Online Marketing In The Beauty & Wellness Industry
If you don’t have an online presence, then you practically don’t exist for most populations. That is how powerful the internet has become. It doesn’t matter if you are a solo stylist or an owner of multi-location spas, you must market yourself and your business in order to thrive. The basic principles of marketing have not changed, however, the platforms we market from have. The best and fastest way to engage with your clients and potential clients is online marketing. This guide takes you through various marketing strategies and how to implement them for maximum engagement and growth for yourself and your business.
Creating and Maintaining Your Website
Your website is your digital brochure. It allows people to learn about you and the services you offer. If you don’t have one, it is time to get one. If you already have one, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can just set it up and forget it about it. A website needs to be updated and nurtured just as much as any other component of your online presence. It doesn’t matter if you are creating your first website or evaluating your current website, there are a lot of ways to boost your online presence and having a website is one of the easiest ways.
When creating or evaluating these tips will help you build a website that works.
Website Design Don’ts
- Don’t Cut Corners. Cutting corners can lead to a site that won’t be maintainable, it is at a higher risk of being hacked, doesn’t take SEO (search engine optimization) into consideration, and often has pieces that break or don’t work properly. This all affects the longevity of your website and in the end, costs you more money than you would have originally spent. Website design and development can be expensive so it’s important to build a site based on your budget (plus there are tons of great website building options for those with a low budget.)
- Having Too Much Text and Too Many Colors. Today, most potential customers will access your site on their smartphone, meaning they don’t want to read too many descriptions and want the main information up front (i.e. hours, phone number, and top-level pricing). When there is so much to look at, everything loses its importance. It’s best to stick to three colors max, a main color and two accent colors, and use that throughout. Photos help with SEO ( search engine optimization) and they keep people on your site longer. Videos are also interesting to people. Keep them short– no more than 2-3 minutes, unless you are teaching, then 6 – 10 minutes is good.
- Long Page-Load Times. Did you know 40% of visitors will leave your website if it takes longer than 3-seconds to load? That’s not great for your web traffic, or your bottom line. If this happening to you, and you are not tech savvy, then hire a tech person to make the adjustments.
- Not Mobile Friendly. This is huge and vastly important to address. If your website doesn’t work on phones or tablets, you’ll pay for it – both by the decline in visitor traffic and by Google. But never fear, there’s an easy way to check whether your website is mobile friendly with this test.
- Annoying Pop-ups. Pop-ups are small windows that appear all over the web page you are trying to view. They are usually advertisements or call to actions, like sign up for our blog or newsletter. You should have ways for visitors to subscribe for emails or see deals, but don’t over do it. A pop-up on every page is not necessary.
- Ignoring Your Website. Don’t forget about your site! Having an outdated or broken website will ultimately hurt your business. If customers see that the content on your site is old (i.e. specials from May of 2015) or broken, they will go somewhere else because they can't trust the legitimacy of the business or can't find the best way to reach you. Schedule day each month to spend time updating your website to avoid this problem.
Website Design Dos
- Put Your Website into Different Sections. A mistake DIY web designers make is they put everything on the homepage. It’s hard to read and information can easily be missed. Create separate sections for Team, Services, Events, Blogs, etc. The toolbar is there to help visitors navigate easily and effortlessly. Also consider having a feature where people can schedule their appointment. This feature will probably be required to be installed and possibly be managed by a professional web designer or developer.
- Show a Balance of Professional Photos and Everyday Photos. Did you know visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content and 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive? This means every day your clients are being drawn in by graphic design. Is your business getting their attention? If you answered no, we get it. You’re managing a business, working with clients, and juggling your personal life; graphic design is probably not high on your priorities list. Imagine your website is a digital brochure with the best photos of your business, or of yourself as a professional doing what you do best. You can also use imagery that implies the service you offer. Then, find different ways to show you are an active business that is engaged. You can do this by linking and integrating your social media accounts to your website to show haircuts, shaves, or skin treatments. As you post on social media, they will also appear on your website.
