We’re counting down the days until restaurants, pubs and bars can welcome people back indoors. The industry is eagerly anticipating a surge of demand from consumers desperate for the buzz of a restaurant or a pint with friends.
So you’ve got the beer on order, you’ve hired staff and you’re polishing the glassware, ready to throw open your doors and trade hard from 17th May.
But, is your digital house in order? After months of mothballed websites, dormant social accounts and advertising put on ice, the time is now to take stock and revamp your digital for the year ahead.
Digital checklist for hospitality
Use our checklist and top tools to get your digital house in order. A simple 3-part plan broken down into tangible actions to ensure digital success.
1. Website Health-Check
The heart of your digital ecosystem; your website is your shop-window and revenue driver. Getting it right is fundamental to digital success.
- Is all content fresh and relevant? (a nice easy one to start with) Review your opening times, menus, announcement pop-ups, photography and promotions. Refresh your copy, and make sure the tone is positive and upbeat. Check everything on desktop and mobile.
- Is your booking engine prominent with accurate availability?
- Do you have a Covid Secure policy available? We recommend a dedicated page to make it highly visible in search results.
- Are your retail products incorporated into your main site? A lot of businesses have set up e-shops on separate domains but if you’re planning to continue with At Home boxes (which you totally should, read here to find out why) then retail should sit with your restaurant/bar in an integrated digital ecosystem. Carefully examine your site’s UX to check that the flow between restaurant/bar bookings, meal kits, merch, delivery, click and collect, gift vouchers and events makes sense.
- Errors: Do you have broken links or 404 pages? Errors like this are big no-nos for good UX, and therefore a major SEO problem. Use this tool to scan for errors.
- Images: Are all images optimised for size? Run images bigger than 1MB through a file compressor like this one – heavy images are anathema to Google.
- Meta: Does each page have meta content (page titles and headings, image alt tags)? Use this MOZ tool to check.
- Tracking: Are you tracking users and website actions with Google Analytics / Google Tag Manager (ensure pixels aren’t duplicated); are pixels correctly installed for remarketing advertising?
- Resubmit your website site-map to Google using Google Search Console – this will make sure that recent content updates are indexed and displayed accurately on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Lastly, but most importantly, brand & design:
- Is your website a truly good representation of your brand? Does it bring your experience to life? Does it tell your brand stories and properly articulate everything that makes you special?
- Are your brand assets applied to good effect?
- Is the design current? Does it have flair and, crucially, are you proud of your website?
Your website is your single most visible piece of branded collateral online. See how we develop award-winning websites for the hospitality industry.
2. Visibility Audit
Be there for people looking for businesses like yours. Dominate the results page, ensure accuracy and win the last mile.
- Does your brand appear on the SERP for search terms you’d expect it to? Consider location and cuisine keywords as well as your brand name. If not then run search PPC ads to ensure that you’re capturing that demand; people actually looking for restaurants or bars in your location. Don’t lose out to competitors.
- Is your location information accurate in Google’s knowledge box? Health & safety call outs are now a thing, so make sure all of your locations listings are claimed, verified and accurate using Google My Business.
- To control citations across the web, everything from social accounts, to FourSquare to Yelp, we recommend a citation management tool like Yext to help you manage listings at scale. This will ensure location accuracy on tools like Google or Apple Maps, TomTom and CityMapper too, so it’s essential to make sure people can actually find you!
3. Messaging & Brand
Done properly, digital is highly effective at building brands over the long-term. Crafting a brand narrative and telling stories through creative application of your identity, videos, live broadcasts, blogs, games and creative campaigns are an incredibly powerful way to put your brand literally into people’s hands and shape perceptions.
- Get your brand in order. How can you put your brand message at the fore, and use the opportunity of restarting conversations, to instill your brand, remind people what you’re about – and what they’ve missed. “We’re here, we’re open!” is a wasted opportunity to say something more memorable, that runs deeper and underpins something more fundamental about your brand.
- Talk to everyone in the market. Now’s the chance to take market share – people are seeking new experiences and will form new habits and behaviours. Talk to your regular, engaged audiences for sure, but consider targeted advertising to expand your reach and recruit new users.
- Develop a content plan that reaches your target audiences at each stage of the buying journey. Make it easy for them to understand what it is you do, and for them to make a purchase. Your creative and content needs an edge to stand out, so be bold and open when developing ideas.
- Invest in new photography and video – content needs to be fresh and interesting, and there’s a wealth of new channels and formats to create in (IGTV and reels, TikTok challenges, Instagram Guides and Clubhouse Rooms to name a few).
- Do a social media audit – depending on how active you’ve been throughout lockdown, you may have some catching up to do on audience engagement. Ramp up posting frequency, making sure you’re following a solid content strategy and applying good engagement tactics. Community management is key here – take the time to talk to your followers, follow other accounts and engage with others’ posts. This will have a surprisingly positive impact on your follower numbers.
- Assess your CRM strategy. If you’ve dabbled in ‘At Home’ or other ecommerce activity you’re bound to have a host of new members on your database. How are you interacting with these people, and how can you cross-sell other aspects of your offering to them?
It’s all to play for
There’s a huge opportunity to capture pent up demand and take market share over the coming months. Setting your digital table is the best way you can plan for success, outside the four walls of your restaurant or bar.
For more help, or to request a proposal for website audits, social media content strategy, targeted social media or search PPC campaigns, web design or branding please get in touch.