The Omnichannel Edge: Mastering a Prospective Student’s Journey

Patrik Connole

Director of Organic Marketing, Oozle Media

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Chris Linford:
You’re it.

Patrik Connole:
All right. Well, I’m excited to be here and I’m thankful for the introduction that I wrote myself, and thank you for reading it, with a little help from ChatGPT. You know how it is these days. So we’re going to get started. This is kind of a long title, but realistically what we’re looking at here today is we’re just trying to talk about how there’s marketing strategies that you can use that are across all your digital platforms as well as your traditional marketing platforms. You want to be able to engage prospective students even before they become a lead. It’s such a fast changing digital environment, it’s hard to keep up sometimes, so we’re just going to hit high level a lot of this stuff.
If you have questions, you can feel free to throw them in there into the chat. I’m also not bothered by that and I’ll try to answer some of them as I go, but this is kind of what we’re trying to look at here.
Like Dave, I also will take a chance to introduce my family. We also had a little one come join the family as well and we were just a little bit ahead of where Dave’s at, so my beautiful wife and my three kids right there.

The Student’s Digital Discovery Journey

All right, so let’s talk about this student’s digital discovery journey. How do they use digital platforms these days and how do you … I mean, think about it yourself. Just put it out into there.

If you’re searching for something or if you’re using digital platforms, how many different digital platforms you use every day?

  • You have Google.
  • How many of you’re on Facebook?
  • How many of you’re on YouTube?
  • How many of you are on Instagram?
  • How many of you are on any of those platforms?
  • Or TikTok like Chelsea just talked about.

All of you use very different platforms all the time. The younger the generations are, the more likely they are to use a wide variety of them. Digital marketing, like Dave mentioned earlier as well, is an ecosystem. Your potential student’s journey is as well. You can’t do one thing in one area without it having effect on another area.

So what we’ve kind of come to the conclusion after having worked with beauty schools for years and years, I’ve been at Oozle Media for eight plus years now, and we found that if there’s a question on Google, that question’s on social as well. If you think about it at the end of the day, what does Google want? Google wants to answer somebody’s questions. It’s the same thing on social. You as a company should be trying to answer people’s questions.

Suzy’s Beauty School Journey

The Initial Spark

Let’s talk about a prospective student. Let’s call her Suzy. She’s a young woman, she has a curious artistic spirit. She has a creative journey. Maybe she starts painting or she starts with furniture or she’s starting with hair or something along those lines, right? Something sparks it.

Somebody asked her to style their hair for an event and it really sparks that interest and kind of helps it grow. Despite that growing passion, she doesn’t even know what a beauty school is while she’s in high school or junior high or even getting into the college area. Then somebody suggests it to her. Maybe her mom, maybe a friend, maybe a grandma. Who knows? She finds that that idea resonates with her and she starts noticing more signs and opportunities related to a beauty career.

The Digital Journey

Then she starts seeing the marketing coming from those beauty schools, goes to their social media pages and it starts asking questions like “How much does beauty school cost?” Maybe she’ll google that, then she’ll search it onto TikTok or maybe she’ll search it on Instagram or somewhere. She might attend an open house or a tour. She wants to get a feel for that culture and understand where they’re at. Then maybe she finally has a conversation with the beauty school alumni and ask them what they are about and it’s one of her local salon members. That’s kind of how she goes about it.

You can see how there’s a lot of different touch points before she finally makes a decision on that. She has to go through that digital journey. It’s not just digital, it’s traditional marketing as well. Each of those places is an opportunity for a touch point.
You’ll see I have it listed on here. YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, but you can throw in billboards, you can throw in flyers, you can throw in the career fairs, you can throw in tours, any of those things, emails even. All those things play a small part in what they’re trying to do.

Are TikTok and Instagram Search Engines?

The question that is asked is are TikTok and Instagram search engines? Go ahead and put into the chat, what do you think. Is TikTok or Instagram a search engine? While you’re doing that, I’m just going to make an obligatory mention that yes, we’re aware of the latest in TikTok of what’s going on, but like Chelsea mentioned earlier, your students are there, people are going to use it. I would also add to that whatever assets you make for TikTok can be used in other platforms like Instagram in particular, or Facebook or other social media platforms.

So I got a handful of yeses and that is a hundred percent right. It is a search engine. It literally has a search box on it. TikTok’s ecosystem is very built around a lot of people who are just trying to be entertainment specialists. But there’s a lot of informational categories too in there. If you go to that search right there that’s on there, or even if you just pull up your phone, just grab your phone and just open up TikTok or Instagram or whatever social media platform that you are comfortable with and just google, just search for beauty school and tell me what are some of the results that you see on your platform there.

