7 Major Mistakes Pizza Hut Is Making On Their Million-Dollar Website

by Marcus Sheridan

Pizza Hut websiteI found myself ordering a pizza online this past weekend from Pizza Hut and considering I can’t seem to look at a website these days without noticing the good, the bad, and the ugly, a few things about this multi-million dollar company’s website really surprised me. Due to the fact that Pizza Hut has been known to spend over 15 million in advertising in a single month (no, I’m not exaggerating) to promote their products and brand, one would naturally assume their website would be utterly flawless.

But before I go into ‘the bad’, I do want to point out a few positives. Also, I’d strongly suggest you open up their site to see exactly what I’m talking about here, as this case-study, which can easily be applied to your business, will therefore make a whole lot more sense.

The Good

1. Calls-to-Action: Pizza Hut clearly gets it when it comes to calls-to-action buttons. If one looks at their site, they’re all over. Next to every food, one can easily see the ‘order now’ buttons.

2. They’ve Got an IPhone App: Yep, that’s right, Pizza Hut has their own app. Well done.

3. Ordering is Easy: Tonight was my first time ordering their food online and it was easy and fast. That’s all I can ask for, and the experience was certainly preferable in my opinion to calling one of their stores.

The Bad

1. Where’s the Video??: Seriously, I’m amazed by Pizza Hut’s lack of video marketing, at least on their website. They’ve got a visual product. They have a social product (people like eating pizza with other people). So why in the heck don’t they show more video? Eating a pizza is an experience. It’s not like eating celery. Show that experience Pizza Hut, will ya??!!

2. Social Media is Buried: This one is a huge mystery to me. Other than a few small icons on their home page, I really had to search through their site until I was finally able to find their social media hub, which is found under the title of ‘Under the Roof’.  What’s crazy is that the guys and gals in their marketing department actually expect me to know that ‘Under the Roof’ will lead me to their social media page. Say what?? C’mon guys, make it easy for your customers to fan you, friend you, follow you, and most of all—talk to you.

3. Where’s the Lead Capture?!: Businesses almost always fall short when it comes to lead-capture forms on their website. A lead capture form is any form that a visitor can fill out and request information, and beyond their ‘order now’ process, Pizza Hut does a pretty poor job of this. If you want to understand exactly what I’m saying here, just click on their ‘Pasta’ page and notice the lower section of the column on the right side of the page. This space is empty (which is crazy in itself) and could easily have some type of really cool offer, free eBook (like “10 Ways to Make the Most Incredible Pizza in the World”), or even a YouTube video. But alas, it’s empty…

4. Most Pages are Invisible: Although I can understand Pizza Hut’s desire to make their site almost entirely focused on ordering their food, that doesn’t mean they should just bury the rest of their site, which is what they’ve done at the bottom of their home page. If you check out the links at the bottom like I did, I found some pretty cool stuff. But what’s the use of cool stuff if no one sees it? A little hint: NONE.

5. Where are the Happy Faces?: As I mentioned earlier, Pizza is a part of the American culture. Everyone loves pizza. It makes us smile. The trend starts with school lunches on Fridays and never leaves us in adulthood. This being said, count the number of smiles you see on the PH website. I could only find one page with photos of human beings actually enjoying the PH product. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Suggestion to PH: Show people eating your food and actually enjoying it :-)

6. No Blog: Again, I can only smack my head on this one. How a multi-million dollar company can be so uninformed as to not see the power of content marketing (blogging) is beyond me. Don’t they realize they have some serious fans out there that are just waiting to learn more about everything ‘Pizza Hut’? Look, every niche has its mavens, and Pizza Hut is no different. Plus, the free searches and SEO they’re not getting based on their lack of content is incomprehensible.

7. No Social Proofs: Seriously, are you kidding me? How can there not be more testimonials, be it text or video, on the site? This one really, really surprised me, especially considering Pizza Hut has done entire TV campaigns around customer testimonials and social proofs yet they elect not to include this approach in their website…..baffling.

So there are 7 major mistakes on the Pizza Hut Website. As I mentioned earlier, hopefully you had a chance to look at the site as well and possibly come up with even more errors. In fact, doing this exercise often with other major company/brand websites can be quite the educational tool.

