What does a customer see when they view your brand online?
When you walk through the front door to your restaurant, you get a glimpse of what the customer experiences. You see the debris, the grass growing out of the sidewalk, the neon light not turned on. Once inside, you see how the host stand looks and all the small things that go into the customer’s perception. I suggest always walking in your front door as opposed to the back employee entrance.
That same mentality should apply to your digital doorstep. What is your digital doorstep? It’s how a customer who comes in views your brand online. If you only look at Google analytics of click-through-rates and how often your menu is displayed, you’re not looking at what the customer is seeing. As much as your physical restaurant will need a deep clean from time to time, your online presence is the same. I come across lazy dated digital presences so often with pizzeria operators, which is insane because it’s the first impression the customer sees way before they get to your restaurant. It’s even more critical because the way it’s presented can be the deciding factor if they choose to go to your restaurant.
Here are some necessary house cleaning double checks you may or may not have done in a long time:
Go to your website and click on your menu to ensure it’s up to date and the social icon links still direct to where they should.
Check out all the review sites. Do they have your most up-to-date menu and a good representation photo of your food and ambiance on their page? Make sure someone’s poorly lit photo isn’t your key image on your page. Also, are the hours correct? They might have been when you set up the page, but things glitch, one day it might just change without provocation.
If you have third-party delivery, do they have your menu updated correctly with correct pricing? Are the photos on their page of YOUR food or some stock photo that looks nothing like what you sell? For any online ordering, I also want to check the coupons to make sure they are functioning correctly as well.
Social Media Pages:
What does your Facebook page look like? Now, this one’s a little trickier because if you’re like me and you run your Facebook page, what you see is going to be different than what your customer sees. So to truly get a feel for the digital doorstep that my customer sees, I use a separate browser with a fake name and account to check out all these sites.
When you make your fake name and profile, see if that version now gets advertised to. For my fake page, I used my actual age and location because my current age range is the target demo.
If I weren’t, I would make the fake account with the target demo’s info so I can see how my online marketing is working. Case in point, sometimes I’ll log in on the fake account, and I’ll see a direct competitor being advertised to the fake me, which I would not have seen otherwise if I was logged in as the owner of my business page. Checking out my social profile from this fake account, I can see what the customer truly would see. If I were to log in on my regular browser under my real account, I would see that site’s business owners’ perception of my account, which can be skewed. I’ll look up my info everywhere, not just Google but also Bing, duckduckgo (track free search), and even Yellow Pages, to see what my brand is doing and how it is perceived everywhere online.
I find this tactic to be incredibly valuable to see if my ad dollars are working as well as I want. I catch simple errors that I would not have seen otherwise. Make no mistake; your online presence is how you are seen today, more than the sign outside your store. If you can spare time to sweep your kitchen, you can spare time to sweep the Internet.
Additionally, I don’t only do this on the browser of my laptop. I also check it on my mobile phone to make sure that all the websites are optimized correctly. For digital clean up, I’ve never found success outsourcing it; it’s on you to do it. Scan the web, take your notes, decide what’s not right, and then make a plan to change it. No one can replace you and your gut for what you want your customers to see and experience when interacting with your brand.
Mike Bausch is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma.