beOnline Media - Digital Marketing for Beauty Salons

Hair and Beauty Salon Marketing Strategies in South Africa in 2019 – Surprising Results and How to Exploit That


Are you wondering how Hair and Beauty Salons in Sunny South Africa attract new paying customers into their fold? Which advertising channels and methods are they using to grow their businesses?   Our team at beOnline Media recently conducted a research into the online presence and marketing practises of the top 60 hair and beauty salons in 3 of the main centres in South Africa namely Sandton, Pretoria, Cape Town and one smaller community namely Stellenbosch.   We don’t claim it to be a statistically significant research paper but rather a snapshot of the online practises of the big players in the Hair and Beauty Salon industry in South Africa.   Here’s how we went about it.  

Research Framework

We compiled a list of salons by doing a Google local search respectively for the 4 locations: “Hair Salon Pretoria”, “Hair salon Sandton”… and so forth. We saved the top 60 results of each location search in a spreadsheet and treated this as our base input. The results presented both hair salons as well as beauty salons. We then researched each salon on the list in terms of the following online properties:
  1. Google My Business Rank
  2. Google My business Listing Claimed?
  3. Website Exists?
  4. Facebook Page exists?
  5. Facebook Paid Marketing?
  6. Online Booking Button?
  7. Facebook Automated Responses?
Why choose these criteria? Granted, there are certainly other means to promote your salon but covering your bases on all (or some of) these marketing tools in the list above will certainly go a long way to keeping your appointment books filled with paying customers. Below we give a short description what each criterion (or marketing tool) is and what it can do for your business. Then we’ll present the overall scores afterwards.

1. Google My Business rank

This is the relative position of the salon in the result page of Google when you do the search for “Hair Salon [Location]”. Most business owners and marketers will agree that it is probably the most coveted piece of online real estate for any local business. Period! And astonishingly it is quite often totally overlooked or underutilized at best. If a person performs a local search for any local business on Google, the result page lists a bunch of results in return which is broken down as explained below. The first few lines are occupied by paid search results (1 to 4 depending on the query and device). The next bit of real estate is occupied by a prominent block containing the top 3 listing of the Google My Business listing results (the coveted “local 3 pack”). These 3 listings contain all the critical information that any searcher is looking for. Like address, telephone number, reviews, photos, description and more. So nobody really needs to look any further beyond these listings. Most visitors will evaluate the information at hand and be in a position to click and call or navigate to the establishment right away (on mobile devices). That’s what makes a GMB local 3 pack ranking such a critical marketing tool to master in any local business. Google are obviously not publishing the ranking criteria to reach the top position but there are a number of agencies that go to great lengths to try reverse engineer the processes in order to identify the important ranking factors. The latest consensus about the top 3 ranking factors is as follows:
  1. Completeness and accuracy of the business GMB listing (including regular updates and content publishing)
  2. Business citations from the top citation sources and influential industry specific references.
  3. Backlink references from authority sites.
Each business can find their own business ranking by typing the search term they are interested to rank for in a Google search box into an incognito browser window. To find your rank, count the number of businesses ahead of you in the GMB result box on the result page.

2. Google my business listing claimed? (yes / no)

It is intriguing to notice that so many local businesses choose to ignore this powerful marketing weapon that Google My Business listing offers. If your business GMB listing has been created properly this paragraph is not concerning you. But some businesses have not created their own GMB listing but still have one, although it is in an Unclaimed state. Here’s what I mean: Google is constantly scouring the web to identify potential business listings from websites and directory listings. They then create GMB listings but leave them in an “unclaimed” state until the legitimate owner shows up and claim the business (providing the necessary proof of course). And still some unscrupulous operators go around false claiming these unclaimed listings and turn them to their own benefit at the expense of the real owner. So the message is to all business owners to create your own GMB listing or at least claim the listing that Google created for you if that’s the case. In our research results section below, we show the % of salons that have claimed their GMB listing.

3. Website exists?

It is interesting to note that even in this “connected” day and age we live in, there are still a significant number of local businesses without some sort of permanent online presence where current and prospective customers can interact with their brand at any time of the day from any location as long as they are connected to the internet. In the 3rd parameter of our results report we present the % of salons that displays a corresponding salon web address in their listing on the GMB results page (or that we could find elsewhere on the internet)

4. Facebook Page exists?

Few people will disagree that social media presence and interaction is becoming more and more important for both trading and brand building, especially in the Hair and Beauty industry. Most people love sharing their beauty experiences with friends and the go to social sharing place is by far Facebook and will be for a considerable time to come considering the total dominance of the platform. So under this topic in the results we present the % of salons that show up in the GMB results, that displays a Facebook Page in their listing (or that we could find a FB page for through other means).

