Marketing your escape room business doesn’t need to be complicated.
One of the things that I always notice when talking to escape room owners is that they are always looking for a “secret ingredient.”
Like a marketing company that will turn the tables overnight.
But truth be told:
There isn’t a “silver bullet” that will fix a broken business over night.
If you want to grow your business, it is as simple as:
Conducting a competitive audit
Identifying the gap between you and your competitors
Doing what your competitors are doing (but only better)
Optionally (Add an extra channel to create extra leverage in the long run)
We took the traffic from 3700 visitors/month to 9600 visitors/month in 2 years. (not taking into account a year lost due to covid).
Now that’s just traffic, but the brand has increased its revenue by 50% Y-O-Y.
Let’s dive in…
ABOUT THE BUSINESS
When the owner contacted us on Feb 14, 2019, he mentioned that the brand wasn’t doing as good as they hoped, and his lease would renew in 3 months.
We only had three months to achieve tangible results to restore his confidence in renewing the lease and continuing with the business.
The main focus of our campaign would be:
Push the rankings to the first page for the most important terms
Reach a tolerable Cost Per Acquisition
Identify and tap into unexplored market segments
Make the brand omnipresent in Chicago
CHALLENGES WE FACED
The brand had no marketing in place, apart from some automated Google Ads campaigns.
The website had a bunch of limitations, like lack of customisation. We cannot create new pages on the website but could publish blogs with minimal features. A web design revamp was out of the question as the Franchise owns the website.
Given the not-so-userfriendly CMS that the website is using, we had a massive task to rank it on Search Engines.
OUR PLAN OF ATTACK
K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Silly
After a competitive audit, we identified quite a few untapped opportunities.
OUR MISSION – Elevate the brand, make it shine, make it omnipresent to the point that people who come into their sphere of influence should easily pick them over their competitors.
We could break down our strategy into these ten pillars:
Google Search & Display Ads
Targetted Search Ads To Hit The Hottest Customers
Retargeting Display Campaigns To Keep Visitors Warm
Prospecting Display Campaigns To Go After A Cold Audience (That's Never Heard Of Escape Rooms / Fox In A Box)
Facebook & IG Ads
Display Ads For Retention & Recall (Mostly Branding)
Display Ads For Prospecting
Search Engine Optimisation
Technical Audit To Create A Healthy & Solid Website Architecture
Write Relevant Content To Increase Topical Relevance And Create More Entry Points
Acquire Links From Relevant Websites Through Outreach
WHAT DID WE DO? REALLY.
We analysed the past two years of data in the ad account and created multiple segments based on the search intent.
escape room for couples
escape room for kids
groups of #
theme based kws
things to do
birthday party venues
Eventually, the idea was to narrow down to a handful of 3-4 segments. Only bring in the most results for the lowest CPA in any given market.
Our strategies are outlined in the 14x Google Ads Hacks For Escape Rooms.
I’ve had the privilege of peeking behind 10s of Escape Room Google Ads account, and it won’t be an understatement to say that most ERs don’t even reach this far.
But, this is only 50% of the Google Ads game.
We uploaded their double opt-in customer list into Google Ads to provide Google with more data around their customers.
Now, it was time to tap into the power of Google’s insanely massive and accurate banner inventory.
We had two objectives with the display banners:
Prevent existing website visitors from forgetting the brand with retargeting ads
In any given market, only 3% of visitors are actively looking for the solution. The rest, 97%, are not even aware that they need / will need a product. This is where Google's display banners can come into use to prospect new audiences.
Some banner examples from a prospecting campaign
Facebook & IG Ads
If Google is like a Shopping Mall, Facebook is the TV
This statement is significant because most ER owners I meet have stories about how they don’t seem to get any returns from their Facebook Ads.
Suppose you are in the same boat and have asked this question at any point in your life. I want to ask you a follow-up question.
When was the last time you bought something directly from a TV commercial?
Like, never – RIGHT??!?
So how can you expect from Facebook any different?
This was the same dilemma that was plaguing this client.
Besides, we aren’t even solving a “hair-on-fire” problem like a Plumber or a Dentist. So how can we expect customers to book from Facebook when we already know that there are a lot of decisions to make when someone books an Escape Room.
Who all would want to play this game with me?
Which of these themes would my group choose?
Will we split the bills?
When's everyone available?
Is the game avaialble at 7pm on Sat?
Can my 8 year old nephew enjoy this? or is he even allowed to play?
They are already in hunt mode. Cash in hand. They are looking to give it to the next suitable business.
But, with Facebook and IG. Things are different.
People usually hang out with friends, or maybe spy on their crushes or show off what’s happening in their life (or something in between).
When your ads show up, you are most likely interrupting them.
And if your creatives and copy are not captivating enough, you’ve lost any chance of getting their attention.
The chances of getting a direct conversion from the ad itself are slim to none.
So how did we go about creating a strategy for Facebook?
We had a similar approach to our Google Display Network, with a few additions to the mix.
Use FB and IG to funnel new prospects into our sphere of influence with Prospecting.
Be top of mind amongst our existing audience with retargeting ads
Run seasonal & holiday campaigns to position the brand as "Always showing up" throughout the year.
Pro tip: Whenever we are working on Google and Facebook Ads, we always refer to this 1001 Escape Room Google & Facebook Ads swipe file. It’s super helpful.
