When Denise Dubois opened Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness in Albany, New York, in 1987, she spent her marketing dollars on flyers; billboard, radio and television ads; and postcards. It wasn’t until 1989 that she began to use computer software for things like appointment booking and creating mailing labels. Email, websites and social media platforms were still hovering at the edge of cyberspace.
Now, 30-plus years later, Dubois has ditched print marketing and gone completely digital. Complexions’ website promotes services and offers special deals for those who sign up for its e-newsletter, and the business maintains a solid presence on social media, with thousands of followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. With 94 employees, more than 4,000 clients and a second location in Saratoga Springs, Dubois’ marketing methods have clearly paid off. If you’re still struggling to get your spa up to speed, check out these strategies from savvy experts in the digital space.
Set Your Sites
Any spa worth its salt must have an attention- grabbing website that new and existing clients can easily find and navigate. In addition to the obvious details, including location, operating hours and contact information, the ones that generate the best returns feature detailed descriptions of the treatments they offer, along with captivating images, says Rachele Marsh, owner of small-business marketing consultancy Welcomemat Services in Naples, Florida. “High-quality photos of services being performed, as well as products and members of your staff, will allow potential clients to become familiar with the spa before they even walk through the door,” she says. “Posting blog updates with pictures on a regular basis—at least once a month—will also help put the spa on the first page of search engines.”
Keep in Touch
Digital newsletters and e-blasts have been around for a while, but have they outlived their usefulness? Marsh doesn’t think so. “Promotional emails are still very effective and will help increase sales,” she says, noting that it’s best to send two e-blasts per month—one newsletter and one promotion. “More than two monthly emails will prompt people to unsubscribe, and fewer than that won’t keep the spa top of mind,” explains Marsh.
Spas might also be tempted to send promotions and marketing materials via text message, but Marsh nixes that idea. “It’s a good way to confirm appointments,” she acknowledges, but cautions that other types of text communications can feel intrusive and should therefore be used judiciously.
An estimated 196 million people used social media in 2016, and that number has only grown since then. But to properly leverage these platforms, spa owners must first figure out how much time their clients spend on their devices and how they like to receive their information, says Karen Carnabucci, MSS, LCSW, TEP, marketing consultant and personal coach for health and wellness professionals. Marsh recommends that—at a minimum—spa owners use Facebook, which she says remains the most widely used platform, along with Instagram, since it’s currently the fastest growing one.
When posting, spas should carefully craft communications in a way that excites existing and prospective clients. “Special offers, invites, discounts and simple tips for self-care create a greater level of engagement than ‘buy, buy, buy,’” notes Carnabucci. Anthony Segretto, general manager of Zazú Salon and Day Spa in Chicago, agrees: “Social media is not a place to constantly push your products or services— people want to see what your business is really like, rather than get sales messages every time they hear from you.”
But beware of spending too much time on social media, warns Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of Seattle marketing firm AudienceBloom. “Content and social media marketing are saturated with businesses looking to add their voices to the fray, and as we all collectively get louder trying to attract peoples’ attention, it becomes harder to rise above the noise,” he says. “At the same time, consumers are learning to tune out commercial posts and messaging.”
As with your website, social posts should be visually appealing—Segretto suggests inviting potential clients into your spa, virtually. “In our experience, it’s important to share what’s actually happening with your services and with clients who give you permission to post,” he notes, adding that he believes video is the future of all marketing. “Mobile applications and viewership of video are exploding,” explains Segretto. “Spas can show day-to- day and behind-the-scenes footage—think reality TV. Interview clients and staff, and bring your business to life.” Just make sure these videos are well produced. “Find a professional in your area who can help you shoot and edit videos,” says Segretto. “We do post short films from iPhones, but we strongly believe in having longer videos done professionally.”
Know Your Audience
Even as digital marketing opportunities continue to expand, not all platforms will make sense for all spas. As Carnabucci points out, some clients might be tech-averse, so opting for traditional methods could still be an effective way to reach them. “Ads in special sections in newspapers and specialty publications might be good advertising options,” she notes.
Additionally, getting the word out at trade shows and through in-spa promotional events, local street fairs and postcards—even if used in conjunction with online marketing—can increase brand recognition and trust, according to Marsh. “Old-school options can be very effective if you use up-to-date creativity,” she says. “You’ll want to make your brochures, posters and banners fresh, interesting and attention catching, with information clients will want to save or use, such as coupons or special offers.”
Of course, it still doesn’t hurt to include your web address and social media handles on printed materials. By claiming your digital space, along with utilizing more traditional channels, it’s practically guaranteed that you’ll succeed in reaching your desired clientele, and thus achieve your marketing mission.
–by Phyllis Hanlon
This story first appeared in the January issue of Dayspa magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.