Growing your Brand vs. Getting in Front of Active Searchers
Often coworking space operators start a space because they want to be a part of the community. They want to host events. They want to get out and about and recruit members. This is a useful place to come from as these activities will contribute to membership over time. But these are generally a longer play – a branding play. Exposure to the concept so that at some point, when someone at one of those events needs space, they recall the space. But at any given even that you attend or host, some very small percentage of people will be actively looking for space at that point in time. So if you’re looking to grow your membership today, then you need to get in front of people actively searching for space. You need your website marketing for coworking spaces to be on point.
There are four key ways to get in front of active searchers.
- Make sure your website shows up in organic search results for coworking in your area.
- Pay Google to get your website to show up in search results for coworking in your area.
- Nurture your Google My Business listing because in some cases, it’ll get much more activity than your website (see below).
- Capture people that are interested but have not quite ready to make a decision and make sure you’re in front of them when they are (email marketing)
How to get your Website to show up via Organic Search Results
1. Make sure your site is listed with the search engine directories – Google, Yelp, Bing.
I created this SEO Quickstart Guide to give you 10 easy steps to build your relationship with Google and get your website to show up in search results.
Make sure you choose a platform that will be searched by the major engines. If you use a platform such as Nexudus, make sure to confirm with them that there will be no negative SEO consequences. I recommend budgeting for a WordPress site or platform like SquareSpace. As this SquareSpace expert notes, there is a plugin for WordPress sites called Yoast that almost dummy-proofs SEO for blog posts, etc. That doesn’t exist for SquareSpace but there’s nothing inherent to the platform that makes it less SEO-friendly.
2. Makes sure your address shows up in the footer on every page of your website.
Google wants to see this especially for local businesses. If I had a dime for every coworking website that I visit that hides its address as if it’s not the most important criteria for a potential member… Check out this post by SEO expert MOZ on how to format your local business listing.
3. Treat Content Creation Like Coffee and Toilet Paper.
Website marketing for coworking spaces should be one of your top priorities. Find the right process to enable you to get a new post up 2x a week. 1) Find a writer; 2) Know your target keywords; 3) Set a content schedule; 4) Stick to it. No matter what.
Need help with content marketing? How to get started, how to find your voice, what to write about? Get Cat Johnson’s e-book on this very topic (written specifically for coworking spaces).
Updating your blog serves many purposes. 1) Google likes relevant/dynamic content. 2) You can use this content for your monthly marketing newsletters; 3) You can use this content in your social media posts to drive readers to your website; 4) Potential members will get a sense of your personality, who works in your space, your values, etc. As Cat Johnson said on her recent Live Virtual Session for the Global Workspace Association, you must think of creating content like ordering coffee and toilet paper. You would never allow you or your manager to just run out of time to take care of these critical items. Content marketing should also be at the top of your “must-do” list.
4. Make sure you follow basic SEO principles when you develop your website
Do NOT assume your developer will be focused on optimizing your site for website marketing without asking! Make this part of your RFP requirement with your developer.
In the Beginning, You May Need to Pay Google to Show up in Search Results
Let me tell you about my friend Matt who recently opened a coworking space about 8 minutes from mine. His is in Menlo Park, mine is in Palo Alto. We have a steady flow of tours for all types of memberships. Our organic SEO is good (we were early to the market). We also pay about $250/month for Google AdWords to make sure we show up at the top of a user search. And our Google My Business listing is complete and cared for on a monthly basis.
I checked in with Matt to see how he was doing and he complained of low tour volume. I was sitting at Enerspace so I whipped out my phone and searched for coworking on Google Maps. Matt showed up at the bottom of a long list of options despite being the closest option to me. This is because a) he’s new and b) Google Maps doesn’t want to show his space to me in Palo Alto because he’s in a different town. He’s 8 minutes away!! I checked in with Evan Oder at Findworkspaces.com (also a great industry resource for all things Google) and he suggested that Matt run ads until his SEO kicks in and so that searchers in Palo Alto are served with his space as an option.
Matt found a friend to help him put some ads together and he now shows up.
This story illustrates the importance of budgeting for digital marketing. There are basic things a local business has to do in order to show up to active searchers. There is no “build it and they will come.” You must budget for professional resources to ensure that you’re set up to get found. If you can’t budget for digital marketing, you should consider holding off on your project until you can. 50% of small business fail and the single largest reason for failure is that they are undercapitalized- they don’t have the funds to pay for the things they need to do in order to build a foundation for success.
Set up Your Google My Business Listing for Mobile-First Searchers
Claim your Google My Business listing here. And treat it like your website. And like coffee and toilet paper. Many, many searchers will start on mobile, do a geography-focused search, and never go to your website. They’ll look at your GMB listing, call, or ask for directions and just show up. Crazy digital natives.
See Exhibit #1 below. This image compares the (1) website traffic to the (2) Google My Business traffic for a coworking space. Astounding insight here. Over a month, the coworking space (a friend’s), had 716 views while it’s GMB listing had 22,000! That’s 30x more for the GMB listing than for the website. So put your GMB listing up there with coffee, toilet paper and content marketing!
Collect Email Addresses of Website Visitors (Be Compelling)
Say 716 people visit your website one month. The only way you can talk to them is if you have live chat on your site (and you should, but that’s a topic for another day). So ideally you want to try to compel them to give up their email address so that you can stay top of mind with them and be just the right solution when they’re ready to commit to getting out of the office.
Three Easiest ways to capture email addresses:
- Offer a free tour – Have site visitors give you an email address in exchange for a free tour certificate that you’ll deliver to their inbox.
- Offer a downloadable resource – “8 Best Meeting Spots in Birmingham”
- Go with the standard “opt-in to our newsletter” call to action
What other tips do you have for digital marketing for coworking spaces?