Restaurant online ordering has steadily increased over the years, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this adoption in order to keep restaurants in business. With so many restaurants now offering this, it is important to stay competitive, which you can do by offering a seamless online ordering experience for your customers.
The more places you are online, the more opportunities there are for diners to learn about – and order from – your restaurant.
How do your customers know that you offer online ordering? How do you entice them to order and make them repeat customers?
Here are ten easy ways to promote your online ordering to increase your profitability and build stronger relationships with your customers.
1. Directly on your website
The first and easiest way to increase traffic to your online ordering platform is by having your ordering link in a highly visible area on your website. The rule of thumb for optimizing your online sales is to have your purchasing button instantly visible when your customer reaches your site.
Your customers are looking for a smooth, streamlined experience when they order online through you. They shouldn’t have to navigate to a drop-down they can’t find hidden in the corner of your website.
To prevent this, add your link as a ‘call to action' (CTA) button front and center on your website or additionally as its own tab in your navigation bar. There are multiple ways you can do this depending on your restaurant website design capabilities.
Consider how Chapman’s Food & Spirits has an immediate pop-up on their website listing their COVID guidelines and a direct button to their Online Ordering via CAKE. The Farehouse does this differently by having a banner at the top of their website. The last example we’ll show is from Tender Smokehouse, where they have two different buttons for their online ordering based on location.
2. Google My Business Ordering Feature
Google is often the first go-to for hungry customers looking to order “takeout near me.” Does your restaurant have a listing on Google My Business (GMB) so your customers can find you?
If not, the first step is to claim your listing on GMB. If you do already, then edit your listing to add your online ordering system. Once enabled, it should be featured on your profile so customers can click the link directly and begin ordering.
On GMB, you can also promote your online ordering through the Posts feature while sharing online specials or updates for your customers.
3. Exclusive Online Discounts & Items
Offering discounts can be a powerful tool to incentivize your customers to order online. Consider offering 10% off on specific days out of the week or even 20% off orders over $100. When it comes to deciding what kind of deal you should promote, always think - what would my customer value the most?
Is it a free drink or side? What about free delivery? Do what works best for your business and make sure in the long run it is still making you profitable.
Another way you can entice customers to order online is by having items exclusively for takeout. For example, family-style meal kits grew in popularity during COVID, and continuing to offer these can attract customers looking to place large orders.
Once you’ve nailed down your exclusive online offers and items, use the tactics below to promote your online ordering further.
4. Instagram Posts & Stories
Instagram is one of the most important social media platforms for restaurants because of its visual capabilities. Instagram also has a feature to post stories that stay live for 24 hours, and this is an excellent way to promote your limited-time offers and create a sense of urgency around them.
You can also showcase to your followers through a video of how easy it is to order online from you, as Taverna Restaurant does in this post. In this example, Taverna runs a ribeye steak special for to-go only and shows their customers how they can order this.
Instagram also recently released two new features to give people more ways to order your food online. The first feature is within stories. Businesses can add a sticker on their story for food orders, and when a viewer taps the sticker, they will be redirected to your online ordering portal.
The second feature is an Order Food button on your Instagram profile that lives under the information in your bio and has the same functionality as above. Learn more about Food Orders for Businesses on Instagram here. Always remember to have your website and or online ordering URL in your profile’s link in bio.
Learn more: 10 Instagram Hacks for Your Restaurant
5. Facebook & Twitter
Promoting your online ordering via social media is often the easiest tactic to use because it’s free marketing and a great way to increase your restaurant’s online exposure. Facebook offers a Start Order CTA button that you can add to your restaurant’s page so customers can order directly from there.
Additionally, Twitter is also a great place to connect with your customers and promote your online ordering in real-time. Ike’s Love and Sandwiches often tweets letting their followers know of promos they are offering through their mobile app.
