Does your salon need a mobile friendly website or a mobile app?

Or both?

We’re getting an increasing number of enquiries from hair and beauty businesses about whether they should be investing in a salon or spa app.

If you’re baffled by apps or are faced with a pushy salesman on the phone it can seem very confusing. So here’s a simple clear guide to what exactly a salon app is and whether you should choose one. And by the way, yes, we can help if you want either a salon app or a mobile friendly website for your hair or beauty business.

 

Getting your salon or spa seen online

The question revolves around getting your salon seen online by people using mobile devices – Smartphones (e.g. iPhone) and Tablets (e.g. iPad).

If your hair or beauty salon cannot be viewed clearly and easily on a mobile device you’re missing out on a massive opportunity. This earlier blog post explains why mobile is so crucial today.

Both apps and mobile websites are accessed on handheld devices such as Smartphones and Tablets. Both allow people to get information online about your salon using a Smartphone or Tablet. But there are big differences between the two which I outline below. They have different uses and strengths when it comes to marketing a salon and I would always choose a mobile website over an app if I could only have one.

 

What are salon apps?

Mobile applications (hence ‘apps’) are simply software programmes which you first download, then install on your mobile device.

To get them you need to visit The Apple Store, Google Play or Blackberry App World in to find/buy the right one for your mobile operating system. Just to be crystal clear an app is entirely separate from your salon website.

 

Which is best to market my salon – an app or a mobile friendly website?

For most salon businesses mobile apps are not usually the best way to market yourself to mobile users.

As a hair or beauty salon you want to advertise your salon services online to the widest possible audience. And a mobile friendly (also known as mobile responsive) website is best by far for this. Here’s why:

 

Salon Apps vs Salon Websites – the pros and cons

For marketing to potential new salon clients a mobile responsive website has a number of inbuilt advantages over salon apps:

 

1. Your salon mobile responsive website is always instantly available

Anyone with a Smartphone or Tablet can access your salon website at the touch of a button.

Contrast apps which the user first has to find/buy from the appropriate app store. They must then download it and install it before the content (usually pre-loaded salon information such as your price guide or opening hours) can be viewed.

Why would you bother? For most clients it’s too inconvenient and too much trouble. It’s far easier to use their phone to pop onto your salon website.

 

2. Mobile friendly websites get found much more easily by new clients

This is a show-stopper for me.

Potential new salon clients don’t think, “I want to find a new hair or beauty salon. Why don’t I go and browse in the App Store and see what I can turn up.”

They just don’t.

Instead they type “beauty salon Brighton” into Google on their mobile device. Then almost certainly look at the top ranking websites.

It’s a no-brainer. Your mobile responsive website wins hands-down here against the app.

So, if you want to be visible on Google (and you most certainly do) a mobile responsive salon website is what you need. The problem with the mobile app is that it lives in a closed environment and thus cannot be indexed by the search engines directly.

 

3. Salon apps are more awkward to update

A website is much easier to update. And if you have a content managed salon website you’ll be able to make opening hours and price updates yourself if you want. This is not the case with an app.

Moreover once the website opening hours are changed that’s it. Sit back and forget about it as the changes are immediately visible.

Usually, when an app is updated the updates need to be ‘pushed’ to users who must then download the update onto their Smartphone or Tablet. It’s just another hurdle they have to jump.

 

4. Watch out for the delete button

Apps tend to get deleted. We all do it. We download an app, then the novelty wears off and we need to free up some space. So we delete the ones we don’t use too frequently.

Being realistic you only keep ones you use every day, such as apps for BBC News, but most of us aren’t contacting our salons that often. So the salon app falls victim to the de-cluttering exercise.

On the other hand your salon website is always there for clients to return to. 24/7 online marketing for your hair or beauty salon.

 

Are there times when a salon might use an App?

The question I posed for this blog post was whether an app was a good substitute for a mobile friendly salon website. And as you can see it isn’t.

However, apps do have their uses for marketing your salon to your existing clients. You can tie them into your salon software’s online booking or use them for simple points mean discounts loyalty systems. But whatever the salesman might say they cannot compete with a mobile friendly website when it comes to getting new bums on your salon seats.