The average website visitor, your potential diner, spends roughly six seconds from the time they visit your site until they decide whether or not to continue browsing.
Because you have an extremely limited time to grab a visitor’s attention, the site needs to reduce all barriers between the diner and the information they seek. A barrier is any web design or functional element that is confusing, distracts from the action you wish them to take or causes frustration.
Ultimately if they bounce off the page you lose the reservation.
In addition to all of the expected design and functionality we outlined in the book, What Diners Want From Restaurant Websites, I’ve included three tips on how to design your restaurant website to capture and convert diners once they arrive on your site.
Determine Your Call To Action
Decide what you what action you want the diner to take when they get to your site. A call to action is an umbrella term that covers graphics, text or design elements that encourage your website user to that that action. It should help lead the potential diner further down the sales funnel. All of the great work that is done in the kitchen, by the PR team and marketing will go to waste without an effective call to action.
The site should be designed to lead potential diners to the action whether its a one-click reservation, call for more information, a newsletter sign up or an event calendar download.
The obvious answer that most restaurants come back with is ‘we want website visitors to make a reservation’. We agree, but not everyone who lands on your site is the person who will end up with the reservation in their name. And they might not ever make dine in your restaurant because they are researching options for someone else. So how do you know? And what can you do about?
Designing An Effective Call To Action
Diners are extremely busy, let them know what you want them to do by spelling it out for them. For example, if you want them to make a reservation, say “Click Here To Make A Reservation”. If you want them to sign up for your newsletter use the same direct approach.
Be direct and commanding when employing calls to action. If you are unsure of your message, your website visitors will be unsure too.
Call To Action Placement
An effective call to action needs to be in an obvious place, preferably above the fold. This will allow those who land on your site to see it immediately and give your site the best opportunity to convert website visitors into diners.
The top third of your site is extremely valuable real estate, make it work for you by putting your call to action there.
In addition to putting it in an obvious spot, you want to also make sure that it’s visually obvious but you don’t want it to overwhelm the page.
Capturing More Diners
Not everyone who lands on your page is ready to make a dining decision. Everyone is in a different phase of the purchasing cycle. They may be looking for a restaurant for an upcoming special occasion, exploring new places to eat for an undetermined date, or they may be ready to make a reservation immediately.
We know we want people to make a reservation and having a call to action for that is fairly straightforward. But what about the rest of the folks? This is where your HUGE opportunity comes in.
Most restaurant websites are simple brochure sites, they do very little to move people through the sales funnel. With a few simple improvements to your website, your restaurant will be able to capture and convert more of the people who land on your site.
Although you don’t want conflicting calls to action that could confuse diners, you do want to offer something of value to someone who isn’t quite ready to make a reservation. We call something that consumers perceive as valuable enough to trade their contact information for, a magnet.
For restaurants, a magnet can be a downloadable recipe book, an event invitation, a free appetizer or drink, a wine and food pairing guide, just about anything that relates to your audience. Whatever it is should have a meaningful benefit for your potential diners.
Every time someone lands on your restaurant website and leaves, you’ve lost a sale that you might never get back.
Not to be dramatic, but every day you delay creating an effective call to action loses you money.
Your website is the cornerstone of your restaurant’s marketing efforts, it can work harder for you.