Mobile apps, third-party delivery, millennials, oh my! While many factors have contributed to the rise of online ordering, the stats don’t lie: More than one-third (34%) of consumers spend at least $50 when ordering food online, and digital ordering and delivery has grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014, according to stats published last February by Upserve. At the same time, 70% of customers say they’d rather order directly from a restaurant than a third party. But making sure you’re capturing those online orders requires targeted tactics. Here, experts offer their best advice for driving online ordering at your pizzeria.
Spread the Word In-Store
Gino Geruntino—ParTech, New Hartford, NY
To draw people to your online ordering app or website, customers have to know about it first. Digital signage, either on a customer-facing display attached to a POS terminal or shown on a TV behind the counter, is a great way to entice them to take a look. These displays also work for introducing new menu items, specials and any other information you want to convey to your customers!
“An email newsletter should be a big part of your online ordering system. It’s free and creates recurring sales.”
— Ryder Meehan, Upgrow
Go Online to Get Online (Orders)
First, list your store on Google Maps. Most of your orders will come within a three-mile radius of your location, so showing up on Google Maps is essential for generating traffic, yet most pizzerias don’t bother to even claim their location. To get started, register with Google My Business and completely fill out your profile with contact details and photos—then encourage customers to leave reviews. Additionally, build your email list and send weekly emails. An email newsletter should be a big part of your online ordering system—and, best of all, it’s free and creates recurring sales. Add a form on your website inviting customers to join your mailing list and include an offer, such as a discount code. Then send weekly online specials, news, and menu updates to keep them coming back.
Run Long-Term Competitions
Damien Buxton—Midas Creative, Mansfield, England
Competitions are a great way to increase online exposure and sales—people love to get something for nothing! Have a section on your website that allows customers to enter your contest by simply providing their first name and email address. Once they have done this, allow them to easily share the contest on their social media profiles to win a chance for free pizza. For the entire duration, promote the competition throughout your social media, on leaflets and in-store. Not only will you get free exposure through people sharing the competition, you’ll also be collecting email addresses of people who are interested in your pizzeria. Once the competition is over, send a “thank you for entering” email with a discount off their next online order. It’s an easy and cost-effective way to promote your brand with the help of your audience.
“Don’t be afraid to inject humor into your ads for online ordering. The average consumer is tired of ads, so every opportunity to humanize your brand is a win.”
— Mandy Karimi and Jamie Schmelling, The James Agency
Tap Social Media Advertising
Jennifer Goodwin—JHG Companies, Jacksonville, FL
It all comes down to the offer, and restaurants are one of the easiest industries to grow in this way—but 99% of them are doing it wrong. Post a Facebook ad (which costs only $5 per day) with a coupon or contest that leads to a landing page (not a website), which should request an email capture to receive the coupon or enter the contest. Make sure to include the Facebook tracking code on the landing page. This creates an endless flow of traffic to the establishment and grows the email list for the restaurateur to constantly market to and use as a Facebook database for lookalike audiences.
Target Your Online Ads to Different Audiences
Mandy Karimi and Jamie Schmelling—The James Agency, Scottsdale, AZ
We’ve worked with Phoenix-based Spinato’s Pizzeria for more than five years, learning a lot of tricks to driving their online sales. First, when it comes to paid search ads, put a significant amount of budget behind your own brand name’s search term before branching out to general keywords. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to search for your pizzeria, only for a competitor to show up first.
Also explore a combination of brand awareness, traffic-driving and conversion-based campaigns each month. This will target each stage of your sales funnel, and with each passing month, your efforts will snowball into more and more conversions. Consumers are driven by good deals, so be sure to dedicate an entire social media ad campaign to online specials and promos. Refresh your ads with new creative and copy every quarter to avoid becoming stale in the marketplace. Test out different target audience personas, and tailor your ad copy to each specific persona—for example, your ad copy targeting busy parents on a worknight should be different than the ones targeting late-night college students. Finally, don’t be afraid to inject humor into your ads for online ordering. The average consumer is tired of ads, so every opportunity to humanize your brand is a win.
“Guests need to be able to quickly order and customize their food items. A slow-loading menu or one that requires additional clicks can be frustrating and steer guests away from the platform.”
— Katie Borger, Boston’s Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar
Streamline the Experience
Katie Borger, Boston’s Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar—Dallas, TX
As we look to launch our own online ordering platform, there are a few things critical to our brand to ensure a smooth experience online:
Promote it: Obviously, guests need to know that it’s an option. Alerting your existing fans through social media, loyalty program messaging, and in-restaurant promotional materials all spread awareness within your existing database. Online ordering has the potential to target new audiences for a brand, so finding a way through external media and promotions to bring awareness to a seamless way to enjoy our pizza is critical.
User-friendly design and navigation: Guests need to be able to quickly order and customize their food items. A slow-loading menu or one that requires additional clicks can be frustrating and steer guests away from the platform. Allowing for the platform to keep historical orders also improves the ease of ordering online.
Offer some incentive: With the disruption of third-party delivery, there needs to be a reason to use a brand’s own online ordering platform. We leverage MyBoston’s Rewards. Guests can accrue points and redeem rewards with their orders online, whereas they can’t do the same when ordering from a third party.
Ultimately, our goal is to grow to-go/delivery to 9% of total sales this year and build on that momentum each year that follows, while creating a new occasion for guests to enjoy Boston’s. The ideal scenario would be to reach new guests and become more flexible in off-premise use cases—without cannibalizing our in-restaurant sales and experience.
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.