Do you sell food-related products online and want to grow your revenue? You’ve come to the right place!  

Yum by Studio specializes in growing food-related businesses. Want increased website traffic, brand exposure and online sales? That’s what we do!  And our Ultimate Ecommerce Guide for the Food Industry clearly outlines just how you can too. It includes the best practices for design, SEO, digital marketing, social media, email and more, all tailored specifically to the food industry. We also really double down on the food puns.

Are you HUNGRY (sorry) for sales? Sounds good to us. Let’s dig in.

Chapter 1: Design the sells (yummy things)

How food tastes is important, but it’s how it looks that gets people excited. And since the visual aspect of food is so important, that makes web design for a food-related ecommerce site that much more crucial.

Here are some best practices when designing your online food store. 

1. Utilize large, professional photos of your products

High-quality product photos are especially important when you’re selling food. Truly delectable images will help your products sell themselves. Instead of using stock photography, invest in a professional photographer to take photos of your products or a graphic designer who can place your products in different scenes and give them different treatments to make them stand out. This will differentiate your foods from those on other websites and increase your products’ appeal.

Once you have those drool-worthy photos, showcase them throughout your website. Large images on the homepage following what’s known as a “grid” layout is a great start, but don’t just stop there. Having tasty photos at the top of your categories pages, called “category graphics,”  can really elevate your website. Also, displaying multiple photos of each product on your product pages is a great way to showcase your items and entice shoppers to purchase. 

2. Think about your typography (and how you’re using it)

Stunning product photos pair wonderfully with great typography. Together, the two create an appetizing experience for your visitors. So pay attention to the way your type is styled and presented. That will quickly set the tone of your site (playful, sophisticated, casual, etc.) in a subtle but powerful way.

Another aspect to consider when you’re dealing with typography is how you’ll get different fonts to play nicely together. In general, a larger, bolder font signals to the reader that the information is more important and needs to be read first, while smaller text typically indicates that the content is more nuanced and detail-oriented.

3. Keep the website “clean” and user-friendly

Keeping your website clean and organized goes a long way in creating an appetizing design that is easy for your customers to shop. By removing clutter and organizing your website in a consistent, logical way, you allow your products and photography to take center stage.   

A clean aesthetic highlights images and gravitates toward a simpler, more straightforward design. This is particularly handy in the food business, since it psychologically conveys a clean, pure environment, which is exactly the kind of place people will want to buy food from..

4. Choose an appetizing color palette

An attractive, food-appropriate color palette can get your customers salivating the second they hit your homepage. Reds, oranges, greens, yellows and browns are popular choices for food stores, but don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to that palette.

You can also utilize the colors that appear in your products and in your branding. Do you sell fair-trade, wood-roasted coffee beans? Then experiment with lots of browns and natural hues. Is fruit-flavored candy your moneymaker? Then try playing off the bright colors of your most popular flavors.

5. Think about your customers and how they shop

This goes for any ecommerce site, but it bears repeating: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. How might your customers find your products? Are they looking for a specific item and more likely to search for it, or are they more likely to be browsers and look through your categories to find an item that sparks their interest?

Most likely you’ll have a few different types of customers, so it’s best to organize your website to account for the different ways they may shop your site. Things like a prominent, easy-to-use search bar, visual representations of your most popular categories and a well-organized navigation menu can help cover the needs of your different customers.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your shopping cart is prominent so that shoppers can always see how many items are in their cart and check out quickly and easily. Not only will this help prevent sticker shock later on, but it creates a pleasant user experience for your shopper.

6. Look for inspiration elsewhere

Like any creative endeavor, it helps to get a look at what others are doing. Check out your competitors and other brands you admire, and even spend some time with a Pinterest board or two.  What’s important is that you’re keeping yourself in the know, discovering new looks you like and never letting your site get stale.

Get the Ultimate Ecommerce Guide for the Food Industry

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Chapter 2: SEO: organic certified search engine traffic 

To climb to the top of the food SEO pyramid, it’s all about site structure, on-page optimization and thoughtful content geared toward a very specific audience.