5. Facebook Paid Marketing?

There are endless ways to get new followers for your brand and leads into your business. Some of which you pay for in an indirect way like search engine optimization and some in a direct way like Google or Facebook paid advertising. But it’s a myth to think that some lead generation is free and some paid. You always pay for attention to your messages, either directly via paid advertising platforms or indirectly via time or indirect costs like creating content or building backlinks. The outright benefit of direct paid advertising is that you can switch streams of new visitors on or off almost instantly and the possibility to scale the extent of your exposure to a staggering scale. Furthermore Facebook paid advertising has the added benefit or laser sharp targeting possibility for most audiences. Without directly contacting any business, we used our knowledge of Facebook advertising practises to try identifying the online properties (website or FB page) that possibly engage in Facebook paid advertising. This 5th parameter presents the % of salons that probably engages or had engaged in Facebook paid advertising campaigns.

6. Online Booking Button

The real power of online presence must undoubtedly be the potential to engage with customers and prospects that are not physically present in your salon and at times when your salon is actually closed. The further down the transaction funnel you can lead your prospects and returning customers on your online properties (website or fanpage), the more positive impact it will have on your bottom line. The reason is that these prospecting activities can happen while you and your staff are busy doing business and even while you’re at home doing life. You don’t have to allocate costly time and resources away from your business to prospect for new customers. So wouldn’t it be better if you can collect bookings while you and your staff are doing other important activities? If your website and/or Facebook page can manage to answer prospects’ burning questions and build enough trust, they may just be ready to pull the trigger, book a service and hand over the cash right there on your page. In order to add this last step in the conversion funnel, your online property needs to have an integrated booking and payment system in place. This 6th marketing parameter represents the % of salons that feature in our list that actually offer a “book online” link. To be noted that some pages offer a book now link but this leads to a contact form or phone number so not really a fully automated booking system. We counted only the salons with a fully automatic online booking and integrated payment system at the time of our analysis.

7. Facebook Automated Responses?

All of the salon owners we come in contact with always confirm that they diligently answer all the messages and questions they get from their Facebook Page visitors. And that’s a good thing. But… What happens during the time between closing your salon doors and reopening them again the next day (or the day after during weekends and holidays)? We all know that those are the periods when we (and potential customers) have the time available to explore a bit or to finally get around to actually place that appointment for the treatment we want but never have the time to actually do. So our new prospect found our lovely page (yay) and likes what she sees (yay) and just has one or two questions she needs answering before taking the plunge and book. She sees the question she wants to ask actually popping up on the Facebook page in a neat little popup window and clicks on it in anticipation. But sadly she gets greeted by the standard “Hi and thank you… we’ll come back to you soon” out of office message (arghh) So the next work day our chosen salon opens doors and the first action item (for most) is to diligently reply to the backed up overnight messages. But most of the time our hot prospect from last night is now caught up in the hustle of the day and the initial burning question is either not urgent anymore or fulfilled already by another salon that could answer last night already. This automation can be done by implementing Automated Response Messages on your fanpage. Also called ChatBots. In this last section of the report we show the % of salons that use ChatBots to automate their visitor messenger questions/responses.

Research Results

In this section we present the results of our research into the marketing practises employed by the top hair and beauty salons in the 4 centres that we targeted. Please note that these results should rather be seen as a snapshot at a point in time (early 2019) and not as the definitive result of a comprehensive study. Nevertheless the results will be useful to salon owners and marketers as it will help them to get a glimpse of current online marketing practises in the South African Salon landscape in 2019 (and how to use this information to their advantage).