Some of the results that I see when I just type in beauty school, I’ll see a lot of

  • This is my real experience at beauty school
  • My first day at beauty school

Those are the types of things that your students are posting and that you should be paying attention to and seeing. We feel strongly that there is a very big environment and a very big platform space for TikTok to live and that’s why we’ve talked about it quite a bit. Last year we talked about it quite a bit and we’ve even had a TikTok strategy guide for schools that we’re happy to put out there.

So what are some of those content strategies that you can use?

First off, you’ve got to be engaging and informative. I’m not saying that you have to learn the TikTok dances. You don’t have to be like, “What’s up, brother?” You can do those, but there are some things that you can do to be out there using your own students. That is the best place for you to be.

Last year, again, we talked a lot about using Spark ads. Your students are already creating this content. You’ll hear from BAAB in the next space. BAAB teaches students how to use TikTok and Instagram and other places to market themselves. Use them for that purposes and help them build their own presence while building yours as well as a brand. Follow some trending hashtags, follow whatever challenges might come out, use our beauty school guide and get going on those Spark ads.

How Can I Get My School to Rank on Social?

All of those things are super valuable areas for you to be able to promote your students and yourself. It’s a way to gain brand authority or brand recognition and let people understand who you are and where you are. We follow a blog called and they do an excellent job of pushing out Instagram and TikTok information. But you’ll see we have a search bar in this platform. This is Instagram specifically and the most important parts here as you can see for “How do I actually get a “ranking?”

How Does an Algorithm Work?

It’s actually very similar to how you get rankings on Google. What can an algorithm read? Google’s search engine is based on an algorithm. TikTok is based on an algorithm. Instagram, Facebook, all of these things use algorithms to populate content for you to understand.

So text. Text is the number one thing that is important for all of those things that use an algorithm. You must have good text. The text the user inputs in the search bar needs to be relevant and matching to what you type in on your actual post. If you have text that matches, if somebody says, “How much does beauty school cost?” and your text in your caption says, “How much does beauty school cost”, you’re much more likely to rank for that, because they know that you’re trying to answer that question.

They always try to match that up. They also use relevant keywords. Sound familiar for anybody who’s dealt with SEO? Keywords, account types, hashtags, you can use up to 30 on Instagram, content and where the place is, how close is it to that person? If Instagram thinks that someone will be more interested in one post over another based off of their previous user activity, if they’ve already viewed your content or if they’ve viewed similar content to you, then it will prioritize that in the search results.

Then also the last thing is the information about the search result. When there’s a high volume of relevant search results, if lots of people are searching this thing, then it’s a bit of more of a popularity contest. If there’s a lot of people that can answer the question that’s being asked many times, then you’re more likely to get to the top ranking if you have the most amount of clicks, like, shares, follows for the account.

That’s kind of where you’re able to get ahead on that by using something like a Spark ad or with a paid ads approach to get more clicks, likes, shares, and follows and just, in general, more views on your account and on all of your activity.

Why Your Website is Important

This kind of naturally leads to, “Well, why the heck do I need a website if somebody is just using social media?” The thing is, the conversions that you get, and we’ve looked at this over lots and lots of beauty schools over many years, is that people convert on your website. This is where your leads are. The real reason for that is it’s an authoritative source for course details, faculty information, testimonials. It’s your 24-hour salesman. They’re the ones that allow you to have a constant pitch. That’s where you’ll also hear a little bit later some more about our websites and why they’re important and go enter to win that $11,000 credit on a website. It’s a great deal.

It’s really important that we do that. You have to have a well optimized for conversions website app user-friendly design. It facilitates easy navigation, quick access to information, a clear call to action, and other elements that convert visitors. People come from social media, from searches, from paid ads into leads. It doesn’t make sense to just have an information there and for them to not contact you. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to contact you because as I’m sure all of my admissions people would say that have been in there and all the admissions people, they would much rather work with too many leads than not enough leads. That’s the the way easier thing. You’re much closer to the dollar as Rob likes to say.

Traditional SEO Strategy

Then if we’re talking about websites, we’ve talked about social media, we’ve talked about websites, and now let’s talk about real kind of traditional SEO. This is where I have my background in particular, and we’ve seen a lot of AI. Parker showed you a whole bunch about how to use AI. He just generated in 10 minutes an email that’s fairly good and pretty close to what you would want to do. Your students, your potential students are your most likely people to start adapting the use of chatbots and other places to influence how they are searching. Google has made some recent updates to get rid of low quality AI content, but they’ve explicitly stated that they actually don’t really even care if it’s AI created so long as it’s helpful to the user.