Finally, this example just goes to show that having an endless advertising budget by no means guarantees a company is actually handling their web marketing in the right manner. When it comes down to it, every business, large or small, has equal opportunity for greatness on the web. So don’t be like everyone else in your niche and miss the essentials. Take advantage of all the free and simple tools that are within an arms reach and just waiting to take your business to the next level.

Thoughts? As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel M. Wood October 25, 2010 at 2:22 am

Hey Marcus,

You make a very good point.
I want to contradict you on a few points here though. If you look at the site, the first thing I see at the bottom of the screen is “Send me deals” it is very obvious, but doesn’t steal focus from the food.

Right next to it you have their 4 social media buttons, still obvious but not taking to much room. The focus has to be the food.

With that said, no video on pizza is stupid, they could and should make room for video. They should have a blog we can follow with advise, if nothing else you could link to a “tips” page from their, “build your own pizza” with advise on what ingredients that work together.

Overall though I think they have a very good website, it serves their function and their need. But a few tweaks, especially video tweaks, would probably go a long way. What they expect though is that if you visit their website you have already decided to buy a pizza, so why get anything in the way. Just put big order buttons everywhere so that you can order ASAP.

//Daniel
.-= Daniel M. Wood´s last blog ..5 Ways to Stay Positive =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hey Daniel, and thanks so much for adding your opinions here. I always love opinion diversity, especially when it comes to the subject at hand– Inbound Marketing.

So that we are clear, Pizza Hut does have a very good website. It’s photos and graphics are top notch and it achieves nicely the goal of having people order food.

This being said, a ‘good’ website doesn’t mean ‘great’ lead generation and branding. Social Media is absolutely huge for any restaurant. Why? Because restaurants have weekly, ongoing customers. These customers needs constant contact, touches, notifications, etc. Twitter and FB are absolutely perfect mediums to achieve this goal.

Studies have shown that just putting a few social media icons/buttons on a page is way, way less effective than having a fan box or some very cool offer that ties the visitor in to their FB or twitter page. I’ve personally seen this on my own website as well as those of my clients. The click-through-rates for simple icons pretty much stinks.

Also, you are assuming here that most people on Facebook automatically understand those little icons and therefore naturally ‘fan’ PH. This again is not true. A large majority of FB users are older and are not used to quick follows of other companies when they’re on their website. In other words, becoming a fan for a company has to have a clear reason as well as offer that goes with it. What do you think is more effective, a little Facebook Icon or a fan box that shows 80,000 fans from all over the world with a caption that says, “See why everyone wants to be a fan of Pizza Hut on Facebook!” —-The difference is HUGE.

Hopefully you see my point. A good website? Yes. A great lead generation, education, and inbound marketing tool? Nope.

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phil October 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

seriously good pizza is not that hard to make, as you can attest to, from me, his father who can even make it taste good with anchovies on it!! Right MARC!! Dont forget the product matters which is what dominoes has actually admitted to screwing up (i thought they were the best chain years back they faded into down right crappiie product) in there recent tv adds…the fact is only a small percentage of shoppers actually use the net to its full potential and only a few have mastered skills to navigate the web with proficiency and are even intimidated by the web. I know of quite a few people my age who have even lost there job because of an inadbility to keep up with the IT boom…you on the other hand are clearly on your way…. bon apetit

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Marcus Sheridan October 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm

You’re funny Dad…still can’t live down the anchovy experience. But you also bring up a really great point regarding Dominoes.. They basically came right out and said:

Our pizza sucks, we admit that and we’re sorry. But now it rocks!

Many lessons can be learned from those guys.

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John Sherry October 26, 2010 at 4:33 am

Great observations Marcus. this continues to epitomise that when companies become so large they ofen lose touch with a) the basics b) their core messages and c) the public. Pizza Hut are veering into a ‘me, me ,me’ culture saying ‘look how great we are’ and forgetting who they are talking to and (failing) to connect to. Us! Your post pointed exactly how they are doing that. Hope they are watching.
.-= John Sherry´s last blog ..5 Great Reasons Why It’s Good To Cry =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 26, 2010 at 9:08 am

Thanks so much John and I appreciate you coming by. Yes, a ‘me’ mentality can cause quite a bit of pain to any business and such a marketing strategy will always come up empty.

