In the words of Vanessa McDonald, also known as the queen of retention marketing: “all clients are new clients". We spoke with Vanessa about looking after your existing clients with a great retention strategy and what tools she uses in Timely to help her client’s salons reach their business potential.🦩

Vanessa McDonald is the founder and director of Salon Marketing Creative Agency (SMC), and has helped salons “stand out like a flamingo amongst a flock of pigeons” through database focused marketing since 2016. Vanessa helps salon, spa, and clinic owners make more money using their most valuable marketing asset – their client database using direct-response marketing strategies. Vanessa lives in Sydney with Mr SMC and their two long-coat chihuahuas Ziggy and Pippa, who often make surprise guest appearances on her weekly Facebook Live broadcast “The New Salon Marketing Show” every Monday at 12pm AEST.

Why is retention marketing important, and why should salons use it?

It’s all about retention and frequency of visit. As we call it at SMC, Foundation Marketing (the client journey) needs to be proactive and intentional. Let’s say you have a new client visit for the first time. They’ve had a great experience, they leave happy, but what happens next? Most salons invite the client to rebook, and…that’s it. This lack of follow-up is why most salons have new client rebooking and retention KPIs under 25%. 

How to set up automated marketing and appointment messages 

How do I introduce clients to complementary services to grow the salon?

Levelling up is super easy! Start with a simple thank you message to ALL clients, both new and existing. Then, Vanessa recommends presenting them with a thank you gift pack. For that, she has some tips:

“A good gift pack should include a voucher redeemable towards a retail product, and another voucher redeemable towards the service the salon wants to be known for. Plus, add a gift voucher for a friend, no strings attached.”

Okay, we hear you say, but what’s in it for me? The gifts in the pack are only valid for a limited time, so encourage your client to use the retail voucher on the day they receive it, and the service voucher to book their next appointment on the spot. 

Vanessa recommends reminding the client of their gifts via SMS or email, and your client will be happy to receive any messages because the salon staff have explained that “We’ll send you a reminder before it expires so you don’t miss out on using it”.

“The trick is that we are having the right conversation at the right time and we’re making a great first impression with new clients. Plus, we’re making the necessary follow up to increase the chances of that client rebooking and being retained as a long term client!”.

Getting started with MailChimp

How do I build a better client experience and improve my brand reputation?

Your retention marketing is part of your brand experience, and when it’s professional it sends your clients the message that they’re in good hands.

Retention marketing that goes beyond your in-salon experience is essential to firmly establishing your salon’s niche and speciality in your clients minds from their very first appointment. It results in clients visiting more frequently, spending more each visit, and confidently referring friends to you.

Setting up an approach like this will mean your salon “trains” your new clients to engage with the business through growth behaviours from their very first appointment. The client will understand how to make a booking, change their booking, how the salon can help them with their beauty and skin health needs, and so on. 

Set up follow-up messages now in Timely: Click here and select ‘Follow-up’.

How to set up the MailChimp integration

To learn more about Vanessa and Salon Marketing Creative Agency, visit their website at