How to Market a Hair Stylist Online
Sher Part One
There’s no denying the amount of business that has transitioned onto the Internet. In 2013 alone, 77% of business to consumer companies acquired new clientele through Facebook. Take a step back and think about that for a moment… Need another stat? 699 million people log onto Facebook alone every single day. Your customers are definitely online. To be successful, you with your marketing, you need to be where the eyes are and right now all eyes ard on mobile phones, tablets and PC’s.
Instead of getting knee deep into hypothetical situations that generalize the use of Online marketing tools such as SEO, Social Media, and Web Design, we’re going to take an actual customer of ours that’s a hair stylist, and show you exactly how we’re going to transform the way she’s been getting new business. Below I’ll give you our customers profile; and together we’ll track her performance and results over the next few months.
Hair Stylist Profile
13 Years of Experience
Specializes in Balayage, Ombre, Hair Extensions
Located at Salon Sage in La Jolla, CA
Has Never Had a Website
New Website: www.shermizushima.com
Currently Uses Facebook (Personal Page), Instagram and Pinterest for Marketing
The goal is simple. We want to increase Sher’s exposure and presence in the La Jolla and San Diego area. How I’m going to calculate that is by the number of people that decide to book an appointment through her website, or the number of people that call her and let her know that they found her contact information online. In addition to the number of booked appointments, I’ll also be using Google Analytics to track the following information;
- Number of weekly/monthly unique visitors
- Traffic Sources
- Bounce Rate %
- Geographical Info of Visitors
- Mobile vs. Desktop
- Search Engine Queries*
- Landing Pages
- Flow of Traffic
The Importance of a Well Designed Hair Salon Website
For Sher’s website we decided to use the WordPress platform. It’s our go-to platform because of the flexibility it offers. We’re using a responsive website design because it’ll allow the website to appear seamlessly on both desktop and mobile platforms. When you pull up her website on your phone; it’ll auto remove the large sliding images, and readjust the menus for easy navigation.
Think of a website as the hub for all the traffic we’re generating. You don’t want to rely on your customers to always contact you through Facebook, text messaging, or even e-mail. Having a centralized location to direct traffic to is going to be critical especially as the Internet and Social Media continues to mature. Branding and marketing yourself has become an absolute must.
It’s funny how we think of our “to-do” list at the most random of hours. Up on that list is getting a haircut. You realize there’s an upcoming wedding, event or meeting and you know the hair issue has to be resolved. The problem; it’s 11:30pm and the salon is closed. You also don’t want to call or text your stylist that late either. The great thing about a website is that it’s open for business 24/7. So even when the salon doors are closed, or if you’re on vacation, and maybe just tied up dealing with a customer; your website can do the booking for you. This theory of having your website do parts of your job is known to us Internet nerds as Web 2.0.
Additionally, just getting traffic to a website won’t equal business. There are too many companies pushing SEO services to drive traffic to your website, without consideration to what your website actually looks like. Although the traffic is a big piece of the puzzle, what you do with those visitors once they’re on your site is an entirely different strategy. I’ve seen too many hair salons and hair stylists pay to promote websites that are nonfunctional, and lack even the most fundamental of lead capture qualities. To put it in simple terms; it’s like sitting in your car, blasting the A/C, but rolling down the windows to let that cold air right out. Badly designed websites are ineffective at converting traffic in to business.
We’ve used a lot of images and have made sure the appointment button follows the visitor as they scroll down through the website. We want to make sure it’s always accessible. The speed in which the website loads is critical to user experience so we’ve been working on optimizing that as well. The quality of images, especially on the main page can be the difference between a high bounce rate, or exceptional conversion. I’ve seen too many websites that have images completely misplaced and unaligned. It’s awful and terrifying.
A wise item to invest in are high quality stock images. Ideally you want to have a professional photographer come out and take pictures of you and your salon. Since Sher is an individual hair stylist on a budget, we stuck with getting her some basic stock images to start.
With how relatively simple using WordPress is in comparison to other web platforms out there, everyone has suddenly decided to become a web designer. The problem is that these “web designers” lack the marketing knowledge it takes to make a website successful. And by successful I mean how many visitors turn into potential customers. And I’ll repeat and emphasize that just having a nice looking hair salon website isn’t going to put money in your pockets.
As far as search engine optimization goes; an experienced SEO person can quickly notice that I’ve concentrated on Balayage, Ombre and Hair Extensions for the La Jolla area. It’s smarter to keep a narrower focus, than to spread yourself too thin.
Optimizing your Hair Salon Website for Mobile Phones
There are several important items that you need to consider when optimizing your hair salon website for mobile phones.
