Golf courses can almost sell themselves; who wouldn’t want to enjoy the warm sun on their neck as they amble around BC’s internationally acclaimed golf courses, sipping on a cold beverage. That alone is usually enough to convince golfers to pick up their clubs and head to the fairway.
However, with over 300 golf courses for avid golfers to choose from in BC alone, there is a lot of competition. The golf industry has not kept up with the times when it comes to marketing and advertising. How often do you still see golf ads in magazines and newspapers? Sure, that’s where many of the ‘old-school’ golfers will see course promotions and messaging, but without a solid digital marketing strategy, golf courses are missing out on the new generation of golfers, the ones who will be regular visitors for many years to come. Golf courses without an effective web presence are failing to reach a critical buying market.
Avoid getting stuck in a bunker!
Marketers need to stay ahead of the latest trends in digital marketing and technology – which can be daunting with so many changes in social media and online strategies, not to mention determining how to incorporate mobile marketing into the mix. A profound advantage of mobile marketing is its ability to reach a business’ specific target market, catering to when and where they need the information most. Critical information that determines a golfer’s decision on where to play – course information, photos of views, weather, playing conditions, tee time availability and amenities – is at the tip of their fingers. The simple task of providing consistent and reliable information that matches with what the golfers are looking for can turn a potential guest into a paying guest at the zero moment of truth – that exact moment when a decision is made.
Don’t panic – a corporate-sized advertising budget isn’t necessary; effective, simple, and cost-efficient tools are available to help build a better online presence. The digital tips and tricks included in this guide are intended help with the marketer’s job of keeping the course full of golfers throughout the season by increasing the course’s online presence and maximizing engagement with existing and prospective members.
Search Engine Optimization
Visitors to the area won’t necessarily know about all the local golf courses without searching online first. Being listed online locally plays a key role in whether or not a golf course is going to be chosen by those looking, and a strong local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is key to driving more people to the course. These tips can help marketers get started with local SEO:
- Directory listings are one of the best ways to increase Google rankings as they usually link back to your website, telling Google it’s a reputable, legitimate business. Note: Business name, address and phone number should be exactly the same across every directory that it is listed on. Get listed on as many directories as possible such as YellowPages.ca, Yelp.com, TripAdvisor.com, as well as golf specific sites such as GolfinBritishColumbia.ca, BCgolfguide.com, and Golfmax.ca, and on local golf sites like GolfKelowna.com.
- Don’t stop just at local directories. Sites such as GolfAdvisor.com while American still lists BC golf courses, and a link back to your website is valuable!
- Reach out to local businesses and see if reciprocal linking to each other’s site is possible. For example, is there a local transportation company that you could refer people without a vehicle to on your website?
Writing locally relevant content on the site will increase search rankings. The easiest way to do this is through a blog. Now, you’re probably asking, why bother? What will a blog do to drive more customers to the course? Well, you’re right to question a blog. They don’t directly drive revenue, and it can take some time to see results. However, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote a business online and can position the business and its employees as experts.
Blog posts don’t have to be anything too crazy – just talk about the goings-on at the course, what’s new, what people do, expand on various elements and create posts from posts.
Google My Business
A strong Google My Business profile will increase the chances of the course showing up in Google’s Local Pack, appearing in Google Maps, and ranking higher in a local organic search. It’s a very powerful local business tool!
One of the most attractive aspects of Google My Business for golf courses is the ability to a) provide key information golfers search for online up front and centre, and b) add multiple images showing-off the best features of the course – a big factor in many golfers’ decisions.
Black Mountain Golf Club’s Google My Business information appears on the search results page:
Check out this post for 5 steps to create GMB listings that will get noticed by searchers and Google alike.
As far as social media goes, Facebook still dominates with over 2.2 billion monthly active users. You can almost guarantee your target audience will have a Facebook presence in some capacity. Coupled with Facebook’s targeted capabilities, it presents itself as a very attractive option for investing some advertising dollars to reach new golfers in the province,m or ones who have yet to try your course. Once a dedicated and engaged following has been built you can reduce the advertising spend and instead use your page for updating your fans on all things related to the course – for free! You’ll be surprised how quickly you can fill last-minute tee-time cancellations!
Take a blog post such as “tips for improving your short game” – this can be shared on Facebook. Add one or two short tips to an image and share on Instagram. Instagram is a no-brainer for golf courses, as some of their biggest selling points are their picturesque views.
Creating compelling content consistently can be challenging, but luckily, with over 800 million active monthly users, Instagram is a platform for regular user generated content which has proved to be a huge marketing boost for many businesses.
A social media strategy is easily deployable as a majority of a course’s employees are already active on these platforms; encouraging staff members to give updates on their personal accounts not only increases job satisfaction, but also increases engagement of new customers. By educating employees on appropriate content to post, businesses still remain in control of their own brand and are able to hold consistency in the message they’re transcending. Capitalizing on these social media strategies will increase overall engagement and value.
Note: Ensure that if you do set up social media pages that they are maintained regularly. If you don’t update your social media pages often you’ll probably lose followers when you do.
Learn more about using Facebook to reach more customers and drive more visits to the golf course.
Create an email newsletter
Email marketing is the tried and true digital marketing channel with an average return of $38 for every $1 spent and it is easy to do with tools such as ConstantContact.com and MailChimp.com – which are free to get started! Check out this article for tips on collecting email addresses and creating a newsletter than gets read!
Your marketing message (digital or not) is what your customers experience before they get on your course, which is why having the right marketing strategy in place has the ability to alter the profitability of the business and the customers experience as a whole. Now is the time to start executing a digital marketing strategy to grow your online presence! Take small steps to get started and don’t be afraid to try new things in this ever-changing digital world.
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