Reasons Your Website is Driving Potential Customers Away

What drives a customer to come in and spend money? This metric is called 'conversion' and we're obsessed with conversion marketing. Most analytics for your site can only tell you how many people visited your site, what kind of device they visited it on (increasingly mobile devices), and where they found your website. What site analytics don't tell you is how many of these potential customers online decided to NOT to become a customer in-store. So what about your website or online presence could make a potential customer decide they shouldn't come in?

Here’s a list of the top reasons why some restaurant websites are driving customers away.

Mobile Incompatibility

Many people use their phone to research options before visiting a restaurant or store.  Most phones do not show your website the same way a computer might, so you need a special version of your website for mobile phones.  Here’s why having a mobile site is so important:

    •    61% of customers who visit a mobile unfriendly site are likely to go to a competitor's site (Karim Temsamani at IABALM 2012 via IAB)

    •    70% of mobile searchers act within an hour; only 30% of PC searchers do (Mobile Marketer 2012)

    •    Mobile devices and tablets account for 1/8 of all pageviews on the internet. (via comScore)

    •    75% of customers prefer a mobile friendly site (Google, 2012)

    •    58% of mobile users expect mobile sites to load as quickly as or faster than desktop sites (Google 2011)

 Comparison of a standard website on a mobile device versus a mobile-compatible version of the same site (image c/o OpenTable)  

Comparison of a standard website on a mobile device versus a mobile-compatible version of the same site (image c/o OpenTable)  

In fact, 88% of the total search volume for the keyword 'restaurants' comes from mobile devices, and 97% of the total volume from 'bars' comes from mobile devices (via Search Engine Land). So if your website isn’t easy to use on a mobile device, you are definitely losing potential customers.

Here’s how to tell if you need a mobile site:

Pull up your website on a phone.  Do you have to zoom in?  If yes, you need a mobile website.  The major things to make sure are immediate on your mobile site are your phone number or address without finding and selecting a "Contact Us" page. If it takes more than 3-5 seconds to load the content on the page (especially images), the site isn't mobile-friendly (your developer is lying to you!) Entrepreneur has a great roundup of how a site redesign should be approached.


 The Oatmeal's take on restaurant websites

The Oatmeal's take on restaurant websites

Patrons visiting a restaurant's website want to see a menu. It gives them a sense of the variety of dishes offered and the price points that they should expect. Pro tip: do NOT put your menu as a PDF on your site – people hate that and will choose another restaurant because it’s a pain to view the menu.  


 The Oatmeal on restaurant websites, part 2

The Oatmeal on restaurant websites, part 2

Too Many Distractions

Too many restaurants have websites that are distracting for the customer. A simple rule-of-thumb: avoid anything auto-playing. Flash animations (and navigation) will drive customers away in a hurry. Flash is does not work on all Apple iPhones (which means people with iPhones cannot see your website) and is slow to load on computers.
 Autoplaying music is almost worse than a Flash-based intro animation – it surprises and scares people and takes them away from thinking of food and makes them scurry to lower their volume. Use pictures instead! They build an emotional connection and potential customers what to expect in terms of food and ambience if they dine with you.

Here’s how to make sure more website visitors become customers:

  • Make navigating the site painfully easy for computers and phones
  • Get a mobile version of your site
  • Make your contact info one of the first things patrons see on your site
  • Put your menus in HTML, NOT PDF.
  • Get rid of the autoplaying music, Flash slideshows and animations.

In the end, people see your website as an information portal, not a billboard. Update it, link to your social media and watch your seats fill up!

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