Shortcuts Software began preparing for the Australian launch of the first online hair and beauty services directory, mylocalsalon, in April 2010, just as I joined as their Global Marketing Manager. The company had already engaged a digital media agency to manage SEO and social media activities leading up to the launch, and we engaged a PR agency in June to manage the media launch.
I oversaw all marketing-related aspects of the industry launch of the site at Hair Expo 2010 in June, and the national marketing launch in September 2010.
Throughout the project, I worked closely with the agencies and our sales, client services and R&D teams, and gained invaluable experience in large-scale SEO initiatives, community building and engagement, blogger outreach, link building, Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and many other aspects of developing, commercialising and managing a large consumer directory site.
Increasing adoption of online bookings in salons
The first target of the project was to get 500 Shortcuts clients using its online booking module, and to then upgrade their software and complete their mylocalsalon listings prior to the consumer launch.
I developed virtually all of the web content, marketing collateral and customer communications to support the sales teams in this task. Further communications were created to encourage listed salons to add more content to their listings and add specials – I developed many of the communications around these activities.
National Launch of Mylocalsalon at Hair Expo 2010
Shortcuts launched mylocalsalon to the hair and beauty industry at Hair Expo 2010.
I was responsible for coordinating all aspects of the 3-day tradeshow show and managing all marketing-related activities, including branding of a new mylocalsalon stand, development of marketing collateral, posters and banners; the logistics of getting 22 staff and equipment from Brisbane to Sydney for the show, while also ensuring the separate Shortcuts stand ran smoothly.
Mylocalsalon Site Stats
These figures were made available publically to businesses listed on mylocalsalon.
- In the two months after the site’s launch on 29 September, mylocalsalon had over 11,800 visitors, and over 44,000 page views. Visitors spent an average of three minutes on the site. There were over 200 bookings through the site, including those from the mylocalsalon iPhone App which is available free from iTunes. While these numbers sound slightly low, they equated to a booking conversion rate of 1.4%. We benchmarked this against the well-established accommodation site Wotif, which we were told, ran at a booking conversion rate of 3%.
- Within the first three months, mylocalsalon has sent over 47,500 ratings emails to clients of the participating salons on the site. In that time, the site received over 3,425 ratings.
- My team and I developed and sent weekly specials emails to subscribers of the mylocalsalon specials newsletter, which helps to drive traffic and bookings to the site, while promoting our participating salons. The open rate for these emails was running at about 30-35% with click through rates of about 10%.
- I authored the monthly mylocalsalon community newsletter (launched in December 2010), which is sent out to current and prospective businesses listed on mylocalsalon.
Creating an online community – Heart Your Hair
Together with our social media agency, we created a thriving community of hair-loving fans on Facebook – Heart Your Hair, which grew to over 6,650 fans since its launch in May 2010 – this growth exceeded expectations three-fold, and was achieved through a combination of Facebook advertising and competitions. We also sought hair-related content and images from our salons, to post on Heart Your Hair and keep the community engaged.
A combination of Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising also drive traffic to the site. To date mylocalsalon ads have appeared before 2.8 million Australians on Facebook.
Public Relations activities helped to raise consumer awareness, with coverage appearing in publications such as Courier Mail, Sunday Mail, Health Smart, Style Icons and Madison Online.