- Use a Website Platform That is Easy to Update and Manage. If you are contracting someone to build your site, make sure they use a platform that is going to be easy for you to update and manage yourself. Work with a reputable company that is willing to help show you different options based on your budget. A big budget means you can have a completely custom site. For a mid-sized budget, you may want to consider a modified custom site by customizing a Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal template. When your budget is very small, check out sites like Squarespace or Wix, which will walk you through using their software to create a site on your own. All these approaches can provide you with a great website, but don’t forget to think about what happens after your website is built. Someone will need to maintain your site, and depending on how your site is built, it is an added cost that is sometimes overlooked.
Every beauty and wellness professional should take stock of their current website and make sure everything is up to code. The more you’re doing to improve the experience for your clients, the greater the reward for you and your business.
With so many people opting to shop and book their appointments online, it’s important to include online booking options if you want to stay competitive. Online booking creates more opportunities for your clients to book than traditional pre-booking alone. It does not, however, come without its own challenges. Here are a few things to think about if you want online booking to work for you.
Make It Visible
One thing clients like about online booking is that it’s convenient. Most people are getting most of their work done late at night or early in the morning and the convenience of booking appointments on their time is crucial. In order to get the most from online booking, you have to make it easy to access and find. Keep a link on your homepage or profile on every social media platform you use for business, from Yelp to Facebook to Instagram. Make sure you can use a link out, which is simply a link from your website navigation menu that points to an external web page instead of posting a URL as a copy. Remember, the more work required, the less likely people will follow through with your call to action.
Create Good Rebooking Habits
Most people fall into one of two categories when it comes to how they like to plan their lives. Some like the familiar human connection, which is why it should still be a part of a closing routine to have the conversation about maintenance and return visits. While others like the freedom of flexibility when it comes to plans. Even if a client chooses not to pre-book in the moment, the seed has been planted. Include in your dialogue, not just the recommended return date, but also how far in advance they should book online. This way, you can have a conversation about what services to select and how to avoid being locked out of your busy schedule. This either encourages more people to pre-book day of the service or to develop a healthy habit of scheduling online a few weeks before.
Eliminate Surprise Services
One of the most common complaints from fellow stylists about online booking is about surprise services and how it affects pace and timing. It’s a good idea to have a conversation about what services your client should select when booking online. While it is important to do this to minimize surprise services, it’s more important to systematize how you work. Of course, things will happen, like a client showing up late, so it’s important to have the ability to be flexible. A good place to start is to hone your organization skills to help you to work more purposefully. There’s a big difference between working fast and working efficiently. Start paying attention to the repetitive actions you use in your work and cut them out. This way you’re able to control your pace to be sharp when you’re short on time, and leisurely when you’ve got time to spare.
Will opting out of using online booking as a part of your strategy limit your ability to grow? In all honesty, it probably won’t because what it takes to be successful in this business is many small habits done well. However, the client requiring convenience is not going to go away and that is something our service-focused industry that you should take into consideration.
Utilizing Social Media As A Business Tool
Whether you're a booth renter, brand new stylist trying to build your client list, or a salon, spa or shop owner, these easy-to-do steps to bring in business via social media will take just a few minutes. Add these to a post or to update your profile and you will not only increase your engagement, but also the number of clients making appointments.
Take "Branded" Photos of Your Clients
This involves some pre-appointment work. Choose an area in your salon, spa, or shop where you can set up a photo backdrop. This could be a wall with your salon, spa or shop logo on it or you can cover a supply door in luxe wrapping paper. Next, create or buy some props for your clients to pose with. The prop should include the name of your salon, the name of the stylist/barber/esthetician/MUA, and the name of the client (if you want to simplify it, just your business name works!) Now, when you take photos of clients, you'll be advertising your business.
Tag Your Clients
First, ask permission to take their photos. Next, treat them like models. Take multiple photos of the finished look and invite them to choose the photo or photos you post. Finally, ask for their Instagram handle or Facebook name. Tag their handle in the comment of the post and tag them in the photo, this way their Instagram friends can see the photo if they look at their tagged photos. People trust the opinions of others, especially people they know.
