When used strategically, hyperlocal booking platforms can do more for a business than just help schedule services and manage client appointments. In many cases, merchants with online booking portals are able to rely on these products for customer acquisition and retention, as well.
Almost 40% of businesses are now using online appointment booking and scheduling tools, according to a 2013 survey by Yodle. Rather than researching separate platforms to use for marketing purposes, it makes more sense for businesses to use the tools they’ve already adopted to their full capabilities. Here are six ways that businesses can use hyperlocal booking platforms for marketing purposes.
1. Create segmented marketing campaigns. “Client segmented email marketing puts the right messages in front of the right clients at the right moment. Our email marketing component provides the opportunity to capture pertinent client information in the form of tags that can be associated with client profiles, examples being product preferences, hobbies, or alma mater. These tags provide valuable insight to the service provider, as well as the ability to deliver highly relevant marketing messages. For instance, if a service provider with 100 clients leverages segmented marketing to increase the number of appointments booked per client by just one appointment in the first year, then additional revenues could reach $6,000 to $7,500, or higher depending on the average service price and client base.” (Steve Cannon, Schedulicity)
2. Combine scheduling with POS and CRM tools. “Scheduling as a standalone product isn’t sufficient to drive a ton of value for a merchant. However, when scheduling is tied to CRM and POS marketing features on a platform, the combination is very powerful. Booker allows merchants to leverage scheduling, POS, and CRM data to their advantage. Booker evaluates in real-time a customer’s last visit, including their purchase details and whether or not they booked their next visit, and will send targeted outreach that allows the customer to book an appointment directly from the email. Leading retention marketing tools can outreach to the customer, but they don’t allow them to book an appointment in real-time.” (Josh McCarter, Booker)
3. Run ad campaigns through your booking vendor. “MyTime runs ad campaigns featuring specific merchants, as well as MyTime generally. Merchants can elect to promote their businesses, which means MyTime will market their services on Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, and our own email list. MyTime only takes a commission on the first visit from a new customer when ‘Promotion’ is turned on, so there’s no upfront cost or risk to the business.” (Ethan Anderson, MyTime)
4. Send email updates to regular customers. “Email addresses are collected from the customers at the time of booking an appointment, and merchants have a section of the Genbook application where they can access and sort all of their customer info. It’s really up to the merchant to determine what works best for them. We support making it easy for merchants to use third party services like MailChimp or Constant Contact to email their customers, and by offering a Facebook integration where appointments can be booked from within Facebook.” (Buckley White, Genbook)
5. Use client recommendations to your advantage. “Recommendations are one of the biggest factors that drive a client’s decision to book with a new professional. At StyleSeat, recommendations also influence your ranking in our search directory. More recommendations equate to more visibility. It’s always a good idea after a service to remind clients to share the love. We also send thank you emails that suggest clients leave a recommendation. Recommendations help build your online reputation, which ultimately drives you more business.” (Lauren Pufpaf, StyleSeat)
6. Find new clients through Facebook. “With Facebook, it’s a little bit up to the merchant. Some merchants drive traffic to their pages through posts or sponsored stories, whereas some customers can find offers by clicking through the Genbook tab. Some merchants share — with purchased ads and sponsored stories — linking directly to the deals, which we recommend. There’s no technology integration required here, since you’re just sharing the offer on Facebook, although we do help folks out on a one-on-one basis who are nervous about how to do it. By way of example, we have one merchant who spends about $30 per month on Facebook ads advertising deals for her waxing business, and gets hundreds of dollars in purchases from it.” (Buckley White, Genbook)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.