Use Your Restaurant Marketing to Drive Online Orders

online orders.jpgHow restaurants can drive additional transactions without actually getting butts in seats

While getting butts in seats is a goal of every restaurant, not all consumers are looking for a sit-down dining experience. Luckily, many restaurants now offer online ordering (OLO) as a dining option. Having a great OLO program can not only drive more transactions for your restaurant, but it can also tailor them to changing consumer needs and bring in new customers. Here are a few ways you can improve your restaurant’s OLO program.

Get the Word Out

Many restaurants don’t make it well known that you can order their food online. With the change of consumer habits, digitally advertising this offering can provide major benefits. There are two approaches you can take here: increase awareness and drive online sales.

First, make sure people know that you offer online ordering – use search link extensions to talk about online ordering, use standard banner ads, find influencers to blog about their OLO experience with your restaurant and more. The options are pretty endless, but the point is that you need to get the word out that you offer online ordering before people will start ordering online.

Once there is some awareness around your offering, use strategic advertising tactics to drive orders. One of the hardest parts of restaurant marketing is proving that it is working and that your efforts are getting butts in seats. OLO changes that because you can attribute orders to the creative, advertising channel and targeting strategy that helped drive that order.

Set Yourself Up for Success

It is important that consumers can easily order online or else you risk turning people away from your OLO program. Your website should mimic the in-store ordering experience and be easy for everyone to use whether they are digitally savvy or not.

Many restaurants are also turning to mobile apps to improve their OLO experience. In an increasingly mobile world, consumers are already well-versed in using apps. It’s important to remember that your mobile app should provide added value to the consumer (save their order for next time they want to make an order, for example) and not exist just because you think your restaurant needs an app.

Offer Delivery

Even though online ordering provides convenience to consumers, there are some people who are going to be looking for an even higher level of convenience through delivery. Currently, most OLO programs still require the consumer to pick up their order in the restaurant. Offering delivery can set you apart from your competitors, but keep in mind that it’s not a profitable option for all restaurants.

Recently, mobile ordering app developers OLO launched Dispatch, an offering that allows restaurants to take advantage of delivery service without taking on the burden of funding a delivery driver.

With Dispatch, restaurants can run their online ordering program exactly as it is today with the simple addition of a checkbox for delivery at checkout. The user then pays ahead, enters their delivery address, and is shown local delivery service providers. The restaurant wins because they can easily take advantage of delivery service through their current OLO site and the consumer wins because they can take advantage of delivery service from more of their favorite restaurants.

So, if you’re thinking about beginning an online ordering effort, or if you already have a program in place, there’s always room for optimization and improvement. Because, after all, butts in seats still count even if they’re at home.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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