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Why Your Restaurant Just Got Vetoed

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In September of this year, Angelsmith conducted its first restaurant website design survey. It was inspired by the surprising results of our Dining Decision survey in which we found that restaurant websites play a much more influential role for customers than previously believed.

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If restaurant websites are so important, it begs the question: what are customers looking for from the websites? If we can give potential customers an ideal website experience we have a good chance of converting them into actual diners.

This is the first in a series of articles in which I will examine various aspects of the survey and what it means for best practices on restaurant websites. This series will cover:

1. What’s Most Important to Customers
2. Design Dos and Don’ts
3. What do people like in a restaurant website?
4. Expectations
5. Mobile
6. Final conclusions

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Without any further ado, on to the results!

CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS / COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

During our research to prepare the survey, we encountered numerous complaints about restaurant websites. However, when asked specifically in our survey, diners are split: nearly the same amount of people said that restaurant websites are awesome and that they’re awful. 36.8 percent said that restaurant websites were good while 37.1 percent said they were awful, with the remaining 26 percent saying they don’t know.

This would seem to indicate a fractured competitive landscape, with some restaurants providing what users are looking for while many do not. If you’re in the ‘awful’ camp, this means there is a big opportunity to improve the ROI on your website.

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Before spending time looking further into these survey results, it’s worth asking: is the website really important in the dining decision making process?

Our survey data indicates that restaurant websites are extremely important for potential diners. More than 53 percent of respondents “always” or “frequently” go to restaurant websites to find additional information. 42.5 percent say they “sometimes” visit restaurant websites because often its easier to find the information elsewhere. Only 3.3 percent of respondents say they never look at restaurant websites.

More than 90 percent of your customers are relying on your website to help them make a dining decision. You can dramatically increase your conversion rate (from web visit into restaurant visit) by providing the information they are hoping to find.

CONSEQUENCES

When asked what they do if they couldn’t find what they were looking for on the restaurant website, more than 9 out of 10 (over 98.2 percent) say they will seek out another restaurant. This is VITALLY important, because this means not only are you losing customers, you’re actively driving them to your competitors.

Additionally, the data indicates that if information is missing from your site, people will not do further research to get it. Over 24.1 percent say they never call the restaurant for the info. Over 35.4 percent say they never look at Yelp or other sites for the info. And more than 57.1 percent say they never call a friend.

Illustrating the point, more than 92 percent say they will veto the dining choice if they can’t quickly find information. To break it down, if your website isn’t doing its job, you are potentially losing more than 90 people out of every 100 who visit your website.

The bottom line: If your website does not provide the experience and information your potential customers are looking for, you’re straight up losing revenue. Nearly all customers will go to competitors and you can’t rely on your Facebook, Yelp, Twitter or other social media sites to fill in the blanks. Consumers simply won’t hunt the information down.

NEXT STEPS

Your website is crucial to making a potential diner decide to patronize your restaurant. In the next articles in this restaurant website design series, I will review what is most important to include on your site, design dos and don’ts; what diners really like (and what irritates them most) in a restaurant website; expectations and more. I will also share our findings on the importance of mobile accessibility: is it really necessary now or can you wait? I will answer all these questions and more including the single most important feature on your site, in our upcoming articles – stay tuned!

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Photo Credit 1: Carson Copeland
Photo Credit 2: Colleen Simon

What Diner's Want eBook

Is your restaurant’s website helping you get butts in seats or sending diners to your competitors?

In this first of its kind survey, this ebook, What Diners Really Want From Restaurant Websites, analyzes the data to shed light on how potential diners’ view restaurant websites, their biggest frustrations and most importantly what elements can encourage them make a reservation.

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