Food-related content is very popular. What your store needs to do is find out where it fits into that larger picture, then get out there and join the conversation.

Here are some SEO best practices for online stores in the food industry. 

1. Focus on a targeted niche

“Food” as a keyword is way too broad for your store to see any benefits from it. Instead, when it comes to your keywords and your audience, you’ll want to get as specific as possible. Focus on super-targeted niches, such as gluten-free, fair trade, southern home cooking, keto, sugar-free, low carb, French bakery, etc. Then make your name in that space, much like Kiffle Kitchen did for kiffles, Skinny Noodles did for Shirataki noodles and Perfect Keto did for ketogenic-friendly snacks and powders.

If you have a large range of products, you can target multiple niches by creating landing pages for each specific group of products. Bariatric Direct does this well. It has categories targeting very specific sub-niches of the diet food market, such as low-carb meal replacements, low-calorie pudding and kosher diet food. It delivers specific, targeted content to audiences interested in these different aspects of healthy eating and weight loss, ensuring its entire product line gets attention.

2. Do your research

Competitor sites are the best place to get vital information on strategies you should be using to market your own food products on the web. Google phrases you think your customers will use to find your store or products, and see who is showing up in the top results. Take an inventory of how they are positioning their products, what content they have on their sites and what keywords they are using to describe their products to their customers.

Once you’ve got a grasp on what others in your industry are doing, get some insight into words and phrases that people are using to find your type of content in search engines. There are paid tools you can use to get information on keywords people are using, but you can also get a good idea by searching for keywords in Google and seeing what results show up, how others are using keywords and what questions people tend to ask.

3. Create unique, informational content

When it comes to the food industry, you have a lot of ways to provide unique, valuable content to your customers. For starters, be sure to include size, quantity, taste and texture in your product descriptions. Since your online customers can’t actually do a taste test of your products, you’ll want to deliver that experience the best you can with your copy.

Second, consider having either a blog or knowledge center for your products. That way, you can share recipes, spotlight new products, list unique ways to use your food, showcase a couple video reviews and display other content that will catch your customers’ eyes. Altogether, it’ll not only help your SEO but also give potential customers an idea of what it’s like to use and consume your products.

4. Reach out to bloggers

A very effective and often underutilized SEO tactic for food businesses is blogger outreach. An endorsement from an influential blogger will drive traffic to your site and increase your website’s SEO equity. Luckily for food stores, there’s no shortage of popular food bloggers who’d love to receive a free sample or two.

To get started, create a list of relevant bloggers who might be interested in your products and your story. After that, reach out to them by sending a sample their way. You can also offer a discount code to be featured only on their website to encourage their followers to purchase. Or if you’d really like to spread the love, you can send the blogger a few additional products that they could use for a reader giveaway.

An excellent example of these ideas in action is how Merci Chocolates approached the BabyLovingMama blog. In this post, the writer says, “Merci Chocolates asked me to share a last-minute gift giving idea with their holiday boxed chocolates.” Included in the post is a link to purchase the chocolates, a brief review of the product and a small contest that gives readers a chance to win some Merci Chocolates for themselves.


Chapter 3: Pay-per-click ads for the food industry

Food and advertising have been good friends for a while now. Flip on the TV, turn on a radio or open any magazine and you’ll hear all about the latest burgers, cookies and everything else. PPC for the food industry is kinda like that, except you have the added benefit of being able to target your audience. That is, you can make sure that your ads only display to searchers who are already looking for what you offer.

Here are some best practices for using PPC for your online food store.

 1. Find the right keywords

When creating a campaign for your food products, you’ll want to use highly relevant keywords based on the intent of your end user. If you’re selling fruit baskets with same-day delivery, consider using “fruit basket same-day delivery” and other variations based on data pulled from Google’s Keyword Planner or other keyword tools. 

