It’s the beginning of the year, and January is traditionally a slow time of year. Beyond traditionally slow periods, there are still many places under lockdown restrictions. Right now, it’s the best time to make sure you’re getting the most out of your SimplyBook.me system, and overhaul your marketing strategy. The marketing tools within the SimplyBook.me platform enable marketing integration, online visibility, and mass-mailing. Alongside social media integration, you have a broad sweep of marketing channels that you can link directly to your scheduling system.
This week’s video looks at how you can use the marketing suite to boost your digital strategy.
The Marketing Tools – What’s available?
In the SimplyBook.me system, you can find all the marketing tools in one place, on the lefthand menu of your dashboard interface. When it comes to maximising marketing, you don’t want to be searching everywhere for the features you need.
The Big Ones
So, the top half of the Marketing Suite has the online integrations that link directly to your booking platform. That includes the standard listing of your business on our service marketplace, Book!ng.page, native integrations with Facebook and Instagram, as well as fully functional booking integration with Google Business. And we can’t forget about our latest release, the Mobile Client App. It’s a pretty heady bunch of marketing tools right there.
Booking.page and the Mobile Client app are both SimplyBook.me creations, which means they are intrinsically linked to your scheduling system. Obviously, connecting your booking platform with Facebook, Insta and Google require that you have profiles with them. But what business doesn’t have social media profiles these days?
I’ve covered the benefits of listing your business on directories and marketplaces in a previous article. The extra help of Booking.page is that clients have full access to booking your services without leaving the marketplace.
Google Business search capability accounts for many clients searching for new service providers. Getting a listing on the local search result is crucial for winning at search marketing. Few people click past page one of a Google SERP. If clients can book with you directly from your search listing, you just make it easier.
Social media is essential for attracting new customers, advocacy and influencer marketing, and word of mouth. In one survey, up to 42% of respondents said they search social media to find new businesses. That is a considerable proportion of new clients you might miss out on if you don’t utilise social media for business.
All three of these marketing tools increase online visibility, make it easier for clients to find and book with you, and grow your business reputation. Everyone knows that fewer clicks = quicker conversion.
The Mobile Client App is a different marketing tool. If clients download the app, giving them easy access to booking, offline access to their details, and the first bite of spontaneous offers, why would they look elsewhere?
Other Tools in the Marketing Suite
You can use several other tools to boost your bookings and grow your client base, and I’ll group them into marketing uses.
Chat & Booking Bots
The Line Bot is used with the Line messaging system used mainly in Asian regions. Virtually everyone in China and beyond uses Line to book, pay and message. The integrated booking bot just makes it all much easier and quicker.
The iBOB intelligent voice bot means you can have your cake and eat it. Your clients don’t want to use the online platform, but you don’t want to spend time on the phone. Your clients can still call, but your booking system can always handle most of your bookings autonomously—clever little iBOB.
Promotions and Offers
It’s quite evident that coupons and gift cards are promotional tools. However, you can also use the group mailing function to distribute offers and promotions to your receptive clients.
Okay, you can’t send promotional content to your clients who opt-out of receiving them, but there are always the rest of your clients. You can even incentivise promotional sharing with social sharing links in your mails.
News and Information – Content Marketing
If anyone claims that blogging for business is dead, they are dead wrong. Keeping clients and even potential clients up to speed on your business and service developments keeps them interested. Industry development, tips and tricks, introducing new staff members, and more make clients feel valued and part of your inner circle.
Automated Mailing & Management
Okay, I already mentioned the mass mailing for promotional use, but what about automated mail management?
Book Soon notifications are ideal for businesses that provide recurring services, such as monthly massages, dental check-ups, hair cuts, nail appointments and various other services that are not “one-and-done”. An email reminder that someone is due for their nails infilling, along with a handy link to the appropriate booking page, reduces the likelihood of a client looking elsewhere.
Automated review requests are also pretty useful, specifically when your booking system saves and formats any reviews received for display in your booking website. Yes, you can manage which reviews display on your booking page.
Overhauling Your Strategy with the Marketing Tools
You most likely don’t need to make a complete reset of your marketing strategy. Few businesses are getting it SO wrong that they need to start from scratch. However, changes in habits, accessibility, and various other social changes that have occurred over the past year, mean that you probably need to take stock of what works for you and how you can adapt.