Keep doing great things on your blog ;-)

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Ramona October 26, 2010 at 8:54 am

I’ll have to agree and disagree too with some of your points.

1. I don’t care about them. I know how their pizza taste. It’s decent and I assume anyone in the “modern” world has eaten their stuff. Just like I don’t find a video of someone drinking cola too revealing. Come on, I’ve drank their junk, currently am keeping away from it anyway.

2. Social media: I just cannot comprehend why a facebook page or whatever would mean this much. I do use FB to keep in touch with my friends. I seldom use twitter. And one thing I can tell you for certain: I DON’T CARE ABOUT PIZZA HUT’s social pages. I don’t care about Coca-Cola’s. It’s irrelevant for me. I buy their products, I really don’t care about their announcements and I am shocked to find people cannot live without their “updates”

3. Blog. I am sick and tired of “company” blogs. Seriously. I can get a social media specialist’s blog. I can get it when a designer/marketer creates a blog. But I really consider it to be a waste of time for Pizza Hut to have a blog. What is there I’d die to read about? That’s their cheese is better on the new pizza? That they use cherries? Or bananas? Maybe black truffles? :)

Most of us write like crazy in the blogs because we’re NOBODIES. We need SE traffic. Pizza Hut doesn’t need this. If someone wants to order their stuff, KNOWS where to go. They don’t come from Google, reading about SEO and then thinking ‘well, let’s order a pizza’.

Just like in other cases, people KNOW and TRUST the brand already. So the site is just there to take some orders. We won’t buy more or less of their pizzas because they’ have a blog or not ;)

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Marcus Sheridan October 26, 2010 at 9:35 am

Hey Ramona, great to see you again, and I love the fact that you don’t agree with just about anything I’ve said here. Seriously, I think it’s great. Notwithstanding, I’m going to have to firmly disagree with your disagreement ;-)

1. YOU don’t care about them. That’s right. But guess what, Pizza Hut and pizza in general has their mavens (see M. Gladwell) . They have their fans. And a heck of a lot of people care about their product regardless of someone who does not. I thought Dominoes Pizza was terrible a year ago. I ‘knew’ it was junk. Today I think it’s pretty dang good. How do I know this? Because they advertised it so effectively.

2.Again, you are suffering from a serious case of thinking everyone thinks just like you– ie The Curse of Knowledge ….Many marketing departments and business owners around the world assume because they think or feel it everyone else naturally does as well. Not true. To give you an example, I have a client who owns a restaurant. He does 100% of his marketing and event announcements through social media. It doesn’t cost him a dime, just a little bit of time and effort. Because of the fact that he has customers that eat his food 2-3 times a week, they want real-time updates. They want to know the specials. They want to know the new items on the menu. This is his ‘tribe’. These are his fans. And social media is his free means of communicating with this incredibly important part of his customer base.

3. Don’t see a reason to blog?? Seriously?? Pizza Hut spends millions on TV advertising with the hopes that they might ‘touch’ and ‘influence’ viewers to come into their stores. This is outbound and interruptive marketing at its finest. A blog works completely differently. Do you realize how many people typed in Google last year the phrase, “Who makes the best Pizza?” The number was well in the thousands, along with hundreds of thousands of other phrases similar to it. In other words, if Pizza Hut was smart they would be writing articles such as the following:

What restaurant makes the best pizza and why?
Dominoes vs Pizza Hut: Which is better?
Why does Pizza Hut taste so good?
How does Pizza Hut compare to Papa Johns?
5 Reasons Why Stuff-Crust Pizza has won fans around the world.

You look at these question and laugh. So do I. But when it comes down to it, we don’t matter. The only thing that matters is the people that type them in Google. And like I said, they are way more than one would ever imagine.

And unlike a TV commercial, such articles are the gift that keep on giving. They continue to build the brand. They continue to inform. And they do it for free, day after day, year after year.

Great inbound marketers are not concerned with personal opinions. They are concerned with trends. They are concerned with fans. And they’ll do anything to answer their questions.

This is why Pizza Hut is falling short.

