The Industry

What makes guests more likely to try your restaurant

We asked 1,000 consumers what makes them more likely to try a restaurant so you can build a data-driven digital strategy.

In the restaurant industry, good food and atmosphere are the best ways to turn a first-time visitor into a regular. But with consumers increasingly turning online to find their next dining destination, restaurant owners have to get creative with how they communicate what makes their restaurant different.

Understanding what makes a guest choose one restaurant over another can feel like a lot of guesswork. That’s why we asked over 1,000 U.S. consumers what factors make them more likely to try a restaurant, so you can build a digital strategy that’s driven by data.


(57% of Consumers)

It’s no question that customer feedback can provide valuable information to your restaurant and your guests. But, with 4 out of 5 consumers saying they trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family, having those reviews in a place where you can control the conversation is all the more important. 

By having reviews live on your website, you eliminate the need for guests to visit third parties, where they can get distracted by competitor ads, angry customers, and irrelevant reviews–think of that “one star” review because you weren’t open at 5 am on a Sunday. Reviews submitted directly to you do more than simply provide feedback–you can collect guest data and preferences, choose which reviews are visible to other guests, respond privately to customers with negative input and increase revenue – dishes with reviews tend to receive more orders, according to Popmenu research.

A list of positive reviews on a Mexican Restaurant's website.

Dish Photos & Descriptions on the Menu

(45% of Consumers)

Dining at a restaurant is an experience driven by the senses–taste, smell, and sight all play a major role in helping guests decide what to eat. By having craveable dish photos and descriptions on your website’s menu, you can bring that experience online for your guests.  In fact, dishes that have photos receive nearly twice as many online orders through Popmenu’s online ordering than dishes that don’t.

An American restaurant's online menu dish beautiful dish photos and mouthwatering dish descriptions.

Easy to Use Website

(35% of Consumers)

With 63% of Google’s US Organic search traffic coming from a mobile device it’s safe to say that many first-time visitors will be finding you on their phone. Having an adaptive website that’s easy to navigate and read on any device is necessary when trying to effectively communicate with your guests. This is especially true for pages with high traffic, such as your menu, which is where 90% of guests go immediately when navigating to your website. What’s more, 30% of guests will move on if they’re using a mobile device and see a PDF menu.

An adaptive restaurant website on a tablet, computer monitor, and a cell phone.

Special Promotions & Events

(35% of Consumers)

For some guests, trying a new restaurant can feel like a bit of a risk, so giving them “something in return” for taking a chance with you is a great way to incentivize them to feel more comfortable. Offering first-time guests a discount when ordering online, a free appetizer when they dine-in, or hosting special events they can participate in are just a few ways to get them excited to visit. 

An offer for free breadsticks on a pizza website.

Up-To-Date and Compelling Social Media

(25% of Consumers)

An active social media presence with shareable content can keep you top of mind with followers and serve as an excellent introduction for new guests. It also lets you get more mileage out of the mouthwatering dish photos you had taken for your online menus. If you haven’t made a social media account for your restaurant, our guide covering the Do’s and Don’ts of Restaurant Social Media Marketing is the perfect place to get started.

Two phones with a pizza restaurant's instagram feed, showing pasta on one phone and pizza on the other.

Ranking in Google Search Results

(24% of Consumers)

Google is the number one place guests go to research a restaurant before dining, so it’s important to have a website designed to improve your ranking on search pages. For example, menus with unique URLs for each dish item give you more digital real estate, and every update to your menu signals new information for Google to crawl, bringing your restaurant closer to the top in search results. In addition, many of the tips above can serve as best practices to help you get the most out of Google.

A screenshot of a google search for "Best Pizza Chicago"

While these tips might seem like a lot, putting them into practice is easier if you have the right tools. Popmenu has everything you need to get started, including beautiful websites built to improve search rankings, interactive menus that feature dish photos and reviews, and social media integrations–so you can make all of these changes in a single dashboard. To learn more, schedule a demo with our team!

Front of the House Resource

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing for Restaurants

Consumers spend 40% of their monthly food budgets on restaurants. Wouldn’t it be great to capture more of it? You don’t need a degree in marketing or a big budget to effectively promote your restaurant. Heck, you don’t even need a lot of time. While marketing can feel utterly overwhelming, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be complex and a lot of it can be automated. This guide covers all the marketing basics with easy tips and examples so you can hit the ground running and quickly grow your sales. Learn how to: Bring your brand to life Create a simple marketing strategy that pays off Drive more traffic and orders through your online menu, website and social channels Automate email/text outreach to keep guests coming back for more

Download Now


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