Have you thought about your web presence recently? Is it helping you pack your bakery full of coffee-drinking, pastry-loving customers?
If not, do you need to rethink what your bakery website is doing for your business?
Managing your web presence isn't exactly exciting. I'm sure you'd rather be pulling piping hot chocolate croissant out of the oven then update your Facebook page.
And I totally get that.
But, it’s important to not let your bakery website slide to the back-burner. After all, it’s one of the best ways to get new customers.
That’s why you may need to devote a little more love and attention than you do to those delicious blueberry muffins.
This really means you need a website that converts morning coffee drinkers into morning coffee and croissant buyers. Anything to increase your average sale per customer and boost the number of people dropping in for Sunday brunch.
So, let’s take a look at what you can do to your website to get more customers banging down your oven door.
1. Add Pictures to Pull Visitors In
It’s no surprise sites like FoodPornDaily.com and Pinterest are successful. They make it possible for consumers to scroll through an endless amount of beautiful food photography. Not only does it make them hungry, but it sets the bar high for outstanding food photography when they’re on your website.
When a customer sees maple syrup-covered blueberry pancakes on the web, they’re hungry.
And then they go to your website.
They see the same pancakes, but a much worse picture. Your pancakes are dark, the syrup doesn’t look too good, and the butter is indescribable. You’ve created a disconnect in the customer’s mind between what they could have and what your website is presenting.
That creates two problems: You're not making a great first impression. And it means you’ve got to up your food photography game.
The first impression is fixable, but the food photography isn’t easy. And it can be expensive. Local photographers charge thousands of dollars for just a few shots.
How do you take magazine-worthy photography at 1/10th the cost?
Here are a couple ideas:
1. Hire a college student
College students are always looking to expand their portfolio and make some beer money. Get in touch with a couple photography professors to see if they have students who are looking for an internship or paid freelance work. Sure, you may not get professional quality photos, but chances are you’ll get some decent shots.
2. Take your own pictures (a smartphone is OK)
Have you seen the pictures coming from the latest iPhones? They’re pretty spectacular. And you can get those same quality pictures with the press of a button. Or, you can use a point-and-shoot camera to capture dishes coming out of the kitchen or dinner specials for the night. Don’t think your Ansel Adams? The next tip has a cure for that!
3. Go through food photography tutorials online
A lot of photographers are charging super-small amounts to help you learn food photography. From video courses to PDFs and personal 1-on-1 instruction, find what works best for you. Here are a couple of online resources to take advantage of:
- Lunchbox - online photography tutorials
- Snapn Guides - delicious food photography in a snap
- Photographing Food - 7 pdf guides that cover certain aspects of food photography
There’s plenty of resources to get started improving the visuals for your online presence. And believe me, when customers see the ooey-gooey glaze of your cinnamon rolls, they’ll be lining up every Saturday morning.
2. Add Social Media to Connect with Customers
I’m sure you’ve been hearing a lot about social media these days. Perhaps, you already use Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to connect with customers. And that’s great.
But, are you using them effectively?
It’s one thing to have social media profiles. It’s another to use them to build a loyal following for your business. Plus, you want to advertise your profiles everywhere possible - including your website. Having multiple points of contact is one of the best ways to get the biggest bang for your buck from your website and social feeds.
Below, you’ll find a couple tips on how to use the most popular social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Foursquare) to find new customers, and engage with your current ones.
Let’s start things off with Twitter.
How to use Twitter for your bakery
1. Connect with the locals by following your city’s hashtag
From small towns to big cities, almost every location has a hashtag to follow. For example, Burlington, VT is #btv, Chicago is #chi, and Portland, OR is #pdx. You can even set up a stream to see if someone tweets about a bakery in #btv for example. That means you have a customer generation tool for little to no cost. You’d take a cake order in less than 140 characters, right?
2. Use the 90/10 rule (that’s 90% connection and 10% promotion)
No one likes to hear someone constantly talk about themselves. It doesn’t provide any value. And that’s exactly what you want to do on Twitter. Share your follower’s updates, events happening in town, and answer a tourists questions 90% of the time. Save the other 10% for promoting your brownies, cupcakes, and cookies.
3. Tweet throughout the day
You never know when potential customers are on Twitter. That means you want to schedule tweets throughout the day - from 5am all the way to 11pm. Use tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and WhenToTweet to make the most of scheduling your updates.
How to use Facebook for your bakery
1. Share pictures - almost exclusively
Hubspot, the leader in inbound marketing, did a Facebook study and found status updates with pictures are received 53% more likes than text-only content. As I stated earlier, people LOVE pictures. They like, comment, and share them much more than text updates. Get snappy with some of the tips above or use apps like Instagram right from your smartphone.
2. Do giveaways for likes & shares
A lot of small businesses have been successful doing share-driven contests. Maybe you’re trying to make it to 5,000 fans? Get your current fans to help you out. Just a handful of shares could get you to your milestone pretty quickly. But, they’ll only do it if you’re giving something away. I’m pretty sure free cookies would get anyone to share your status updates.
3. Ask for feedback
Questions get a great response from followers because you involve them in company decisions. Here’s a couple of examples you could ask your fans:
- What scone flavor would you like to see this week?
- Who should win employee of the week?
- We’re looking for a local coffee supplier. Who would you recommend?
Simple, quick questions are best. Don’t make it a survey out of it or no one is going to respond.
