10 Tips to Increase Your Online Bookings
With increasing competition in almost every sector, businesses are finding it difficult not just to attract customers, but also to retain them. There is always another deal, another offer, another company offering something different for the same customer. In this highly competitive market, increasing your online bookings is one of the best ways to keep your business thriving. Here are 10 tips to improve your online bookings.
1. Running email or SMS marketing campaigns
If you are using a marketing CRM, you can easily set up bulk marketing campaigns over email or SMSes. It is important that your booking software should either have marketing features built into it, or should have integration with the popular CRM and marketing tools in the market. Also, sending out links of your online booking page to the audience can help you track how many are visiting your booking page, and how many are actually booking, so that you are able to understand what is the return on investment of your SMS or Email marketing.
2. Using Social Media platforms effectively
If you make good use of the popular social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, your business can grow to unprecedented heights. However, like all good things, this too would take time and constant effort, it would require a patience and steady action from your side. There are two ways to grow followers or likes on your social media page. The first step typically is to grow organically. Requesting your existing customers, or the people in your network whom you know who are likely to use your service at some point to like or follow your page. The next step would be to create a small marketing campaign with limited budget and more targeted audience for your page/service and try to grow the followers over the next few weeks. In case, you are using an online booking software, it would be great to have it integrated with your Facebook page so that your customers can directly book from the Facebook page itself. You may also want to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaign by having “number of bookings made” as the end goal in your calculations, rather than having “clicks or likes” at the end goal. If the return on investment looks healthy, you can try to scale up the capmaign by increasing the budget, price or by increasing the audience size.
3. Offering Deals and Discounts
Enticing customers with the right deals and discounts can work wonders specially if you still manage to be profitable after discount. Deals and discounts should be seen as a long term investment keeping in view the typical life time value of your customer (also known as LTV). However, to be effective, it’s not just enough to offer discounts without regard to the timing. The timing of the deal or discounts is also important. Studying market trends and deciding when you can launch your discount campaign to get customers on board would be a good investment of your time. Also, during this time, make sure you have a state-of-the-art online reservation system in place, so all your prospects can make their bookings conveniently.
4. Viral campaigns or referral campaigns
Some businesses have in-built viral factor in their business model. For example, Facebook’s growth has been intrinsically viral. People need friends to discuss with and would automatically invite all their friends to the platform. Same has been the case with WhatsApp, you can not be chatting alone, so you will want all your friends or contacts whom you want to chat with for free to install WhatsApp. These businesses are highly viral in nature. However, for business which are not viral, some amount of viral factor can be incorporated easily by incorporating referral discounts. For example, if an existing customer refers a friend to your business, you may chose to reward both with an equal discount. The discounts should be set up with proper care and attention. Looking at other similar business would give you an idea.
5. Sending follow ups & Reminders to reduce No-Shows
Making sure that you follow up on bookings and remind customers in advance about their booking timings and location greatly reduces no-shows. An online booking software like that of Queueme’s can be customised to send automatic reminders and this will save you a lot of time and effort and reduce no-shows.
6. Listing Your Business in Directories
Though, this may seem like an old-fashioned method, it can indeed be very effective. Directory listings give your business a credibility and greater visibility. You can reach previously uncharted territories by listing your business in various online directories. Also, make sure the customers who come in through these listings find it easy to make their bookings online, either through your website, your social media page or through a micro-site.
7. Offering online payment options
When your customers book online, giving them multiple options to make online payments can reduce the friction in the flow of customers (and money) to your business. It reduces booking abandonments at the last minute. Also, make sure that your payment gateway is secure, so that your customers have confidence in making the payment. More importantly, getting the customer to make the payment in advance will make the him/her less likely to cancel the booking or forget about it, thereby reducing no-shows.
8. Having a loyalty program
Nothing makes customers keep coming back more than the knowledge that the more they spend, the more they get to save. Yes, having a loyalty program for customers who book online will make them increasingly happy to do so, again and again.
9. Running Pay per click search advertising campaigns
The platforms or directories that you are listed in will have some kind of a marketing campaign feature that you may want to explore. Moreover, you can also try and chose an advertising agency to run Pay per click search advertising campaigns on Google for you or you may even chose to do it your self. However, these campaigns need to be managed with care, and if not optimised properly, these can become extremely costly for your business. As with social media campaigns, always try to be budgeted with marketing campaigns and have a system of measuring the return on investment before spending more. In case you see bismal results early on, getting expert advice will help, and giving up too early on digital marketing campaigns without an informed decision can be equally dangerous for your business's growth.
10. Giving your customers the best experience
While having a great online presence with all the directory listings, ad campaigns, deals and discounts, and impressing your customers with a great online booking software are important steps to increase the number of online bookings for your business, nothing can substitute a good experience that the customer can receive while actually being served. A good customer experience is likely to naturally create and maintain word-of mouth for you and the goodness can even spill over the internet with good reviews. Also, there are some softwares that can enhance the customer’s experience while he/she is on the premises, for example, a tablet software for walk-in management and for seeking customer feedback. Queueme also offers a walk-in management or wait list management software which is helpful specially to manage the mix of customers with bookings and customers who simply walk-in without a booking.
Last, but not the least, you will need to manage all the bookings well enough, and not be hindered in business because of old fashioned ways of managing bookings. Having a look at Queueme’s online reservation system can bring in the much required freshness to your business and also enable you to focus on growing your business.