Computer open with food on the screen.
Unsplash/Igor Miske

The type of visual content you choose to use has the power to drive valuable conversions.

4 Ways to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Onsite Content During COVID-19

It's even more important with to-go and delivery taking center stage.

We don’t need to tell you that a website is a powerful tool for any food business—whether that's to enable online takeout orders or simply to act as an advertising avenue to drive people to your restaurant. But, without customers able to physically experience your food and drink for themselves, given the current COVID-19 social distancing measures that are in place across the globe, how do you ensure your products still appeal to consumers? The simple answer: your onsite content.

In this article, we're discussing the four main ways there are to optimize your onsite content during this unprecedented downtime to help you maximize product appeal and maintain brand awareness in a post-coronavirus world. Covering everything from eye-catching imagery to tantalizing product descriptions, we’re helping you understand how to make your products look just as good on-screen as they look (and taste) at your establishment, so your business can come back stronger and better than ever.

Use data technology

While your establishment is closed for business, you can put this time to good use by reassessing your website content, ensuring it’s doing an effective job at promoting your business and appealing to customers’ taste buds from afar. However, optimizing your product pages without consulting available data would be like riding a bike without brakes—totally misguided and increasing your likelihood of crashing to a halt. While you might feel as though you’re the best placed person when it comes to deciding what your customers want and need to see, without relevant data to support this, you could find yourself missing out on the opportunity to target new audiences and capturing those you already have.

At the heart of any successful content marketing strategy is the data backing up what the content is saying. So, to combat poor engagement early on, you should look to better understand your customers using insightful data tools to help you decide a) the best channels to use, and b) the type of language to best convey your message to your customers.

Using resources such as Google Analytics to help you find out about your online visitors and tools like Ahrefs to help you learn about what potential customers are searching for and in what volume, you’ll be able to decide what keywords to target in your written content and the language you need to use to engage with them.

Source quality visual content

Arguably in the takeout food and drinks sector more so than in any other industry, the type of visual content you choose to use has the power to drive valuable conversions. Undoubtedly, professional imagery and video content has the power to convince your customers of the exceptional quality and value of your food and drinks products. This concept is highlighted by well-loved food retailer, Marks & Spencer, who became famous for their This is not just adverts, which saw sales of their Melting Middle Chocolate Pudding soar by 3,500 percent after the product was featured on one of their adverts.

With recent statistics showing that 84 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video, when looking to optimize your online presence, this type of content is key. Make sure you invest time and money into creating mouth-watering visual content—providing viewers of this with an immediate incentive to pick up the phone and either order from you, or pay a visit to your establishment.

Employing the services of professional videographers may not be possible right now, but you could take a leaf out of Wagamama’s book and share recipes for popular dishes online so customers can make them at home or get chefs to do their own ‘make at home’ videos. These types of content are primed to appeal to viewers even when they’re not able to get to one of your restaurants for the real deal.

Pay attention to your social strategy

By now, you’re probably familiar with the idea that, for many people, eating their food or taking a sip from their drink before they’ve taken a photo of it is a completely alien, almost unthinkable, concept! What do these people then do with these images? More often than not, they’re probably posting it on their social media channels, tagging businesses and locations into their post and inspiring all those who view their photo to take a bite themselves.

So, to ensure you’re prepared for this, it’s vital that you create social media channels that allow customers to easily find and interact with you. However, simply having an Instagram or Twitter page with your location and opening hours isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’re posting regular, relevant content. Whether that’s pictures of your popular specials and images straight from your suppliers, or you choose to reshare photographs and videos you’ve been tagged in by your customers, your social channels almost act like ‘proof’ that your business exists.

Therefore, by creating a social media strategy and appointing someone in your team to keep it updated a few times a day, even during lockdown, potential customers will feel comfortable and confident that your food and drinks products are lovingly made and reliably delicious.

With figures also suggesting that people are spending more time on social media during lockdown, now could be the perfect time to conduct quirky customer surveys or competitions to win meal vouchers for post-lockdown—the aim is to find a fun, authentic way to interact with your audience to ensure your brand stays at the forefront of their minds.

Prioritize your product descriptions

Product descriptions enhance the user experience (UX) not only by making your site look professional but also by helping your customers quickly make a decision as to whether or not to buy your products. While, for example, in the retail industry, product descriptions simply back up the image of the certain T-shirt or pair of trousers on the screen, in the catering sector, your product description can be what makes the sale.

Whether you’re describing a product in a menu format or you have a whole page dedicated to your food or drinks item, how you describe it and its ingredients to your users will be what stands out to potential customers—potentially being the first thing they look at after they spot the name. To ensure you grab their attention from the very beginning, use keywords identified by data from tools such as Ahrefs, which will help you create product descriptions you know people want to see, as opposed to descriptions you want people to know about.

To illustrate your knowledge and understanding of what your customers want to see effectively, write up this content yourself or invest in professional content writing services where expert writers will collect this relevant data and information for you, creating content sure to showcase your brand at its best.

In this world of digital domination and social lockdown where food and drinks products can be seen but not touched, product imagery and written content are vital persuasive tools - and failing to pay close attention to these could see you lose out on easy revenue. We hope that, by implementing and continuing to practice the above four tips in your online marketing strategy both now and in the future, you’ll start to see an encouraging uplift in organic traffic to your site now and revenue post-pandemic as a result.

Tori Atkinson is the lead content creator for Paragraft, providing bespoke content writing services for ambitious brands looking to find and nurture their brand voice.