Must-Know Website Tips to Grow Your Food Business


Restaurateurs and catering business owners have more opportunities than ever to grow their businesses thanks to the digital age. The Internet provides businesses of all sizes a way to grow, convert sales, and become profitable. Throughout the years, we've seen food industry business owners of many kinds use online strategies to attract, connect with, and sell to clients.


Food businesses can use their websites and social media to grow their companies instead of just collecting followers. First, using a call to action button that leads potential clients from their website directly to social media pages ensures connections and engagement. Next, food businesses can incorporate hashtags to help potential clients find them, communicate, and participate in an active dialogue.


Your food business may do well at its brick and mortar location. That doesn’t mean a steady stream of clients will continue flowing. Then, what will happen? You have a website, but is it working as hard as you are every day? You have a social media presence, but are you keeping it up-to-date?


Today, I’m talking to you about the tips and tricks you need to know about keeping your website up-to-date and why that’s important for growing your food business.


Use Social Media to Convert Followers, Not Collect Them

You may think, “I have a decent following. I don’t need to worry about managing my social media channels. I have other things to do.”


There’s a difference between having “followers” you’ve collected on your social media channels and those that are engaging with your business. Followers may have clicked “like” or “follow” and then forgotten about your business entirely.

  • Why does this happen?

  • You’re not keeping your social media pages up-to-date.

  • No interaction or engagement is happening on your pages.

  • No one has “liked” or “followed” your page in a long time.

  • Why should your food business use social media? I'll explain.

Social media is one of the top techniques for the food industry to reach and engage with their target audience. Each time I see food business owners not using social media, I know they're missing out on powerful opportunities for reaching new clients and growing their business.


Today, 72% of clients are using social media daily. This statistic alone means it's possible to get more customers with social media. How? Your food business can use social media to increase engagement with your target audience.


My suggestion is to begin by selecting the best social media platforms for your food business. Even though you may feel like it's best to be on all the channels at once, that may be a mistake. For example, you may not have the time or resources to be active on every network. If you want to reduce some of that, I suggest taking advantage of my SMP free trial. Then, we can handle the rest for you!


I suggest focusing on the two giants—Facebook and Instagram.


Facebook

First, let's look at the stats. During the second quarter, Facebook boasted 2.41 billion active monthly users. That makes this social media channel the biggest and an excellent place for those owning a business in the food industry to extend their reach. Are you interested in tailoring your advertising based on your client's interests? I suggest using Facebook's powerful advertising platform to achieve that goal.


Instagram

Instagram's user base reaches approximately 1 billion users monthly as of June 2018. That makes this social media platform the second largest contender. Because marketing in the food industry lends itself well to images and video, this platform works well. Your company will depend a lot on visual content to tell its story.


After you’ve developed a decent following of engaged users, then you can move on to establishing a presence on Twitter and Pinterest. Stretching yourself too thin will cause burnout and prevent you from posting as often as you need to keep up engagement. One of the top ways to prevent that from happening is by using a scheduling tool like Later or Buffer.


Once you pick your social media platforms, it's time to grow your audiences. However, this step involves more than collecting numbers. You’ll be converting them as well. That means leveraging your content.


Those who are connecting to your food business most likely have an interest in your offers and updates. Are you sure they know how to follow and engage with your social media profiles? Let’s look at how to accomplish these goals:


Social Media Buttons

Including social media buttons on your website is one of the best ways to ensure your visitors are linking to and following your social media profiles. If you're sending email marketing messages, be sure to include your social media profiles in those as well. You can insert a short call to action that reads, "Follow us on Facebook," or something similar.

When you incorporate these buttons, it ensures the visitor is interested in following your page. That way, it’s not just a random “like” or “follow.” These visits are more likely to engage and convert because they took the time to follow the link.


Use Hashtags

You can get more customers with social media when using hashtags. They're a valuable tool for reaching current and potential clients who may be interested in your events, menu updates, offers, and other updates. I suggest using hashtags to create categories relevant to your posts. That way, when users search for these topics, they'll find your posts.


