Having a handle on social media doesn’t mean ignoring your website. Yes, it’s incredibly important that you have a solid presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. However, your nightclub must also have a website that provides an enjoyable and informative experience to desktop and mobile users. As David Gibson of Zeekee Interactive says, “Social media is great but it never replaces your website.”
There are many reasons his statement rings true, not the least of which is control. Social media channels should supplement a nightclub's website, not attempt to replace it piecemeal.
“At the end of the day, the only place you really control the message you’re sending people is your website,” David says. “Your website should be your hub for everything else you’re doing.”
Desktop, smartphone and tablet users still want to be able to navigate to a company's website. Yes, Facebook is a great way to engage your guests, post pictures, grab reviews, and post special events, but a website with a dedicated calendar of events, reservation system, photo gallery, detailed "about us" section, bottle service menu, etc., is still expected to exist. And frankly stated, many potential guests don't trust a business that doesn't have an aesthetically pleasing, informative, well-engineered website; it doesn't come across as professional. People don't want to have to hunt around various corners of the web to find about what you have to offer. Think of it this way: People are asking, "Where's a cool place to go? Where should I spend my money and my time?" You want them to be able to answer that question easily, don't you? Make it too difficult to make an informed decision and potential guests - and their dollars - will go elsewhere.
Know Your Stats, Know Your Market
Google Analytics is a must and it’s as simple as entering a line of code into your website. If the simplicity isn’t enough of a selling point, it’s free. Once you’ve learned how to use Google Analytics, read the results and apply the information, you’ll better understand who is using your website. Once you’ve come to that understanding, you’ll understand what kind of message you need to put out there in order to reach your audience. Having a clear understanding of where your guests are coming from (literally), what they’re doing and what they’re looking at will help you to pinpoint and refine that message. Google Analytics will also help you learn where tourists who are checking out your website are located, providing insight regarding their vacation plans, what they’re looking for in terms of local experiences and what menus have gotten their attention. Google also reveals how people are accessing your site, via mobile or desktop, which will in turn help you to decide on whether or not you should invest in a mobile website. These statistics can also tell you what seasons people are looking at your business so you can figure out your peak months and how you can capture tourist dollars. Finally, Google Analytics allows you to drill down and see what pages of your site are receiving the most traffic.
Mobile Sites vs Responsive Sites
When building a website or looking at an existing site, David says it’s imperative that you decide whether to build a mobile site or a responsive site. Mobile sites offer a truly different experience from your desktop site because users are redirected to another, mobile-optimized website. This type of site also gives you the ability to create a very custom design. Unfortunately, because a mobile site is a completely different site, the replication of your content can be an issue in terms of Google rankings. In contrast, responsive sites respond to the environment they’re given (mobile device operating systems, screen sizes, etc.) so you only have one site, which makes Google happy. In addition, the content is always consistent and responsive sites represent the latest and greatest in technology. However, be aware that these types of sites are more time consuming to create (and therefore often more expensive), not absolute on all platforms, can mean losing a small percentage of your established users because the tech is still evolving (some people are using older tech unsupported by new technologies), and can take longer to load.
In either case, avoid forcing mobile users to pinch and zoom on their devices as this can be frustrating and chase them away from your site. Remember, just because they’re no longer looking at your business doesn’t mean they’ve ended their search – someone is going to get their money. Think about the end user, streamline your interface, design your interface for ease of use through large buttons, large fonts, lots of contrast, etc., and don’t just replicate your current site in a smaller format. Also, make sure users have a way to view the full or desktop version of your website and create special icons that can be saved to the mobile device home screen since that makes your site look like an app.
The Importance of Google
Google has more than just Analytics and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to offer you. They’ve actually gone deeper than SEO and have been involved with page optimization, ranking specific pages on your website. Going forward, says David, SEO comes down to more than just keywords.
Google My Business has also proven to be important to our industry. Just like Yelp, it’s free. So, claim your listing and make sure that the information is accurate and up-to-date. Look at this way: thousands of pages are launched every day – how is Google going to know what’s active right away? Claiming your listing helps Google see what sites and businesses are active, helping you get discovered. Google My Business also indexes menus, a fantastic way for traffic to be driven to your venue once it has been discovered by desktop and mobile users searching for bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Finally, create a Google Plus profile for your business since it’s free and Google tends to like businesses that use its social media platform. It’s easy to use – just post to Google Plus what you would post to Facebook.
When it comes to social media, David approaches the subject from the view of a programmer. Find out which platforms your target demographic is active on and include sharing buttons on your site. His most important advice involves control and password recovery. Simply put, you must know who controls your accounts and never allow your employees to set up your social media accounts: if they go, so does your control and so do your passwords. Set up your website and social media logins with an admin email address (something like “[email protected]”) so you can recover passwords and receive technical support easily.
David is a big proponent of using email marketing. What’s not to like? It’s inexpensive and easy. He simply cautions operators to use a third party so that they don’t get blacklisted. Don’t use Outlook to send out mass invites or mass emails and don’t every pay for email lists. Instead, build a good list, write clever subject lines and track your metrics. Contests are a great way to drive traffic to your website and venue and help to avoid discounting. Keep in mind that subject lines generate opens and content generates click-throughs, both critical, trackable and actionable metrics.
To App or Not
You may be asking yourself, “Do I need an app?” After all, mobile users seem to love having apps on their home screens. It’s possible that you’re only asking yourself that question because the designer building your site is pressuring you to let them build an app as well. David recommends asking yourself – and your designer – a few fact-finding questions that can help you make the decision to build an app or let the idea go. First off, would your app require tech native to the device, such as GPS, the camera, the gyroscope, and the microphone? How many platforms are you prepared to support and will you be able to support new operating systems? Will the app require an Internet connection? Will you charge for it or will the app be free? What’s your budget to build it and what is the designer saying it will cost? Is there a plan to market and distribute the app? How will you manage updates and support? Just what do you hope to gain from having an app? How will you judge your metrics?
Remember that email blasts cannot direct people into your app. Emails can ask and encourage people who open them to search for and download the app, but they cannot direct them into it. David suggests looking to Google Analytics to glean the information necessary to decide whether or not to app. If people are going to static pages on your site, an app may indeed work well for your business. It’s possible, though, that the ROI may not be worth paying for and having an app, so be prepared to do without it even if you want one.
You will have the opportunity to learn more about online presence, websites and social media at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. Use code SAVE30BARNEWS to receive a discount of $30 on a pass when registering!