Hospitality is an industry that has greatly benefited from being online. But since not all online strategies have been created equal, some restaurants are getting more customers online than the others. One possible explanation: the traffic they manage to get. The second one: conversion optimization or better user experience.

Acquiring traffic for a restaurant mostly employs classical tactics: SEO and geolocalized SEO, paid advertising, banners and listings on specialized websites, online PR. But after all these efforts how do you get to keep the most of your traffic on-site and how do you make your casual visitors turn into first time customers and even into loyal customers? This is the point where conversion optimization can help you: getting the maximum from your traffic.

Conversion optimization employs a unique set of tactics for each website, according to a business’s profile, the traffic it gets and the desired outcomes. However, there are a few conversion paths to explore that can bring great results, or at least they can give you new insights about how to convert more. Here’s a few ideas for restaurant businesses:

1.    Get the right traffic from the beginning. Conversion rate optimization normally intervenes at on-site level, trying the leverage as much as possible the present traffic. However, targeting from the beginning the right users, or those who are most likely to be interested in the restaurant’s offers can help you reduce advertising costs.

So where do restaurants meet their best clients? Here are some statistic that can give you an idea about how to promote your restaurant’s website in order to get the best traffic.

According to a study conducted by the IP Local Ad Network, restaurants are the most searched local businesses, with 10% of all searches. Also, searches for restaurants increased with 13% in 2012.  Of course, most restaurants are businesses that operate locally.

Knowing all this, it is only logical to reinforce geo localized rankings strategies for search engines and local advertising.

Another study gives an important clue for how to prepare the website for the right traffic. Data gathered in a study by Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) and SinglePlatform shows that restaurants are the top search of smartphone users. Even more, they have proved to be the most queried, clicked and called mobile local search category. 81% of the users included in the study had searched for a restaurant using a mobile app and 91% using a web browser. It might seem just a detail, but this is an important distinction, as mobile apps and web browsers have different requirements and different outcomes in terms of traffic and SEO.

Now, if you want to be a player in this league, create a responsive website or a mobile version for your website. Just make sure all important data is easily browsable. For example, 70% of smartphone users think it is important to be able to read the menu of a restaurant on a mobile device.

2.    Diversify your online offers.  Your website is a great channel to experiment with new offers and see how people react to them. Location, type of food and quality of food and price may be the main reasons people come to your restaurant, but sometimes a little incentive can increase the numbers by persuading visitors who are still undecided.  This way, you will also have different conversion goals to follow online and you can see which type of offer performs better.

Milestoneresturants.com has a quite diverse type of special offers and they are also emphasizing them nicely on the website:

conversion optimization for restaurants

Also, it seems restaurant customers love reward programs. A study has showed that 66% of US consumers prefer restaurants that offer loyalty/rewards program. Again, your website can be the best place to start such a program in order to get more customers.

3.    Build trust. This is a key point for restaurants. From established ratings to customers ‘reviews, it’s important to show that the restaurant is appreciated and recognized for its food, quality of service, ambiance.

An example from Greenesrestaurant.com:  

greenes cork

And one from Attica.com.au:

attica.com

4.    Determine which page attracts the most interest. Regardless of how you redirect traffic, pages that are interesting to visitors, will stand out in your traffic analysis. Those who get the most visits naturally can be turned into strategic pages and used for conversion rate optimization. Analyze the design, the copy, and the calls to action (if there are any, if not, this must be the place to insert one). Then use A/B testing or multivariate testing to discover how you can improve the performance of these pages.

5.    Focus your website on images. Food photography is a growing trend. Food image are not only one of the most shared items on the internet, they can also be a persuasive element when placed on a restaurant website. Claims like “the best food in the city” are better proved with photos. Moreover, high quality photos will express everything that’s important: the quality of the food, the flavors, and the restaurant’s ambiance.

Hawksworthrestaurant.com has a great webdesign based on images.

Hawksworthrestaurant

So, before starting to worry about traffic and beginning to acquire it, also try to find tactics that will transform visitors into clients. Conversion rate optimization works great for restaurants who want to better take advantage of their online presence.