May is Salon Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! This means that in addition to our usual posts with tips on connecting with customers, marketing strategy, and growing your business, we’ll be sharing insights specifically for local salon professionals. If that includes you, it’s time to polish up on these proven promotion techniques. If not, don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing our usual resources that can help you effectively market your local business. And keep your eyes peeled, your industry might be the one we feature next month!
Finding new clients can be a constant battle for stylists. However, with all the time you already invest honing your craft and staying a cut above the latest trends and styles, there’s not much left to spend worrying about keeping your chair occupied. Getting your salon found by potential customers starts with your online presence. Following these steps when setting up your salon’s web presence can help ensure you get the most out of your efforts and drive more business.
It all starts with your business’s website:
Your salon’s website is its home base. While it’s important to have a presence on other places around the web (and more on that point in a bit!), you need to have an online asset that you own and control. That’s where your website comes in. Social pages, directories and review sites should be directing traffic back to your site. We recently partnered with Weebly for a webinar on online reputation management, where they emphasized the idea of your business’s site as a hub. Think of it in this way, and you can cultivate a community around your styling expertise.
This starts on a basic level in selecting your domain name. Make sure it represents what you do, as specifically as possible. When creating the various pages, be sure to emphasize these differentiators — what makes your business special, as well as the location. This helps your site get discovered when potential customers start searching for salon options in their area. Think of this process of identifying and focusing on these differentiators as the beginning of building your brand.
Include forms to capture customer data wherever possible on your site. This can be a form requesting more info on a particular service, an online appointment booking, or just a simple email form that promises to keep them updated on all the latest news. These will help you grow your email subscriber lists, and drive repeat business. And don’t forget to link to your social pages, and third-party review sites (like Yelp, Google My Business, Allure, etc.) to encourage them to engage with your salon there and check out your favorable reviews.
All of your salon’s most important information should be easily accessible on the homepage. This includes hours, address, directions (and parking info, when applicable), as well as an up-to-date list of services as well as pricing. Keep this structure in mind when building a mobile-optimized version of your site. With so many people searching for businesses on their smartphones, watches and tablets, it has become important to ensure they have a great user experience across all devices. This means fast load times as well as pages that are responsive. Make sure all this vital info is as close to the top of the page as possible, so they can easily call once they find your site. Also putting appointment forms on the homepage allows them to convert without any friction in the process.
Finally, don’t be afraid to show off a little. Including testimonials on your site can increase your conversions by 34%. Be sure to place them prominently in the upper 1/3 of the page, for the best results. This exposes potential customers to the phenomenal experience others have had at your salon and reduces any uncertainty or fears they might have over trying out a new stylist.
Keep content fresh
It’s essential to the success of your salon that you keep your business information updated. Nothing is worse than a customer coming in expecting to pay one price for a service, and finding out that the price has been increased. Even when this is unintentional (we get it, it’s normal for costs to fluctuate!), it breaks the trust or the promise that your business made when it reported on pricing on your site. Oftentimes, this new customer’s impression will be affected negatively. They’ll feel scammed and will be unlikely to return.
Similarly, you should make an effort to keep other aspects fresh for frequent visitors to your site. If you start a blog, be sure you don’t neglect it. Try to post at least once a week, and on a consistent cadence, so that your audience will know what to expect and continue to return each week looking for new tips or other insights based on your experience. And if you have special seasonal offers, make sure you change the regularly (at least once a season!). Nothing looks worse than summer specials promoted in November!
List your salon on online directories and create social profiles
Make sure that your address is formatted in the same manner in as many directories as possible. You never know which one a prospective customer might come across in their search for a new salon, so you want to be wherever your customers are! This includes review sites, so make sure you claim your profile on Yelp and Google My Business, and set them up on Allure and any other salon review sites. Yelp estimates that just by having a profile on the platform, the average business see an additional $8000 in revenue a year!
Online directories can also help with SEO efforts, which allow your website to be found by search engines. This list is a great place to start and has many free directories that you can list your business on. Again, keep your info formatted consistently throughout (as slight variations can hurt your SEO work). For example, make sure that if your salon is located at 1247 Lost Tree Lane, Suite 700, that all of your listings look the same, and none say 1247 Lost Tree Ln., Ste. 700.
Similarly, you’ll want to set up profiles on various social networks, including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, etc. While it’s important to be where your audience is, some businesses overcommit when it comes to their social pages. Remember, each page you set up needs to be maintained on a daily (or at least weekly) basis. Rather than having many pages with little engagement and interaction, try focusing on one or two that a majority of your existing clients are on. Or, start polling them during appointments to determine which you should concentrate on.
Familiarize yourself with the nuances of each, and be sure to interact with other users accordingly. Instagram is a great way to share before and after photos of clients (always ask for their permission before sharing anywhere publicly!). But make sure that’s not all that’s represented. Post photos of you with other stylists, different events you have and attend and any other fun, “behind the scenes” glimpses you want to give into your business. This creates a deeper connection with existing clients.
Managing Online Reputation
If you’ve followed along this far, then your salon now has an online presence! While this is great news, it also means you now need to develop a strategy for safeguarding the online reputation of your business. While review sites and social pages are great ways to expose your work to new clients, they should always be monitored in case you need to get involved. If a customer posts a negative review, be sure to reach out to them privately to see if you can find a resolution.
This is your chance to not only win them back, but also demonstrate your dedication to client satisfaction. Afterwards, you can respond to the original comment stating that you’re happy you were able to find a way to fix it, and stand by your work. Bear in mind that these are your paying clients, so do your best to keep your cool and be respectful even if they’re being unreasonable. You might not be able to win every one back, but avoid aggravating the situation at all costs. Messy public arguments have an unfortunate knack of going viral, and continue to damage businesses long after the review has been posted.
Similarly, you should do your best to seek out positive reviews from your biggest advocates. Regularly ask for feedback, and remind them how important online reviews are for your business. Add in-store signage to remind customers to check out your profiles on these sites and hopefully leave positive reviews. Don’t be afraid to email or text customers you know well and ask (politely) for them to take a minute to review you or your salon. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so by sending them the link. If you don’t get the review or a response, don’t push the same people too hard on this, but send a gentle nudge, sparingly. Always make sure to thank them when they do, and check out this full list of ideas for driving more positive reviews, and responding to negative reviews.
Communications: Email and SMS marketing strategy
Now that you’ve set up the hub of your digital presence, use SMS and email to drive traffic back to it. Include a link to your site in your email signature, as well as any links to social pages and review sites. This way no matter what type of email you send out, whether a promotion or a simple appointment confirmation, you can direct clients to check out these pages, follow your salon or even leave a positive review!
Send out emails and text messages that keep your business top-of-mind with clients between visits, and remind others that they’re due for an appointment. You can keep them informed of promotions, exclusive events, and the latest news. Between high engagement rates, and most being read almost instantaneously, SMS marketing is a great way to drum up business on a slow day. Send out a text blast offering a discount on any appointments made for that day. Or, try out any of these creative sms campaigns. Send out emails and texts that drive repeat business, reviews and referrals. As a reminder, Signpost’s Mia automates all of these initiatives so that you don’t have to manage them manually, all while protecting your reputation by intercepting negative reviews and prompting new customers to make an appointment.