Now more than ever, we’re living in a digital world. Restaurants were quite rudely reminded of that two months ago when COVID first hit and they were forced to quickly adapt to digital ordering—primarily online ordering—as their main or only revenue-producing channel. 

Online ordering will continue to be your workhorse as we move through the remainder of 2020, with restaurants eyeing reopening and consumers slowly getting their in-person confidence back. The best part of online ordering? You, the restaurants, get to keep all your profits, unlike other digital channels such as third-party delivery.  

BUT…. simply having online ordering does not mean you’ll automatically start getting more orders. Step 1 is implementing it. Step 2 is promoting it so everyone can find it on the inter-webs. Here are the 5 best practices to follow for getting the word out and more orders flowing.

1. Prominently Position it on Your Website

You want to funnel as many of your customers as possible to your online ordering menu. The best way to do that is by prominently displaying a highly visible button and call to action (CTA) on the top of your website home page.  In addition, be sure other top trafficked web pages also contain the “Order Online Now” CTA in multiple places. Other suggestions:

  • Emphasize “contactless orders, pickup, and payments” in all your content today.
  • Update your website with open/closed locations and hours clearly displayed.
  • Ensure your menu is optimized for online ordering success. See these 6 Ways to Optimize Your Online Menu.

2. Drop an Email & Text Message to Your Customer Database

Sending an email and/or text message to your customer list is the best way to announce or continue promoting your online menu. Let your customers know what new and different things you’re doing and new food you’re serving. Show them how much you appreciate them staying loyal to your brand with a little coupon or promo offer as well.

3. Get Social (on All The Channels)

Now is the time to use social media to your advantage. Since March, an eMarketer report shows that 70% of US adults are spending at least one additional hour on social media every day. You have a very captive audience!

Ensure you’re present on all key social channels where your guests hang out: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn. Larger brands may even consider SnapChat and TikTok advertisements. Other suggestions:

  • Be as creative and differentiated as possible on social. Consider running a challenge to generate guest participation and engagement. Promote new menu items and meal bundles. Post heart-felt messages from your owners/founders. Run a contest or sweepstakes. Just be clever!
  • Expand to and use all your platforms. Tiktok is the number #1 platform right now – with restaurants, everyone is your target, and millennials are not the only ones on TikTok.
  • Use tagging and hashtags often and wisely to increase exposure, views, and engagement.
  • Incorporate mission-based, give-back initiatives for local communities.  Check out Feed the First Responders & consider participating in this or a similar initiative.

4. Optimize Search/SEO & Consider Running Paid Ads

If you haven’t already registered your restaurant and locations in Google, that is job 1. Then be sure your search terms are optimized to show up in local, regional and national searches when users type your food categories. 

Also consider running paid ads on Facebook or Instagram. You can geo-target locally and get right to your customer communities. Facebook has SMB grants including ad credits up to $3k, see if you qualify here. For more expert guidance on Search and Social, check out Be The Change Revolutions, a great company specializing in these areas. 

5. Promote and Promote Some More

Be generous with promotions, everyone wants a deal right now. People are hurting in many ways – either stressed by the pandemic and social isolation; dealing with loved ones with the virus; or they may be hurting financially.  Consider:

    • Maximize delivery by adding promo codes and coupons into bag, bringing guests directly back to you the next time
    • If you have any sort of loyalty/reward system, provide extra points or free credit for ordering directly through your online site 
    • Consider free “giveaway” for the first 100 online customers 

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