Section 1: Introduction to why I love digital marketing (Feel free to skip to section 2 to get just the local business checklist & tips)
“So, why do you like digital marketing?” This is one of the most common questions I have been asked by past employers during an interview. The question that ultimately explains why I chose to sit in front of my computer finding the latest tricks to make a website’s traffic grow instead of becoming a rocket scientist, a surgeon or even a superhero.
The answer is simple. Marketing can make a difference, it can help local businesses grow, promote causes and help any small, medium or large companies in so many ways. And I’ve succeeded in making this difference multiple times. One example I’ll always remember is how is I helped my hairdresser grow his business:
It all started when I went for my haircut, expecting the usual chit chat on how things were. But this time, my hairdresser explained to me how things were becoming difficult for him. That he had hardly any reservations, there was competition on the rise. To the point that if things continued the way they were going, he would have to close his hair salon within the next 6 months.
As any passionate digital marketer should, the first thing that crossed my mind was to have a look at his online visibility via my phone as we spoke. What I didn’t realize at that moment was that the help I was going to provide him would not only save his business, but make his business grow to become three independent salons, hire a large number of hairdressers and hair experts and start a new beauty institution.
Section 2: The local digital strategy (skip to section 3 to skip the marketing tips and read the conclusion of my story)
Here are the 10 main local digital strategy checklist steps I focused on which allowed him to grow his website visitors from 200 users per month to 7000 in no more than 13 months:
1. Research: Know what you’re marketing.
There’s no need to overcomplicate this step, but even though it could be obvious what you’re planning to market, be sure to do the following steps
- Understand user personas: My first step was to know who I was talking to. I then divided my audience into 3 main personas. This helped me understand the type of content I should write and what services or requests each audience would want.
- I then researched all the top brand hairdressers and those ranking on google to understand how they promote themselves.
- I identified all the keywords users used to find hairdressers. I identified the principal keywords and the secondary keywords.
- I compared and benchmarked the UX and web design for the best possible practices.
Answering and understanding all of these questions provided me with a clear foundation on what was required. In addition, it also gave me a clear understanding of what competitors were missing and how I could improve my client’s visibility.
Opportunity is usually found where competitors don’t expect it.
2. Website Optimization and content:
My client’s website was not catastrophic. There was the address, introduction, Google Maps with a contact form, phone number and some photos of the store.
But it was not optimized properly, nor was the content that was optimized fully responsive (70% of his traffic was mobile).
Which is why I did the following:
1. I outlined all the services the hairdresser provided, and I created specific landing pages for each of them. These landing pages had a unique value on the following points:
- How he provides this service; why he is good at it and how much it would cost
- Photos and videos of him and his staff in action for social proof.
- A selection of the 3 most relevant blog articles to the service.
- All of this followed by a clear CTA: “Book your (mentioned service) today and save 10% on your first cut.”
2. Create a blog based on different categories: Internal news, “How to” information, haircut advice.
3. I created a website form and set clear CTAs across key pages to the reservation page.
4. I integrated schema code and rich snippets for the Google reviews and I linked them to his website.
5. I integrated Google maps on the store’s main pages.
6. I reviewed every single page and updated sections via small devices to make the website very easy to use and fast on mobile for mobile optimisation.
7. I added CTA pop up with offers at the bottom of each page. Different pages had different CTA pop-ups depending on the page.
8. I integrated event tracking on Google Analytics and ensured web console and GA were properly set up.
It was clear that images were essential for such an industry, so I set up the following:
1. I took photos of the whole team and added them onto the website.
2. I created a wide selection of photos of the hair salon, and of the team in action.
3. I got my friend who does 360° tours to do a tour of the store and made it appear on Google My Business.
4. I trained all the hairdressers to take photos whenever they could. Especially the before and after photos.
5. I integrated a large selection of before and after images (everyone loves seeing that) on the gallery page and below the specific services.
4. Google My Business
Google My Business was a key factor in maximizing visibility.
- Optimization of Google My Business: I made sure to keep the address consistent.
- I integrated the main keyword in the brand’s name.
- Photos, description etc.: I made sure to use the main hairdresser keywords and optimized every possible information Google My Business provided
- I started posting articles every week and shared them on Google My Business.
I identified opportunities for my client to obtain reviews:
The hairdressers would ask their clients nicely after a haircut.
- Clients will receive an email and text message after their haircut asking them to write a review or contact the owner if they were unhappy about something.
