BLOG: A salon owner’s guide to online marketing
It’s fair to say that the recession left many of Britain’s high streets reeling as heritage brands and small independent businesses alike weathered one of the worst financial storms of recent times.
While reports suggest that the beauty industry as a whole coped better than most, for many salon owners across the country it is only now that they can once again look at growing their business, rather than just keeping their heads above water.
Many will be aware of the benefits of promoting their salon online; however, a disconcerting mix of technical jargon and concerns over financial and time constraints is likely to leave many retreating back to the familiarly of good old-fashioned footfall and word of mouth.
Yet the cold hard fact remains, if you are not marketing your business online, you’re missing out on a valuable stream of new customers. Google have reported that 85% of smartphone users have searched for local information and 81% have called a business after searching. A simple search for your business type and location is likely to reveal that many of your competitors are not visible online, making now the perfect time to seize the initiative and step ahead of the competition.
The good news is that there are a range of practical, low cost steps that can be undertaken to market your salon online, even if you don’t have a website!
Create a local place listing
Google Places for Business is a local business directory, whose listings appear at the top of search engine results as well as on Google Maps and mobile devices. Importantly, these listings are free! The trick here is to ensure that your profile is optimised correctly. Fill out as much information as possible including a detailed business description and upload photos and videos if applicable. Within the description include keywords that are relevant to your business. A good tactic is to list all of the services that you offer. All of the above will help your listing appear at the top of the engine results and stand out from other listings.
Encourage online reviews
Google Places for Business also allows customers to leave detailed reviews, and it is a great idea to encourage your clients to do so. Positive reviews on Google as well as on local business directories such as Yell.com play a key role in helping localised search engine optimisation. Don’t be afraid to ask clients at the end their treatment if they would be happy to leave a review. If you’ve provided a great service, most will be happy to do so and the odds of this are hugely increased if you explain how they can leave a review.
Create listings in recognised local business directories
When the search engines find business details in additional business directories they assign more authority to the associated Google Places listing. List your business in further recognised local business directories such as Freeindex.co.uk and Thomsonlocal.com, ensuring that all the details added are consistent.
Creating a Facebook page, Twitter account and/or Google+ page for your salon is another great, free way to gain visibility online. Firstly, it is a good idea to assess how much time you can realistically dedicate to managing your account or accounts. You can share news about your business and latest offers but remember not to make updates solely promotional or you run the risk of alienating your audience. Try to think of topics or content that your customers would be interested in beyond your business. While demands on time can make it difficult, try to engage with your audience as much as possible as this will help you to find out the most about them and expand your following.
Think about PR online as well
Coverage in a local newspaper or industry print magazine is great exposure for your business, but remember to make the most of any news you might have by ensuring it is featured online as well. Many print publications also have an online version. There are also many excellent beauty magazines and local news websites so be sure to approach online editors as well when it comes to distributing your latest press release. When asking for your press release or article to be published online, remember to ask for a link back to your website, social media, or your Google Places for Business page. External links on topical websites assist search engine optimisation and will help refer visitors to your contact details.
What if you already have a website?
All of the above
All of the guidance outlined above applies whether or not you have a website. However if you do have a website then these activities will specifically help to improve your site’s search engine ranking positions.
Set up a Google Analytics account to track results
Set up Google Analytics tracking if it is not already in place. This involves creating a basic Google Analytics account which is free and will allow you to track the success of your website. It does involve adding some code to the pages of your website. If this is something that you do not feel confident doing, then get in contact with the person or company that built or hosts your website and ask them to add it for you.
Include keywords in your content
Review the content on your website and look to integrate important keywords that relate to your salon, its location and the services that you offer. This will help your website to achieve higher search engine ranking positions; however, be careful not to stuff too many keywords into your content. This can look amateurish and is something that the major search engines will penalise if done to a great enough extent. When adding keywords, try to think about visitors to your website and making your content as user-friendly as possible.
Here are some key areas to incorporate keywords into your website:
- Page title tag
- Within the paragraph text
- H1 header tag
- Anchor text
The requirements of each salon will differ, however a combination the above steps will help to showcase your business to a whole new online audience.
This guide was created on behalf of Harveys of Oldham, providers of salon and beauty uniforms designed to cater for every health and beauty establishment.