In some cases, local businesses that added online booking systems to their website increased revenue by up to 120%.
Given that nearly half of all Google searches are for local information and that 80% of them convert, it’s fair to say that local SEO is incredibly important for small business success.
It’s also understandable that most local businesses and marketers have put more effort into getting found than converting their website SEO traffic up until now.
However, our recent study of proprietary local service business data revealed that simply adding an online booking system to convert more traffic created disproportionately large revenue gains for small businesses.
Although local searches already have a solid conversion rate, focusing just a little on improving conversions can increase revenue greatly — and online booking is a simple (and intuitive) way to do that.
The good news is that adding an online booking system to a website is easier than ever. If you’re building out a website for a client, adding it won’t take long, and your client will see tangible results.
Here are the benefits of including an online booking system on your client’s website, plus tips and tools that make it simple to do so for most industries.
4 benefits of online booking systems
Adding an online booking system helps a small business serve their customers better in the following ways:
1. Receive bookings 24/7
We found 35% of customers prefer to schedule appointments after working hours, so an online booking system can help you reach them even when you’re not in the office.
2. Less admin time
An online booking system can eliminate the time required to collect, schedule, and input bookings into your system, and it connects the appointment directly to your client’s calendars or schedules. This can reduce scheduling mistakes.
3. Competitive advantage
Our study found only 23% of local service businesses have an online booking system in place to capture the leads generated from local search, even though half of all customers prefer to book online rather than over the phone. Offering online booking gives local small businesses a clear competitive advantage and makes it easier for clients to come to them.
4. Revenue gains
Because it’s easier for your customers to buy and book appointments the way they want to, they’ll be more likely to do so, meaning more sales and leads for your clients – 37% on average.
4 tips for implementing online booking systems successfully
Software packages available these days make it exceptionally easy to implement an online booking system for just about any business. From a marketing perspective, though, here are 4 things to keep in mind that help businesses realize potential revenue gains when adding an online booking system to their site.
1. Put the option to book front and center on your client’s website
One of the reasons local searches have such a high conversion rate is that many are driven by commercial intent — that is, the desire to buy a product or service.
So why not make it stupid simple to do so by adding a booking system front and center on your client’s site?
Here’s a great example of this done well: All-Purpose Plumbing has a Book Online button at the top right-hand menu of their homepage, making it easy for customers to schedule an appointment online.
2. Integrate online booking into your client’s social channels
Customers use apps like Yelp to find a local business that can help them — and Yelp has 36 million monthly active users alone. So adding online booking directly to your client’s listing is an easy way to capture customers right on these platforms.
Some online booking tools will even integrate into Instagram, Facebook, and Google Business. If you’re adding online booking to your client’s site, think about selecting a system that easily integrates into their other social channels as well.
3. Ensure online booking integrates with your client’s calendar
The beauty of an online booking system is that not only does it drive revenue, but it cuts down on the admin work most businesses have to do behind the scenes.
An online booking system is almost always integrated with your client’s calendar or schedule, so it cuts down on the transfer of information from a phone call to a digital platform — and reduces scheduling blunders. And an online booking system does so 24/7, even if the business is closed.
Note: Calendar integration is standard with most online booking software these days, but it’s worth confirming.
4. Choose a system designed for your client’s industry
Different business models have different needs — what works for a salon may not work for a pest control company. And although general online booking software solutions are out there, a specialized product will often fit your client’s specific business model better.
Online booking software for (almost) every industry
Sites like Capterra, G2, and Software Advice offer users opportunities to review software for just about any industry and purpose. Here are some of the top-rated online booking software solutions for various industries.
For general appointment setting: Acuity Scheduling
Acuity Scheduling works well for small to midsize businesses and individual professionals. It lets you automate appointments with a real-time view of how much time you have available and can automatically sync calendars according to your time zone.
For activities and events: Bookeo
Bookeo helps tour operators manage appointment calendars, build a client database, coordinate and receive online payments, and more. It’s highly customizable and integrates with marketing channels as well.
For restaurants: OpenTable
You’ve probably heard of (and likely used) OpenTable before. It’s a great solution for restaurants because it’s comprehensive and includes seat selection, reservation modifications, and more. The platform helps restaurants prevent the loss of diners to competitors due to long wait times.
For health, beauty, and wellness businesses: Booker
Booker by MINDBODY is best for businesses in the cosmetics and wellness industry, like spas and salons. It includes social media booking, a built-in scheduler, email marketing, integrated point of sale functionality, customer surveys, and more.
For service businesses: Housecall Pro
In addition to online booking, Housecall Pro makes it easy for service businesses like plumbers or HVAC companies to automate business tasks that normally would require paperwork, like job dispatching, payment processing, estimates, automated receipts and invoices, and more.
Adding an online booking system is an easy way to convert more traffic for small businesses. There are real revenue gains to be had by adding an online booking system — ones that many businesses haven’t realized yet. Keep this in mind for your next website build and help your clients increase their revenue with this simple website addition!