Selecting the right keywords helps qualify the traffic your ads are eligible to trigger, and in turn, can cost you. Keywords also help to capture your audience’s eye, especially when implemented into ad copy. You’ll want to naturally include keywords into your ad copy to tell your audience exactly what you’re selling while also highlighting unique selling points of your website to entice them to complete a purchase.  For example, say a potential customer Googles “fruit basket delivered same day” and sees the following results page:

Of the four text ads, only one specifically mentions both “fruit basket” and implies “same-day” delivery. The top ad mentions fast delivery but not same-day delivery, and while the third ad says we can choose our delivery time, it can be confusing, as fresh fruit delivery is not the same as a fruit basket. So of the text ads, the fourth ad wins our conversion.

2. Use negative keywords

On the flip side, it’s equally important to use the right negative keywords in your PPC campaigns. That means using negative keywords to filter out searches that don’t apply to what your business offers. For example, if you don’t offer same-day delivery, include it in your negative keyword list so your ads don’t show up for those searches.

Where do you find negative keywords though? You can source negatives right out of the gate by selecting root words Google thinks is relevant to your keywords in the Keyword Planner. Other common sources for negatives include the Search Terms report in Google Ads and the “Searches related to” section on the search results page. 

3. Geotarget the correct areas

If you offer fresh food or same-day delivery, make sure to use the location targeting functionality in Google Ads to advertise only to customers who live in the areas where these services are possible. Location targeting in Google Ads offers a range of targeting options, including country, region, state, cities, radiuses and postal codes. This will help eliminate unqualified traffic from clicking on your ads, and save you from having to pay for their clicks.

4. Choose the right products to advertise

The food industry is rife with competition. And that means it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to compete with big grocery stores for generic food items. To combat this, only use PPC on products that you specialize in, are hard to find in stores or appeal to people all around the country, such as “fresh Texas pecans.”

Sell More with the Ultimate Ecommerce Guide for Food Businesses

Yum by Studio has had the privilege of helping food businesses grow and sell more online. We’ve packed this book full of everything we know!

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Chapter 4: Selling food in Google Shopping

You’ve probably heard the saying “You are what you eat.” Well, turns out it’s true for Google Shopping as well. Google Shopping is a great marketing channel for food businesses, but your listing is only as good as the product data you feed Google. Give them poor, unhealthy product data and they’ll become fat and sluggish, consuming more of your advertising dollars than they should. On the other hand, feed them healthy product data, and they can grow to be one of your strongest marketing efforts.

Here are some best practices for using shopping feeds for your food products.

1. Play by the product data rules

For all products on Google Shopping, advertisers must pay special attention to include all pertinent product information, such as a UPC code or any other unique identifying information. However, if such information does not exist for your products, be sure to utilize the “identifier exists” field in your feed file and mark it as “FALSE.”

Additionally, Google and other shopping engines have restrictions on the products that they’re willing to display. Make sure you know which products are the troublemakers, and avoid submitting them. Otherwise, they could get your account suspended. For example, under certain circumstances and in certain countries, advertising alcohol is allowed. However, Google wants to make sure that ads only target individuals of legal drinking age and abide by all applicable laws and industry standards for any area targeted by these ads. 

2. Include all relevant information in your product titles and descriptions

Ensure your product titles are appropriately descriptive. “Chocolate-covered strawberries” is accurate, but “Pink Chocolate-Covered Strawberries – 6 Count” is much more searchable. 

Your customers may be selective about what they eat, so make sure your product descriptions are as specific as possible. This means including the ingredients and nutrition information of your product, as well as other information like the size of its packaging and how many are included in each order. This is not only beneficial information for your customers to know, but also goes a long way in helping Google match your products with more relevant search terms!

3. Indicate expected delivery times

Online food shoppers want to know how long they can expect for your products to arrive, especially if your food items are very perishable. So, if you are selling something were freshness is vital, like fresh lobster meat, your shopping feeds should indicate whether you provide expedited shipping and whether there are additional charges for this service.