Get FREE delivery ALL WEEKEND on the Ike's App 📲— Ike's Love & Sandwiches (@ikessandwiches) February 27, 2021
6. Printed & Custom Messages
Though there are many online promotion techniques, we can’t forget about the classic in-person and printed ones. You can promote your online ordering through posters, window displays, large signage outdoors, and even neighborhood flyers.
Adding custom messages on receipts is also another way to push customers to order online. Whether it’s print or digital, these are a great way to call out your online ordering program.
There is also a lot of value behind handwritten “Thank You” cards. Writing thank you cards that showcase the support customers give to you when they order food can go a long way towards building loyalty. Place these cards in all your takeout and online orders or even write your note directly on the bag.
7. Locally-targeted Ads
Online advertising is a strategic approach to promote your restaurant if you know how to do it correctly. One of the most popular places for restaurant marketing is Facebook advertising because of the massive reach and customization it offers.
There is a wide range of options on Facebook that allow you to create locally targeted ads. You can create an ad that features your online ordering and tailor it to a specific location, demographic, and profiles. After uploading your email lists, text marketing lists, and online ordering lists, your ads can be shown to your current customers and audiences that will help you attract new ones.
8. SMS Messaging
Reach your customers without them having to search for your restaurant online with SMS messaging. You can use text message marketing to instantly communicate with your customers and update them with exclusive deals to boost your online sales.
Mijo’s Taqueria does this in a creative way in what they call “Local Wednesdays.” Every week they promote on their social media, reminding their customers about their rewards program, and when they opt-in, they receive a 15% discount every Wednesday. Check out their caption on their Instagram post to see how it’s done.
SMS messaging through a rewards program will help you increase customer loyalty and allow you to collect data that you can use to create future promotions. It’s important to have a strong CTA in all your marketing efforts, especially in SMS, so your guests know the next step. Here are a few examples:
- “Visit our website to order online now!”
- “Use this coupon code at checkout!”
- “Start your order now!”
Your customers must opt-in to receive this kind of communication with you, but SMS messaging is an easy way to push your online ordering to them once they do. Remember, timing is essential with this tactic. Schedule your messages to send around 11 am or 4 pm for lunch and dinner online orders.
9. On-hold Phone Messages
Many customers who call to place takeout orders are often unaware that your restaurant has online ordering. And with how busy restaurants can be, sometimes it takes a while before a staff member can get to a phone.
Replace the traditional background of the phone call or consider adding an answering service message that communicates with your guests; if they would like to place a takeout order, they can do so directly through your online ordering.
Here’s an example script you can use for on hold or background tone:
“Thank you for calling [Restaurant name]. We are working hard to get to the phone right now and appreciate your patience. Our hours are ____. If you’re calling to place an order, please go to our website at [Website Name].com and order online for immediate service or remain on the line, and one of our staff members will be with you shortly.”
Here’s an example script for your voicemail:
“Hi, you’ve reached [Restaurant name]. Thank you for calling, and we’re sorry we can’t get to the phone right now. Our hours are ____. If you’re calling to place an order, please go to our website at [Website Name].com and order online. Hope to see you soon!”
These messages should be personal and customized to make your customers aware that you offer online ordering, and they can go to your website to find further information about your restaurant.
10. Urge your customers to share on social media
The strongest marketing that you can get is social proof from your customers. That’s why it’s crucial to encourage them to post their meals on social media and tag you. Each time a customer does this, your restaurant is exposed to new people and can help you generate more followers and online orders.
Make sure to include your social handles on your receipts and have a CTA such as, “Tag us & share on social media with #[Restaurant hashtag]!” After you’re tagged in this post or story, you can reshare this content on your profile and raise more awareness of your online ordering to your followers.
Use these promotion ideas to boost your online sales and attract more customers to order online. Most of these tactics are free and are helpful ways to help make online ordering a seamless experience for your customers.
If your restaurant isn’t set up with online ordering yet, check out our Online Ordering Prep Checklist to help you get started. This checklist outlines all the features and optimization tools to help get the most out of your ordering system.