and service first-hand initially
  • Free dessert (can be set) for kids on Sundays/Saturdays – if you’re a family oriented establishment, finding ways to attract kids can reap huge rewards.  One way to do this is to offer a free dessert or another freebie. You’ll usually want to do this when dining in-house – families with kids will tend to spend more when dining at the restaurant. Plus, if the kids have a great time, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll all be back. McDonalds is a great example on the kind of growth your business can experience if you’ve got an effective marketing strategy to entertain kids and get them to return
  • Sporting events – if you’ve got TVs around the restaurant, you can do what pubs do so well. Example, for a football match, offer a free beer or a packet of crisps for groups larger than 5.  Ask them to get a website printout – the more they interact with your website, the better it is.
  • Take a picture of yourself at the restaurant and….  There are 2 things you can do here – Either ask them to upload their pictures to your Facebook page or to a website like Foodspotting, Opentable, Zagat etc. If they post on your Facebook, it increase your “were here” metric which is great plus convert them into a fan if they aren’t already. In return, you can offer x% discount of their next visit .If they’ll take the time and trouble to do this, they’ve obviously had a good experience in which case they’re most likely to return anyway. So, you’re really rewarding them for their time and effort.

Incentives for getting your website visitor to commit to receiving your marketing messages

Even if you cant convert the visitor into a dinner immediately, you can start a (virtual) relationship with them by getting them to become a part of your online audience. 

Bear in mind, whichever strategy (singular or plural) you decide to use here, you must ensure that you’re posting content out there. For example, there’s little point in getting users to signup to your newsletter if you don’t send one, consistently. 

  • Offer a x% discount if users become a fan on your Facebook page or your twitter follower – needless to say, this assumes that you’re already using Social Media as a channel within your marketing mix. If you’re not, I seriously urge you to consider doing so immediately.  Social Media is no longer a channel to be on simply because “everyone’s doing it”. It has already proved it’s potential in helping businesses and brands grow and restaurants and pubs are one of those sectors where Social Media works especially well
  • “Signup for our email newsletter” and get x% off your first collection (or delivery) – most restaurant owners find this pretty convenient as you don’t incur the cost of serving your customer in the restaurant. 

Incentives to get more visitors to use your online ordering system

There’s a reason why relatively new companies like Just Eat and Hungry House have grown the website food online orderingway they have in such a short period of time. Apart from not having to save tens of menus, users find it much easier and convenient to place an order online than on the phone.

I’m assuming that you’ve got an online ordering system within your website which can be used to place an order online, for collection or delivery. If you don’t have one, you should consider it as it creates a new source of revenue without any on-going costs.

[Flow20 builds online ordering systems from £450.00. Unlike TopTable or Open Dining, there’s no monthly charge or commission on each order)

  • x% discount on online orders  –  You may even consider to make this a permanent feature of the website depending on your strategic goals. If you’ve recently refurbished your restaurant or prefer diners to eat in-house then of course this incentive may not be all that appropriate for you.
  • Freebie with every online order over x – Your online ordering system should allow you to enable or disable this feature, assign any item on your online menu to this promotion as well as set the total order value to qualify for this offer. You can tweak it depending on how busy you are and/or how aggressive you want to make this promotion.

Flexible incentives

I call these flexible incentives as they can be modified and/or used depending on your strategic goals. 

  • Print a pdf voucher (or another form of document) from the website which allows them x% discount off their first “transaction” (in-house dining, delivery or collection) when the voucher is shown – whilst the integration of this feature will be pretty easy to do with your website, you’ll need to have a way of making sure vouchers are not used multiple times by the same customer. One way to do this would be to embed the voucher with a bar code. If that’s going to be too much admin work, then you could limit this to just one type of transaction, lets say collections (however, you’ll still need to keep a track of barcodes against the customer)
  • Leave a review on a popular review website such as TripAdvisor or Zagat and get x% discount for next order – As a restaurant owner, you’ll be aware of how important reviews are in growing your client base.  It’s not uncommon to find restaurants with good excellent reviews attracting diners from all over the country – you can imagine the impact this can have on your business when you consider that for most restaurants, the client base comprises of 70-80% of local residents
  • x % discount on certain days –  this is a good one to use if you want to increase sales on days or periods when it’s usually quieter. 

We’ve categories and listed the incentives above based on what we’ve found has worked best with our clients and the type of restaurants we tend to work with.  You can modify them as you want and depending on whether you’re trying to get more diners through the doors, grow your delivery or collections side of the business and so on….