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Ramona October 31, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Marcus, thank you for the response and not getting mad at me :)

Well, if people need to be fans of Coca Cola or a Pizza place, then I’ve surely missed something when it comes to “socializing”. But, I think you’re right, if the masses want to know who makes the best pizza and fail to use their own taste buds for this …

And, if you want to know .. I make the best pizza :D

Best ingredients, excellent taste, less expensive than theirs. I should start a site and sell it.

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Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire ) October 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Awesome, a debate! I love debates. You did a good job in responding, Marcus, but I wanted to share my two cents after reading something that I thought was quite disturbing.

“Most of us write like crazy in the blogs because we’re NOBODIES. We need SE traffic. Pizza Hut doesn’t need this. If someone wants to order their stuff, KNOWS where to go. They don’t come from Google, reading about SEO and then thinking ‘well, let’s order a pizza’.”

Woah. Say what again? Actually, I don’t view bloggers as “nobodies” at all. And if you mean that people who blog are just way down on the popular scale, I can name quite a few full-time bloggers who make the majority of their income directly or indirectly from their blogs and are really quite well-known.

What about Seth Godin? What about Darren Rowse?

In fact, millions upon millions of people blog. Are they then all nobodies? If you ask me, I think it’s rather ignorant not to create a blog now-a-days. Blogging didn’t become a trend because of nothing. It did because it WORKS, regardless of the individual, business, or company utilizing it.

Now, you said “most of us.” Who are most of us? Does striving to achieve a dream make you a nobody? What about if you just love to write and use a blog to fuel your love. Does that then make you a nobody?

Well then, you must be one too. If you’re doing anything in your life right now and you’re truly enjoying what you do, you must be a nobody if the simple act of enjoying one’s blog makes the person a nobody.

I’m pursuing writing as a profession, and I write on my blog because I enjoy to do so. I’m not sure about other people, but your comments really sting, nor do I think you have enough facts to back up your claims. Not only that, but it’s so outrageous to be infuriating.

What qualifies a blogger to be a “nobody”? Is it because many have ambitions? Believe it or not, many people care about their blogs and don’t just do it for the SEO benefits (you misspelled it by the way). In fact, I hardly focus on SEO anymore, and there are many bloggers who don’t believe in it to begin with. Take Leo Babauta, for example, of Zen Habits. He says so outright on one of his bootcamps.

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire )´s last blog ..Are You Ready to Join the Double O Club =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 30, 2010 at 12:11 am

Dang Christina……seems like your hair stood up a little on that one! Love your passion here, really, I do. But I’m not surprised as you always write with passion, you work your buns off, and you put your heart and soul into this thing called ‘working online’.

Thanks for your constant enthusiasm. :-)

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Ramona October 31, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Christina, Darren Rowse IS NOBODY. Aside us, professionals, the “average joe” on the street has no clue who this guy is. But has surely ordered tens of Pizzas and actually knows what Coca Cola tastes like.

This is why I say we’re nobodies. Because we need content, we need work to be taken seriously. Coca Cola needs to sell its products. Yes, they all spend a lot of money on TV ads, but I don’t think there’s anyone in this world who needs an ad to know that Coca Cola doesn’t make shoes or pizza.

There’s nothing personal here, but please let us make a distinction between Chow and Pizza Hut, because, while the first is VERY well known among web people, my grandmother has no idea how the guy is. Nor my father, even if he’s spending a lot of time online. Well, the guy is just not interested in blogging, so has no ideas who John Chow, Darren Rowse or even Zuckerberg are. But he does occasionally drink Pepsi or whatever ;)

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Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire ) November 3, 2010 at 12:36 am

Hey Romona,

Thanks for the reply. I see where you’re coming from, and I do agree with you to a certain extent.

Though, I still think “nobody” is a pretty harsh term to use (only my opinion of course). When I picture a “nobody,” I envision a lazy individual who won’t even try to make a difference in his or her life… and simply survives off of the generosity of others.

I mean, those bloggers you listed are well known in the blogosphere because of their amazing success, hard work, and dedication to their blogs. But, of course, if you don’t read blogs or actively participate on blogs, you won’t know who those people are – I agree. However, they most certainly aren’t nobodies to those who actively read their content and follow their progress.

