31 July 2018
Booking System, Marketing, Technology
With over 57,000 searches per second and at least two trillion searches per year, Google is your biggest marketing tool. Search Engine Optimisation is the name given to the activity of improving a web page’s ranking on Google (other search engines are available) without simply paying for advertising. Social media can drive a certain amount of traffic to your website, but the majority of visitors are scooped up by the clever use of SEO.
So how do you use SEO effectively?
SEO beats PPC when you promote local
With the top four spots being taken up by paid advertisements, known as “pay-per-click” or PPC; the remaining Page 1 positions are highly contested for through the use of SEO. Unfortunately, 65% of clicks are made through PPC sites.
Sports providers shouldn’t be disheartened if pay-per-click isn’t an option. For many location reliant searches, such as sports clubs or fitness classes, ads don’t even surface. For example, if you type “Tennis in London” or “Football camp Leeds”, both return advertless results, with the top spots taken up by local sports providers.
To secure a premier place, feature plenty of location-specific words on your website, and be sure that your meta-description clearly states the purpose of your business. Pay-per-click is a quick fix that will gift you instant clicks. SEO is a long-term investment that grows in value as clicks accumulate over time. SEO turns out to be a better return on investment if you are hoping for steady and sustainable growth.
You don’t just want to be found; you want to be found by the right people at the right time for the right reasons. Keywords are essentially the words that people are most likely to type into their search engine when looking for a business like yours. In fact, keywords are really key phrases; they are likely to be three to five words long.
Unfortunately, an excellent article doesn’t equate to lots of visitors, shares, and business. You must use keywords, which can be annoying as it often requires you to choose the most common word rather than the most eloquent. Choosing your keywords is, for the most part, common sense, but you can use tools such as Google Adwords Planner or Serps to compare the popularity of phrases.
SEO trends change as frequently as the weather
If you want to master SEO you have to be prepared to follow the trends. For the most part, your keywords will stay relevant, but you can use tools like Google Trends to see if the words you feature are still being searched. It’s not only keywords that are subject to change but Google’s very algorithms.
Right now local businesses do well, but Google has become increasingly commercial in its approach to its search results. Pay-per-click ads have recently increased from three to four of the top results, making it harder and harder for businesses to reach people organically. As the monopoly shifts towards the money spenders, new SEO trends will, no doubt, emerge to keep smaller businesses in play.
Click Bait is out. Click through is in
Before the interweb grew its wisdom teeth, it was easy for mediocre content or even complete nonsense to scam the system and rank highly in search engines. Nowadays, Google’s algorithms are smart and only reward valuable content.
Consumers are delighted they no longer have to wade through click-bait rubbish; businesses should be too. However, content providers now have to work harder in order for their articles to rank.
You want people not only to read the content of the page they visit but “click through” to other sections of your site. Include links to more blog posts or your sales page, so you drag visitors deeper into the rabbit hole of your website whilst you climb up the search ranks.
Read more: Website tips for sports providers
Quality is a delicate balancing act
Google’s algorithms have shifted to favour websites that feature quality content. Quality content is the primary factor in an effective SEO strategy.
Quality is defined as original material that caters to popular searches and trending topics. However, these demands are somewhat counterintuitive. Indeed it is difficult to be original when writing about issues that everyone is writing about. Try to find a new angle on a popular subject. Again, keywords, keywords, keywords.
Count the seconds
If people don’t scroll to page 2 of a search result, why do you think they will read to the bottom of your blog post? *Spoiler alert*- they won’t. The two come hand in hand. Good content makes it to Page 1; good content is read in its entirety.
For every second a viewer spends on a page, the value of the page itself increases. You might think that you can write a thousand words of heavy going, thesaurused content and complicated syntax, but realistically this will have people x-ing out before reaching the second line. Choose words carefully and write succinctly to ensure you carry your readers right to the end of your article.
Tags: content, Google, Marketing, SEO, Website
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24 July 2018
On the storage-challenged iPhone, gigabytes are a precious commodity. Apps are clogging up users’ phones, meaning that they are quickly binned if not a priority. Before you decide to become one of over 2.2 million apps fighting for attention in the App Store and one of 3.5 million in the Google Play store, take a look at the pros and cons of building an app for your business. Here are six questions you should ask yourself before investing in an app.
1) Is my website complete?
Before you even begin to consider an app, make sure that your website is fully functional, user-friendly, and mobile responsive. Nowadays it is essential that your site can be viewed easily on a mobile device. This does not immediately constitute the need for an app. Mobile view is not merely a smaller version of a desktop screen (we have all experienced trying to zoom in on a page that is A2 sized) but one that is enriched by the compactness of a smaller screen. Corner drop-down menus, scrollable content, and thumbable links are essential for a mobile website. Google now punishes sites that do not adapt to mobile by demoting them in search rankings.
2) How many power users do I have?
Your website reels in new customers. Your app retains them. If someone downloads your app, they have sacrificed someone else’s app, or deleted an Oasis album, or erased their family Whatsapp group; they are a loyal, heroic customer. You need to determine the number of power patrons you have. If you are a studio with mostly drop-ins and casual users, your app will get little attention. Membership clubs, on the other hand, can create an app that enhances the customer’s experience by soothing pain points and offering quick booking, easy access to timetables, and premium features.
3) Are push notifications useful for us?