Tag Your Business
It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to tag your business in your photo and add the location. Now when the photo gets likes, comments, or sent as messages, viewers will know exactly where the work was done and, hopefully, will come by for a visit. Add your company hashtag too if you have one!
With just these small changes made to your account and your posts, you can take a simple social media account and turn it into a powerful business tool. According to a recent study, posts that include another handle gain 56% more engagement. It goes on to show posts with a location receive 79% more engagement; all this is generated by tagging your business. Imagine what can happen if you take these steps every single time you post!
Instagram As A Booking Tool
While all social platforms have the ability to bring in business, showcase your work, and provide great branding awareness, Instagram is the one platform you really need to harness as a beauty and wellness professional. Instagram (IG) is a great marketing tool and it’s one of the most effective social networks around for salons, spas, and shops. Photos and videos are the most engaging type of content and because the heart of the beauty business is aesthetics, having an Instagram account for marketing and showcasing your work makes perfect sense. Here are some specific ways to leverage the platform as a beauty and wellness business tool.
Instagram has a feature that allows browsers to engage with beauty brands in a more meaningful and profitable way (and yes, you are a beauty brand). Once not an option for salons, spas, and shops, clients and potential clients can now book appointments right from the Instagram platform via an action button. Now, people just scrolling by can become clients with ease.
In order to benefit from the many marketing and promotional features, including booking capabilities offered by Instagram, you must switch to a business account from a regular, personal IG account. Switching to a business account enables you to take advantage of more advanced features, benefit from a better marketing experience, and learn more about and connect with your followers via analytics tools.
Although it is not necessary for every situation, having a business account is beneficial and can make a difference when you are trying to convert scrollers to clients. Let’s look at a few specific use cases for how Instagram can be a business tool for your brand and the differences between a personal and business account.
Personal Instagram Account Capabilities
Include a Link to Your Appointment Site In Your Bio
If you want to keep it simple, with no buttons or business pages, you can place the link to your appointment site in your bio. Though you won’t get the analytics, you can still benefit from the ease of booking via Instagram.
Create A “Booking Button” On Your Website’s Landing Page
If you choose to drive clients to your website first before they book their appointment (which is also a good idea), you can add a call to action button to the page that you link to. For example, if you are driving clients to your services page, make sure there is a button for them to click to book appointments with you.
Another great way to use Instagram to book appointments is to simply add a cell number to your bio with instructions to text you. Example: 201-111-1111 Text for appt. It’s easy, and you don’t have to use the limited real estate space for a link.
Instagram Business Account Capabilities
With a business account, you can have all of the benefits of the regular personal account plus these important extras.
Add an Action Button to Your Profile
Ditching your personal account for a business account gives your clients direct access to contacting and booking with you. When clients visit your IG page, they have the option to book a service by a click of a button, which then takes them to the third-party booking app of your choice. Note: you must have an existing account set up with your third-party vendor in order to set this up.
Add An Action Button to Your Posts
With a business account, you can also run sponsored posts that can have action buttons. Create a button with a call to action like “Book Now,” which will link to the appointment site directly from your posts.
Whatever account type you choose to maintain, make sure you utilize all of the functions available to turn your account into a business tool.
In the digital age, it’s important to find creative ways to attract new customers and through social media is one avenue, email campaigns are another. Sending promotional emails is an incredibly effective way to boost revenue and gain customers. Tons of businesses, both small and large, inundate customers with emails all the time. With billions of emails being sent around the world each day, you need to make yours stand out.
Focus On The Subject Line
The subject line is the first thing readers see when your email appears in their mailbox, so make it count! This line should entice your reader without seeming like spam, so avoid using phrases such as “free”, “urgent” and “order now”. Try asking a question or getting straight to the point. Examples of this include, “New March Specials Available Thursday” or “When was your last haircut?” Subject lines like these generate interest in readers and increase the chances they will open the email. Be creative and be different; getting readers to open your email is half the battle!
Write Emails With Purpose
Many emails contain a hodgepodge of specials, events, and promotional opportunities, but this much information can be overwhelming to the reader. When crafting your email, make sure you have a purpose and you make it very clear. If, for example, you are offering a monthly special, make the promotion the focus of the email. Be sure to includes links to your online booking platform and website. Also always include social media icons that link directly to your account. This makes it easy for readers to access the opportunity with a simple click of a button.
