Remember when you thought marketing was simple? At some point, most of us have found ourselves wishing that getting our spaces in front of clients was as simple as publishing a blog post, designing a great website, or starting up a Facebook page. But as internet content and platforms keep expanding and more businesses and chains enter the coworking industry, getting your space in front of potential clients and then converting those potential clients into members can be a daunting task.
Omni-channel marketing strategies leverage multiple marketing channels to position your space, brand, and unique offerings where you can get the highest conversion rate. But how do you know which channels to pursue?
Eric Zellhart, Head of Product and Growth for LiquidSpace, shared some of the tips and tricks to help you make omni-channel marketing work for you.
Your Website Is Center
One of the ways to keep from getting lost in the seemingly never ending to do list of omni-channel marketing is remembering that all marketing channels need to lead clearly back to your website.
“You are putting time and effort into your marketing,” Zellhart explained. “How do you maximize that?”
By centering your website.
Not all marketing ads need to end with a direct sales pitch. Some—like blog posts or social media posts sharing that blog content—might be more informative than persuasive in nature. However, every marketing effort needs to tie people back to your website.
Whether it’s a link to your website on “Google My Business” (a listing you should definitely claim if you haven’t) or a “Learn More” at the bottom of a Facebook post that links the reader back to your website, make sure everything drives back to that site.
SEO optimization is a must for any website, but Zellhart cautioned against jumping on SEM too quickly. Google is charging more for paid advertising on search, and with more large chains in the coworking industry now (with their larger marketing budgets), these spots are often not cost-effective for smaller, independent spaces. Consider carefully whether SEM is the best use of your resources, and if you go that route, Zellhart recommended targeting specifically local audiences, not the broader range that a chain coworking space might try to target.
Once you get clients there, however, you need to think about how to convert them.
“What’s the path that you’re sending them on?” Zellhart asked. This is the question that has to guide the layout and content of your site. As you’re working toward getting your website in front of more potential clients, click through your website as different kinds of potential clients, thinking about what they might need, look for, and be frustrated by.
Marketing for Different Audiences
Omni-channel marketing means you’re using lots of different channels to draw people back to your website, but not all channels work the same way. Just like with your sales funnel for your website, your marketing strategy for each channel is determined by thinking about what types of potential clients would find you via that channel, what their needs might be, and what point in the conversion process they might find themselves when they come across your brand.
The Learning Customer
The learning customer doesn’t know much about coworking spaces. They might be a freelancer working out of a coffee shop, a corporate manager looking for a solution to long employee commutes, or a startup team that needs space but can’t consider their own office yet.
These are the potential clients you might reach through blog content that relates to them. Zellhart said profile stories about members in your space already are a great way to start (and get the always-effective word of mouth marketing going from the clients you already have).
“Help people envision themselves in your space,” he said.
Social media is also a great place to target the learning customer, Zellhart said. “Your content marketing isn’t going to share itself.”
To get your content in front of your target customers and then convert it into sales, be sure that every post gets them back to your website and that whatever page the potential customer will click through to has a clear, easily accessed call to action.
Zellhart also told space operators to leverage the ability to post frequently to social media, posting event specials, pictures of individual spaces with their pricing, special discounts, and general information about your space in between posts with blog or other long-form content.
“You can talk about slices of your business,” Zellhert explained.
He also recommended using your Google My Business account dashboard, which will allow you to not just add details about your business (such as hours and phone number) but also to make time-bound posts about events, products, and specials. Google will show these results not just when people look for a space but also when they do related searches.
The Ready-to-Buy Customer
A customer who is already searching for coworking spaces in your area, however, is in a different position than a potential client who is new to the concept of coworking space. This client is likely already in the market, and thus is farther along the sales funnel already.
For this client, your Google My Business listing will also be important, but in this case, reviews will play a key role. While potential customers will view your site as biased, they will see Google reviews from real users, especially ones with nonprofessional photos, as more trustworthy—similar to the way word of mouth advertising is seen as more trustworthy. Encouraging existing members to leave a review, then, can be an important part of advertising, as can special events they can invite their colleagues to (or where you invite influencers in your community to work in your space for free).
“Your own members are your best salespeople,” Zellhart said.
Zellhart also said operators should also consider listing on brokerage platforms, such as LiquidSpace, as they’re able, since these platforms are proven to have a higher conversion rate than similar types of marketing. This is because clients on these platforms are often already looking for a specific space, so Zellhart also noted that it’s important to have up-to-date listings for specific spaces when you list on a brokerage site.
Don’t forget virtual space, either. While you have limits on the amount of physical space you can sell, your virtual space is essentially limitless—so be sure to specifically market that on brokerage platforms, on your website, via social media, etc.
Prime Your Space for Growth
Zellhart also shared some encouraging statistics about the future of coworking: JLL predicts that the 5 percent of office space that is considered shared space today will jump to over 30 percent in the next several years. As of now, there is more than 80 million square feet of shared space—and over a third of the Fortune 500 companies are using coworking spaces and shared space to some capacity.
“It is starting to replace leased office space,” Zellhart said.
What does that mean for operators?
It means your space needs to be seen. “Today, it’s not enough just to go ahead and put up a website and expect that people are going to find you,” Zellhart said.
You don’t have to start marketing on every platform tomorrow, he explained, but you do need to develop a plan—and ways to track progress—for how to make omni-channel marketing work for your space.
For more resources, webinars, and help from other colleagues in the coworking industry, consider joining the Global Workspace Association as a member, or consider joining us for our conference this September.