- We provided mass emails once every 3 months requesting a review in exchange for a small discount on the next haircut.
- We responded to every single review with either a promotional code to thank as well as phone number and email if the review was not positive.
NOTE: this made him obtain 300 reviews at a 4.5 score in no more than 6 months – highest competitor had no more than 50 reviews.
- I fully optimized the services section on Google My Business with pricing and list of services.
- I created and answered questions I knew people would want to know such as if the hairdresser was opened on a Monday or if there was any parking.
By doing all of this, the hairdresser started ranking in the top 3 for local rankings. Not only for the long tail keywords but also for some top-level local keywords – this happened in about 2 months.
5. Link on all local directories
Link building was important for his local visibility and also for his domain authority.
Therefore, I created links to all the local business directories possible: Yellow pages, Yelp. I then found the hairdresser focused directories.
6. Article creation and Optimization
Next step was to create a robust content plan on all the services. I wanted to ensure he became not only a hairdresser but also an expert in his industry, by providing solutions and insights on everything happening in the hair industry. To do so, I did a lot of research on what people were looking for on Google so I could create content which would answer the right queries:
My plan was for each service to have between 5 to 15 articles. These articles would then branch out to create 3 to 6 new landing pages.
For example, for his hair color service, I wrote 10 articles such as: “What is the right base color for dark hair” with clear explanations and imagery for each option. I then expanded this article by creating a new landing page called “dark hair coloring”.
I continued this process so there was always an infinite amount of content to be written without becoming redundant.
Additionally, I wanted him to provide reassuring insights and not follow the same pitch as most hairdressers. Therefore, I started looking for interesting topics such as: “What can I do if a hairdresser messes my hair”
Each of these articles had a customized CTA which would provide a discount for first booking (if made online).
This may seem quite difficult, but I worked by getting 6 to 10 articles written a month. It has now become 150 articles and drives a huge chunk of traffic every month.
7. Video content
Next point I did was to ask my hairdresser to film the haircuts if the client agrees. This provided me with great insightful content I then shared across YouTube and social media with the right keyword optimization in the description.
I decided to keep it very simple to easily measure his ROI. I created an AdWords strategy with the following:
- Mobile users and on Google maps
- Target top level and very targeted keywords
- Geolocations based only where he is based
- Measured ROI and growth with profit.
We only increased his budget so he would be ranking in the top of the results once we had a good engagement (tracked via phone tracking events and form completion).
9. Social media
I trained the team to create content for Instagram and Facebook. This got a lot of engagement from returning clients.
I decided to test influential marketing and contacted an Instagram influencer to come to the store. She filmed her whole haircut and this attracted a huge number of followers and new clients: We then organized to have an influencer come once every second month.
10. Retargeting social paid strategy
All users who did not convert on the website were retargeted for 5 days on Facebook and Instagram with remarketing advertising. We would either offer an extra service or provide a discount on the haircut. However, this was only if they were located in the right area and matched our target audience.
11. Marketing automation setup
Marketing automation was a great impact when it came to returning visitors.
- Emailing and text messages were set up automatically for the following:
- Birthday offer: A client would receive a 10% discount for their birthday or a head massage included with their next haircut.
- Review: An email and text message would be sent a day after a visit with the request to leave a review or email the manager if something had gone badly. This filtered the bad reviews and helped to initiate a discussion.
- An email would be sent every month and a half for men with a reminder of the haircut. Every 5th haircut would be a free one, so this became a countdown for every email.
- We set email reminders between 1 to 6 months after a haircut or new hairstyle depending on the service.
- We emailed and texted all the database once a year to say thank you for being a great client and included a 5% discount.
This resulted in an 80% increase in returning visitors, a huge increase in positive reviews and great feedback from many clients.
My hairdresser has now seen a significant increase in traffic mainly from organic traffic and with a stable paid traffic.
Traffic Results: He went from 300 users a month in December 2016 to 7600 users in April 2018 and this is still growing significantly.
New clients per month: In 1 year, he managed to obtain more than 250 new clients every month with more than 45% returning at least once.
Overall results: My hairdresser became independent from a franchise, opened two new salons in 2018 and is now launching a beauty institution.
With this, he has hired a full-time marketer to help him deliver an on-going strategy and his social media.
If you think out of the box, identify the right opportunities, regardless of budget, you will find incredible opportunities. Opportunities to help companies of all sizes grow and succeed in their industry. There will always be challenges and someone doing something different in marketing, but this enables it to expand, grow and improve.