Search Engine Optimisation
Whenever we make SEO Decisions, we are always thinking about what matters most to Google. Google only cares about websites that provide a good user experience.
Keeping that in mind, this is the baseline approach that we used.
On-site SEO Audit
Link Building & Citations
Step #1 – Keyword Research
Expanding our keyword list with seed keywords from client
Money keywords (escape room Chicago, Chicago escape games etc.)
Generic keywords (related to different forms of money kws, best escape rooms Chicago, family escape rooms in Chicago etc)
Questions (are escape rooms in Chicago safe for kids? what is the age bracket for escape rooms? etc.)
Research Keywords (things to do in Chicago, what to do this weekend in Chicago?. games to play with family etc.)
Pro tip: Don’t focus on the 3% keywords everyone’s targeting. Go for 97% of keywords that your market is not chasing.
These are high intent evergreen keywords, free from the up and down fluctuations of the escape room market.
If you need ideas or inspiration for coming up with your editorial calendar, take a look at our 501 Escape Room Blog topic ideas.
friends escape room, zodiac escape room, romantic escape room, teenage escape room, escape room for teens, private escape room near me, escape room for 14-year-olds, escape room kids party, kids escape room, couples escape room, family-friendly escape rooms, and many more terms…
And even super competitive terms like “escape rooms”.
See how their organic keyword profile has grown from 1400 keywords in 2019 to 5000+ keywords in 2022.
Step #2 – Competitor Analysis
Once you have a list of 3-5 Top competitors, it’s time to deep dive into their websites and looks at their design and structure.
Page layout and content length
Common elements and words
CTA and Banner Placements
Types of products offered
Activity on the blog
Here’s an example of a competitor website review, this is not the full review but enough to give you an idea.
Well, Google has been using machine learning for ages now. At its core, Google wants to show only the best results for every query that a user enters to provide the best experience, and users keep coming back to it. The more time users will spend on Google, the more they will earn from ad revenue.
With the help of AI, Google can quickly note all the positive user experience signals on a website. By looking at the top-ranking websites, we can understand machine learning experts.
Step #3 – On-site Technical Audit
We start with a comprehensive website audit that typically spans between 30 – 50 pages.
Escape Room Website Audit
Some of the things in this audit are:
Site Structure Audit
Page Speed Audit
Duplicate / Thin Content
Some changes were limited due to the website’s features, but we managed to implement the ones that we could on our own.
We sent off the rest to the franchise’s dev team, who took care of it from their end.
Step #4 – Site Architecture
Creating a healthy website architecture is like putting oil in a machine. Just like the lack of oil makes the engine less efficient, the lack of a proper website structure makes it less efficient.
Here are a few advantages of creating a good site architecture:
It helps search engines quickly crawl, understand and index the website.
It helps users find what they need
It gives more weight to important content
It helps distribute link equity to other pages of the website as well.
Example of a good website architecture
Step #5 – Content Strategy
I’ve studied 1000’s escape room websites, and it’s a shame that only a handful have a content strategy.
97% of the independently owned mom-and-pop escape room businesses don’t even have a blog section.
Blogging is a highly underused marketing instrument. There are many reasons why people tend to avoid blogging, and some common misconceptions and problems are:
I don't know what to write / how to write
My audience doesn't read blogs
ER blogs are only for enthusiasts
Blogging is a waste of time
Blogging creates more entry points to your business and removes the pressure from your homepage as the only way to get customers.
Actively blogging demonstrates to Google that you are a serious business and care about your visitors.
Blogging grows your topical relevance by allowing you to create content clusters around other topics like "things of interest in your city", "things to do", "birthday ideas", "team-building", etc...
Strong topical clusters tell Google that your business is an expert on these topics, pushing your core landing pages to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages.
Sometimes the purpose of the blog could be just to make your visitors laugh or spend more time on your website, which leads to better brand recall and retention.
It allows you to create point-of-interaction for all stages of your customer’s sales cycle.
Blogging even allows you to create a meaningful conversation with your best fans.
And that’s not all. Blogging is also why we were able to overtake many prominent companies in Chicago and rank for the most competitive terms like “Escape rooms”…
Rank#1 for “escape rooms”
Sometimes, we just wrote a blog because we thought it would make our readers laugh. For example, we wrote an article on this weird Illinois phenomenon that only happens every 17 years.
The blog section alone is responsible for at least 30-35% of traffic.
Step #6 – Acquiring Links & Mentions
But the results from your link building are powered-up and accelerated if you have done all the above steps.
Having a quality website architecture, solid internal linking and good content in place will allow you to get 10x benefits from your link building campaigns.
We created an acquisition strategy based on how the other competitors were acquiring their links.
How many links are you going to build?
This is the most common question that ER owners ask us during discovery calls.
And they are wrong in their approach.
There are no magical links that you can build to get better positions in the search engines. It varies from market to market.
Proper link acquisition speed should always be based on the averages of what the Top 3 competitors in your location are doing.
As the campaign kept maturing, we tweaked our acquisition and content game to fit the feedback loop we were getting from our reports.
Pro tip: We’ve detailed our complete SEO Strategy in a manner that even a newbie can understand in our Definitive Guide To SEO for Escape Rooms.