- It needs to load fast! People on their mobile phones are usually far more impatient than they are when on a desktop. So a fast loading mobile salon website is an absolute necessity. 3 seconds seems to be about as long as someone is willing to wait before they close the window out and go to the next site.
- The phone number needs to be near the top. Generally speaking, no one is going to use their mobile phone to go through the contents of an entire website. When consumers are searching for something on their phone, it’s because they’ve already made a decision. So making sure they can easily click on a phone number is key in converting mobile traffic.
- Your appointment form should also accommodate mobile visitors. No sense in asking a ton of questions. Make the process of getting a hold of you as simple as possible.
Hair Stylist Social Media Strategies
Sher is currently using her personal Facebook page, Instagram and Pinterest to post images of the work she’s done. My goal is to track how much of each is driving traffic back to the website for appointment bookings.
I had given Sher some tips on things to do for Instagram and how to use it as a branding tool. Since implementing them, she’s shared a few success stories with me that got me really excited about the potential impact we can have. The one thing you need to understand about Instagram is that it’s all based on good imagery. Don’t use it as a source of advertisement. Your content needs to be native to the platform and you need to stay true to what Instagram is all about. I won’t be spending time here going into details about why you should or shouldn’t use Instagram, but I’ll give you a few tips on how to be successful with it if you’re already on there.
Side Note: Make sure your Instagram account is set to public so everyone can view it.
Instagram Tips for Hair Stylists
- Hashtags – Use lots of them, but don’t be ugly about it. I’d say a good number is somewhere between 4-6. There are a few things I encouraged Sher to do as far as hashtagging goes. After taking pictures of her clients hair, I told her to make sure she hashtags her name, #[name of your city], #hair, the type of cut/style (for example #balayage), then pick out two of the most used hashtags like; #love #cute #instagood, or #beautiful.
- Balance – Make sure you aren’t overdoing it with the hair photos. Balance out work/personal photos for better results. You’re essentially marketing yourself and not necessarily the great work you do every single time. I love a good balance of before/after photos, shots of you working with a client, shots of you with other stylists, photos of you with your family, and basically everything else that Instagram is supposed to be about. Every once in a while throw in an offer to keep customers engaged. More on that in a bit.
- Tagging – If your customer is following you on Instagram, make sure you tag them in the photo (make sure they’re ok with it first of course). Better yet, tag anyone that’s in any of your photos; work or personal. The beauty of Instagram is that your followers friends can see the their friends’ activity feed. Essentially what you’re trying to do is to reach out to an additional degree of contact away. The best kind of business is referral business, so if a friend of a client sees the great work you’re doing, that may just be enticing enough for them to make a switch.
- Promotions – Instagram is a good way to keep your name consistently in front of your customers. To make sure they’re always keeping an eye on your stuff; it would be wise to throw in unannounced promotions and specials via images. Maybe a; first person to guess what hairstyle this is get’s 10% off their next visit. Or an image that says tag your friend and bring them in for %20 off for each of you.
- Brand your Images – I’m a big fan of cross-marketing an audience. I’ve told Sher to start branding the bottom of her images with shermizushima.com. My goal is to get anyone that might have even a remote interest in doing something with their hair, to have the opportunity to reach out to Sher in the easiest and most convenient way possible. But you want to do it in a way where it’s not too imposing or salesy.
Think of Instagram as a good way to remind your clients who you are passively, but consistently. As I mentioned above, it’s all about extending your reach to contacts you usually wouldn’t have this easy of an access to. This is the beauty of the Internet, and Social Media. 10 years ago you had to essentially beg your customers for referrals. But today, you can get in front of them without really having to try at all.
I’ve also noticed that Instagram Images do show up in search results when you use the hashtags properly. Why more people aren’t taking advantage of Social Media is beyond me. But that leaves more opportunities for the few that decide to invest their time into doing it.
Sher was already using Pinterest before I had a chance to suggest it to her. I have a full hair salon guide to Pinterest that you should read if you don’t have a Pinterest account setup yet. The one thing I’ll say about Pinterest is that it can be a hair stylists best friend. The amount of traffic I’ve seen come from Pinterest into our own site here; Salon Nerds is pretty impressive. The reason it’s so great for hair professionals is the fact that it’s based entirely on beautiful images.
