Creating a Website
When considering having a website created for your business, you need to start by setting yourself a budget for the project, both in terms of set up, but also for ongoing maintenance and marketing costs. Speak to other business owners to gauge what the ‘going rate’ is for these prices.
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to look for the domain you wish to acquire. Companies like Go Daddy and 123 Reg provide these services at a reasonable price. Where possible, aim for the shortest domain name that is available and within your price range. The domain will be much easier for customers to remember, will look better on business cards, signage etc. and in terms of SEO is preferred by Google (we’ll cover more on SEO in a moment).
Also, placing vanity aside, a .co.uk domain is just as good as a .com domain, and is also usually cheaper. You’ll only need to worry about having a .com domain if you’re planning on opening up salons across a range of countries (but hey, why not!). Also, it may mean that you can get a free domain, but please don’t go down the root of getting a domain like www.mywebsite.freewebsiteprovider.com – it looks unprofessional, and you’ll have a nightmare trying to market it.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
SEO – or Search Engine Optimisation, is the practice of editing the content, structure, coding, and links pointing to and from your website, in order to rank within Google’s ‘natural’ search results for relevant keyword searches. It is the most important place to start, as it is essentially free traffic, but will take the longest time to yield results. It is advisable to hire a reputable marketing agency or SEO freelancer, and bear in mind that you won’t get results overnight, and anyone who promises you this is not the kind of person you want to entrust with your website. Do lots of research, and ask friends, relatives, and other businesses about who they have worked with, the best indication of quality and reputation is generally word-of-mouth!
As your business grows, you might decide to re-invest some of your profits into online advertising. This can be great for raising brand awareness and driving traffic to your website.
This comes under the umbrella of paid search or pay-per-click (PPC). When a potential client performs a search on Google, it will display relevant sponsored links next to and above the natural search results. The ad appears as text, and you choose which key phrases you think your customer will be searching for. You are charged each time someone clicks on the ad, and the amount depends on how competitive your chosen phrases are.
Each Google Ad will have a title line, one or two descriptive lines and a link to your website. It’s important to make the text concise to capture the reader’s attention, whilst reflecting your salon well. For example, if you offer reinvigorating body wraps, using premium beauty supplies, your ad text might focus on quality service, experienced staff and the products used.
Bing uses a similar structure for paid ads. It has less monthly users than Google, which means your ad may be displayed to fewer potential customers. However, the cost per click is likely to be less too. You may get a higher return on your investment, or be able to work with a smaller budget.
Social Media Advertising
In addition to creating a Facebook page, you can create Facebook ads. You choose your daily budget and the goal you aim to achieve. You can specify criteria such as potential fan’s interests, gender and geographical location. For example, if you create an ad to get more likes for a men’s barber shop in Glasgow, you’re likely to be targeting men in the surrounding areas, and would have little interest in your advert being displayed to women in Bristol.
You can also use Facebook ads to promote posts, drive traffic to your website, collect email addresses for your mailing list, and more. Twitter and Pinterest also have paid advertising options.
Many established beauty bloggers run affiliate schemes. They display your banner on their website, and each time someone clicks on it they’ll be taken to your website, and you’ll be charged a small fee. This can increase visits to your website and raise the status of your brand by being associated with a well-known blogger. Consider working with bloggers in your area to generate local awareness of your salon.
Once you’ve built up a database, you might choose to contact your clients by email. As with social media, you can communicate new products, salon offers and business information. Email marketing is a cost effective way of increasing salon bookings.
There are many service providers, but MailChimp and MadMimi offer free packages, allowing you to email a mailing list of around 2,000 contacts.
When emailing your clients you might want to consider:
- How often you will email your customers – Most high street retailers send email communications two or three times per week, but you may find sending weekly, fortnightly or monthly emails more manageable. Be careful not to send too many, as your clients might find it annoying.
- The main purpose – What message are you sending? If you are announcing your bank holiday opening times, this should be clear as soon as the email is opened.
- How the message is communicated – What font, logos and images will you include? Be sure to include good quality photos that enhance your salon image.
- The subject line – This is one of the most important factors in determining whether your client will open the email, make it concise.
- Promotions – If you’re offering 30% off facials this month, you could inform your clients via email, encouraging bookings from both regular clients and clients that may not have visited in a while. You could also include a discount code for your website if you sell beauty products online.