We also have noticed that there must be a beta test going on. They haven’t announced anything officially of when this is going to actually happen, but there’s a beta test where we’re starting to see social posts display on your Google business profile. It just shows how much of an ecosystem that this is all putting together. AI content, social media, SEO, your website, traditional marketing, all of this blends together and we want to see that because people are going to start treating Google or these chatbots or something like it’s a Jarvis. They want to have those answers fed directly to them and help them put together the information so that they can make a really good decision.

The Importance of Your Schools Reputation

It’s a lot of information. There are so many different directions of where you could go with this. What should I do? Number one, the fundamentals. Anybody who’s ever played sports, and I’m a big sports guy as my bio clearly stated, but anybody who’s been in sports or anybody who works with a certain skillset, and you can apply this to hair and to everything else, there’s fundamentals that don’t change. The techniques, the actual personal implementation of those fundamentals may change, but a fundamental doesn’t change.

Here are the fundamentals of marketing. Number one is go get reviews on every single platform that you possibly can, wherever your audience may live, which for beauty schools in particular is going to be Facebook and Google. Sometimes they’ll be looking on Yelp or something too, if it’s for the salon. Website optimization, having your website up to date to whatever the current standards are. Your Google business profile, have that as the first place that people find you when they google your name or they google “Beauty school near me”, and your social media.

Tying Digital and Traditional Marketing Together

Is your social media on point? Is it following the vibe of the school? Does it showcase students’ work? Does it show that you are engaged with your community? Does it show that you are paying attention to the things that are important?

Then next up, also try to integrate your digital and traditional approaches. If you’re just doing digital, it’s not going to be as effective if you’re also doing the hard work of doing the tours and doing the career fairs and even putting out some level of billboard ads or anything like that.

When you blend those approaches, we say that the tide rises all ships. If you are able to afford putting out multiple feelers and creating a coverage blanket, as I like to call it, of your target audience and you are everywhere that they could be, then you are more likely to get that touch, to get somebody to come and visit you.

It may take a lot of touches for someone to commit. The old adage, and this is from the ’50s or ’60s in marketing, again, a fundamental, is that it takes at least seven touches for somebody to reach out or commit to you. You can speed up that process in this day and age by having a presence and a plan across all these digital channels. If you think about it, if you have YouTube and Facebook and Instagram and TikTok and Google and email and billboards and a flyer, that’s eight touches right there. If somebody hits all of those within a week, then they’re more likely to be able to come out and contact you.

So how is your social media presence? Go pull it up right now. Take a couple seconds. I know you all have your phones with you. Pull up your social media presence. Is somebody engaging with your prospective students? If people are asking those types of questions. Go to where your students are. They are on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. Chelsea did a great job of showing some stats about how Facebook and is still extremely relevant. It’s even more relevant with these other platforms as well. Do you have a place to be there? Are you producing content that is relevant? Are you out there? Are your students already producing the content? You’re not just not taking advantage of it. How can you get that out there?

Consistent Brand Recognition

Then Stephanie will tell you guys this all day long, have a brand personality and a voice and a consistency. More people relate to a personal face of something rather than just a blank franchise. That’s why so many insurance companies have the Geico Gecko or they have the Allstate guy. It’s so much easier to relate to that person than just a random logo. If you can do that, if you have somebody that is personable and is able to do that, that’s awesome. If not, go with the next best thing. Use your students.

Optimized Website

All right. Then this tip here, optimize your website. Keyword optimization, make sure it’s mobile responsive. That’s old hat news and if you haven’t done that yet, please contact us. We’ll get you a mobile optimized website. Fast loading times. Nobody has time. In this day and age, everyone expects that your websites load like that. They’re ready to jump. How many times have you tried to visit a website, it doesn’t load for two seconds and you’re like, “It doesn’t work. I’m out.” Then have high quality, informative content on your side. Last year we talked a lot about blogs and how important those are and how they can actually help you make revenue. That is something that is still relevant today. We want to have those prospective students’ questions and concerns answered. This enhances the time spent on site, enhances engagement, it gives a lot of metrics for things that they want to do.