I guess it all just depends on where you’re coming from and what activities you like to participate in. However, “unfamiliar” or “not well-known to some people” might have been better phrases to use (again, just my own opinion – you’re welcome to disagree).

Anyway, thanks again for stopping by and clarifying what you meant. :)

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire )´s last blog ..How to Write with Enthusiasm – Even if You Don’t Want To =-.

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Jackie@coffeeshopmillionaire February 19, 2011 at 1:42 am

Hey Christina,

Love the rebuttal. This reminded me of a Jesse Jackson mantra “I am somebody”. Thanks for speaking up for the ‘nobodies’!

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Adelaide Website Design October 26, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Fantastic article.

Lead generation is a big one for me. Considering that Pizza hut spends a shite load on junk mail coupons (at least in Australia) you would think they would gather emails to send them out as well.

One thing that bugs me, as a designer, is the loading time. It is really cumbersome. Feels like it struggles.

Great post.

Ramsay Taplin

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Marcus Sheridan October 27, 2010 at 4:16 pm

‘Shite Load’ is right my friend! ;-)

And good point about the loading time, as this appears to be more and more important in terms of search results.

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Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire ) October 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Ugh, Marcus. Now you’re making me hungry for some pizza, and I just had some the other night!

“So why in the heck don’t they show more video? Eating a pizza is an experience. It’s not like eating celery.” – Hilarious! I love how you compare celery with pizza. I have a mental image in my head right now of someone picking up a celery stick, dipping it into their mouth, and closing their eyes while they chew to further reap the benefits of that celery goodness – you know, like how actors eat pizza on commercials – and it just makes me burst into laughter!

You make a good point about the social media. I need to get the ball rolling with my fan page on Facebook, as well as my Twitter page. They need MAJOR updating.

I also agree that Pizza Hut would seriously benefit from a blog. I mean, they could talk about the nutritional value of pizza, as well as how their brand came about. Just the SEO aspect of it would probably boost sales, as more people who are searching for pizza-related info would be enticed to buy from them.

Thanks for the good read, Marcus. I enjoyed reading this Pizza Hut review. You should do more of them! :)

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire )´s last blog ..Are You Ready to Join the Double O Club =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 30, 2010 at 12:13 am

Glad to give you a little smile today Christina….you likely need a few while you edit that most excellent eBook of yours that we’ve all been hearing so much about ;-)

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Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire ) October 30, 2010 at 10:54 am

Thanks Marcus for your tremendous support. :)
.-= Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire )´s last blog ..Are You Ready to Join the Double O Club =-.

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Daniel November 24, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Everyone,

We do tabletop advertising for local businesses using 6 different pizza huts here in our state. I like the video idea and i will capture it of families reading the display ads and eating pizza of coarse.

I also built a message board with around 2000 arcade game some of which i havent uploaded yet. I actually have a TON of things to do on the message board kinda like a facebook meets craigslist.

Since everyone here is wanting some kind of social media from the pizza hut site, i was wondering if you would mind reviewing my messageboard area. I havent advertised it yet so not really active but i figure and hope that it soon will be.

The link should take you right to the place. Sure you have to create a quik username and password but i will not change it to accept GUESTS just incase i get a few weirdos posting doing/saying things they shouldnt be.

Thanks,
Daniel

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Helena Green June 19, 2012 at 3:30 am

Thanks for sharing the good points and the bad points of this pizza hut site online. Now, we know already what to check first on a website.

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martin paul March 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm

How come ” Pizza Hut doesn’t sell coke and other Pizza brand names sell both…..
Domino’s sell both coke and pepsi
Papa John sells both coke and pepsi
Little Ceaser’s sells both coke and pepsi

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Tyler November 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Because at one point Pepsi owned KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, but when Pepsi sold the three brans they put in place a contract that said these stores have to sell only Pepsi sodas for LIFE! Crazy right!

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lukebandit May 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

The picture above of the pizza is a huge problem that Pizza Hut has now. Remember years ago, the server would bring your pizza to the table and get the spatula and serve everyone a piece of the pizza and the cheese would STRETCH a mile long? I miss that. The picture above looks like GMO pizza. Also very upset that PH and PJ’s don’t sell Coke.

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lukebandit May 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm

And also upset about the cheese.

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