If these online review statistics don’t make you stop in your tracks then you’re missing a salon marketing trick.
72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
57% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review.
See the full survey findings here
In this salon marketing blog post I look at:
- Why online reviews will attract new clients and grow your salon, spa or clinic.
- How to persuade time-pressed clients to post a review.
- Three leading review websites your salon should register with now.
- How to ensure reviews don’t damage your online reputation.
Why online reviews will grow your salon business
This graph confirms that more and more people are searching online for hair and beauty businesses, and the chances are they’ll stumble across your online reviews.
7 ways reviews promote and grow your salon 24/7 (and why you need more of them):
- Attract new clients with word of mouth: Every hair or beauty business owner understands the power of personal referrals. Online reviews are like your salon Recommend a Friend system – but with 10x the impact.
- Improve client loyalty: Engaging publicly with your clients ensures they feel valued, recognised and respected.
- Build trust and confidence: Your brand is shaped by the people who experience it. Some not-so-good reviews scattered amongst a steady flow of rave ones helps build trust in their authenticity, and your business. Who believes a set of glowing 10/10 reviews? I don’t. Do you?
- Improve your local Google ranking: If you want to skyrocket to the top of Google for your location then Google reviews are essential.
- Build brand awareness: Your competitors are getting reviews and you’ll miss out on building your salon brand if you don’t join in. It’s that simple.
- Buffer your salon from bad reviews: If you only have two salon reviews and one of them is bad, it makes more impact on the reader than if you had ten raving reviews to counter it.
- Understand your clients: Reviews reveal what clients love or hate about their salon or spa experience. They often comment on those little things they’d never bother saying to your face. Feedback enables you to improve your customer experience.
How to get (more) online reviews
You understand why your spa or salon needs online reviews, but persuading your clients to post them is not easy.
So let’s look at how to convince them to get reviewing…
7 ways to help you get more clients reviewing your hair and beauty business
For me, consistent outstanding customer service is the #1 way to win enthusiastic online reviews. I see it every day with the salons and spas I work with.
So if you’re not convinced you’re delivering wow customer service I suggest you work on this marketing aspect first. You’ll find some ideas here (“How to WOW salon clients and win more business”).
However, some extra spadework to encourage clients to post goes a long way.
- The path of least resistance: Don’t take a scattergun approach. Instead be fussy about which clients you approach, asking your most loyal clients if they’d mind giving your business a helping hand.
- Let someone else do the work: Some review sites proactively help you approach clients. SalonSpy (I expand on this later) sends a prompt out, as does MyLocalSalon.
- Reward: Of course you immediately thank the people who regularly review you online. But how about a complimentary service upgrade now and again, or a bottle of their favourite shampoo? We all love feeling appreciated.
- Display reviews: Don’t be modest. Print out your best reviews and display them prominently in salon. Also litter them liberally on your salon website, email marketing and social media. Shout about yourself.
- Strike whilst the iron is hot: When a client posts a favourable review on your Facebook, or emails in with a compliment, thank them and ask if they’d mind popping it on Google, Yelp or any online salon guide you’re on (I talk about the leading review sites later in this post so read on).
- Incentivise your team: Encourage your team to ask their clients for online reviews by offering a monthly or quarterly incentive.
- What not to do: Offering incentives to clients to post reviews is a no-no. It smacks of desperation and bribery. Not good.Moreover, it can easily backfire on you. Google and other review sites make it clear that they will penalise this type of behaviour if spotted. They are constantly watching for unusual pattern changes so it’s better to have a drip-drip feed of reviews than a sudden flood of 10/10 flattering reviews.
3 review websites to get your hair and beauty business noticed
This is the grand-daddy of them all. In 2014 Google unveiled the new Google My Business which combined the previous Google+ Local and Google Places. Reviews posted here will appear in searches across Google and will shape your business fortunes.
The downside is that your clients must have a Google account in order to leave a review so check with your clients.
Haven’t got a Google My Business Page yet? Then follow the steps here.
It’s straightforward and free to use. Do make sure you complete every part of your Google My Business profile fully and as this affects your Google ranking.
Yelp online reviews
Founded in 2004 specifically to help people find local businesses Yelp is a respected review site, particularly popular with an affluent 25-34 age audience – an ideal target market for medi-spas, salons and clinics.