Reputation Management

Finally, go get reviews. We teach for all of our schools and we also have created BAAB as a sister company to establish trust and credibility and to get more reviews. Your positive reviews on Google Business Profile enhance your school’s reputation, making it more likely for prospective students to consider your school. And, as a side note, it’ll give you better rankings. We use a system called Review Lead. Ask our sales guys about it. Beauty as a business has a module for this. There’s a lot of ways to go in and get more reviews. It’s one of the number one strategies that we push for schools in particular because it helps you so much with your rankings and stuff.

Here’s my three biggest actionable takeaways that we have on here. Number one, audit and enhance your fundamental elements. The biggest thing that you can do, the biggest and best thing that you can do to help with that is get a checklist. I have a checklist here. I’ll put it into the chat after I’m done talking here. This checklist will take you through all the things that I have. I’ll put a link into the chat and it’ll help you … Just go take a quick look at every single place that you could be at and if you feel like you’re faulting on something, try to fix it or try to contact somebody who can.

Wrapping It Up

We can work with any size budget as well to maximize your digital presence. Sometimes schools can’t afford to be everywhere at once, and we can help you allocate that budget in the right places so that you can get the best return on investment or return on ad spend that you possibly can. Our system works to be able to do that.

Build out your digital strategies. Digital is where you can most visibly see where your dollars are going out and where your dollars are coming back. You want to be where your people are. That’s where you have to be. When the internet came out, everybody told you visit in order to go there via television. You don’t have to do that nowadays. People come to you on your website, but they have to know you exist.

Use your social media, use social ads, use everything else that you can to get people aware of who you are by being where they’re at, living where they’re living. They are on TikTok, they, they’re on Instagram, they’re on Facebook, and they’re on all of those platforms. If you can have a presence on all of those platforms, you will be able to get to them more quickly.

Then finally, if you can, blend in your digital with your traditional engagement. When you create an asset or when you have a company like ours create an asset, don’t just use it in one place. It can be used across a variety of mediums, a variety of platforms, and it can be used to help promote who you are. It’s essential to be able to take something, an idea, a campaign or an asset and turn it into multiple uses. Whatever you create, you should spend 10 times as much time promoting it.

It’s so much better to do that because it will help you reach those people. We’re consistently saying to a lot of our schools that we work with, just because an asset feels old to you doesn’t mean that it feels old to the person who just barely saw it for the first time and it’s working. We want to be able to do that.
Just like everybody else, you want to reach out to me, I’m happy to do that, but also now is a good time to do some Q&A. Even if you have a silly question, like if mayonnaise is an instrument, we’re happy to receive that, but we’d love to hear any other questions that you have as we go along here. But it’s such a vital part of what we do is trying to get all of these marketing channels together so that we can get the best bang for your buck.

Patrik Connole:
Chris, how’d I do?

Chris Linford:
Great, we’re back. So Patrik, a couple questions for you. There’s so many different marketing mediums and we say, “Hey, your website is Rome. All of your marketing, those roads lead back to your website.” We look at the data, we’re in the data, it all works together. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the data that we see, it seems like a Google Business Profile is where the vast majority of traffic and leads from the internet come through. That’s even true if you’re spending a ton of money on Google Ads, social media ads because they’ll see those, but they’ll still funnel through your GBP, your Google Business Profile, or your Google Maps listing.

Patrik Connole:
When I’m talking about multiple touches, just because somebody sees a Facebook ad and then doesn’t immediately go to your website and convert, it probably takes a few days afterwards. Facebook only allows for a 28-day view back window and Google is 30, if I’m right, as well on there. So sometimes somebody will find you on social media or see a Facebook ad, click on it and then it’ll take a few tries for it to come back and then they’ll go to an organic channel. They’re already familiar with you. That’s why it tends to convert at a higher rate, like Dave was lamenting earlier, for them to come to you and then convert at that rate. Google Business Profiles and blogs actually are the top two referring traffic places or the top two places that people go to code to for you.
Your Google Business Profile and blogs usually take up about 60 to 85% of all traffic that comes to the beauty schools that we work with, and that’s dependent on … because the blogs that we write are keyword based or answering questions. “How much does it cost to go to beauty school in X state? What can I learn from this? What requirements are there?” It’s answering those questions. The same thing that we would want to promote on a social media platform or on a Google ad or anything like that so that we can push those along. Then when they are ready to do that, they’re more likely to already be convinced. Something that you always say, Chris, is a lot of times people’s minds are already kind of made up by the time they reach out to talk to you because they’ve seen your reviews, because they’ve seen some of the good work and you’ve been answering their questions all along the way. Why not go to this school already? Because I’m ready to convert over there.
That’s what the ideal scenario is. Admissions people, I’m sure love it when they get them much more qualified lead because they’ve already been worked through a bit of a system. Those organic leads are the ones that are most qualified. There’s a good question here too from Taylor. What type of traditional marketing do you find is still important outside of websites or Google or social media? I think the biggest thing that we find to be most effective, and people have stated this earlier, is getting into those career fairs, getting to those students earlier. That’s probably one of the biggest things that I could see as being most important because you’re able to be personable with those people for sure.