How to use Pinterest for your bakery
1. Post those delicious pictures you just took
Pinterest is all about visuals. It’s a scrolling wall of pictures. And don’t you want to capture someone’s attention? You betcha! Even though you’re not targeting locals, put the name of your bakery in the description area and you might show up in the search engines! Pinterest pins have been know to make an appearance on the first page of Google if they contain the right keywords.
2. Inspiration for new recipes
Struggling to find the next best muffin to add to your product line? Pinterest is loaded with hundreds of unique recipes to spark your interest. Plus, your pinterest followers could “like” the recipes they think would do well in your bakery.
3. Share your own recipes
While it’s not necessary to divulge your secrets, customers love to get their hands on top-secret family recipes you’re willing to send out to the public. And the best part? If people are attracted to your picture and recipe, they’ll re-pin it. This means your recipe has the potential to get decent attention from the Pinterest users who would click through to your bakery website to find the recipe.
How to use Foursquare for your bakery
This is the social network you’re likely to know the least about. In a nutshell, Foursquare is powered by check-ins to your location. The person with the most check-ins is the mayor of your business. Plus, the check-ins get sent to Facebook and Twitter
1. Give the mayor something valuable
The mayor is likely one of your most loyal customers, so give him (or her) something nice. How about free coffee? Or a dozen free cupcakes? That’ll keep the mayor coming back.
2. Have a check-in-specific deal
The mayor isn’t the only one checking-in to your business. It’s probably hundreds of people - and a lot of them are tourists. Tourists will do anything for a discount - including a check-in. How about a $1 off a muffin or buy one coffee, get one free?
3. Promote a contest for mayorship
Make it a battle between loyal customers to gain the coveted spot of mayor of your bakery. It not only creates healthy competition between loyal customers, but it gets your bakery thrown into water-cooler conversation at the office. And that’s perfect for getting the word out about your bakery.
Social media is here to stay. And for your bakery, incorporating it into your website so people know you’re available on several social networks, will boost customer participation and you’ll learn a lot about who your customer base is and what they like.
3. Add Your Story to Make an Emotional Connection
You’re a baker. You hand-form dough, effortlessly pipe buttercream, and sift flour like a professional.
Those three things are only part of your story.
Use your website to tell the rest. Bakers and pastry chefs are talented creators who like to show off what they can do with the sweet stuff. Plus, they’ve all got stories of when they started out, how and where they were trained, their favorite baked good to make, etc.
All of this helps to create a brand for your bakery, a story for your business, and a face to a name for much of your team.
So, how do you tell that story in such a way that doesn’t become so dry and boring?
There are a couple of ways to tell your story through the web. The most obvious is your about page.
While most companies write generic text about fresh, quality ingredients and their dedication to customer service, I know your bakery is different.
Put your story down on paper - be proud of the bakery you’ve created. Here are a couple tips to make your about page stand out.
How to write a stellar about page for your bakery website
1. Include candid pictures of the team
You’d never catch anyone in a three-piece suit working in your bakery. So, don’t show generic pictures of generic people - show your team! The dedication they put into the rolls fresh-baked daily. Or the fun flour fights after hours. Or better yet, include a profile of everyone who works at the bakery. It’s a great conversation starter for loyal customers and an even better way to put a face to a name.
2. Historical photos
Has your bakery been in business for a couple decades? Show what used to be your bakery. Show your mother or grandfather taking sheets of bagels out of the wood-fired oven. Who cares if the pictures are black and white? It creates for an authenticity and credibility you wouldn’t be able to find at a brand-new bakery. Use your history to stand-out from the rest of the bakeries in town.
3. Tell your story
We’ve all got them. Heck, we could tell stories for days and days about how we got started! Do the same for your bakery. How long have you been baking? When did you add your first team member? What’s your favorite item to make?, etc. Have fun with it. Consumers connect best when they can relate to the story. Maybe it’s you and your Mom cutting sugar cookies out during Christmas time - or, it could be showing your garden, adjacent to the bakery, where you get some of your fresh produce for tarts and other baked goods.
Don’t want to write pages of content? Then consider making a video!
With sites like Youtube ranked as the 2nd most popular search engine (behind Google), it’s no surprise the number of videos produced in the last few years has skyrocketed.
That’s because video is an amazing tool.
In just 60 or 90 seconds, you can communicate who you are as a business: show the early morning yeast-rise, pulling quiche from the oven, or caramelizing apples for a shortcake tower. The more visual the better. And you can use your video in all of your marketing materials, on your website, and for press hits, too.
Creating a great video can be a challenge. There’s the video camera, audio, lighting, the setting, the script. Oh, and not to mention, you still have to run your bakery!
How do you create great bakery videos?
The same suggestions apply to video as they do for photography above - hire an inexpensive college student or just DIY the whole project yourself. With simple editing tools and an inexpensive video camera, you can complete a video for less than a couple hundred bucks. Plus, the folks over at Wistia (an online video hosting service) have fantastic tips for making the most of your DIY movie studio. And the video tutorials are 100% free.
Video can be an amazing tool to captivate your website visitors, get them to keep buying your fresh-baked bread, and ultimately create a customer for life.
So, where does that leave you?
First off, you made it to the bottom of this behemoth article. Wahoo! Secondly, you probably need a summary of what you just read:
To get a bakery website that generates a line of customers out your door, it’s recommended your website contain the following elements:
- Large visuals - video or photography
- Social media integration - Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- One heck of a story - be authentic, show your staff, and have fun with it.
Bakeries aren’t stale (no pun intended). They are vibrant, full-of-life, and produce some of the most mouth-watering food you’ll ever see.
Put your best foot forward when it comes to your web presence. Get started on your new website and social media presence today.
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