Hashtags are an excellent way of taking advantage of topics trending in the food industry. For example, if there's an event your catering company will attend, you can include the event hashtags in your social media posts. Then, join in conversations and meet potential clients.


Influencer Relationships

Do you have relationships with influencers in the food industry? If not, I suggest building some. Conduct some research to find out who is popular and make these connections. You'll discover these individuals have a vast social media following.


Their following is actively seeking advice, news, and trends. Once you find influencers, reach out to them and work toward building a relationship. You can learn more about this strategy with my resource, Under the Influence.


Implement Remarketing Advertising

Your business with benefit from remarketing, especially regarding conversion rates. Clients get distracted when visiting websites and, before finalizing their purchase, leave. It happens. Instead of looking at this as a missed opportunity, bring them back to your site and turn them into a conversion.


When clients visit your site and leave, remarketing allows you to reach back out to them. You can deliver targeted content encouraging them to revisit your site to either get more information or make a purchase. You can use Facebook or Instagram as tools for remarketing.




Lead Funnel & Conversion Overview

Building an effective lead funnel that converts will not happen overnight—it will take time. If you want to maximize your sales, now is the time to work on your lead funnel. That means you’re turning your visitors into leads and then converting those leads into clients.


What's Their Ideal Purchasing Process?

Think about how your visitors are moving from their first interaction on your websites to when they become a customer. Remember, not every customer is going to travel down the same path. Unless your site is small, your potential clients could use several paths before reaching a conversion. Examples include:

  • Link in Google results

  • Reaches landing page with a lead magnet

  • Accepts an offer in lead magnet

  • Another example could include:

  • Follows a link on social media channel

  • Reaches home page

  • Selects a service or event

  • Makes a reservation or booking

  • Completes payment

Think about several of these situations. It may be challenging to develop separate lead funnels for each. However, the more you're aware of, the more accurate of an idea you'll have of how your visitors become clients.


Develop Conversion Goals

Once you determine what your lead funnel looks like, it's time to measure how your visitors are moving through your site. Google Analytics is one of the top ways of setting up conversion goals.


Using analytics is an excellent way to measure how your site is performing. When you provide information regarding what you're attempting to accomplish, this tool becomes even more helpful for determining your success.


I suggest setting up goals at each stage of the funnel to get an accurate idea of how your conversion funnel is performing. You'll need to set up at least one goal per stage. Goals for major conversions will also need to be set up, including:

  • Email list sign-ups

  • Form list submissions

  • Purchases

  • Resource downloads

  • and more.

Use Content to Build Interest

The content on your site is essential for driving leads through every step in your conversion funnel. Turning your visitors into leads means helping them understand more about your food business, addressing their needs, and showing them how your food business differs from your competitors.


You can make this happen with high-quality content. Each time you develop this content, make sure you're creating it for every stage. The content you're creating will serve different purposes in your funnel.


Blog posts, articles, and tip sheets should occur at the top of your funnel. These pieces of content provide helpful information to your clients regarding their goals and needs. It's primarily educational material, instead of sales pitches.


Case studies with a little bit of direct promotion are found in the middle of the funnel. These pieces of content show your clients how you set your food business apart from the competition.


Pricing pages and demos are found at the bottom of the funnel. Here is where you're providing content to help your clients act.


Social Media to Website Conversion Process

Being an owner in the food industry today means you have more opportunities to reach potential clients compared to ever before. The main reason is that consumers are using social media for purchasing and booking events now more than in the past. Because consumers are used to social selling, that means food industry business owners can tap into this market.


I suggest using the following tips for leveraging your social media to website conversions:


Optimize Your Landing Page

Is your landing page mobile-friendly and providing a seamless experience? Can users navigate it with minimal interruption? Clients want to navigate from point A to B without hassle.


Test your landing page with Google or Optimizely. These tests will help you determine if your site's copy, link placement, and imagery are optimized to maximize conversions.


Use Video to Increase Engagement with Videos

Do you have videos of an event or food tutorial? If so, you'll receive a higher conversion rate on social media. Many brands use videos to help with promotions and for a good reason. Compared to images and text combined, 1200% more shares are generated by videos on social media.


