The prospect of going digital with a bricks and mortar business can be intimidating. There are so many platforms and tools available, it’s hard to know where to start.
It’s important to remember digital is a broad term, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. As with most pathways in business, the way forward becomes clearer once you break it down.
Let’s use the hypothetical hairdressing salon ‘Hair by Harriet’ as an example. Harriet wants to know how to use digital tools to:
- connect with new clients in her local area
- showcase her salon’s expertise
- streamline her booking process, and
- increase product sales
She has a website but it doesn’t have any interactive features to help achieve these goals. Harriet also has a Facebook page and an Instagram account, but they’re not linked to her website and she hasn’t used them in a while.
The best place for Harriet to start with her digital makeover is updating her website.
A website should be considered the digital home of any business. It should be informative, easy to navigate, and give the user a clear vision of the company’s personality so customers can connect with the brand and picture themselves as a client. In Harriet’s case, the website also needs to be shoppable.
Harriet wants all the standard features including a clean modern landing page, price list, links to her social media channels, and contact details for the salon, as well as online bookings, an online store, and a blog.
We’re living in a phone call-phobic era where 25% of millennials avoid voice calls altogether.
Online booking is now the preferred method for many younger generation consumers. Using online booking software such as Shedul, Hair by Harriet can accept automated online bookings on her website. This is not only easier and more appealing for her clients, but also reduces phone call interruptions in the salon.
To reach even more customers Harriet could also register her business on popular salon booking platforms such as Bookwell or My Local Salon. Similar booking agency websites now exist for a wide range of industries.
E-Commerce and online shopping
Hair by Harriet also sells haircare and styling products including its very own retail line, and Harriet wants to learn how to use digital to increase sales.
Aussies are flocking to online sales with a 14.4% increase in online spending by Australians in 2017. So it makes sense for Harriet to make her products available to online shoppers and grow her customer base outside the local area of her salon.
It’s simple to add eCommerce capability to any website using tools such as Shopify, and to add ‘buy now’ buttons wherever products are featured, such as social media, e-newsletters, or blogs.
How could you use online shopping to increase your product sales?
Content marketing and blogs
Publishing blog posts enables businesses to use content marketing techniques to boost search engine rankings and position themselves as industry thought leaders.
In the case of a hair salon, the blog can be a place to highlight new and upcoming trends, showcase editorial work, feature creative partnerships, and demonstrate new techniques.
With Hair by Harriet having the expert knowledge to produce such fantastic content, they should be producing blogs and sharing it with the world!
What could you be blogging about?
Did you know 8 in 10 Australians now use social media? That’s why social networking is a key method for sharing content, promoting products, and connecting with prospective customers.
Using highly visual posts, Hair by Harriet can drive engagement by giving social media users an insight into their salon experience, and showcasing the talent of their stylists. Social media can also be used to share exclusive promotions to boost bookings and increase customer loyalty.
With even a modest ad budget, social media posts can be targeted to users by demographics such as age, gender, location, interests and more. This will deliver Harriet’s content into the newsfeeds of her target market, reeling them in with special offers and on-trend hairstyles.
Using Facebook Live videos, Hair by Harriet can film staff demonstrating techniques or products they use in the salon, or sharing free styling tips that viewers can try at home. Viewers can ask questions which the hairdressers can answer live on air, providing an interactive experience and giving a unique insight into the salon.
Instagram is another leading channel for businesses with rich visual content such as hairdressing. It’s a great place to share before and after shots, editorial looks, and fun day-to-day moments in the salon.
Using location tagging and local hashtags will also ensure Hair by Harriet’s posts are being seen by the users that matter most – potential customers in the immediate area.
Owned content isn’t the only way to drive brand recognition and build a customer base on social media. Influencer outreach is a fantastic way to leverage traffic – and potential customers – from other accounts’ follower bases.
Harriet can seek out the most influential Instagram users in her area and offer them a gorgeous new cut and colour in return for an Instagram post. Recommendations from Instagram’s most stylish identities go a long way in terms of building trust and desirability.
Influencer outreach is a digital marketing technique that can be applied to any digital platform. A community website could feature a giveaway of Hair by Harriet’s styling products, or a local fashion blogger could interview one of the salon’s stylists about hair trends for the new season.
By supporting and featuring each other in the digital realm, businesses can boost each other’s visibility. If Hair by Harriet provides hairstyling for a local bridal store’s photo shoot, both parties can share the images across their online channels, tagging and crediting the other for maximum exposure to an engaged and relevant audience.
Digital can be truly transformative for businesses of all sizes, and all industries. If you know who your customer is, and you make use of the digital tools at your disposal, all it takes is a bit of creativity to flourish online.
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