According to website analytics platform Crazy Egg you have less than 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention online. Understanding how customers interact with technology and identifying their preferences for booking is therefore crucial. So how are software suppliers helping spas entice customers onto their site and keep them there? More importantly, how are they helping them to strike the right balance between stimulating their curiosity without overloading their online attention span, turning brief visits into those all-important conversions?
Experts agree it’s less about the bounce rate and more about the dwell time: focus on getting your content and presentation right and the fleeting visit will turn into a longer stay. Jeff Dickerson, CEO of DaySmart Software, says: “It’s important to break up copy blocks, improve layout and optimise the site for mobile users.”
Dickerson also believes it’s essential to make the content easily relatable. “Don’t just talk about the spa and its services, spend time describing the ways a visitor benefits from its services. Consider short videos and don’t worry about production quality, handheld is OK, especially if it shows off the spa’s environment or personality. Give people a reason to care!”
Katherine Juarez, director of operations at California-based Pure Touch Skin Center, a DaySmart client, says: “Our blog plays a large role in keeping clients on our site, as it contains best practices for skincare, upcoming deals and beauty tips.”
Leonie Wileman, COO of Premier Software, maintains that the easier the website is to navigate, the better the customer experience. She adds: “Engaging and relevant content hold’s a customer’s attention. Google Analytics can provide basic information as to how many people are visiting the website and which pages are popular, and provide great insights into what is and isn’t working.”
According to a survey conducted by content marketing provider Brafton, the length of the average site visit is 2 minutes, 17 seconds. To increase this time Amaya Weddle, senior director, research and product marketing at Mindbody, recommends optimising your website. “You can accomplish this by using basic UX research studies, such as ‘true intent testing’ (surveying visitors about what they are looking for and whether they can find it) or usability testing (having customers try to accomplish everyday tasks, and finding where that breaks down).”
This mindset is taken up by Mindbody client Rossli DeLorey, co-owner of New Hampshire-based Lashbar Aesthetics: “Our website is simple and well designed, providing succinct information, leading our customers directly to our booking page.” DeLorey reveals that, based on Google Analytics, customers stay on her website for an average of two mintues. “About 40 per cent of our website traffic comes from millennials and 65 per cent from a mobile device or tablet. These statistics made adding a branded app through Mindbody an easy decision, as we knew our customers would appreciate an even easier booking process.”
How sticky is your website?
You’ve enticed them onto your website and they haven’t bounced away; what makes them stick around long enough to get a conversion? According to Günther Pöllabauer, MD of The Assistant Company (TAC), the software must take into account every digital point of contact between a spa and its customers: “Our TAC software is like a toolbox. Depending on a spa’s needs, different options for maintaining each relationship with its customers are possible, such as membership cards, special rewards or gift certificates.”
Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of ResortSuite, adds: “When guests feel that they can explore and effortlessly book everything that the spa has to offer using only a single online booking engine and with a single electronic payment, guests are more likely to feel intrigued about what else they can do during their visit to the property.”
Software company Personal Beauty & Wellness (PBW) offers a free, fully hosted, multipurpose business website, PBW Pro. For CEO and co-founder Andre Wouansi, a good spa website can be qualified as ‘sticky’ if it satisfies certain prerequisites: “It should be easy and convenient to use, concise and to the point, but with sufficient information that helps users gain trust in the website. Users must have the ability to book a service from anywhere, at any time, using any device; and be able to search by provider or service, and filter by distance, cost or ratings.”
Using PBW Pro, Jenny A Sabrian, a massage therapist at Somatic Massage Therapy & Spa, New York, has seen an uptake in her clientele. She says: “We use the website as an interactive space where our customers can schedule appointments, see our working hours and get to know our consultants. Moreover, the website allows customers to gain detailed information about each of our services and they can see other customers’ reviews and ratings.”
So what strategies and features do spas employ on their sites to engage with and hold the interest of consumers? For Concept Software’s sales and marketing manager Malcolm Rennie, the defining feature of the company’s offering is that it’s an open platform: “Our system talks to other products, whether that’s third parties, apps, PMS systems, retail products, CRM or guest self-service platforms. Each of these have different touchpoints with customers that benefit their guest journey.”
For iSalon Software, it’s all about communication. The company offers spas their own purpose-built bespoke app, YourApp, allowing spa customers to set up an account and log in, recording their appointments, account details, gift vouchers and online booking. Likewise, its web browser iBookings allows a spa to record everything about the customer necessary to enhance the relationship going forward. Darren Pick, iSalon’s MD, explains: “From the client’s birthday, appointment history, favourite products, preferred refreshment, personal notes and many more, we ensure the spa has the facilities to make the client’s experience exceptional.”
UK iSalon client Aesthetics Hair & Beauty Solihull says the software’s 24/7 online booking has helped grow business as co-owner Sarah Bowron explains: “Our ‘Book Online’ and ‘Mailing List’ tabs are two of the most important touchpoints on our website. Situated at the top of the page, they’re clearly visible at eye level and we find that in the first 45-60 seconds, 72 per cent of clients click one of these options.”
ResortSuite’s Pitsikalis believes spa memberships and loyalty programmes can serve as powerful motivators, driving customer engagement: “When guests become members, they feel that they belong to a brand. This exclusivity elicits a strong sense of belonging and community that gives guests a place to connect, just as earning points with bookings keeps their interest in the spa, providing an opportunity to establish long-lasting relationships with guests.”
And it’s here at the point of connection that the greatest incentive exists for getting your bounce rates and dwell times just right: a software system founded on a guest-centric technology platform not only helps forge those all-important, enduring customer relationships, it also generates increased spa business revenues, streamlined operations and exceptional service. A win-win all round.