From ‘position zero’ in the search results to moving onwards and upwards from Google Analytics, there’s a lot that’s happening in the digital marketing world that escape rooms need to take note of.
With 2020 fast approaching, you’re well prepared for the new year, right?
You’ve kept an eye on escape room and digital marketing blogs; and you know what to do to keep winning the marketing race and get your escape room to the front of the pack.
Here’s the thing
As an SEO enthusiast, I keep an eye on a lot of those blogs myself.
And from what I’ve seen, while there’s a lot being said on 2020 digital marketing trends for escape rooms, some key marketing trends are being left out of the discussion.
And some of these are trends you may never have guessed.
Here are the 5 2020 digital marketing trends for escape rooms that few people are talking about…
Table of Contents
Zero-click results (on-SERP SEO)
If I were to ask you about SEO, ten to one you would have said ‘it’s about getting your webpage to the first rank in SERP’s’.
In other words, SEO is about powering ahead to rank 1 in the search results, right?
As of right now, you’ll have to compete with the rank zero search result, a.k.a. The zero-click result.
What is the zero-click result?
Look what happens when I Google ‘private booking in escape room’.
Google throws up a result on the results page itself.
And it’s positioned right at the top of page 1 of the search results, even before the first clickable result, which is why it’s called rank zero.
And, you don’t need to click on a link to see the information, which is why it’s called the zero-click result.
What is on-SERP SEO?
On-SERP SEO aims to capture as much real estate on the highly coveted Page 1 of search results.
In other words, it’s SEO geared towards optimizing your content for the entirety of Page 1 rather than just the first organic rank.
Zero-click results are a kind of on-SERP SEO.
Why is the zero-click result important?
- It pushes down the clickable results and enables the searcher to get the information they need without clicking through to any webpage. It has reduced CTR’s across the board.
- It gives an impression of credibility to the website it is generated from. Google must consider the result credible enough to show it directly; this implies the website containing it is credible.
- It makes it easier for the searcher to get the information they need, making the searcher feel good about the website it is generated from.
How can you optimize your website for zero-click results?
Not all keywords yield zero-click searches. So, the first thing you need to do is to examine which keywords are yielding zero-click searches.
Strategise content creation
Usually, zero-click searches appear on question (how to, what are, when are) queries. So, try to create content that directly answers important questions.
In your content, you can include the exact question as a heading or subheading, followed by a short and very, very specific and clear answer. Brevity is your friend.
If suitable, frame your answer as a table or a list
Tables and lists are generally considered more explanatory and helpful than paragraphs and Google will give preference to them in selecting a zero-click result
Make sure your content is great
While zero-click results de-prioritize organize, clickable results, Google almost never selects content from beyond the first page for the zero-click result.
So, don’t stop paying attention to the actual content you’re creating.
In particular, ensure that your content is credible. More on this in a little while.
Don’t think of zero-click results as a by-pass of good old content-based SEO. Think of it as an improved version of it.
Which brings me to the next point…
Content remains king
Like I said, there is going to be a lot of new jargon being thrown about and new ways of content creation suggested to power your escape room SEO.
In all this hullabaloo, people seem to be forgetting the golden rule of SEO – content is king.
Click through rates may have declined somewhat as a result of zero-click results and so on, but they’re still there.
And they remain as important as ever in determining the value of your website for the search engines.
The experience economy
Content is all the more important for escape rooms because of the nature of the industry.
Escape rooms are part of the experience economy.
The USP of an escape room is that the players will escape their day-to-day existence for a fantasy world. An amazing experience.
And the experience starts from the moment they step into your escape room enter your website. You need to whet their appetite for adventure and for bonding with family and friends.
Escape room markets are increasingly becoming saturated. In many markets, more and more escape rooms are competing for the same pool of players.
It’s clear that you need to stand out among the competition.
One easy way of standing out from the competition is through value addition. Your website must offer value to visitors and players.
You must make it critical for them to keep visiting your website. If you can achieve that, your escape room will be the first thing they think of if they need to plan a birthday party or a team building event…or even give someone a Christmas gift.
One of the easiest and best ways for your escape room website to offer value to visitors would be through a well-planned blog.
How would an escape room blog offer value to visitors?
Think of it like this.
