Back in the day, it was good enough to have a website. And when we said ‘website’ what we really meant was a single page that said who we were and listed our phone number, right?
In the 00’s it was good if you had a few web forms and a bit of flash on your website to make it look impressive. We thought we were movin’ on up in the world and probably paid way too much for it, too.
In 2012, with over 78.3% of people in North America online and 30.2% of the entire globe online (Newmediatrend.com), it’s time to step up our game if you’re going to capture attention. What you’ve done before isn’t good enough anymore and it will become painfully apparent with the trends in social media, mobile usage and search engine optimization.
With over 20% of all searches being done on a mobile device and a staggering number of hours being spent on social platforms, websites can no longer survive if they simply state the basic facts about a business and just hope and pray that the visitor calls to book an appointment. Modern websites take the control back by using technology to capture information, engage the visitor beyond a basic introduction and provide a reason for repeat visits.
Websites are also no longer for just getting new clients either, like a glorified yellowpages advertisement. A great website provides information and experiences for first time visitors, new clients, long-time clients, etc. So, in order to do this, they must provide reasons for people to come back. They must facilitate an ongoing conversation between business and client both on the site itself as well as other networks. For example, occasionally you’ll want to post a link to your website on your Facebook page to get people to book appointments, right? Well, the same ol’ pages that cover your service categories or taking them straight to your booking page can get a bit repetitive and boring. What about pages that cover who you are NOW, what you do TODAY, and why they should book IMMEDIATELY, like a blog, a news page or updated bios/portfolios and resources? Your objective is to just get them to the website because you have a link to your online booking system on every page anyway, right?
This demand on your websites brings us to the next requirement for a modern, thriving website – they must be functional. I know, it’s a basic concept, but think about the number of websites you go where you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for straight off the bat and you’re not really sure what to do or where to look and you finally just think ‘too much effort.’ Let’s hope no one says that about you because you have only 3 seconds to convince your viewers to stick with you, which means your website has to funnel people to the right places. And once you get them there, you have to keep them moving to the next step. And the next.
The other aspect of ‘functional’ is providing the right tools to be an accessible business. Many consumers prefer doing business online and/or on their mobile devices, so if you aren’t playing ball in those arenas you could be missing out. This doesn’t mean an online email inquiry form, by the way. Those forms require you to call them to finish the booking and if they wanted a phone call, they would have called you….
If you are looking to get serious about your online marketing efforts in 2012, you have to start with a website that will allow you to effectively take advantage of the new trends.
So what do you do about this?
- Ditch the flashy design and focus on solid development. There is some revolutionary new technology coming out that will help websites be even more influential in the future so make sure your web developer is up on their stuff. Flash is a known barrier to good search engine marketing, isn’t mobile friendly and is costly to keep fresh and updated. Opt for a cool, yet functional, design that keeps you agile.
- Get a little more social with your site and look to includes blogs that encourage comments, questions, etc. Host a rotating poll on key pages that ask for input. Have a Q&A where people can ask questions from their favorite salon spa. Host video on your site that is beneficial for your clients. Do all of this so that it also benefits your social media programs with sharing icons. HINT: All this efforts is also search engine loveable.
- Use web forms on your site for your various marketing programs, like your email newsletter and also host RSVPs on your website so people can sign up straight on your site. Don’t forget to use the details on where they signed up and what they liked in future marketing. For example, if they RSVPd for a blowdry class, make sure to invite them to future styling classes. Or, if they signed up for your newsletter from your page dedicated to hair extensions, add them to a special list that provides information specific to that service.
- Give them a reason to go back to your website. Why? Because that’s where your online booking system is! The more you can get them to your website, the more they’ll be thinking about you, learning about your services and getting more engrossed in your brand. Think about hosting a blog on your site, updating your stylist bio’s and/or keeping up-to-date news on your site.
- Don’t dump all of your services on one page – BORING! And not so hot with the search engines. Break them into service categories and think about the types of clients you have and what they’d be searching for. For example, you might put all of your core hair services on page and then have specific pages dedicated to your specialty services like straightening and extensions. Don’t go overboard, but take the extra time to showcase your high revenue services and gain a little more search engine love in the process. You may also want to host special Q&A or resource articles for these services to boost your credibility and provide prospective clients with the information they need.
- Post your contact details on every….single….page. This includes your phone number, email and your full address. If you serve a large variety of suburbs that don’t reflect your address, include those as well as it helps with search engine optimization. Don’t forget your online booking link on every page, too. The best place for this link is in the upper right-hand corner.