How much does a ‘FREE’ website really cost?

Date: 05-03-2012

There are a lot of free and cheap website providers out there. Weebly and MYOB Atlas are two such vendors who both offer free websites to small business customers who are time poor and don’t want to spend money on a website. Just what exactly do you get for your money?

MYOB CEO Tim Reed announced that Atlas had received 4 million visits from 1.4 million visitors for the 30,000 business that had an online presence with them. These figures seem very impressive on the face of it, but it works out to be 47 unique visitors per website for the entire year.

In comparison to Marketing 4 Restaurants’ websites, around 15% of our customers had more traffic last Sunday than the average Atlas customer had in 1 year! 75% of our customers had more traffic last week than an Atlas customer had in 1 year! MYOB Atlas customers have shocking results if they were relying on their free website to drive any sort of revenue and profit increase for their business!

According to MYOB more than 60% of Australian businesses don’t have a website. However there are no such figures for those that have an underperforming website. In today’s online driven environment, any restaurant website that doesn’t generate good traffic, is missing out on one of the most cost effective avenues for marketing their business!

website statsThe first thing every restaurant, cafe and take away owner needs to do is to look at the their website statistics to understand how much traffic is coming to their site, and the level of customer engagement. All website packages should offer some sort of analytics indicating how many visits and page views have been received. It is still difficult to know whether a result is good or bad, but it should be enough to justify the amount of time that spent on raising your restaurant’s awareness level.

Free websites costs restaurant owners in 3 ways:

Firstly, there are the customers who are looking for a restaurant, but don’t find yours. You should be generating as much traffic as possible, so at least potential customers can look at your photos and menu and consider your restaurant or cafe for a meal. If they don’t find your website, they will have found your competitor’s, and probably gone and had a meal with them. Remember – every repeat customer was once a first time customer, so it isn’t about losing a couple of seats for the night. That customer may be looking for a new regular Mexican, French or Chinese restaurant. Losing that 1 search query may cost hundreds of dollars depending how good you and your competitors are at providing Outstanding Customer Service, getting customer details and marketing to those customers with a reason for them to come back.

Secondly, there are the customers that find your website and are turned off by what they see. This can happen with high traffic websites that just don’t look appealing or if the menu doesn’t work for people.mobile phones Big Tip – make sure your website is mobile friendly! An increasing number of people are searching on their mobile phones. We have found some restaurant websites can have as much as 20% of traffic from mobiles. Interestingly enough, the traffic is from 4PM through to 9PM, so these people are probably looking for somewhere to eat. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you will miss most of this traffic.

Lastly, there is the time and effort wasted with trying to set up the website that is not getting more customers. The main point of all of marketing, including your website, emails and social media is to bring in more customers, more revenue and more profit. If you are spending time on a website that isn’t doing that, you should be spending your precious time on a different kind of marketing that will work better for you or get a website that works.

Marketing4Restaurants has prepared a special report detailing the 10 things wrong with Restaurant, cafe and take away websites. If you would like to find out how Marketing4Restaurants can help you find more customers, contact us today.

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