Putting Your Menu Online Brings More Business

The humble menu is the single most important piece of marketing collateral you have as a restaurant. They are displayed prominently at the entrance to your restaurant, people take them home for takeout, and they entice people to come back to try more of your dishes. A well put together menu can trigger emotions such as desire, adventure, and satisfaction.

So why do you leave this powerful piece of marketing to only impact customers at your doorstep or when they are sitting down at your tables? You need to get your menu into the hands of your customers before they even get to your restaurant, especially in the digital age. You've already got this wonderfully powerful piece of marketing content made, so share that same menu with customers across the digital channels they love and use everyday, and make sure they know what they've been missing.

Putting your menu online is an obvious no brainer, but it takes more than just offering up a PDF file for a customer to download on your website. You need to think about how a customer experiences your content. How the pages are presented, how the customer navigates between pages, and how the content interacts with the customer's emotions. An effectively presented menu online can be more powerful than the original print version, one that actually gets you more customers.

Why Should I Put My Menu Online

This question probably makes you roll your eyes. You know that all of your customers use their digital devices constantly, using it as their primary tool for consuming content from friends, family, and businesses they engage with. So it's pretty obvious your menu should also be online.

You probably have a website or at least a Google My Business listing, maybe a TripAdvisor and Yelp listing, and some other content you've put online. But restaurant websites are often poorly designed and not kept up to date, leaving a lot of customers with incorrect information and a poor first impression of what you offer.

When you market your restaurant online, you want to start with your menu, then build out from there. This is an effective content marketing strategy for your restaurant.

Add your Menu
Add your Contact information, directions, and hours
Add a story about why you run your restaurant
Add personal stories about your signature dishes
Add a story for a particular holiday or special event

Check out this example to see how powerful your menu could be online.

Start With Your Menu

You should start with your menu. You definitely have a PDF or Doc file that is your menu that you currently get printed by your local print services business. Your menu is the primary calling card for your restaurant. Leveraging it online is critical. It's also the easiest place to start since the content is already created, you only need to convert it to a microsite that looks impressive.

A menu is also, by design, a highly portable and distributable bit of content. It's packaged into a nice size, only a couple of pages, and formats well into most social networks, emails, and as content for those with short attention spans. It only takes minutes to get your menu to multiple locations on the web.

What Makes You Special

Get creative and create small microsites that highlight a dish and why you are serving it. It only needs to be a couple of pages, with a photo or two and some paragraphs. Then promote this on social media. Especially specials you have going or a meal you are particularly proud of. Customers want to see the authenticity in the meal you are serving. Don't just leave it up to your menu to convince customers that what you have is authentic and from the heart.

Enhancing your Menu Content

Now that your menu is online, we'll want to supercharge your pages and their presentation. Most will be just fine as they are, but there are opportunities to surprise and delight potential customers with interactive enhancements that aren't possible on a printed version.

Some of the Enhancements Above

Page Narration is about putting your own personality on the presentation of your content. You can describe your meals, your ambiance, your mission to customers that you couldn't convey in the text or images. It makes your page a hybrid video experience without requiring an actual video. This can be terrific with menus because you can describe your specials or highlight a specific dish, like having a server right there.

Video Lightboxes are a great way to provide a richer multimedia experience without disrupting the layout and story of your menu. A customer can view a video as a lightbox that explodes out from your page and holds their attention. If you've got a video, it can be a really great way to enhance your story and show off the experience of a visit to your restaurant.

Image Lightboxes are another great way to get more photos in front of a customer than what your print menu made possible. Adding a photo button to your page will let a customer view fullscreen sized images that let them see other action or detailed shots of your meals and drinks and setting.

Calls To Action are about making your menu encourage your potential customer to come to your establishment. You can add all the ways to reach your restaurant, including a link to any booking and reservation system you use, plus directions to your location.

Branding is making sure that the presentation of your menu is impressive and builds trust in your quality of service. A bad website doesn't inspire confidence in quality. By adding your logo plus a custom background, you make the experience of flipping through your menu feel professionally done.

With Simplebooklet, it only takes about 5 minutes to customize your online menu with all of these features.

Reaching Customers Online

Even after you have put your menu online, you need to promote it across as many digital channels as possible. In today's Internet, people expect your content to come to them on the channels they hang out, not have to spend a lot of time hunting for you.

The great thing about a Simplebooklet microsite is it's portability. Your Simplebooklet is designed to go to the places your customers hang out, not wait around for a customer to find you. You don't even need a website or hosting to get your menu out there.

Designed to be self-contained, your menu microsite is effective at making it's pitch in the different channels online. From social feeds to email to embedded on other websites and blogs, your menu gets discovered across hundreds of channels. And because it is designed to be distributed in all these other channels, you get the added bonus of customers sharing it with their networks, which becomes a defacto endorsement of what you're promoting.

Post it to Facebook
Your menu cover page looks great and is compelling. So post it to your facebook newsfeed. And do it a few times a month to keep it front and center for your social audience.

Pin it to Pinterest
Adding your menu to pinterest is a great way to have it get bundled with other relevant content, especially when it's curated to a pinboard by someone else. You'll find your menu gets pinned to boards with content that enhances and lends credibility to your content, from a local community expert to an advocates wish board. Your menu will end up getting pinned to multiple boards.

Embed it on your own existing website
Hey, this is where people actively look for your stuff. Why not make sure your menus are there and ready to be flipped instead of some unwieldly PDF download that is flat and boring?

Make it downloadable
When you save your menu as a PDF on simplebooklet, it actually saves it in the right order for viewing as a PDF. Then you can save it as a mobi and epub file so it can be read on e-readers like kindle.

Add it as part of your email signature
Placing the link to your latest menu in your email signature means it's available to anyone who reads your email correspondence. They can choose at anytime to open up your menu and see your latest offerings.

Send it to your email list
With the Simplebooklet mailchimp integration or just as a stand alone email, you'll send a rich html email that highlights the cover page and encourages your recipient to open your menu.

As you can see, you don't need to spend a lot of time, money or effort to get your menu online and promoted to your existing and potential customers.

More Ideas

Create a Collection

Creating a collection page of all your menus and even other forms of marketing communications can be a great resource to access your products.

First, it creates an easy to remember single URL to see all you offer. It's easily bookmarked and you can update it anytime.

Second, it's a useful resource for customers, when linked right in your menu navigation bar, to discover different menus, upcoming events, and more.

Your collection can contain more than just your menu. You can have newsletters, videos, upcoming event and more, all highly portable and sharable online content.

Version Your Content

Take that same menu and break it into segments. Your menu probably contains appetizers, main courses, salads, sides, and deserts. Copy just a section and make a new simplebooklet from it, with a series of photos or descriptions that better describe why you offer what you do.

For example, take your desert section and combine the menu with a series of photos of the dishes or the ambiance of your restaurant. Describe what makes your desert menu so unique. Then promote that new derivative work across your social networks like instagram, pinterest, facebook and twitter.

Instead of forcing your customer to wade through your entire menu, you grab their attention right away on a specific item. It also increases the amount of unique content you can promote to build awareness.

The new sub booklet as well takes very minimal time and no additional costs to produce. And this new booklet can drive customers to discover the main menu and be more intrigued.

Your Menu Belongs Online

If you haven't converted your print menu to an interactive, engaging online menu, you are missing out on a large and ever growing segment of your customer base. The costs and time to do this are minimal and your returns from greater exposure and engagement is enormous.

Some example Menus on Simplebooklet