by David Kirkpatrick, ReporterCHALLENGE
Even if your business is almost completely built around customer visits to a physical location, your online presence should still be a major part of marketing efforts. This presence can enhance and improve your brand, or, if poorly executed, actually turn off current and potential customers.
While Matt Matros was a brand manager for Kraft Foods he went on a high-protein diet and lost a significant amount of weight. On this diet, he realized that no restaurants in Chicago offered the food he was eating and, after some market research, he obtained some loans, liquidated his life savings and opened Protein Bar.
Two years later he began an expansion project for three new restaurants, and he realized his then-current website was not up to the task of serving and marketing multiple locations. Read on to learn the process Matros undertook to completely revamp the website and simultaneously improve customer interaction.CAMPAIGN
Matros reason for completely redesigning the Protein Bar website was two-fold:
o The old site was based on Flash
, which presented serious time-consuming issues for any changes in content or design.
o The old site's design only supported a single store, and because the company was in the process of adding restaurants the site needed to support multiple units with different marketing messages, different menus and user-friendly maps and tools to support each location.
With the decision to revamp the site in place, the main hurdle was a very short timeline. Matros began interviewing website developers in late December, and made a decision in mid-January. The new site had to be completely ready for launch at the beginning of April -- around eleven weeks from first development meeting to deployment.
A key factor in Matros' selection of the Web design team was the chosen firm's project management strength. This attribute gave Matros confidence the project would be completed on time.Step #1. Set benchmarks and develop the site
Matros explained one positive attribute Protein Bar had going into this fast-paced project, "One of the beauties of being a small company is that we are willing to make decisions very quickly." He continued, "I didn't really waste much time 'dillydallying.'"
Another positive is Protein Bar already had branding, content and other creative information ready for the new site, so there was little time spent on creative elements.
He sat down with the design team for several hours to discuss the challenges of redesigning the site, and explaining what Protein Bar was expecting from the new website.
These elements included:
o Multiple menu items at multiple locations
o Different menus for each location
o Customer testimonials on the site that are regularly refreshed
o Adding photography to the revamped site
The development team came back with a 12-week launch proposal laying out the entire project with a series of benchmarks for each element within the timeline. Matros knew 12 weeks was longer than he wanted for the launch, so Protein Bar immediately began scouring the benchmarks for places to gain time.
He said, "We knew that as long as we were fast on things, and we turn things around, then there would be a way to just beat up the timelines."
For example, the developers allotted one month for photography and content development, but because that element was handled by Matros and his team they turned that material in two weeks. This nimbleness illustrated the advantage of being a smaller company with fewer approval points to slow the process down.
Adding photography was an important design element from the beginning of the process. The old site had no photography and Matros realized that was "one big area where we had a failure" and an area where the new site would offer a stark contrast to the old website.
Matros stated, "We really wanted to highlight all the ingredients that we use that makes Protein Bar unique. We knew photography was going to be large component [of the new site.]"
Social media was another element that Matros felt was important to add to the new website and marketing efforts surrounding the redesign.
He explained, "Social media means different things to different people, but for us it just means interactivity." This element was added to the site in several ways:
o Blog, via a third-party interface built to match the look of the main site
o Twitter feed icons that can be found on the homepage and several interior pages
o Facebook and RSS icons
o Feedback submission form where customers could communicate with Protein Bar on a one-to-one level
- Transparency leads to trust
The overall goal of Protein Bar's social media outreach and content marketing strategy is being transparent and upfront with its customers about what the company is doing, what it is offering and what it is selling.
Matros stated, "That helps us gain the trust of our customers so everything that we really do is about our transparency and building our [level of] trust."
Matros described Protein Bar's marketing efforts as focused on providing a good experience for its customers, both in the restaurant and online, so, "they can stay happy and [become] returning customers."
Around the time the decision was made to revamp the website, Matros hired a marketing manager to manage all the content and social media. Content is supplied to one or more of the social media outlets several times a day, and Matros himself provides around three blog posts each week.Step #3. Understand your market
A major reason for the total redesign of Protein Bar's website
was the realization that people go to restaurant websites for three primary reasons:
o To see the menu
o To find location information
o To provide, or read about, customer feedback
Matros said that the new site was designed with these particular elements in mind, along with adding educational pieces in the form of content marketing.
Because the company was involved in immediate expansion plans it was important for the new site to accommodate menu and location information for multiple restaurants, a feature that wasn't feasible with the old Flash-based website.
The architecture of the new site allows non-technical site administrators to easily make changes to onsite
menus, and embedded online maps provide restaurant location information.
Social media interactivity and blog posts contribute to the educational elements of the site, but another aspect of education includes a content marketing standard -- the newsletter. Signup for the newsletter appears on the footer of each webpage, and people using the online submission form have the opportunity to subscribe.
Before the site redesign, Protein Bar collected newsletter signups in-store through a fish-bowl drop. Matros said newsletter sign-up is now split evenly between in-store and online.
Matros provides the key takeaway from the site redesign, "I think we have just done a better job of overall communicating the look, design and feel of our stores, and communicating what our brand really is from a design perspective. And from a functionality perspective it is obviously much easier for customers to view menus."
He added that the previous Flash-based site did not give Protein Bar the ability to monitor how visitors actually interacted with the website, and the new site allows the company to track what customers are viewing, what is important to visitors and understand why people are going to the website.
o Bounce rate went down 63.8%
o Time-on-site increased by 179.97%
o Page views increased by 475.72%
o Pages-per-visit increased by 198%
o Visits increased by 93.19%
o New visits increased by 5.02%
o The site took eight weeks to design and buildUseful links related to this article
1. New redesigned website homepage
2. Older, Flash-based homepageProtein BarOrbit Media Studios
-- Web development firm for Protein Bar's new site
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