Linda “The Marketing Maven” Duke lists 9 tips for building a better website.
Is it time for a website redesign? Here’s how to reenergize your Web presence and attract new customers.
If your pizzeria is struggling to attract new customers, you may need to take a second look at your website. It can be one of your most effective—and cost-
efficient—marketing tools, but if your site lacks some key features, it probably isn’t working for you. Here are some tips for improving your website and boosting your online presence:
Keep it simple, fresh and unique. As the first thing potential customers see when they visit your website, a strong home page is essential to your success. It should answer the critical questions new visitors will ask, including who you are, what you offer, where you’re located and how to contact you. Carefully consider the impression you want to make and the message you want to communicate to customers. Don’t overload your home page, which can be distracting and confusing for visitors. Keep it to no more than 120 words of text.
Make it mobile-friendly. More people today browse the Web via laptops, tablets and mobile phones, so your website must be customized for these devices. Avoid designing pages for a large monitor or using complex features such as Flash animation or navigation. (Flash isn’t supported on Apple devices.) Keep it simple and clean so your site will work on any device a visitor might use.
Showcase specialty menu items. Make sure your home page clearly spotlights your unique menu items. If possible, hire a professional photographer to shoot images of your food. Menu item photos should be clean, sharp and well-lit, and descriptions should be vivid and enticing. Don’t feature photos of pizzas that you don’t actually have on your menu—every picture should represent your pizza and ingredients as described in your menu. If your pizza photos look terrible, prospective customers will think twice about eating at your restaurant.
Consider site load times. Today’s customers often get impatient when browsing websites, and slow load times can drive them away. You should audit your site’s performance regularly by monitoring load times, site speed, file sizes, formatting, and continuity with the text and images.
Organize your site to provide a great user experience. When prospective customers visit your site, they’re typically looking for specific information. They will seldom read entire pages, and most will skim pages quickly. A well-structured site that presents information in an orderly, intuitive and organized way will be more successful than one that appears chaotic or thrown together in a hurry.
Content is critical. Poorly written content, typos and bad spelling can quickly cause a visitor to leave your site. Instead, incorporate well-written headlines, creating a powerful message that entices visitors to read on. Keep content relevant, fresh and current—with updated menu information, business hours, price changes and photos—to keep users engaged and active.
Learn about SEO and SEM. SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) are highly specialized fields and will take time to learn. But SEO and SEM campaigns can provide great leverage to small independent pizzerias and should not be ignored. If necessary, hire a qualified SEO/SEM professional to help you. This could have a huge impact on your pizzeria’s success.
Crowdsource your design and written content. Crowdsourcing is the process of outsourcing tasks through an open call to a large group of workers, such as Web designers and graphic artists. Using an online creative crowdsourcing marketplace (fiverr.com is one example), restaurant owners can create a post about their website needs and budget, and creative providers worldwide submit their ideas. You choose the one you like best and save a lot of money. It’s quick, inexpensive, easy and offers a wide choice of design concepts.
Brand yourself. Every pizzeria website should contain a key brand message or “elevator pitch.” Explain your brand and what you offer in two simple sentences. Finally, make sure to include the following tabs or pages:
- Menu—Make all menus available and easy to read, with great photos and nutrition information if possible.
- Ordering—If you offer online ordering, link directly from your homepage to the ordering page. Otherwise, use this page to explain the various ways guests can place orders, including pickup and delivery.
- Contact Info—Include your location, map, directions, hours of operation, phone number, and social media links, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Specials—Feature your store’s menu promotions, signature menu items, discount offers or announcements here.