Marketing trends are rapidly changing, and this year is no different. So as you review your 2017 marketing plan, which efforts are worth your while?
For bowling centers (and entertainment venues) especially, marketing is an important tool to keep up with other competitors. While the number of bowling alleys in the United States fell 26% from 1998-2013, things are turning around. Most recently, between 30 to 50 new entertainment venues featuring bowling have been built, indicating a resurgence in bowling as a pastime. These new centers are approaching the bowling alley business model differently. To compete with other recreation options, they offer a complete entertainment experience and offer more than just lanes and leagues. These new centers are unique–offering full bars with delicious cocktails, delicious dining options, and quality arcade gaming.
On top of that, marketing is harder. Consumers are constantly being flooded with options to fill their recreational time and take their dollars. Think of this like an opportunity, a transition. Now, you’ll have the chance to market to a younger crowd who are looking for fun and happy hour.
To cut through the noise, bowling alleys need to explore digital marketing trends that help them connect with their customers where they’re at, on whatever device they’re using, with personalized, targeted messaging.
With over five years’ experience working with successful bowling centers, we’ve learned what works (and what doesn’t). Add these digital marketing tactics to your 2017 plan immediately.
Live video is already popular and will reach its pinnacle in 2017. It’s the age of ‘right here, right now,’ and nothing brings that to life as much as live video.
Facebook Live is where most will find success (and other apps like Instagram have introduced it, too). Using Facebook Live is easy. Just open the app on your phone, hit publish and select Live Video. When you’ve completed your video, save the live video as a post on your page. Experiment with both Facebook Live and Instagram; they allow you to reach different audience demographics.
Organic reach on Facebook is at an all-time low, and they’ve made it clear that they prioritize live video. Using Live Video pushes you to the top of your fan’s feeds while broadcasting. You can’t afford not to do this.
- Film behind the scenes videos like food prep or pin setup
- Capture bowling league wins
- Share footage of parties
- Shoot silly bowling guest interviews
- Experiment with posts to see what people like!
Paid Social Advertising
Social is a big game, but you have to change how you play it. Now, it’s more about in the moment posts (like Live Video!), less scheduled articles, and more pay-to-play. Especially with Facebook, you need to pay for ads if you want them to be seen and shared.
Social media paid ads (on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat) are useful when you have something specific to promote, like a holiday special or bowling discount, and they’re also valuable to spread awareness about bowling as a recreation option. Just $5 is enough to boost a single post (though we recommend going for $20) which allows it to reach more people and have a chance for more engagement.
- If a post is gaining traction organically, always boost it
- Create a highly targeted audience for your ads
- Monitor your ad performance so you can experiment with best practices
- Build “lookalike” audiences for your ads based on existing email lists
- Run retargeting ads
Each year, mobile optimization becomes more important to Google. If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, your chances for being found in search results for important keywords, like “birthday party” or “corporate venues,” dwindle.
Now, it really is your last chance to make sure your website it up to par before you get pushed out to the place where websites go to die (the second page of Google or *shudder* worse).
But because the majority of website visitors are coming from those on their phone, just having a responsive website is no longer enough. It also has to function well and be an enjoyable experience on the small screen. Little things make all the difference, like making sure all phone numbers are clickable so users can call you and that addresses open your location directly on their map.
- Review your existing mobile site
- Make sure that visitors can easily call you or find you on a map
- Allow easy online reservations for parties and lanes
- Consider mobile coupons
People do almost everything from their computers and phones, and they’ll want to do things like reserve a lane or book a party online, too.
People hate picking up the phone to do things when it can easily be done online instead. Make it easy for your customers. Give them all the information they need, including the costs, right on your website. Remember, if they don’t find it, they’ll surely find it on your competitor’s website.
With this in mind, develop pages specifically for parties to give parents and corporate party planners an idea of what to expect for costs, tell casual bowlers what they can expect to pay for a night out with the family, and of course let them reserve all online. All it takes is a simple form that emails directly to your lane reservation employees.
- Create pages that allow guest to book parties and lanes online
- Make sure all pages are optimized for mobile users
- Consider making gift certificates and bowling passes available to purchase online
Targeted Ads & Emails
Technology gives us an almost eerie amount of information about our customer’s online behavior. With it comes huge potential in how you can target users in your marketing. For example, Facebook allows you to target parents when you have specials during school breaks. You can even target free game messages to those with birthdays coming up.
By tracking users activity online, you can send automated emails based on their behavior. You can send emails that offer them a solution or discount at the right time and increase your odds of making a conversion.
- Be strategic about your paid ads
- Target ads to the right customer at the right time by tracking user activity
- Make every touchpoint valuable
- Use marketing automation software to track user behavior and communicate with your visitors
Facebook hsas changed how parents plan their spare weekend time–the Facebook events they’ve marked as “Interested”. If you’re looking for families to book lanes, millennials to hang out for drinks, and your regulars to attend special events, you need to fill out your Facebook Event calendar.
- Create Facebook Events under your Facebook Page
- Link to the appropriate landing pages where you can collect leads and users can reserve lanes
- Only use Events for bimonthly or less frequent events
Wondering how to find time to learn and implement these new strategies? Are you wondering if it will work for you? Our bowling center marketing team here at Perfect Game Marketing can help! We’ll show you how we achieved a 650% ROI on digital marketing, year over year, for bowling centers.