Contract foodservice for public and private organizations is big business.
Aramark, the leader in this sector of our industry, has a market cap of over $7.5B. Today there hundreds of companies offering turnkey foodservice solutions for college and universities, stadiums, residential and healthcare dining, prepared meals, and corporate dining campuses.
Like most B2B purchases, contract foodservice shoppers genererally start their research online where they'll expect to find companies that can help them. The importance of a quality digital strategy and a well-thought out website is critical for foodservice companies wanting to compete in this growth area of our industry.
Here are 7 considerations for desigining a corporate foodservice website that will get your company discovered and people interested in your solutions.
1] How do you (broadly) define a successful website for a company in the commercial foodservice market?
Today, a successful website can be a corporate foodservice company's primary engine for sales lead generation. Visitors will first expect to see the company's value proposition straightway. Further in, they expect to understand the company's corporate values - what's in their DNA. From there, if they like what they see, they'll expect multiple opportunities to dive deeper, learn more about specific foodservice solutions. Finally, they may want to be contacted by a company representative -- via a communication method of their choosing.
2] Are there specific items your team wants to make sure the website is able to do before it goes live?
Mobile optimization is a must. While you might believe that research for corporate foodservice solutions isn't done exclusively on mobile devices, the fact is that for many prospects, their first interaction with your brand may be on a smartphone -- especially if they find out about your company through email. Ensuring your website renders well on a mobile device will ensure a solid first impression. And, with Google's recent algorithm changes, search results are reserving premium placements for mobile-optimized websites.
3] And after it goes live, what are you looking for in terms of its ability to generate traffic and qualified prospects?
A website is ultimately measured by the quality of its content. Quality content is what drives good search engine results. So, in order for your website to produce substantive traffic that generates qualified leads consistently, its content should be highly targeted to specific corporate foodservice subject matter. Content should focus on solutions that are specific to the problems that many corporations are dealing with all the time -- getting the most out of their employee cafes, offering affordable and healthy menu choices, ensuring efficient foodservice operations and so on.
4] What kinds of marketing automation tools do you consider must-haves for this market?
A great marketing platform should provide soup-to-nuts features and functionality from landing pages, form design, email marketing and workflows, blog and social media management, and all the tracking metrics... and, don't forget integration with your sales management database.
5] What type of website data should a company be measuring and analyzing?
Understanding our visitor traffic growth and its relationship to lead quality from a multitude of channels is a great place to start. While each channel generates leads, you'll want to understand which channels yield the highest number of "quality" leads. While your organic search traffic may yield a tremendous amount of leads, the leads generated by direct traffic (entering in our domain name directly into a browser) or through site referrals (ad campaigns, for instance) will generally yield the most qualified or most interested prospects. The information gleened from your website analytics will clearly impact how you design your next marketing budget and plan.
6] Do you have any best practices of website management for restaurant operators?
Content will make or break your efforts. Invest the time and energy into creating quality content that your audience will value. You can't stop there, either. You must be consistent with adding new, timely, relevant content or run the risk of being stale.
7a] Finally, what are common mistakes to avoid in developing a new website?
A common mistake for B2B sites is being too "visual." Good B2B websites should strike a solid balance between being visually interesting and being substantially informative. Your audience isn't going to your site to buy a pair of jeans or a luxury watch -- they're there to learn about making a smart foodservice decision. It's up to you to help them get smarter and educated, so they can have intelligent conversations with your sales team as they lead the prospect through the buying process.
7b] And common mistakes to avoid when you plan to reuse content from an older website?
A new site is a great opportunity to refresh old content.
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Paul Molinari is the head of marketing for Boston-based CrunchTime! Information Systems, the hospitality industry’s leading restaurant back office software provider. With over 15 years experience in the digital marketing space, Mr. Molinari has helped brands such as General Motors, AstraZeneca, Thomson, and Tweeter convert leads into customers and customers into advocates. He holds a BS in Business Administration from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY and an MBA with a dual concentration in Marketing and Supply Chain Management from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.