So, why not take advantage of creating videos as part of your promotional efforts? These ads don't need to be big-budget or massive productions. Your goal is to catch your client's attention. If you can get them to stop scrolling, you're gaining interest.


I suggest incorporating video as part of your organic content. No matter, if it's a mini-commercial or a creative depiction of one of your events, using video, should be an integral part of your social media conversion strategy.


Is Your Call to Action Compelling?

Increasing your social media conversion rate sometimes means tweaking your captions and profiles. If you're posting, "Book an event today," or "Visit our restaurant now," you will not get much traction. A much better tactic is to use calls to action to encourage engagement.


Your best strategy is to experiment with calls to action. That way, you can determine which encouragements work best. Examples include:

  • Asking questions in your posts.

  • Encouraging users to tag their friends.

  • Creating posts that aren't salesy.

Use Consistent Branding

For the sake of your conversions, this is worth mentioning. You shouldn't be second-guessing where your leads and prospects are coming from when they're moving through your funnel. Therefore, your color scheme, imagery, and tone must be consistent as clients reach the point of purchase.


Check the creative elements on your promotions before rolling them out. Are they consistent? Is the messaging clear? Making these assessments could be the difference between a client converting to them leaving your funnel.


Website Design Tips for Higher Conversion

When you create a better website, that makes all the difference regarding conversions. While creating lead magnets that convert, developing social media platforms, and using SEO are essential, building a high-quality website is often overlooked. Often, your conversion rates can suffer if your site has a poor design.


Before deciding if a business is credible or not, 48% of visitors base that determination on the site's design. Therefore, my suggestion is to create an extremely professional-looking website.


If your layout or content is unattractive, 38% of visitors will stop engaging. So, if you want potential or existing clients engaging with your blog posts, make sure they're attractive.

How do these statistics relate to web design and creating higher conversions? Unless you know what visitors are doing when they land on your site, no number of tips will help you get more traffic on your website. Let’s move on to how to handle your website design.


Develop a Foundation

Unless you're working from a solid foundation, your website will collapse. If you want to prevent clients from bouncing within seconds, create a better website. You'll need to incorporate the following elements:


Use High-Quality Design

Potential clients need to know that you're serious about the food industry. So, my suggestion is to identify your business professionally online. That means hiring a professional website builder or, if not, using professional tools.


Keep Your Website Up-to-Date

Just like the rest of the elements of your business, your website needs attention and maintenance. Otherwise, your existing and potential clients will know you're not paying attention or making them a priority. What happens if your call-to-action button stopped working? That means you're losing clients.

  • Examples of website maintenance include:

  • Running software updates.

  • Making sure your site is running optimally.

  • Adding security features to ensure hackers stay out.

Create a Goal-Driven Design

Do you know the goals of your website? If not, it's time to get to work. Your website is a tool for achieving goals for your food business. Write them down, memorize them, and remember that they're the key to your success online.


Conversion-focused design is when you're layering strategies on top of a site that looks great and is running smoothly. Remember, you're trying to encourage your visitors to achieve a particular goal.


Examples of goals include:

  • Signing up for your email list (to receive blog updates or event news, for example).

  • Encouraging sign-ups for a free trial (like for the SMP free trial, for example).

  • Requesting visitors to use your contact form (to receive more information about events, for example).

Now that you have these examples, how do you get your visitors to take advantage of them? I suggest using a call to action. Often, this consists of supporting text in combination with a button. Scatter your call to action buttons throughout your website strategically.


I suggest placing a call to action buttons in places, including:

  • At the top of each of your site’s pages.

  • In your page's sidebar.

  • In the footer of your pages.

  • Inside pop-ups and landing pages.

Don't Neglect Your Email List

Your email list is an essential asset in your food business. You'll have direct access to your current and prospective client’s inboxes. I also believe that email is one of the most effective channels available.


Even though you may experience success with your food business, I suggest building an email list and using it regularly. Increasing a subscriber base can occur in several ways. However, the simplest way is by developing an offer for future clients.