Chapter 5: Delicious social media 

Brands in the food industry have a huge advantage when it comes to social media: People’s emotional connection to food. Everyone has a couple foods that bring back positive memories and lift their mood. And that means food businesses on social media are in a unique position to not only engage customers but put smiles on their faces and create a really memorable brand experience.

Here are some best practices for using social media with your food store.

1. Build and showcase your brand personality

Think of every social channel as a showroom for your store. Use branded URLs and logos, verify profiles, write short but detailed descriptions, use high-quality imagery and try to integrate your brand name in unexpected places. Dunkin Donuts does this very well – all its social profile URLs end with “/DunkinDonuts,” it uses the same logo consistently and it uses the “DD” in its Pinterest boards with titles such as “Happy HoliDDays” and “Words of WisDDom.”

And don’t forget to have fun with your brand personality! Halo Top Creamery, Sour Patch and Lay’s are great examples of brands that are successfully engaging their community with their unique voice.

2. Take advantage of image-focused social channels

As we all know, people love looking at tasty food. Use that to your advantage by leveraging Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Not only can you easily showcase your products, but you can also share recipes, post inspirational or user-generated photos and even highlight other food products that pair well with your own.

Whole Foods does a fantastic job with this across its social channels, especially on Pinterest. It has boards featuring recipes, gardening tips, natural makeup hacks, kids’ lunchbox ideas and the list goes on. It’s a fantastic example of how to provide a variety of valuable and visually appealing content for your audience.

Another brand getting it right is Chobani! Across each of its channels, Chobani focuses on high-quality content with both original branded photos and sourced content from users. Its Instagram feed keeps the eye scrolling as the brand reinforces delicious meals, product assortment and company core values.

3. Be timely and relevant

Pay attention to trending topics and current events to see how you can showcase your brand’s values and personality by joining in on the conversation. The McDonald’s Golden Arches can be seen from miles around and are instantly recognizable around the globe. For International Women’s Day in 2018, McDonald’s flipped the arches upside down to appear as a W instead of an M. The company took a stance on an important social issue by having some fun with its logo. 

Another aspect of being timely: seasonality. The seasons affect not only what products a business should market but also how it’ll market them! Starbucks is a great example of a brand seizing the colors of the seasons. The Starbucks Instagram feed seamlessly flows from piping-hot warm drinks surrounded by the colors of fall and winter to iced frozen drinks surrounded by bright colors as it flows from winter to spring to summer. Starbucks takes its seasonal marketing even further by releasing products fit for the season. Its most recent example was released July 10, 2019. After drumming up a little excitement the day before, Starbucks released its Tie-Dye Frappuccino in all its perfect-for-summer glory!

4. Always be engaging others

Following and tracking conversations about your brand is a must. But be sure to go above and beyond by tracking conversations about brands your store may carry, your industry and your favorite food bloggers. That way, you can jump in on these conversations when you have the answers people are looking for.

And of course, the usual social media rules still apply: Ask questions, genuinely listen and use the answers to provide your community with a better and more targeted experience.

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Chapter 6: Email marketing: your second helping of revenue 

Email marketing is about engaging and reconnecting with customers who have already expressed interest in your products and food. Provide your customers with captivating subject lines, eye-catching visuals and fun content, and you’re sure to have them drooling for more.

Here are some best practices for email marketing in the food industry.

1. Make a great first impression

A best practice in email marketing is to immediately send your customer a “welcome email” upon subscribing to your newsletter. This is the perfect time to introduce your email campaign’s tone and give your subscribers an idea of what to expect in the future, whether that be recipes, discounts and deals, new products and so on. It’s also a chance to showcase some of your stellar food photography and engaging lifestyle content.

2. Retain and engage your readers

Two primary goals in email marketing are to keep customers engaged and retain repeat business. What’s great about email marketing in the food industry is you can be so much more personal and involved in order to accomplish these goals. Don’t be afraid to include fun activities and ideas for customers to share with friends.

