Did you know that 90% of the data on Earth was generated in the last 2 years alone? No wonder business owners get overwhelmed at the thought of analyzing their website — especially on top of the hustle and bustle of everyday service. But if you have a plan for how to use that data to improve your restaurant, you’ll find that keeping on eye on your website’s performance may be a game-changer for your business. Website measurement programs like Google Analytics for restaurants can help you find meaning within this flurry of information. You just need to ask the right questions.
1. What are our goals?
This may be an oddly difficult question to answer for your business. Of course, the immediate answer may be: to increase the amount of money coming in the door. However, figuring out how to do that with a single tool — your website — is not always easy.
Narrowing the expectations for your restaurant on paper can help. Really think about the limits and possibilities of what can be done with your website. If it makes sense, include management and staff in your brainstorming on what can be done by Google Analytics for restaurants.
Ask yourself, is there anything in particular your current patrons ask about that would be great to have online? Is there an untapped audience that your website can uniquely capture and turn into frequent diners? Is there something you feature that no one else does that can earn you credibility online? What do you want your website to do?
2. Where are we today?
If you’ve established what you want your website to do, the next step is to determine where it’s falling short. Website owners, particularly those in the B2C space, usually have a long list of these items.
Sort through your top priorities — no more than three to start — and identify what a reasonable improvement would be over the next four seasons. If you take reservations directly through your site, one of those three goals should be an increase in that area. Reservations translate into dollars, and an increase in that measurement will likely lift your spirits immediately.
But, like weighing yourself every day when on a diet, checking your analytics too frequently can be frustrating. Check in once a week at most. Remember, improving your website is a marathon, not a sprint.
3. What is the right metric to measure success?
Opening up Google Analytics for restaurants the first time can be daunting, but three numbers will be front and center for you: Visits, Unique Visitors, and Pageviews. You might also call these “hits.”
The problem with all three of these metrics is that none of them reflects the quality of engagement happening on your website, only the quantity. And if a metric is not actionable — that is, if it can’t lead to a change in the way you do business — it’s probably not worth measuring.
The key to success with your website is acquiring information that helps you create a plan of action and also reflects deeper interaction between you and your customers. Real insight comes from the overlap of analytics and the type of feedback you can get from online reviews, user testing, and just hearing what customers think about your website.
So, what’s next? No matter what you are measuring or what goals you have for your website, the most important next step is that there is one! Now let’s the field by suggesting six simple questions that can get you started on the right foot with Google Analytics for restaurants:
WHO were my visitors?
Are all of your web visitors local? How many are first-time visitors versus returning visitors? What types of devices did they view your site on? All of these questions can inform how you write and the type of content you may want to focus on.
If too many of your visitors are coming from outside your metro area, consider mentioning local events and information more often to attract customers who can actually dine with you.
WHAT did they do when they visited?
How many pages did your average customer look at and for how long? What percentage of visitors looked at only one page and then left immediately?
High bounce rates (the percentage of users who visited one page and left) can be worrisome, but only if you aren’t digging into the data. A bounce rate of 75 percent from your home page is OK (maybe the visitor just needed a phone number or address), but bounce rates for menu pages probably should be much lower — around 40% or lower.
The problem is, if you are looking at your total website bounce rate, you won’t get this kind of nuance. Drilling down on the data — also known as segmentation — is important in determining what is working and what isn’t.
WHERE did they come from?
Looking at the traffic sources for your most visited pages is a good way to decide where to spend time and money to improve your website.
Do most of your customers simply type in your web address directly? What percentage of your visits comes from search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) versus referral (through a link on another website)?
Of the referral traffic, where are visitors coming from? What can you do to build on that relationship with the other site — or make your content even more attractive to that demographic?
WHEN did they start arriving?
Did a particular day or week show a huge spike in pageviews on your analytics report? Remember: it’s not the quantity of hits that’s important, but the difference between two numbers — your percentage increase — on a specific day or time that can be helpful. Maybe even actionable.
What happened on the day of the spike? Was it tied to an online event (a new blog article, opening reservations, a bonus offer) or an offline one (something in the news about you, the opening a new location)? Is it something you can repeat?
HOW did they spend their time on my site?
What are the most popular items on your website? Are pdf downloads or views of your menu really popular? Do you have more visits to one section of your drop down menu than any other? If so, it may be time to add more material to those sections.
It’s also a good idea to place strong calls to action on the pages that get the most visits (such as a button that leads customers directly to the reservation page or to your menu), so visitors will have a reason to keep reading.
WHY did visitors stay on or leave my site?
This one is super tricky. If we knew the answer for sure, most of the above questions would be moot.
Looking closely at funnel reports on how visitors move from page to page on your website will probably give you a good sense of what attracts your loyal customer to your website. Is there a particular place in the reservation process where customers frequently drop off and leave? What part of that page seems difficult or could be improved?
What’s Next After Google Analytics for Restaurants?
Consider making three changes based on the data you look at per season, and think about ways to address problems that seem to be popping up with your customers online. You probably can’t address everything all at once, but if you stay committed to improvement, you’ll start to feel more in control of your success.
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