A headline on the National Restaurant Association website reads in big bold letters, “The restaurant industry is fast-paced and ever changing.” Like many other industries, the Internet has affected the way that restaurants operate and advertise.
Besides being listed on sites like Yelp and Google Maps (which has turned into a major player in the yellow pages game), having a menu online is one of the essential steps in being found and attracting more customers. Posting a menu online provides an edge over the competition. As an article on Neuromarketing.com puts it, “menus are printed marketing pieces, much like catalogs, magazines, ads, etc.”
Many restaurants, whether they are franchises or small independent venues, have chosen to include a menu on their websites. Not having a menu can make your business look out of date, and therefore less competitive. From the point of view of an online-savvy customer, this lack of information is a likely deal breaker. Sybil Yang, a doctoral student at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, goes a step beyond and says that “menus are a way restaurants build trust between them and the guest.”
If your restaurant has a website (which is highly recommended), make sure that you include a menu that is easy to find. And the more detailed the descriptions in the menu, the better. You might include:
- Daily Specials
- Nutritional Information
- Other specifics; i.e., kosher, gluten-free, vegan, etc.
Make sure to include your menu as high up on the page as possible. Readers tend to scan a page in mere seconds, from left to right, and are highly unlikely to scroll down to find more information. So from a marketing point of view, your best bet is to make your online menu readily available and highly visible.
Another benefit of having an online menu is search engine optimization (SEO). Menus are chock-full of keywords that will pop up on search engines. It’s easy content to keep up and a possible traffic-driving tool to your website. If you don’t have a website for your restaurant, get one. In the meantime, you can use different online directories that offer restaurant menus, often searchable by area. These are:
- The Grub Club
- All Menus
- Seamless (for ordering online)
A fast and easy way to make your menu digitally available is to make a Facebook page for your restaurant. This is a great option for restaurateurs who are on a tight budget, since it’s free and also doubles as a marketing tool. Facebook users can “like” your page, peruse the menu, and you can post discounts, special deals, or announce new items to your followers.