As you are reading this blog, many potential dance students at various stages of decision making about attending a class are typing away in search engines for dance studios nearby. When we say stages in decision making, some have only started thinking about it; some are free on certain days while some are still looking for a specific dance studio for the genre they prefer.
Here comes the million dollar question for dance studio owners-
How can your dance studio become a brand and how will your target dance students and their parents connect with it?
Today, people look you up online much before they meet you in person. The internet is here to stay, and you can't just avoid being part of cyberspace. Especially for young dancers, the internet is their lifeline, and social media, their lifeblood.
Most online options are incredibly reasonable when it comes to cost, and the returns you get are immense. Whether you are a seasoned dance studio owner or just starting your own, you need to make sure that you have a cohesive online representation of everything that your business stands for.
Here are a few tips on what to look at for a successful online marketing strategy for your dance studio.
Website: Your website is the window to your studio for any visitor. It defines your business. An active site can influence a prospective client's decision to choose a studio much before they pay an actual visit.
Some design tips on making your dance studio website captivating:
- Simple layout, fast navigation and easy to load.
- Clearly defined “calls-to-action” that takes users to places they should visit on the website or action that they should take next. ( a calls-to-action can be a text or an image that prompt the visitor to click and be taken to registration, email link, other relevant information, etc)
- Don’t go the DIY way because it’s cheap- Free, homemade websites are okay if you are sharing recipes with readers, but not for your dance studio. You want your clients to take you seriously, and your website design should convey the same.
- Remember- less is more when it comes designing your website- too many colors, excessive graphics, vibrant tones, might be your choice, but all this could slow down your website speed, and may not be appreciated.
- Mind your language- Proper use of grammar and spelling while preparing the content for the website is a must.
- Use your own content- Don't paste content from other studios’ websites. Use photos from your own studio instead of stock photos. Stay accurate when it comes to representing your business online.
- Keep regular updates. An outdated or neglected website is a huge put-off for your readers. Update regularly and skim the site for old content.
Here are a few pages and elements that you must have on your website
- Your story- How your studio was conceptualized and evolved is great, original content to feature on your site. It allows people to relate to you and connect with you.
- Your team- about the people who are currently working with you- owners, directors, instructors, etc.
- Your vision and mission
- About various classes, enrolment, tuition, recital, participation, etc
- Online registration and appointments facility
- Photo gallery and video gallery
- Contact links
- Special events page or forum for discussion
- Contact form so people could connect with you quickly.
SEO tips for your website
Without Search Engine Optimization (SEO) your dance studio website will not have the reach to right target students and aspirants. SEO is nothing but how Google, Bing and other popular search sites rank their findings. It may sound complicated, but there are some simple steps to take to push dance studio website up the search engine ranks.
The easiest way to improve SEO is to use the right keywords, page titles, text, URLs and Meta descriptions. These are the words which people use to search for a dance studio when they are looking for one. Be specific, and try to be unique. For example, if you are in New Jersey, including “New Jersey Ballet studio” is a good idea.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is one place where all your students stay tuned in to everything that is happening around them. Your dance studio can do a lot better if it has a presence on social media platforms where students and dance aspirants communicate with each other, look for inspiration, shop online, and look for updates on events. You can also share videos of your classes, and ask students and parents for testimonials online. Social media may not come close to paid SEO and advertising when it comes to effectiveness, but it is an essential aspect of your online strategies.
Meaningful content shared on your social pages can divert traffic to your website, being visible at the right place for the right audience is what your online marketing strategy should be all about.
Various followers on your dance studio’s social media account are your ambassadors who encourage newcomers to follow you. For example, if you share your pictures from community events like Nutcracker ballet on your website, and the same is shared on your social media pages, it gives a sneak peek into your studio, and your students can do a lot of sharing of this content on your behalf. The result? Your SEO will improve because of the improved traffic!
To communicate with your prospects, here is where your studio should be seen
- Pinterest- and any other platform that your clients may be using.
Aim for regular interaction with your students, and photos and videos from classes or competitions work really well on these mediums. Remember to include your social media links and logo of your dance studio everywhere, including your website.
Think about starting an email campaign too. The good part is a bulk email campaign on service providers like MailChimp can be set up for free, and all you need is a few initial email addresses to work on. Share your thoughts, why they should visit your website and everything that is happening at your dance studio with readers. Email marketing is an essential aspect of online strategy for dance studios as it helps in maintaining regular interaction with people who have shown interest in your dance studio in the past. By sending them details of what is coming up during the new season or how they can stay in shape over break, you could keep them engaged even during the lean season.
Affiliate marketing and referral programs
In the world of internet, no one person can do everything on their own. Affiliate marketing is a strategy, which you can apply to promote your dance studio online through third parties and pay them based on results. Affiliates are required to promote dance schools in their area and charge the dance school accordingly. For example, On1dancewear’s Affiliate program offers a whopping 8% of sales as commission. And it can be joined for free!
Your affiliates, ambassadors and referrers could be anyone who is associated with dance- dancers, students, gymnasts, dancewear stores, theatre owners, schools, cafeterias, you name it. All you have to do is think about what you could offer them when they refer others to your studio.
On1dancewear’s Ambassadors and Referral programs offer a chance to get featured on the website to dance studios, dancers, individuals for free along with attractive commissions and other rewards. You can also partner with other studios if you have something which they are not offering- For example, you could ask a yoga studio owner to be an ambassador for a mutual referral program.
Advertising to people looking for a dance studio
When people are actively looking for your services, they are the best leads you can get.
Online advertising is mostly nothing but paid search advertising (also known as SEM – search engine marketing or PPC – pay per click). It can drive tons of meaningful traffic but be ready to pay the price. Every time someone tries to search “ dance schools near me” or “ ballet lessons for kids” on Google, Bing or any other place, you have to pay to show up on top and also for each click that you get.
In the online world, after SEO and website, paid search advertising is the best strategy for dance studios. You need to learn about stuff like Google Adwords, and Bing’s Ad Center. The setup cost is not very high, and it can run for years. But a word of caution here- The campaigns need to be optimized for them to be profitable. Sitting on the east coast, you will not gain anything but will pay up, even if most of your clicks are coming from the far west. Remember to use right "keywords" and target to the right audience base. You should only be paying for right keywords and to do so, you have to apply blocking mechanisms with the search engines.
When it comes to building your dance studio brand in the online world, you need to be able to communicate your values, attributes, and characteristics. Maintain consistency in your efforts to create an impressive online presence by making a schedule of things you have to do for your online marketing on a regular basis.
Take up opportunities like tie-ups and referral programs to create meaningful partnerships, and your dance studio is undoubtedly going to go places!