One of the best parts of working in the food industry is that there's a lot of information overlap. Although each subsector is different, it's easy to work with restaurants, chefs, bloggers, beverages or food products because a lot of the tips and tricks are the same. (Precisely why we cater 5 Minute Food Marketing to everyone in the industry).
That's true for food marketing website tips too. If you own a physical product instead of a restaurant, many of the tips we gave you in our Anatomy of a Successful Restaurant Website post are still applicable to you. But, who has the time to sift through something with tips you may or may not need? Let's put it all in one place, shall we?
Today's for you.
In this guide to building a better food or beverage product website, you'll learn:
- Why does my food product website matter?
- What information does my food product website need?
- Where should information on my website go?
- How often do I need to update my food product website?
- How do I get more traffic on my website once it's ready?
Why does my food product website matter?
Well, does the packaging matter? You probably spent hours laboring over what wraps your product — let's give the same attention to the tool that sells it online.
I was recently chatting with one of my beverage clients about how tedious it was to get the packaging just right. Everything — from the official labeling to brand colors to fonts — was carefully considered (and usually debated) by many passionate people. You need it to pop on the shelf, and you need it to clearly convey what you do. You don't just need it to be beautiful, you need it to be functional too.
Well, the same goes for your website, whether you sell your product online or not. We're living in the research era, where purchase decisions are often heavily weighed by consumers — especially millennials — who want to know the story behind the brands they invest in.
Gone are the days of delivering the first impression on the shelf or at the farmer's market. Often times, the first impression is happening before they even hold your product in their hands. It's happening online, hopefully on your website.
Where should I host my website to sell a food product?
I don't want to spend too much time convincing you that you need a website. To be frank, if we're stuck on that point of the conversation, I don't know how much I can do to help you join the 21st century.
But, what's more helpful, is where to host your website to sell your food product.
If you don't hire out web services, it is possible to DIY. While most seasoned web developers may custom build your site or use more customizable platforms like Wordpress, I point all of my DIY clients to Squarespace (or Shopify, if you need more custom sales functionalities). They even have a dedicated section for e-commerce products — showing you successful examples in the space and pointing out industry-specific capabilities it has, like flexible payments and seamless checkout. Read up on that here.
Bottom line, whatever you use, it's got to be mobile-phone friendly. That's where most of the searching is happening. So get on a platform that does it for you.
What information does my food website need? Where should it go?
This is where things start to go south on many websites I see. You know how newspapers have all of the most important news of the day "above the fold?" That's what we're trying to do with your website. Consider the example above.
All of the important actions you want a visitor to make are at the top, front and center — HOME - SHOP - BLOG. (this one's pretty simple, I might add an "About Us" as well.)
Here's what every food website should have "above the scroll":
a BUY NOW or SHOP NOW button
a link to learn more about you (about page)
We'll dig into this another day, but your about page should include more than a cutesy story of how you got started. That is important, but, more importantly, people want tactical information — what is shipping like? Do you offer returns?
- a link to contact you
- bonus if you don't even have to click to get to the email or phone number
Those are the big ones. Further down, we weave in...
killer food photography and product descriptions
a link to your social media accounts and/or email sign up
- miscellaneous — any other aspects of your product that you'd like to boast. Sourcing? Charitable partnerships?
How often do I need to update my website?
This one's simple. As often as information changes. Hospitality is about anticipating someone's needs before they're spoken. Giving someone false or out-of-date information before they've even purchased from you is hurting your business in the long-run.
How do I get more traffic on my website once it's ready?
Obviously, people are going to visit your food website when they're searching for products to buy, BUT what if you had them coming back regularly? What if you could stay top of mind all the time? It's possible, but you'll need to blog. And that's a story for another day. (Hint: 1 week). (And no, we didn't forget about SEO. It's coming too.)