Mobile Websites for Restaurants: Finding a Return on Investment

Posted by | July 29, 2011 | articles | No Comments

We have worked with enough restaurants to know that in the restaurant business, there is no budget to throw at marketing tools that don’t work. It has always been important for restaurants to both be discovered, and hook the potential customer- and with the smart-phone friendzy that we live in, mobile websites have become a great resource to accomplish those things. We want to lay out some features that are important for a restaurant’s mobile website, and how to get the biggest bang-for-your-buck.

Build for Your Users

The most important thing for a restaurants mobile website is that when users get there, they find content that they would expect. That sounds really simple, but the fact is, that if a user is not pleased with your mobile offerings, and the experience you provide, they will never come back. Here are some of the important features to look for:

  • Phone number
  • Directions
  • Menu
  • Hours of operation
  • Photos of the exterior/interior
  • Seating information
  • Deals and specials
[/arrow_list] These features cover everything from the person on the road trying to get to your restaurant, to the person standing outside of the restaurant trying to figure out if they will like the food and environment. Detroit restaurant owner Mike Lleshaj tells us that incentives play a big roll in his business.

With the economy the way that it is, no one wants to pay full price for anything. Incentives are a big factor in getting people in the door, and we go as far as giving away things for free for people who use our mobile campaigns.

Mike Lleshaj, Owner of Legends Grill

The ability to offer “mobile-only” deals, or “scan-to-redeem” QR codes around the restaurant, encourage the use of the mobile website, and give the restaurant another outlet to market their services. When asked about how to make mobile marketing effective, Lleshaj says “It has to be easy, it just has to work”.

Analytics and Tracking

Besides asking people, or hovering over their shoulder while they eat, the best way to make sure your money for a mobile website is being used wisely is to use a good analytics tool, like Google Analytics. With this, you are able to see how many people are visiting the site, and more importantly, if they are visiting from right outside your restaurant, or if they are visiting it from somewhere further away.

Using analytics can be a great way to see if your marketing campaigns for the mobile website are working- you are able to see in detail how people ended up on the mobile website. Analytics can provide the make-or-break point of keeping a mobile website alive as well; if you find that after three months the website is just not worth keeping (and if you are on a monthly service) you can ditch it, and put your money towards something else.


We have written an entire article about mobile website discovery called Tips for Discovering your Mobile Website, however there are some aspects of discovery that are really important to just the restaurant business, so we will give them a look-see.

1. Foot Traffic

Many restaurants have access to people walking by, or at least some type of foot traffic. It is of the utmost importance that a restaurant make their mobile presence known to this group of people, because it potentially provides the hook to get them in the door. Promoting a mobile website is easy, and it gives walker-by’s a non-invasive, and completely transparent way to check your restaurant out, and make a decision without taking a detour into your door. Get creative using QR codes, posters, and outdoor signage.

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2. Seated Customers

Getting people in the door for the first time is sometimes not the hardest challenge for a restaurant, it is getting them to come back. Mobile website’s can help here, and they offer several ways to increase customer loyalty. The first step is to incentivize the customer- maybe you can give away a free lunch every week for people who give you their emails through the mobile website, basically a new-age fish bowl for tossing your business card in. This method can help with other email campaigns you are involved with as well.

Once the customer is on the mobile website, you have opportunities to show them daily specials, or market special services your restaurant offers. Now, the next time that customer thinks about getting a $2 draft, or hosting a luncheon, your restaurant is on the top of their list, and they know they can get out their phone and visit your mobile website to contact you.

Get one, Tell people.

Discovery goes hand-in-hand with awareness, and for a mobile website to really pay off, it is an important factor in the marketing plan for any restaurant. Unfortunately, the mindset of “build it and they will come” is not likely to work with mobile, so finding creative ways to direct people there is sometimes the toughest challenge. We hope you find success in some type of mobile-based marketing strategy, as it will only become more important in the future.

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