The USP of an escape room is an amazing experience for players, right?
So, the blog must aim at giving a complete answer to the question ‘how can I have an amazing experience?’.
And give it latitude. That is, instead of concentrating solely on your escape room, create content on how people can have an all-round amazing experience in your city, how they can have an amazing night out, things to do on holidays, and so on.
Look through the blog of this Chicago based escape room. It features everything from tips and tricks on escaping through things to do in Chicago to amazing facts about Christmas.
In August 2019, Google released a blog on its core SEO updates.
The entire blog focused on content – content quality, expertise and presentation.
In particular, content must have strong E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
How can you boost your escape room website’s content credibility?
- Getting backlinks from or mentions on authority websites.
- Linking out to authority websites to back up your content with statistics, data and facts.
- Providing critical E-A-T information like a bio and credentials on your home, about and author pages (as appropriate).
- Ensuring all information on your website is correct and up-to-date.
- Keeping your escape room website fresh.
What kind of content?
Content remains king, so far so good.
But, what kind of content should you look at creating? What kind of content captivates people’s attention?
Irrespective of how many obituaries have been written of it, written content continues to top the charts.
If you’re not investing in written content, or you’ve de-prioritized it, it’s time to reverse course.
While written content remains king, visual content is fast rising through the ranks.
Whether embedded within written content or standalone, quality visual content can make a whole lot of difference to your escape room’s digital marketing.
And, don’t worry. Quality visual content is not something unattainable or budget-busting.
Something as simple as creatively created GIF’s (via Giphy) counts as quality visual content.
In short, the escape room is a part of experience creation. Your attempt should be to make your escape room the nerve center of experience creation.
And an easy way of doing that is creating a well-planned blog.
While we’re on the topic of creating an awesome experiences that players will really like, you can consider introducing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality escape experiences in your escape room.
Virtual reality, in particular, makes good business sense. It cuts down on space requirements and eliminates the possibility of prop breakage.
The value of your brand
This isn’t a strictly digital marketing trend but it’s so important I added it anyway.
The value of your escape room brand will increase exponentially in 2020 and beyond.
Understanding the power of a brand
In 2013, a Long Island couple made almost a million dollars based on a $100 investment they’d made in 1989. Guess what they had invested in.
- Shares of a fabulous company? No.
- Real estate? No.
- A high-yield bond? No.
It was an unclaimed storage unit with an abandoned car in it.
The thing is, that particular car had been used in a Bond film. In 2013, Bond fan Elon Musk bought the car for almost a million dollars.
The car was long abandoned and of no practical use to anyone. It derived its value solely from its association with the James Bond brand.
And that’s the power of a brand.
How does this relate to escape rooms?
The point is that the brand may not derive from any useful characteristic at all; a completely emotional attachment can be the basis of a brand.
So, when you’re planning brand building for your escape room, please remember that it does not depend on any one factor like
- In-trend themes
- Customer service
- Ease of arranging parties
Or anything like that.
The entirety of how players perceive your escape room forms your brand.
How can your escape room’s digital presence build your brand?
In short, you need to focus on the entirety of how the player or viewer sees your brand.
Avoid tunnel vision
From my own experience, when creating and managing a digital presence (website, social media etc), we start out big but end up developing tunnel vision, that is, focusing almost exclusively on a single aspect, like convenience, aesthetics and so on.
Don’t do that.
Keep an eye on the entirety of how your escape room is perceived.
Involve your players
Ask your players what features they’d like your escape room to have.
Suggestions could range from having a provision for split payments (each player in a group paying separately) in your booking system to changing the look of your lobby.
Yes, a lot of suggestions will not be digital presence-focused but you’re getting a lot of insight into how to boost your brand.
Plus, this makes the players feel their voice matters; that is a strategic asset in brand building.
Shorten and simplify processes
From signing up for your newsletter to booking a room, processes must be as short and simple as possible.
Ask only for those details that are absolutely crucial and minimize the number of clicks required to finish the process.
Introducing a chatbot (if you don’t have one already) on your website can make the browsing experience interactive, provide specific information to visitors in real time and guide them through the booking process.
Respect your players’ privacy
For example, if someone asks to not receive marketing emails, act on their request immediately.
