What Is Conversion Optimization? 5 Tips to Take Your Restaurant’s Website to the Next Level

If you’re running a small- to medium-sized restaurant, chances are you’ve probably already engaged in some form of digital marketing. You have a website, you’re more than likely on a few social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, perhaps you’ve invested some money on Search Engine Optimization for your website, and might even be running an AdWords campaign or two.

Your website exists for a reason and should contain a few goals, actions, or tasks (referred to as Key Performance Indicators or KPIs for short) you want your website visitors to perform. Maybe your main goal for the traffic you’re receiving is to make a booking, sign up for your newsletter, or join your membership program. Whatever your KPIs might be, eventually you’ll want to invest some time in Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) to increase the visitor-to-action-taken ratio — and subsequently, your return on investment.

No matter where your website visitors are coming from or what desired action you want them to take once they get there, you want to make sure that whatever money you’ve spent getting them there isn’t wasted. I’ve seen it countless of times before; restaurants spending a considerable amount of their marketing budget on digital ad spend and sending huge amounts of traffic to their website, but then fail to convert those visitors into an asset (tangible or otherwise) or a purchase.

This is where CRO comes in. CRO is an insights-based approach to improving your website using analytics and customer feedback. In simple terms, the focus with CRO is not to attract more visitors to your website but to get the most out of your existing traffic. There’s plenty of great beginner’s guides to CRO out there which cover everything you need to know to get started. This guide won’t go into as much details as some of them, so if you’re really serious about investing time in optimizing, I suggest you spend time doing some research and checking back here after.

When it comes down to it, CRO is improving your website’s performance using a measurable, data-driven process. But what is a conversion rate and how do you measure it? A simple example would be the following. Say that you want to increase the amount of bookings you’re currently getting through your website. Your current conversion rate can be calculated using the following equation: Conversions / Total Website Visitors * 100. This will give you the percentage of visitors who perform the action you’re tracking. Say your website is getting 1,200 visitors in a week, and you get 50 bookings in the same time. This gives you a conversion rate of approximately 4 percent.

To increase your conversion rate you have to measure, test, make changes, and test again.

There are plenty of ways to do so using processes such as A/B, multivariable, and user experience (UX) testing, as well as gathering feedback from website visitors. However, for someone just dipping their toes into the sea that is CRO, here are a few quick-ish ways to get you started on optimizing your conversion rate:

1. Clear Calls-to-Action (CTA)

Optimizing your calls-to-action is a huge part of CRO. A call-to-action is fairly self-explanatory, but instructs the visitor on what to do. It could be anything from a bit of text or a button to a fill-out form. It’s recommended to test multiple variations of these CTAs, whether that entails trying different types of copy, size, colors, or positioning on the page. When it comes to filling out forms, a less-is-more approach is worth testing. Only gather the most vital information up front and follow up if needed once the conversion is made.

2. Add Social Proof

We’re social creatures and rely heavily on the recommendations of others when making a decision. Some research even suggests that up to 70 percent of people would trust a recommendation from a complete stranger. Keeping that in mind, it’s worth implementing testimonials on pages requiring a purchase or sign-up to be made. Displaying any additional proof of trust such as ratings or awards are worth testing also.

3. Sense of Urgency

Adding a sense of urgency to any CTA is a powerful psychological incentive. People have an ingrained fear of missing out and using this to your advantage allows you to craft extremely compelling offers. Test this with the same offer without a time limit attached to it to analyze how your conversions compare.

4. Offer Value

Your email address has become a much more valued piece of information. Convincing people to give it up has in turn become a much more difficult venture. If you’re gathering email addresses for a mailing list or newsletter, consider offering something in return. It could be as simple as a discount or similar offer, but running an A/B test over a period of time with different incentives is definitely worth the effort.

5. Use Video and Photo

There are few things worse than generic stock photos. If you are currently using any, it’s time to invest in some proper photography for your website. This should result in an immediate positive change in your conversion rate. Considering visitors spend almost 90 percent more time on websites containing videos, it’s worth testing video content on conversion-sensitive pages in lieu of text.

These are just a few simple tests you can run to get started with CRO. As always, it’s important you do your research beforehand and to not be afraid of experiment. There is no such thing as perfection, but continually increasing your conversion over time by trying new things will get you closer and closer. Keep track of your data before and after starting any tests and compare your results, optimize and test again.

Did you enjoy part one of the "Advanced Digital Marketing" series? Check out Part Two: The ABCs of Restaurant Marketing With Paid Search