The Big Reveal - How To Grow A Successful Salon Business Through Online Marketing
I recently posted this on an esthetician forum:
Almost instantly a flood of friend requests and message requests started coming in and all of them had the same question. "How do I get clients through my door?"
It reminded me why Briggs (my boyfriend) wanted to get into the business in the first place. He had been doing online marketing for eight years and saw how good the financials were in esthetics and how clueless the estheticians were in marketing! (Sorry) He had me design the brand, website, and all the other marketing materials and then we tackled the marketing together. I decided to write an article explaining what worked and what didn't work for Sugar Me Wax and the hurdles we had to overcome to get where we are. If you have your own opinions and/or disagreements I am not saying I am RIGHT, I'm just simply explaining what has worked for us!
What Is Your Brand?
It is very important to have a clear brand. At Sugar Me Wax we want ALL women to feel empowered, beautiful, and "sugared". So what do we do? We use all different shapes and sizes of women on our site so people instantly connect with us, we treat them like goddesses from the moment they walk into the door, to the moment they leave, and we give them a brownie or mini cupcake at the end of their service as our last attempt to "sugar" them. Guess what? They don't forget us. ;)
So what is your brand? What are your favorite things? Do you want to have a country/southern belle vibe to your salon or a more clinical/medical feel? Do you like the 70's? Do you love Audrey Hepburn and her classy air? Whatever gets you excited. Do that.
Your Website Is Everything
Let me just be blunt. If you don't have a good website, it doesn't matter how much work you put into other online marketing techniques, it just won't pay off. A good website is best investment you could make for your salon. A good (emphasize on good) website is the foundation to your marketing efforts period so it needs to be solid. Here are musts for a 2015 website:
- Mobile friendly Almost half of online traffic is happening through a mobile device. It is so important that your site looks good through a phone! Not only is it important for the user experience, it is also important for your rank on Google. Google rolled out a new search algorithm this past year explaining that if you want to come up as one of the first links on a search page, then your site has to be mobile friendly.
- Esthetically pleasing Need I say more?
- Informative but not overcrowded Yes it is good to have content on a site but you always need to be asking yourself, is it too much? People want instant information and they don't want to sift through paragraphs to get that information.
- Easy to navigate A site should not be a maze. That is a fast way to get people to leave.
Still wondering if your site it "good"? Here are some examples of good sites:
Here are sites that are not so good:
Know that your site is bad but don't know what to do about it? CONTACT ME. I have designed a ton of sites and would be happy to sit down with you and get one up that you are proud of.
You Have To Pay Your Dues...Still
I know, you paid to go to school, your paying for your space and your supplies. You can't afford to work for free! However, for us, Groupon and Living Social were necessary evils. So many estheticians expressed their hate towards Groupon while talking to me and trust me, I GET IT. I get that you run into Groupon hoppers, and that you pretty much gave them free lash extensions. But I can honestly say half of our current, loyal cliental came from Groupon and Living Social.
The key is not letting them walk out the door without rebooking. If you are shy about rebooking I would suggest prepping yourself before you hop into the Groupon world. Force yourself to rebook every client you get for a month no matter how uncomfortable or awkward you feel. You WILL get over it. Like anything, it takes practice. For us, one thing that has helped with rebooking clients is educating them throughout the appointment about the importance of consistency.
SEO...Whatever The Hell That Is
SEO = Search Engine Optimization. The practice of optimizing your site so that you come up first for keywords people search for on Google. There is 'on site' SEO and 'off site' SEO. Google does a good job ranking the best sites #1 so on site SEO is very important. Google takes into account factors like site usability (how long a person spends on your site and how many pages they visit) and how relative your pages are to the keywords people search for. On site SEO accounts for about 60% of the formula for ranking #1 on Google. The cool thing is, this can be done by you (if you are up to it). Lace your website with keywords your are trying to target. For instance if you do brazilian waxing in Chicago, on the front page of your site say something like "We specialize in brazilian waxing in the Chicago. We do female Brazilians as well as male Brazilians. In the Chicago area? Come visit our waxing salon today!" That may have been a little overkill but you get the idea. It is also important to have ALL your meta titles and meta tags done for your site.
Off site SEO is having websites with higher domain authority, meaning websites who have higher traffic volumes link to your site. This is called link building and it usually costs money. Ways you can get this for "free" is by contacting bloggers in your area and inviting them in for a free wax, facial, or other service in exchange for a link to your site on their website. They don't even have to write an article about you (although that would be awesome), they can simply say "Got waxed today! Ready for the weekend!" Notice how I linked the word "wax" to Sugar Me Wax? The more quality, high-traffic sites that link to yours, the higher you come up in the Google search results.
Keeping Your Current Cliental Happy
If you aren't capturing your clients emails already, start doing it now! Every month we send out specials to our clients, whether it's $10 off their next service or a heads up about a giveaway. Sometimes people need that extra incentive to come in again.
Another way we use emails is at the end of every week, I make a list of all the people who came in that week and I send them a very simple quiz email. All it asks is to rate their experience and tell us why you rated it like that. This has made a world of a difference because we are able to catch our mistakes early. If someone leaves a bad review I call them and simply apologize that they had that experience, I tell them how I am going to make sure that never happens again, and I invite them back for 50% off their next service. Let me tell you something, all but two people have accepted my offer. People LOVE that you care and you take the time to make sure that they had a good experience. Also, you were able to salvage a potential client that never would've come back to you again otherwise!
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
Now I would never recommend someone to do paid advertising on Yelp but I would HIGHLY recommend having a Yelp page. I look everything up on Yelp. I don't go to a restaurant unless it has over three stars and trust me folks, there are more like me out there. "But how do I get reviews??" One thing we did was we sent an email blast to all of our clientele promoting a giveaway we were having. In order for them to enter in the giveaway, they had to share their experience on either Yelp, Facebook, or both if they wanted their name in the hat twice. We got 21 five star reviews from that campaign between Yelp and Facebook. You can say it was worth it:)
A Brilliant Google Adwords Campaign
Google Adwords is another one of those foreign things that estheticians especially, get overwhelmed with. The cool thing is, you can set up a "Call Only" campaign meaning you only pay for people who actually call you to set up an appointment. Cool right? How much does it cost? This purely depends on your competition. A call could cost you anywhere from $2 to $10. For Sugar Me Wax, we get between 2-4 calls a week from this campaign and pay around $5 for every call. This is worth it to us because 70% of first-timers rebook!
Don't Take Failure As Failure
Success doesn't come without it's many MANY failures. We ran a holiday special on Sonoran Living (a morning news show in Arizona) where our lead esthetician went on the show and did a four minute segment about what sugar waxing is. We paid $1,750 for the segment and didn't book a single appointment from it. The only thing we got was an article about us on their site so we chalked it up as a very expensive link. Print ads in coupon books and magazines also didn't return much for us either.
With marketing, you never know until you try. I realize this was a very meaty read and a lot to digest but I promise as you are constant about trying out these marketing techniques you will see the growth you have envisioned since day one.
If you have any questions or want to have a deeper conversation about any of the strategies listed above, please feel free to contact me!
P.S. I don't work with people who don't want to invest. I am all for advice and mentorship but you have to be willing to put in the time to really make it work! My mom always said if you put a batch of cookies in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees and they burn, what do you think will happen the next time you put a batch of cookies in for 15 minutes at 350 degrees? Have thick skin and be willing to adjust.