Results for All Listings – Claimed and Unclaimed

Here we present the results of our research into which online channels salon marketers use to promote their businesses. The data shows which online channels could be found for the salons in the Google My Business listings as a percentage of the top 60 salons sampled in each area. In this paragraph we present the results from all 60 of the salons in the Google results page, the claimed as well as unclaimed listings. To recall, here’s how we calculated the results.
  1. We typed in a search into Google like “Hair Salon Cape Town” and we printed out the first 60 listings that Google presented.
  2. We analysed the data of each city according to the 6 criteria explained above (Listing Claimed, Website Exists, Facebook Page exists, Facebook Paid Marketing, Online Booking Button, Facebook Automated Responses)
  3. Then we combined the results into the graphs below. As an example, say we could find Fanpages for 30 out of the 60 salons in Cape Town, the score for Cape Town in Facebook Page Exists will be 30/60 which is 50%.
  4. Results are shown per region and also the combined score of all 4 regions data summed up.
Have a look at the bar graph and data table below that shows the results of our research. Figure 1

Claimed Listings Only

In this paragraph we present the results from only the salons in the Google results page that has been claimed by the salon owners. The argument is that these listings represent the more serious owners and also disregard the duplicate or erroneous listings that were not intended to be live. To recall, here’s how we calculated the results.
  1. We typed in a search into Google like “Hair Salon Cape Town” and we printed out the first 60 listings that Google presented. Of these 60 listings, we filtered out the unclaimed listings and only considered the remaining claimed listings for the result calculations.
  2. We analysed the data of each city according to the 6 criteria explained above (Listing Claimed, Website Exists, Facebook Page exists, Facebook Paid Marketing, Online Booking Button, Facebook Automated Responses.
  3. Then we combined the results into the graphs below. As an example say we could find Fanpages for 30 out of the 60 salons in Cape Town, the score for Cape Town in Facebook Page Exists will be 30/60 or 50%.
  4. Results are shown per region and also the combined score of all 4 regions data summed up.


So what can we learn from the results of our study? I think that most people’s first reaction may be the surprisingly low usage of the basic standard online platforms at our disposal like websites and fanpages. With around 20 million Facebook users in South Africa and Messenger users exploding by the day, one would expect that salon marketers pay way more attention to using these platforms to nurture current customers and attract new ones. And secondly the almost non-existence of any of the slightly more advanced online marketing channels like online booking, paid advertising and not to mention the virtual absence of ChatBots. Facebook recently announced their new strategy to massively promote the use of their messaging platforms by merging Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram into a single unified platform. This decision is probably based on the undeniable growth pattern worldwide in the use of messaging platforms.

What Next?

Our result data clearly shows that there is a vast scope for salon owners and marketers to channel a bigger percentage of their business’ marketing budget into new and effective online marketing channels. The good news for early movers is that our data clearly shows that the current uptake of new online marketing channels and strategies are very low. This translates directly into early adopter advantages like low cost and high impact. Low cost because we have fewer competitors to bid against and high impact because fresh, new and effective interactions with our customers and prospects attracts renewed interest and excitement to our brand. The results we presented above demonstrate a clear marketing advantage gap that is ripe for exploitation. This is in line with worldwide trends. So I call on salon owners to ask their marketing agents to review their salon position on the following points and consider all avenues to implement some (or all) of the recommended actions:
  1. Google My Business Rank
    1. Improve your GMB listing by verifying all data for correctness (especially Name, Address, Phone number)
    2. Create regular posts and events and upload photos
    3. Build out your citations
    4. Track your GMB rank and keep improving a, b, c until you reach the top 3 position in the GMB result page
  2. Google My business Listing Claimed?
    1. Top priority – Claim your listing today
  3. Website Exists?
    1. Create a website if you don’t have one (nowadays it’s really easy and affordable)
    2. Be attentive to SEO principles so you can build your Google organic rank
  4. Facebook Page exists?
    1. Just create one if you have not already. (it literally takes 5 minutes)
    2. Then leverage your page to keep current clients and gain new ones (there’s a huge bunch of ways and means to do this)
  5. Facebook Paid Marketing?
    1. Facebook has immensely powerful targeting options to pinpoint your ideal customers
    2. Why not use that power and spend your advertising budget where you get the best bang for your buck!
  6. Online Booking Button?
    1. There are countless free and affordable services to create an online booking system for your salon
    2. Why not try one and let it work for you while you concentrate your business resources on serving your clients
  7. Facebook Automated Responses?
    1. ChatBots are the future and they’ve arrived
    2. Find out how easy it is to start with a basic ChatBot that will unload workload from staff and improve customer experience at the same time (win-win all the way)
This concludes our research report on Hair and Beauty Salon Marketing Strategies in South Africa, the surprizing results we found and we suggested ways to exploit this information to the benefit of your business. We end this report with the following message:
“Knowledge is Power… but only if you act on it”
So go forth and be powerful.Posted in Uncategorized

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