Here are a few ideas to kick-start engagement:

Social media: Link your newsletter to your social channels. Customers can view more of your brand personality and values, engage with more of your content and see what other customers have to say about your brand as well. 

Recipes: Include a picture of a prepared meal, a tempting description and a link to your website. This will entice customers to try it for themselves and navigate to your website.

Party ideas: Keep them coming back for more by building a collection of inspirations, ideas and themes for parties focused around your product line.

3. Use promotions to boost conversion

You don’t have to offer promotions all day every day, but the occasional promotion can help increase sales during competitive times. To do this effectively, start gathering information about your customers and segment them in order to better personalize the experience. Specific segmentations include birth dates, anniversaries, favorite foods and more. By capturing this information, you can send targeted emails to customers, like “Brian, your anniversary is coming up. Please enjoy our gift with 20% off Ready to Make Desserts!”

Chapter 7: Optimize for conversions: ecommerce’s cherry on top

Purchasing food and edible products without being able to taste the product is a bit of a gamble for many online shoppers, so ease any doubts by exciting their other senses as much as possible. Encourage benefits and uses of food products to make users feel comfortable, while also making it easy for them to understand what they are purchasing.

Here are some best practices for increasing conversions.

 1. Include detailed, relevant product information pages

Make it very clear what customers can expect. Include ingredients (keep common food allergies in mind), nutritional facts (low fat, calories per serving), preparation details (frozen or refrigerated) and serving sizes. All of this information should be included on your product pages.

Product pages are also perfect for videos. Consider including recipe demonstrations, cooking how-to’s, a spotlight on how the product is crafted, serving ideas and more. Videos not only boost conversions, but they’re a form of content that people love to share. Speaking of which, don’t forget to include social media sharing buttons on your product pages. These make it easy for your fans to share your product and brand with their networks!

2. Clearly indicate packaging protocol as well as shipping, delivery and return policies

Potential customers may hesitate to purchase if they doubt how fresh the food is. This is especially important with perishable goods. To build customer trust, clearly communicate how products will remain fresh and intact without any spills or spoilage. Text such as “shipped with freezer packs,” “airtight” and “guaranteed fresh” is a great way to boost customer confidence.

It’s also critical to have clear instructions on return policies. Returning perishable products can be tricky, so clearly communicate timelines and any qualifications on what can be returned.

3. Feature related products and pairing recommendations

How great is it when restaurants list what beverages go well with the entrees on the menu? You can offer your online shoppers that same experience by enabling “Related Products” and “Product Accessories.”

Related products are similar items, usually found in the same subcategory, for example, different flavors or varieties of olive oil. A product accessory is something that pairs with or can enhance the product. In the previous example, if you are looking for olive oil, a specialty French bread or pesto sauce could be an appropriate accessory. Adding this feature is also a great way to cross-sell additional products and increase your transaction value.

4. Have an easy-to-navigate website structure

A clear and intuitive website is important with any ecommerce site. Products should be logically categorized and easy to find.  With edible products, you can also think outside the box and add resources such as “Where our ingredients come from” or “Health benefits of our products” to the site structure.

5. Clearly indicate that seasonal products are up to date

With edible products, you may see larger changes in your supply and demand. So make sure to define seasonal products with titles, headings or categories. Depending on your products, it may be easier to change out or hide seasonal products when they’re not available. You’ll also want to let customers know which new seasonal items are coming up on the horizon.

This chart from a store selling oranges is a good example of how you can communicate seasonal availability quickly and easily.


About Yum by Studio 

Yum offers design, SEO, digital marketing and social media tailored specifically to the food industry. So if you are hungry for sales, we are ready to serve you a hefty portion of revenue growth!

Get the Ultimate Ecommerce Guide for the Food Industry

We’ve gathered our years of knowledge and compiled it into this step-by-step ebook created specifically for food ecommerce businesses.

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