Yelp believes excellent customer service should speak for itself and actively discourages businesses from asking customers to post reviews. In fact it goes further, advising businesses not to offer incentives or discounts in exchange for reviews.
Use this link to find and claim your Yelp business page. Yelp does give business owners the right to respond publically or privately to reviews, giving this advice about replying:
“Keep these three things in mind as you’re crafting a message to your customer:
- Your reviewers are your paying customers
- Your reviewers are human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities
- Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise they would not be writing reviews!)”
I agree. Sensible advice.
Hair & beauty industry review specialists
There are a handful of salon-specific review sites in the UK. SalonSpy is one of the best known. It’s independently owned and works very much like TripAdvisor, with clients being automatically texted after their appointment with a request for a review. The member salon or spa owners then have the opportunity to respond.
You can claim your hair or beauty salon’s profile for free on SalonSpy. I’d certainly recommend doing this as it’s a powerful free marketing tool – you can then add contact details, upload a photo of your business and receive reviews from your clients.
There is a professional upgrade (which costs £35pm) but you’re under no obligation whatsoever to take this and can stay on the free package.
Savvy Salon Tip: If you’re an i-Salon Software or Salon Genius user then you automatically get full membership for free, saving you £420 every year.
6 essential steps to protect and enhance your online salon reputation
So your clients are posting reviews and you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your marketing labour.
Sorry. It doesn’t work like that. You need to invest time to protect and manage your online brand.
This is a highly visible platform and you need to police reviews and engage with those posting them.
Dash off a hasty response to a grumpy review and it can soon escalate to the entertainment of thousands. Last year a Swindon hair salon owner ranted at a client on Facebook who had left a negative review about her hair extensions. The story was splashed across the national media and created serious adverse press coverage for the salon owner who was forced to apologise in the full glare of the publicity.
Here are 6 ways to manage your salon’s online reviews:
1. Set up salon systems
Many review sites allow you to set up email alerts when someone posts a salon review. Take advantage of this and keep an eye on your emails. Speed is the key whether the review is good, bad or merely so-so.
2. Google Alerts
Google alerts are free and easy to put in place. They have many uses (not least keeping an eye on your local competitors) as I explain in this blog post.
3. Keep review site profiles up-to-date
Take trouble when writing your review site profiles and keep them current. Why leave yourself open to irritated clients by showing incorrect business hours, contact details or pricing?
It’s a salon marketing accident waiting to happen.
4. Listen to client feedback on their salon experience
Pay attention to what clients say about your hair and beauty business. Getting plenty of reviews is a valuable way of understanding what your clients feel about their whole salon experience. A seemingly trivial comment about cold coffee or a chilly treatment room can be just as important as a moan about a sullen therapist or a poor colour. As they say, “It’s the little things that count.”
5. Don’t duck negative salon reviews
It’s been a long hard day.
And someone has left a grouchy review which is making your blood boil.
We’ve all been there. Muster your energies and respond. It’ll only get worse if you leave it until the morning. You’ll find a heap of practical advice on dealing with online complaints in this blog.
If you’re time-pressed here’s my advice in a nutshell:
- Establish a fail-safe system for dealing with online reviews.
- Decide who is responsible for responding to reviews.
- Reply immediately. Your salon reputation is at stake.
- Check out their social profiles first for some background information.
- An online apology makes good business sense.
- Take ill-tempered complaints offline asap.
- Offer a practical solution to their grievance.
- Never, ever hit delete. No matter how tempting…
6. Positive engagement
“The most crucial aspect of responding to a review is to ensure your engagement is positive. This is your chance to get your views across. Use this opportunity to engage with your customers. A poor review, handled well, can often be just as powerful (if not more so) than a positive review” explains Adam Thomas, founder of hair and beauty review site SalonSpy.
It also helps to regularly publish positive material on your website, social media and email marketing. A flow of upbeat stories, professional tips and on-trend news will build your brand online and counter the occasional petulant review.
Online reviews are salon marketing dynamite
Remember that 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Word-of-mouth and peer recommendations are two of the best ways to attract new clients so register on those review sites now and let your clients do the marketing for you. #GrowYoursalon.