Chris Linford:
I would say, hey, everybody out there, if you’re listening in, what’s effective for you? Because sometimes markets are different. Those traditional high school visits, there’s these career fairs, maybe different music events or county stuff. What’s working for you? Put it in the chat, kind of the more traditional things. Because we’re a digital agency, but you can’t ignore the power of traditional and branding and all of those different touch points and how do we blend them together like you were talking about. So in the chat, what’s working for you on a traditional level? I mean, I talked to a school who was in a really small town in Arkansas and they’re like, “The best place for us to advertise is in the bowling alley.”

Patrik Connole:
Yeah. I was going to say there’s a big difference between your small town in Arkansas and if you are in LA proper. There’s going to be different strategies that are different each for those demographics. Again, it’s where are your people? Where do they go? Do they hang out at the bowling alley down on Fifth Street or are they at the movie theater because they’re in LA and you should maybe have your display in the mall? We’ve had some schools that have been very successful with putting up mall ads because that’s the cool place for those kids to hang out.

Chris Linford:
Just going back to important places to put your time and emphasis on, and going back to the Google Business Profile, if you don’t know what that is, it’s like your Google Maps listing. That is one of the single most important things a school can spend their time on and making sure that optimized and performing well. I would say some pro-tips there for you is make sure your category is listed as beauty school. We just had a school come to us and their main category was hair salon. So you’re telling Google, “I’m a hair salon. I’m not really a school.” Beyond that, some pro-tips, you talked about getting reviews, but hey, reviews with pictures in them float to the top and it gives off better GBP signals to Google because people will read those reviews, they’ll look at the pictures, they’ll rank you better in their search engine.
You talked about it, I just can’t stress enough how important Google Business Profiles. Anything to add to the Google Business Profile discussion, Pat? Like some pro-tips, what these schools can be doing better?

Patrik Connole:
I think you nailed it. The beauty school as your main primary category is the biggest fault that I see typically. Then I would not add any other type of school on there. A lot of them like to add just school or technical school or university. If you are a multidisciplinary one, you do beauty school and you do some of the other technical school stuff, then maybe you might consider a different one. But if you do cosmetology, aesthetics, makeup, whatever those are, they’re very much in the beauty realm, have yourself labeled as a beauty school. That is the number one thing you do and don’t put other school types because it kind of messes with how your Google Business Profile can appear.
Then I would also say something else that helps is having your official social media posts or your social media associated with your Google Business Profile. That is a new ish feature that Google has come out with recently. I think it’s in Google’s attempt to try to get a more social media presence. Some of their Google social media community efforts have failed, and so they just are relenting and saying, “Okay, well if that’s not going to work, we’re just going to crawl the Facebook and Instagram posts and put them on the Google Business Profile posts. Might as well.” That’s where the people want to live.

Chris Linford:
It looks like we have a technical question that came in about GBP.

Patrik Connole:
Has anything been done to get back info from those schools that used email to set up Google, My Places and everything when they took away? Natalie, I feel for you, but the answer is Google doesn’t care. Realistically. They are very bad at helping you regain access to anything because they don’t care and they consistently delete reviews every once in a while, just kind of do that. So if you don’t have access to that Gmail anymore, you might be a little bit SOL on that. The best thing you could do is plant the tree now instead of trying to rescue it. It’s an unfortunate situation to be honest, and the likelihood of it happening is very low. I’ve seen it happen once in all of my eight years working here.
If you’re paying Google money for paid ads, they like to help you with the paid ads part. They really do. They’re much more likely to help you out with that. Dave’s given me a, “Well, sort of”, but they do love help. They’re much more likely to help you out on the paid ads side of things. SEO for the organic business, it doesn’t make them money other than the fact that it keeps them on the platform.

Chris Linford:
Natalie runs a great school. 


Chris Linford:
Okay, we’re going to move on to our next session. Pat, thank you so much. Everybody put in the chat some love for Pat.

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