Online marketing has become a “must-do” for any health and beauty business seeking to attract loyal customers. Here’s what you need to know.
Creating a basic website for your spa, salon or store doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time, but it will help you attract a lot of new customers. When looking for a place to buy health or beauty products, services or treatments, many people go online to search for beauty supply stores or to read reviews of local spas and salons.
At minimum, your website should include your hours of operation, phone number, address and a photo of your location. Ideally, add more information such as a map or directions; an email address; photos of your location, you and your employees; and a list of treatments or services. Depending on how sophisticated you want to get, you can add features such as coupons or discount codes, the ability for customers to make their own reservations for treatments online, articles or blog posts about health and beauty topics, videos and links to your company’s social media accounts.
It is critically important today, particularly for local businesses such as beauty supply stores, salons and spas, to make sure your website is mobile ready. Consumers are increasingly searching on their smartphones and tablets from home as well as when they’re mobile. This means, among other things, you can’t use Flash on your mobile site. It’s simple (and free) to find out if your site is mobile ready.
SEO & SEM
Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your website’s position in natural or “organic” search results (as opposed to paid search results). To do this, make sure your site uses words and phrases consumers are likely to use when they search for businesses like yours. For instance, if you own a hair salon in San Francisco, you’d want to use general keywords like “hair salon,” but also more specific keywords and phrases like “San Francisco hair salon,” “best hair salon San Francisco” or “hair extension specialists North Beach.” Use Google’s keyword search tool to find the most popular keywords.
In addition to keywords, adding content helps drive SEO—especially when you frequently refresh the content. (The “secret” formula seems to be adding new content at least three times a week.) Don’t let this intimidate you. You can include posts on topics such as hot-weather hairstyles (for a hair salon), photos of popular nail polish colors (for a nail salon) or archives of your email newsletters.
Search engine marketing (SEM) includes paid search advertising as well as SEO. You can buy PPC (pay-per-click) ads, where you pay only when a user clicks on your ad, on search engines such as Bing or Google. Advertising on Facebook is another option, and lets you narrowly target your ads. For instance, if your spa is trying to attract more customers for sports massages, you could target local men and women who participate in sports and express interest in massage treatments or fitness topics.
Use the Google Analytics tool (it’s free) to get information about your website visitors and measure the results of your SEO & SEM efforts. For example, if analytics show that most of your visitors are coming from a particular review and rating site, you can focus more of your marketing efforts there.
Local search directories
Getting your health and beauty business listed in as many places as possible on the Internet is key to successfully attracting new customers. Local search directories, which feature local businesses, should be an important part of your online marketing strategy. Popular local search sites include Bing Local, CitySearch, Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) and Local.com; there are also typically niche sites for health and beauty businesses, or for your city or region, that you’ll want to get listed on.
Visit each site to see if your business is listed; “claim” your listing, making sure the information about your spa, salon or store is accurate and matches what’s on your website. Then optimize your listing with extras such as photos, maps/directions, treatment details, coupons or special offers—the same types of things you put on your website. Monitor your listings regularly to keep them updated. (Some local search sites also include ratings and reviews; for more on these, read our article about social media.)
Email marketing can take many forms. You can send a quick email about an upcoming sale at your beauty supply store; email an invitation to a couples’ massage class at your spa; email an announcement about your new hairstylist and her specialties; email special offers and coupons; or email a monthly newsletter. Provide useful content so customers feel intrigued, not annoyed, by your emails. For instance, if you own a spa, use your newsletter to spotlight a new treatment, encourage customers to buy gift certificates for Mother’s Day, and showcase photos of a new aromatherapy line you sell. Email marketing services (such as Constant Contact, Campaigner or Infusionsoft) can help you send out emails, comply with FTC regulations and provide the analytics you can use to track results.
As more customers go online when looking for businesses, online marketing can ramp up your sales rapidly.
These tactics do involve a learning curve, possibly requiring outside help, and take time to do well.
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