With the debates on improper harvesting and use of user data growing shriller every day, privacy will become an increasingly important aspect of brand value in the coming days.
Introduce gamification within the sales funnel
For example, give them the option of playing a 5 minute online game during the booking process.
If they win, they can get 5 minutes extra on the clock at your escape room.
Gamification in the sales and marketing process like this can boost your brand immensely by deepening player participation.
Customize the brand experience
Analytics makes it possible to track important player preferences.
Use that data to offer players a more customized brand experience.
For example, if someone on your email list expresses an interest in a particular escape room theme, you can set their email preferences or even the ads they see accordingly.
Which segues neatly into the next topic…
New approaches to analytics
Rest assured, good old Google Analytics is definitely not dead. It will continue to reveal important data to us for years yet.
However, with newer marketing channels (like voice search) constantly popping up; and with transactions increasingly becoming non-linear with new features like upsells, downsells, repeat purchases and sales bumps, it is increasingly important for a new analytics offering greater insight into the business.
This is where newer business analytics platforms like Google Data Studio come in. They can handle more kinds of data than Google Analytics and they can give very specific and granular insight.
Please note, this is strictly long-term territory.
It’s not DEFCON 1 or even DEFCON 5. Google Analytics should remain your focus for now.
However, it’s advisable to get acquainted with business analytics platforms like Google Data Studio so you can remain ahead of the curve and make a smooth transition when you need to.
Voice search has come a long way since being another new internet fad in 2011.
Research predicts that by next year, more than half of all online searches will be via voice search.
As an entrepreneur, you can grasp that it’s vital to enter this segment.
How does voice search shape consumer behavior?
According to research conducted by Google, voice-activated speakers
- Make life easier – by making information available easily and instantly.
- Are at the center of the home – making it easily available to everyone.
- Are part of the daily routine – some daily habits are accomplished by talking to their virtual assistant.
- Offer a human relationship with technology – people engage with speakers as they would engage with other people.
- Are a new playground for brands – people enjoy interacting with brands as part of the voice search lifestyle.
In short, voice-activated speakers – and thereby voice search – empower people by simplifying the search process, embedding it into their daily routines and humanize technology for people.
Finally, with all those features, voice-activated speakers have become a battleground of sorts for brands because people are willing to engage with brands as part of the new voice-activated lifestyle.
So, how should you optimize your escape room website for voice searches?
Identifying the scope for voice searches in escape rooms
Voice search will be relevant in
- General information about escape rooms (Who can play, Team building etc)
- Local SEO (What, Where, When)
- Other business information (Ticket prices, Group pricing, Are children allowed etc)
Keyword research for voice search
Remember, the search queries will be in completely informal speech.
Keywords will remain the same; the search queries, however, will be completely different.
You can use tools like Answer the Public to draw up lists of commonly asked questions for individual keywords and then decide which questions to focus on.
Embed helpful content throughout the customer journey
Here’s an example of a typical customer journey from general searcher to loyal player of The Unforgettable Escape Room.
- Awareness – ‘What’s the best escape room in downtown New York?’
- Interest – ‘What kind of escape themes does The Unforgettable Escape Room have?’
- Evaluation – ‘Is The Unforgettable Escape Room better than The Amazing Escape Room?’
- Purchase – ‘What is the ticket size for a private booking at The Unforgettable Escape Room?’
- Customer Support – ‘Can I change my booking?’
- Loyalty – ‘Has The Unforgettable Escape Room added a new room?’
How can you get these queries? From the list you made via Answer the Public.
Segment the list of queries into the various phases of the customer journey. This will help you plan and create content.
How to best frame the content for voice search
At the outset, it makes sense to present most of the content as FAQ’s.
The question-answer format will help Google understand your content easily so they will select it to answer voice queries.
Please remember that in voice queries you don’t get ranked answers. Google selects one best answer – usually from the first result in the SERP’s – to answer voice queries.
So, you need to be really clear and specific with your voice query content for Google to select your content for answering voice queries.
To sum up, the 5 2020 digital marketing trends for escape rooms that too few people are talking about are
- Zero-click results (and on-SERP SEO)
- Content remains king
- The value of your brand
- New approaches to analytics
- Voice search
Now that you have read this, you know what to focus on and what kind of action to take to remain ahead of the competition.