Make sure the offer is actionable, helpful, and solves a problem your clients may be facing. I also suggest leaving your potential client's wanting a little more. That way, it will entice them to research for this help on your website or reach out to you.


How to Turn Website Conversions into Paying Customers

Website user habits change frequently and, even though 70% of your client base will learn about your company through your blog instead of ads, video will help persuade 73% of your clients into making their purchase. With these statistics in mind, I will show you how to turn website conversions into paying customers.


Don't Stop Following Up

I know you probably think this is an obvious tip. However, the tips that are the most obvious are the ones that often the most overlooked. So, what's the strategy? When you receive contact information on your website, develop a list. Then, I suggest:

  • Make calls until you receive a "yes" or "no" answer.

  • If you receive no answer, don't give up. Keep trying.

  • Keep following-up with those who are busy.

  • If someone isn't interested—leave them alone.

If the potential client doesn't leave their phone number, that doesn't mean you've hit a dead end. You have their email address. So, you can follow the same tactics using email messaging. Don't give up and keep following up until you receive a positive response.


Create Clear Steps

Being persistent with your follow-ups is one thing. What happens next? If you're not setting up a strategy for how to manage your contacts, then you will lose the conversion.


Say, for example, your potential client would like to speak with you in the next two weeks about booking an event. Congratulations! They're one step closer to deciding! Set up the meeting as your next step.


What happens, though, if your potential client says they're shopping around and needs to get advice from a third party? Don't panic. Under these circumstances, use a softer approach. Request their email addresses and send them relevant resources from your website to help encourage their decision.


What're Your Potential Client's Goals?

Even though we've been spending a lot of time talking about your food business's goals, we will focus some attention on digging into what your prospective client needs as well. Getting more traffic on your website that translates into conversions isn't always about focusing on your goals.


  • Here are examples of what you can determine:

  • What is your prospective client trying to achieve?

  • What problems are they trying to solve?

  • Do you have the requirements they want to meet?

Answering these questions and others will help you learn more about your prospects and how to sell to them. You can suggest tools, services, or events that cater specifically to their needs and goals. Then, make sure they have clear descriptions on your website.


What Are Your Prospective Client's Pain Points?

Determining your prospective client's pain points will help you develop a pitch that leads to a conversion. That means writing a blog post or article about a service that can help your prospective client eliminate a problem, stop wasting money, or time.


Instead of talking about the potential benefits of a service, focus on the pain points. The average consumer is more attracted to copy explaining why losing money is terrible compared to why it's great to find money.


Embrace the Power of Storytelling

Making a sale and storytelling go hand-in-hand. You're telling stories on social media platforms, so this should happen on your website as well. Doing this involves telling stories about how your services changed or impacted your client's lives in some way.


For example, you wouldn't say:


"Booking an event through our catering company comes with Feature ABC, which helps clients save time and eliminates stress."


Instead, your message could be:


"[Client name] booked with us last week and, since then, they've been raving about how Feature ABC cut down on how much time they used to have to spend on planning and organizing for events."


The power of storytelling helps draw in customers, engage them, and encourage their buying decisions.


Add a Countdown Timer

Many marketers swear by using countdown timers as part of their website design for driving conversions. Be careful, though, because this strategy can come across as too salesy. So, my suggestion is to use it in one part of your conversion funnel. For example, if you have a limited time offer, a countdown timer is an effective strategy.


Using these website tips to grow your food business means you’ll be moving away from worrying about playing the numbers game, engaging with potential customers, and converting them. Social media is an excellent tool for growing your business alongside your website. However, it’s easy for numbers to grow without engagement occurring. Therefore, it’s up to you to ensure every “like” and “follow” is a potential opportunity for a conversion.


If you need help along the way of growing your food business, I suggest signing up for our Success Recipes weekly email. In it, I will give you the tools and strategies you need for growing your business and achieving your goals.



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Aleya Harris is the owner of The Social Media Pantry and Growth.

She is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef who also happens to be an award-winning, data-driven marketing strategist, change leader, brand manager and creator, content developer, and storyteller. She has a background as a marketing professional on the leadership teams of large foodservice organizations and has also been a private chef and catering company owner.