With the Australian beauty industry growing rapidly, it’s important for salons to make sure they stand out from the crowd. We look at seven effective marketing techniques to attract new customers.
The number of new businesses in Australia is growing at an almost unprecedented rate. In fact, last year the number of actively trading organisations across the country rose to 2.3 million; nearly a 3.5 percent increase from the previous year. And while there has been growth across a wide range of industries, the beauty sector is one where significant levels of growth have been reported.
Statistics show that in May 2017, 54,400 people were employed as hairdressers in Australia, with experts claiming that the figure could rise to as many as 58,200 by May 2022; an expected seven percent increase within just a five-year period.
There is little doubt that the future landscape is set to be competitive, highlighting the need for salons to generate highly effective marketing techniques to reach target audiences and build strong client bases. The problem, however, is that the average salon can afford to budget just three to seven percent of annual revenue for marketing and promotion purposes; a portion that, for many, may not be enough to adopt all desired advertising avenues. There is an urgent and growing need for salons to make sure they’re getting the most value from their campaign efforts and marketing investments through effective solutions.
Here are seven of the most effective marketing techniques to help attract new clients in a competitive world.
If a salon is not already online, then now is the time to make it happen. Similarly, if a salon is online but lacks a strong digital presence, it is essential to expand this presence to boost visibility and brand familiarity. Australia now has an estimated 21.74 million internet users in total, signalling a three percent increase since January 2017, and the majority of these people use the web to search for products and services.
This data suggests a digital presence can be an essential aspect of a strong marketing strategy, even for salons that aren’t offering e-commerce services; in this instance, marketing is less about directly boosting income and more about improving brand awareness to get traffic through the door.
There are plenty of channels that salon owners can utilise to improve their online presence and get their brand in front of the right eyes: their own salon website, social media profiles, guest posts on relevant websites associated with the industry, directories, and beauty booking platforms, for example. PR for small businesses is also a great way to deliver up-to-date, timely news and updates to potential clients.
What many salon owners don’t realise is that creating a strong online presence isn’t just about marketing and attracting new clients; it’s also a way to meet the evolving needs of existing clients.
70 percent of today’s customers want to book beauty appointments online, so adopting digital technologies and implementing them within the workplace is a development opportunity that is well worth looking into.
Along with booking services, there are a number of other online solutions that can have a positive impact on operations, such as MYOB, which has fast become Australia’s leading online accounting software.
When determining the most suitable marketing techniques for attracting new clients, it is important to take into account the already competitive landscape which is expected to become even more fierce in the future.
Brand loyalty is a major concern here, with the potential for clients to flit between salons for any number of reasons (and, perhaps in some cases, for no reason at all). Customers value familiarity, which is certainly good news for those with an existing large client base, but it’s not such a good piece of news when looking at it from an acquisition perspective. So, what can make clients try out a new salon?
Incentive. 80 percent of customers feel motivated to try a new business when there’s a discount or offer there to tempt them, so this should be something that’s incorporated into marketing campaigns.
A good place to start is with rewards programs which not only provide incentive but actually help to build a long-term relationship and boost client lifetime value (CLV). An example of a beauty brand getting this spot on is Ulta Beauty in the United States, whose rewards program grew by 14.4 percent last year to 31.8 million users.
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. It helps to match what clients are looking for with what services salons are offering, making it easy for new clients to find a salon that’s right for them.
By incorporating relevant keywords and phrases into online content, salons can boost their ranking through search engines such as Google; an essential consideration given that around three quarters of all search engine users never scroll past the first page of the results.
The best SEO strategy for small businesses is one where the keywords have been thoroughly researched.
One of the best places to conduct keyword research is through an online tool such as Google Ads which shows what words and phrases target audiences are searching for. But always remember that SEO isn’t a one-time thing: for best effect, keywords should be adapted using seasonal variants, particularly within an industry such as beauty where times of the year and calendar events can significantly impact active audiences, such as wedding season and Christmas party season, for example.
These keywords should be incorporated naturally into a content creation strategy and used within a regular blog and guest posts.
Quite simply, no matter how much effort a salon owner puts into their marketing strategy, it will ultimately fail to achieve its goals if it doesn’t reach its target audience… what who is the target audience? This is something that all salon owners should know. An existing client base can give some useful insight into who uses the offered services, but it’s also important to look at industry trends.