One goal with Pinterest is to direct your Pinterest board visitors to your website via photos you’ve uploaded. It’s critical you go in and link those images to your website! Not only does Pinterest act as a gallery for your customers to find new hair inspirations, but it’s also a good place to showcase your skills. Plus, it’s another opportunity for you to continue building a relationship with your client base. Sher did a great job of adding variety to her Pinterest account;
Hair Stylist Pinterest Tips
- Board Up – Make sure people get a chance to see more than your hair skills. In addition to creating a board of your recent work, I’d also include a board for inspirational hair styles/how-to’s, a board on hair care tips, a board of the products you use, another for trends, a board about your city, and so on.
- Follow the Leader – Follow the boards of industry leaders, and get additional ideas for what you can share on your own Pinterest Board. Remember that not everything you pin has to be original content from yourself. Most pins are re-pins from other boards.
- Be Opinionated – Leave comments on other boards and pins. Get involved and watch as more people begin to follow your board. We want to continue extending your reach, and drive traffic back to your website.
- Be Specific – Just like Instagram, make good use of hashtags. Emphasize on #hair, #[yourcity], and #[hairstyle]. Make it easy for others to find you.
Facebook and Twitter
Twitter is probably the most complex, yet rawest form of Social Media. It requires time and commitment for it to really take off. You can multiply your customer referrals using Twitter, but to understand it and to pull it off successfully takes work. Sher currently isn’t using Twitter and so it won’t be something you’ll see me talk about as we follow her.
Like Twitter, Facebook also requires time and commitment to build your business around. It’s one of the most underutilized marketing tools in the hair and beauty industry today. Big brands are pushing their content on there (which really isn’t what you should be doing), and individual stylists don’t really know what to do. Sher has a personal Facebook page which is what I’d recommend for hair stylists. For salons or spas, I’d definitely go with a Business Facebook Page.
If you decide to use a personal page like Sher, you’ll have to balance privacy with exposure. I’m not going to ask Sher to do much with her Facebook page at this point. It’s her personal page that she uses from time to time to showcase her work; but it’s being used more for what Facebook is really about which is connecting with friends.
Facebook Marketing Essentials for Hair Stylists
I will have Sher cross reference her site on all her hair related posts and pictures. Additionally if we add content like a coupon or special on her site; I’ll have her highlight that on her Facebook wall as well.
- Create Lists – If your privacy is important and you want a healthy balance between your personal and business life, than friends lists are going to be very important for you to understand. I’d create a new list of Facebook friends and call them “customers”. By doing this; each time you post a new item, you can decide whether you want your “customers” to see that content or not. This way, if you feel like you add a customer, you won’t have to worry about them seeing your private and personal stuff. It can also be handy if you don’t want your parents to see the things that happen on Friday nights.
- Boost Wisely – Boosting is to pay for your post to gain more exposure than usual. It’s not something I recommend doing often. But there are times when it can be effective. When should you decide on boosting a post? Only boost posts that are naturally getting more likes than usual. Essentially what a boost does in that situation is create more awareness around your post, which in turn should result in more likes, comments, shares and ultimately more exposure. Don’t boost unpopular posts. Boosting an unpopular post is like saying; Hey I know you guys saw this post, and since I didn’t get enough of a response, I’m going to jam it down your throats until one of you starts commenting or liking this content.
- Post Regularly – Don’t over-do it. But don’t disappear for ages either. Focus on posting a healthy balance of images, hair pictures, customer pictures, personal pictures, quotes, hair advice and etc. Time of day matters as well but not as much as it used to. Today, Facebook will showcase your content throughout the day depending on how popular it is. It’s a complex algorithm that involves getting your posts in front of friends you frequently interact with, and from time to time extends that reach depending on popularity of the post. They rank the importance of a post in this order; likes are given the lightest weight, comments are second, and shares essentially say that this post is worth sharing.
The most common mistake hair stylists make on Facebook is thinking that it’s a platform to just advertise on. Successful Facebook marketers understand that you need to passively keep your name in front of your customers. You want to stay in front of their eyes and be timely enough so that when they do see an image you uploaded of your customer getting their hair done, they quickly think; Oh yeah I need to get a hold of her to set an appointment for my hair. Be funny, be random, and do less selling.
This post was important for me to write because I think it will give clarity to Hair Stylists and Hair Salons as to what it is that the Salon Nerds actually do. More importantly, I want to show that not only are we going to talk the talk, but we’ll walk the walk and prove it too. I’ll do frequent updates of how Sher and her website are doing, the results we’re seeing, and what changes we’ll make along the way to make her as successful as we possibly can. Make sure you subscribe to the right side to get more updates.
If you’ve appreciated the content; please share it with your fellow stylists using the buttons below. Do you have any suggestions or ideas you think Sher can benefit from and would like to see us put in place?
By Ali Mirdamadi
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