How to use software for targeted marketing

We take a look  at how a targeted approach to software usage can help grow the client base and drive revenue for your spa 

Marketing: it’s not that hard really. Think of a promotion that suits the season, write a quick text, bung it out to all your clients via your clever software system and wait for the bookings to roll in. Job done. Or not. Because what appeals to a 20-year-old student is unlikely to appeal to a 60-year-old company director. The modern software systems available to spas are smart, very smart, and deserve to be used as more than just booking tools.

The reporting function of software allows you to group clients by categories. An obvious starting point is to look at different age groups and how best to target and appeal to them. “Age groups are a basic criteria when it comes to creating a customer segment,” says Het Mavani, marketing analyst at Manage My Spa. Other basic demographic data, such as gender, anniversaries and location, can also be used to create customer segments, Mavani explains.

This allows for more in-depth analysis of customer trends and behaviour patterns, such as which age group or type of customer buys the most retail products, which group brings in the most referrals and which group comes in most frequently. Phorest software users can set custom client categories based on age, occupation, marital status and product preference, and then run reports to uncover a host of data, such as the amount of money spent and the type of treatments purchased.

Tony Tremain, director of change at Millennium Systems International, explains that one of the products the company offers is the Client Selection marketing tool. “I like to refer to it as Google for your spa, in that you tell Millennium the kind of clients you want to analyse, and it will fetch the results for you,” he says. Tremain recommends focusing on groups such as clients whose first visit was during a specified date range, those whose last visit was more than three months ago, clients who came in a week ago but have not booked to come in again and customers who referred someone else to your spa. Applying these types of filters will give you useful marketing data.

Jo Redman, UK general manager at software provider Shortcuts, reveals that his team can prepare custom reports based on the criteria of individual spas. “If a spa owner wants a report run over a given timeframe, showing different age groups and how they interact with the spa – visit days, revenue generated, preferred method of contact and the split between services and retail – this can be produced,” he says. “There is a whole host of possibilities with a custom report; it really depends on the wish list of the spa owner.”

Segmenting the market
Jessika Carrera-Maybury, sales manager at Premier Software Solutions, explains that the company has a comprehensive report suite that holds over 160 reports. “Our search function allows you to search for a specific age group, and this can be strengthened by adding other factors such as when clients visited, what service they had, what products they purchased, and so on,” she explains.

Regardless of the particular software a spa is using, further filtering the demographic by looking at additional factors for each age group will yield the most useful results to act on. Alex Quinn, content and event management executive at spa and salon software provider Phorest, says that age alone doesn’t reveal enough for successful marketing: “For example, in the 30s group you could have housewives, [single] professionals and working mums, so we allow spas to choose several different categories for each client,” she says. A report might reveal that 11am is a good time for women who don’t work to receive a text or email about a promotion available only on midweek mornings – something that would not be relevant for women working full time.

“Think about what offers suit each group,” Quinn says. “For example, students will go for low-budget options, whereas mothers might come in for treatments before noon.” Once you are aware which clients are available at certain times and on certain days, you are in a position to, for example, fill slots during quiet periods, by only targeting clients you know to be free at those times. For the over 50s, more high-end products and treatments are a logical choice, particularly if they focus on preventing and reducing the signs of ageing. Using a software reporting function will show spas exactly which products and services this client group purchases, rather than leaving them to draw conclusions based on guesswork.

“You can set certain discounts, relevant to specific clients, and they can be time controlled,” she says. “For example, if I apply a [pensioner] discount to Mrs Jones the system will apply that discount to every bill, but I can go further by setting that discount to a Wednesday only. This means that if Mrs Jones visits on a Wednesday, she will receive her [pensioner] discount, but if she visits on any other day of the week she will be charged the full price.”

Channels of communication
A key factor to keep in mind is how to communicate with different age groups. For example, the Office of National Statistics in the UK found that while 72% of adults purchased goods or services online in 2013, consumers in the 25-34 age group were more likely to shop online than those in other age brackets. Most software systems allow direct integration with Facebook and Twitter, a good choice when targeting those in their 20s and 30s, while email and SMS is a popular choice for most age groups.

However, Tanisha Foster, director of vertical markets for software provider Spa Booker, cautions that those in the older age categories may not appreciate the modern approach: “There are people who enjoy receiving physical pieces of mail, because it’s kind of bringing back that nostalgia,” she says. On the other hand, using your software to allow for online bookings on your website will appeal to the modern lifestyle and is imperative in targeting those in their 40s, and younger. “Clients in their 20s, 30s and 40s may be more confident using facilities such as online booking, which enables them to book an appointment at any time of the day or night,” says David Pickering, managing director at Salon Genius.

A mobile-optimised website is also key, as Foster explains: “If you look at people in their 30s and 40s, most of them are working professionals so having a mobile-optimised website is useful because they can book at their convenience, whether it’s early in the morning or late at night. And, if it’s mobile-friendly, you’re able to discreetly book an appointment while you’re in a meeting, which I know lots of people do! There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”

Data details
Foster explains that, in a highly competitive market such as the spa industry, it’s essential to offer customisation. “That’s why people come back to any establishment, especially when you’re talking about spas and salons. “No one wants to be just lumped in a group; they want to have a personalised experience. By capturing the details that are relevant to them, you are able to heighten clients’ experiences.”

Research by digital marketing expert Econsultancy shows that post-purchase loyalty programmes that contain personalised offers are one of the most important factors in encouraging repeat purchase. Manage My Spa confirms that one of its Indian clients used the company’s software to pair the products clients were offered with the services they had purchased. If the client had a luxury facial, for example, the receipt would be printed with a coupon giving a discount on a high-end cream that complemented that particular facial. Mavani explains that the business saw “a huge boost in retail sales” as a result of this strategy.

However, while software systems are powerful marketing tools, it’s important to remember that the information you get from them is only as good as the data you input. It therefore pays to get receptionists and therapists to note as much as possible about the client and his or her preferences, during the initial consultation, as well as during appointments. “Any time you talk to a client, before, during and after treatments, you gain information about marital status, financial situation and so on,” Quinn comments. “This information can be very useful in determining not only which offers to send them, but also which channels to use.”

Agreeing with this, Foster adds that: “With Booker, you have the ability to note that Mrs Smith, whose daughter just got engaged, is coming in. You are then able to not only bring that up in conversation, but to offer services that can be useful to either her or her daughter during the [wedding] planning.” Software systems make identifying and marketing to specific groups a simple process. All you need to do is add good-quality data. Provided you do this, you have the ability to find out exactly what your clients want and when – perhaps even before they do.