For example, average Australian women spend more than $3600 on beauty products each year, suggesting that females are likely to be interested in salon services. Additionally, ‘The Big Book 2017-2018’ by Nails Magazine found that women aged 46+ made up the majority of salon customers, although 42 percent of salon owners cited women aged 36-45 as the demographic demonstrating the highest growth.
Once salon owners know who they’re marketing to, they can begin to consider where they should be focusing their efforts. There are some pretty notable gender differences in social media usage, with platforms such as Pinterest having significantly more female account holders than male account holders.
But it’s not just about the who and the where, it’s also about the what. If a salon does indeed determine that their target audience is women aged 36 and over, what sort of content and what sort of services would be statistically most likely to attract? For example, if it is assumed that this demographic has children, salons could consider expanding offerings to include children’s services and even parties; it’s all about being in a position to identify your target audience and give them what they’re looking for.
Given that 83 percent of customers claim to be motivated to take action through word-of-mouth, influencer marketing can be a hugely effective method for salon owners looking to attract new audiences and reach new demographics. Influencer marketing offers access to a ready-made pool of potential clients and associates the organisation with a reputable and respected figure who instils trust in their followers. It has become such an integral part of so many marketing strategies that Australia is actually working on its own guidelines for influencer marketing for standardisation of practices and procedures.
Influencer marketing can be useful across many industries, but the beauty sector is one where this method stands to have a significant effect. Why? Because success within the beauty industry relies heavily upon peer reviews.
Unlike businesses selling products, there really is no set standard for beauty services; the overall result depend on the practitioner, whether that’s their qualifications, their experience and expertise, or their vision, so a ‘thumbs up’ from a peer can be a big motivation.
Reaching out to influencers can be challenging, but with a strong and well-researched outreach strategy it can be much easier to identify influencers that can help your brand, and your audience base, to grow.
It’s also important to measure an influencer’s return on investment and track direct referrals and traffic from this source to make sure that influencer marketing efforts are achieving what they set out to achieve.
The importance of keywords and SEO was touched upon earlier, but there is an extra layer of search engine optimisation that is vital for brick-and-mortar businesses such as beauty salons: local SEO.
Local marketing isn’t such a big concern for e-commerce businesses who can deliver all across Australia, or even around the world. But, for organisations like salons that rely on foot traffic, local marketing is essential as it helps to target potential audiences within the region.
Google My Business is a fantastic tool for this, with a large proportion of discovery searches. Discovery searches are those that are used when a potential customer is looking for options. For example, ‘nail salon in Melbourne’. Direct searches are less important when attracting new customers; these are searches related to a specific business.
Website links from Google My Business listings saw a 29 percent growth between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018, highlighting just how effective this tool can be. But what’s the best approach?
To get the most out of Google My Business, salon owners should be delving deeper into long tail keywords with geographical SEO. For example, rather than targeting ‘eyelash extensions’, target ‘eyelash extensions in Melbourne’ and variations. Booking platform categorisation can also be useful for this. For example, Bookwell categorises salons with a geographically optimised URL, like www.bookwell.com.au/venues/hairdressing/melbourne.
To determine the best long tail and geographical keywords, salon owners should be conducting competitor analysis, taking a closer look at what keywords other salons are targeting. Niche keywords that aren’t used extensively by local rivals can help to give beauty salons a competitive edge.
Visual marketing is essential for two reasons. The first is that humans are, by nature, visual learners. It’s estimated that around 65 percent of people retain information better when it’s presented in visual form.
The second reason is that beauty is a highly aesthetic industry that’s based on the look of the finished design or style. Therefore, visuals should play a major role in marketing strategies for salons.
Consider using image-based social media platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, or even venturing into the world of VR.
Virtual reality may seem an unusual aspect of a marketing strategy for salons, but it’s already being used within the beauty industry. Beauty brand L’Oreal recently acquired augmented reality and artificial Intelligence company, ModiFace, while Bellacures, a salon in Beverly Hills, California, has started using VR headsets to allow customers to experience relaxing locations throughout the duration of their treatment.
Marketing for salons is definitely a lot different to e-commerce marketing, but there are a few lessons that can be borrowed from these types of strategies.
Although there are many different promotional options, it’s important to choose effective methods that really derive the most value from the available budget.
Australia’s beauty industry is becoming increasingly competitive, so right now it is essential for salons to ensure their target audience knows who they are by raising awareness, boosting online visibility, and increasing brand familiarity to attract new clients and generate growth.