Push notifications are a bit like emails, except they pop up on your phone and are sent directly from an app. They aim to increase engagement and to market new products or updates. Push can also remind a user to complete an abandoned purchase or to come back to the gym: “We haven’t seen you in Spin for a while.” While Push is a great marketing tool, it is not a million miles away from email alerts so that the system could be applied to your email marketing strategy instead. The advantage of push is that the notifications do not get boxed away in promotions or junk folders.
4) What pain points will my app solve? What extras will it offer?
An app is all about customer ease. At a sports club or gym, an app will eliminate the need for customer loyalty cards and membership zappers- as digital barcodes become the new access control. Your app should streamline the customer experience, keeping members up-to-speed with their fitness progress, purchase history, and upcoming appointments. Having this toolkit of information and services in a single app will increase member satisfaction.
Gymgoers will be able to view and book classes straight from the app. Afterwards, a pop-up feedback form gives them a chance to rate the experience, showing that you value and listen to their views.
In-app purchases are convenient for customers and valuable to you. Perhaps clients can pre-order a smoothie via your app, so it is ready and waiting for them when they finish their workout.
5) Do I have a customer loyalty programme?
Member retention is directly correlated to facility usage and business engagement, so an interactive and personable loyalty scheme is highly advantageous for any fitness business. For your app to maximise retention, you should integrate it with your customer loyalty programme. Your app will track a client’s fitness journey, offering rewards based on the number of classes they take, sweat buckets they fill, or burpees they bust. Your duty to your customers is to help them achieve their health and fitness goals so that they will appreciate push notifications and motivational rewards.
6) Do my competitors have apps?
It is always a good idea to suss out the competition. Download a competitor’s app for yourself and have a play around. Check out the number of downloads and the user reviews to see how popular and successful the project has been. If it looks like their app has received little attention and is full of bugs, then perhaps it is a sign that your market isn’t ready and a business of your size cannot afford a high-quality app.
7) Is it worth it?
Many of the big chain facilities have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into developing half-baked apps. Unless you have a faithful customer base and plentiful resources to build a highly useful app, don’t bother. On average, for a fairly basic, well-designed app, agency fees will cost between £50,000 and £100,000. The larger app companies demand an extra zero on the end of those two figures. An app is not a requirement for fitness facilities at the moment, although this is likely to change in the future.
Tags: Apps, CRM, Marketing, Website
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13 June 2018
It is essential that you invest in the front end of your business. We provide booking software for sports providers big and small, so we have seen and worked with our fair share of websites. Sometimes, it is not the flashiest, most expensive site that stands out (or indeed that takes in the most bookings). Having said that, nobody ever built a website out of peanuts. Hiring a website developer is a significant investment, costing upwards of three grand. Of course, this would give you a bespoke, glossy finish and a highly functional site. Many people choose to go with a DIY site builder, such as WordPress. Using such templates result in a more generic, less professional looking website, which often struggles to integrate with other software. Whatever route you choose, you must have a clear idea of the look and feel you want from your site.
Prioritise the visitor
You may want to get lots of useful marketing information from your customer via a booking form: How did you find us? Would you recommend us to a friend? Resist that urge. These questions are irritating and may lead to a customer dropping out before purchasing. Perhaps you want to hammer home your mission statement and flaunt your qualifications and triumphs. Yes, your business must look successful, but avoid slipping into the realms of boasting. Your website is not about you; it is about what you provide. So be generous; give them a taste of what you offer. Your site should be a virtual representation of your business; show what you provide, rather than telling them. Which leads us to the next point…
Photos are essential, but videos stand out
Most activity providers have lots of pictures of children having fun at their camps and courses. Instead of having a “Gallery” page, scatter these photos throughout your website so that every page is brimming with smiling students. Videos of practice or matches give potential customers a glimpse into the experience they will get if they sign up for your club.
Keep things simple
Start with a simple navigation bar, with clear headings, so your visitors immediately know which section to click. Nobody likes clutter: you only have to think about Ryanair’s jumble sale of a website to consider cancelling your holiday plans. Don’t have a master’s degree in the English Language? Don’t worry, because customers favour conversational English over stuffy technical jargon.
Mobile is fast becoming the surf medium of choice. It is vital that you consider how your website looks on both a desktop and a mobile. The mobile view is not merely a smaller version but must be explicitly designed with a phone screen in mind. Text should be clear and large enough to read, without having to zoom in. Include a slick, pop-up menu bar for easy navigation. A nice touch is a click-to-call feature, so customers can ring without having to dial the number.
This is the most important element of your website. Yes, we may be biased, but what is the point of your site if not for people to book your facilities and courses. OpenPlay’s bespoke booking system provides a streamlined booking experience. People can book on a desktop or via their mobile, meaning that your booking window is 24/7 and accessible from anywhere in the world.
Up to date information
So this is obvious, but make sure that everything a customer needs to know is there. If the last event advertised is for a summer course in 2005, they will assume you’ve closed up shop and will look elsewhere. Include a news section, so visitors can see that you have activities and events happening all the time. Age groups or available course are the first things that your customers will look for, so make this information easy to find. We would recommend having these available on your homepage as well as on their specific TAB so that visitors can click directly to a booking.
Connect your social media
People engage 25% more with brands that are on Instagram. Make sure to connect your social accounts with your website. Whatever platform you engage with most should be featured on your site; whether that is a rolling Twitter feed or an Instagram tile display.
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Tags: Marketing, Operations, revenue, Sports, Website
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