What has worked for you in the past? Go through all of your marketing strategies for the past couple of years and analyse what brought you more business, the cost, and whether it will work again.
It will also be useful to see which marketing tools have worked better during the COVID-19 phenomenon than the strategies that worked best before the pandemic darkened our business doors.
COVID has changed people and their interaction with businesses and platforms. Consequently, the kind of marketing to which your clients respond will have changed too.
You might find that your social interaction with your clients has increased significantly, or maybe not. It depends on your business, what you have been doing before and how you want to proceed – I’ll assume you want to move forward with the path that yields the best results.
Set Business Objectives
What is your business objective for the next 3-, 6-, 12- months and beyond?
Okay, I know that uncertain times can’t predict too far into the future. However, what do you want to happen? What are your expectations, and how can you work towards those goals with your marketing tools and strategies?
What will success look like for your business? It could be 50% growth in six months or 100% growth over two years. However, the critical determiners will be who you target, why you are perfect for them, and how you reach them
Define your target markets and demographics, put yourself in their shoes and target your marketing strategy accordingly. You don’t want a shotgun for the best return on your marketing investment; you want a scalpel – A surgical strike at the needs, wants, and desires of your target market.
Your target markets can differ wildly, so too should your approach. However, try one at a time because you never know if one method engaged a client while a different one completely turned them off.
There are so many digital marketing channels available to you that it can sometimes be tempting to try everything at once and hope for the best. However, when you want to hone your marketing to the most effective streams, it’s almost impossible to determine which channels worked best.
Another reason to be precisely targeted in your approach is to track your ROI. If you have a disparate and unfocussed system to your upgraded marketing plan, it won’t be easy to see where you are getting the best returns.
Vouchers can have unique identifiers to track how they have been shared. It’s not a new thing at all. Links and CTA buttons on emails can have identifying references (because tracking when people don’t accept cookies can be problematic). You can also track email forwards, social media shares, and any other promotional material you send out into the “Digi-sphere.”
You can ultimately track the return on investment when it comes back to you, and how much it was worth.
How much did it cost to email all your clients, boost your Insta and Facebook posts, or pay an influencer to rate your business? And what was the return?
You can’t know whether your targeting or marketing was on-point without know what you got in return.
Persevere, but be flexible.
Whatever your first move is in your revised marketing strategy, be a little patient. The fact is that these are uncertain and ‘unprecedented’ times. The last time the world had a pandemic of this magnitude, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t even a twinkle in his grandparents’ eyes, and digital marketing was an undiscovered continent.
If you have done your research and your targeting, you have a rough idea of how your target market will receive your revised marketing tools. However, if you don’t see immediate positive results, don’t give up too soon. Have a little patience and trust in yourself and your research. You must have had good reason to choose the path that you did.
Conversely, if you see an immediate slowing of interaction and drop in engagement, something is a little off. Unfortunately, human nature almost always dictates that we will act on something negative more quickly than positive. It’s times like this when you need to be flexible.
Using the Marketing Suite as Your Toolbox
When you look at the top of your Marketing Suite page, you can see the “Big Four” (Facebook & Inst, Google, Booking Page & Client App) and if you are using all of them, it will tell you where your bookings are coming from. If you have a tiny percentage of your bookings coming from Facebook and Instagram, perhaps you need to up your social media game. If you don’t appear very high up on the local searches on Google, maybe you need to increase your blog posting and reputation. Alternatively, it could tell you where most of your bookings prefer to find you. It’s yet another way of tracking your client engagement through different marketing channels.
If you want to send out promotional material, use the mass mailing – you can target through your client data reports to segregate and personalise the information you send to specific clients. Alternatively, if you want to go old school analogue, you can always print out discount coupons and give them out at your doorway, or at an event (yes, I know it’s unlikely at the moment).
Maximise your returning clients with book soon notifications. Don’t give them a chance to realise they are past due before discovering they can’t get in with you for another week.
Let advocacy and positive responses do your marketing by managing your review request automation.
You have the tools available, please use them to make your marketing as effective as possible.