Play With The Design
Let’s be honest- boring black and white messages just don’t get noticed in today’s vast sea of creativity and innovation. In order for your salon, spa, or shop to stand out among the rest, you need to go bigger and bolder. Create a design that is simple, yet imaginative. Use short paragraphs or bullet points for easy-reading and innovative graphics to complement your writing. Today, most emails are opened on a mobile phone or tablet, so be sure this beautifully crafted email of yours displays well on these devices, too. When your emails are easy on the eyes, potential customers will notice and respond.
There are multiple components to a successful email campaign, but perhaps the most important aspect is simply knowing how to build an email list. Without an email list of your clients, you will never be able to reap the benefits of email marketing. So, let’s remedy that right now. Here is how you can build an email list for yourself, your salon, spa, or shop.
How To Build Your Email List
- Promote In-Store Signups. No client should ever be allowed to leave your salon, spa, or shop without first giving you their contact information or at the very least being asked to. We get it; you don’t want to be too pushy. However, there are plenty of easy, casual ways for you to promote in-store signups. Consider methods such as asking during checkout, keeping a signup sheet at the register/station, or leaving a bowl out to collect business cards.
- Put Signup Info On Printed Receipts. Think receipts! Paper or digital, it doesn’t matter. After every transaction the majority of your clients will get a receipt. Use this opportunity to inform them about your email list. Include small, brief messages explaining where to sign up and what the benefit is. This helps to turn every client into a potential addition to your growing email list.
- Build Sign-Up Website Forms. Many businesses do not take full advantage of their websites. Websites are a great place to ask clients and potential clients to sign up for email updates. Feature a signup form for your email list either on the navigation bar or the footer of your site. The key here is making it as visible as possible. This is where you can offer an incentive or a discount coupon code for every signup.
- Get Social. Let potential clients know they are able to sign up for your email list. Create a post on Facebook, send out a tweet on Twitter, or update your Instagram bio link. Include a link to your signup in every post, and as always, showcase the value for signing up.
Love them or hate them, online reviews are not going away. When review sites like Yelp and Google Reviews first hit the scene many small business owners were worried about how it might affect business. Who could blame them? Giving people a forum to instantly transform themselves into a critic has the potential to be a scary thing. However, online reviews can be the single largest driver of business. Here are a few ways to leverage review sites to grow your business.
Ask And You Shall Receive
Simple concept, right? Well, try taking it a step further. Don’t ask a first-timer for a review, ask your die-hard fans. Keep a running tab on your client visits. When they’ve reached their fifth-tenth service, well beyond the point at which the average consumer would jump ship, ask for their honest feedback. By this point, considering you’ve done an exemplary job in your work, experience, and consistency, they should have nothing but great things to say. If you are just starting out, ask them when they return for their second or third visit.
Respond To Everything
Both good and bad reviews deserve a response. If someone were to compliment you, in person, on a stellar experience, you’d be wise to reply to that gesture in equal or greater value. Don’t lose an opportunity to express gratitude in a very public way because you’re separated by a screen. Amp it up by making a personal phone call thanking you clients for their time. It’s a nice touch and costs nothing.
Take Negative Reviews Offline
Respond with an apology and willingness to resolve whatever issue they may have had, and above all else, be professional. Remember that there’s a person on the other side, and that everyone, especially potential new clients, can see how you treat people who feel they’ve been wronged. The next step is crucial: follow through by connecting with a phone call or email. Admit mistakes and offer corrections/refunds if necessary. By the time you’re to this point, most people’s frustration will diffuse.
Respond promptly and from the heart. Dedicate a time in your day to catch up on recent reviews. Once you’ve developed the habit of checking review sites, you’ll be surprised at how little effort this takes.
Whether you’re revamping your website or starting fresh with social media, digital marketing is here to stay. Get as comfortable with it as possible. If you still struggle, hire a social media coordinator to ensure you are managing every aspect of your online presence.