Escape Room Marketing and SEO in general can look quite exhausting! We’ve created this article to help you better understand what’s involved in an SEO / marketing strategy for escape rooms.
Being locked away in a room for an hour without your phone, Google or social media can be a terrifying thought. That’s one of the reasons why Millennials & Gen X love escape rooms. Time together, using their brains (unassisted by Google) and having a blast IRL (in real life)!
The Escape Room industry has had a meteoric rise in the last 5 years. It has gone from 0 escape rooms to over 5000 rooms in 90+ countries now and growing quickly!
As with many industries, in the early days when there were virtually no competitors, it was easy to make a quick profit. It’s not the early days anymore. Escape rooms are getting much more sophisticated, more expensive and more popular than ever before.
With the escape room industry hitting the peak of it’s popularity, there’s no better time to be in the escape room business!
Google Trends shows proof of the massive trends in “escape rooms” searches
So, now that you know the growing popularity of escape rooms, you’ve found a partner, got some cash together and created a mind-blowing escape room. Awesome! It’s time to open the doors. Anyone there though? You may be thinking “if you build it, they will come” but this isn’t exactly “The Field of Dreams“.
Escape Room Marketing via Website Design
The moment you land on any website, possibly without knowing it, you already have some impressions about that company and whether you’re going to leave or stay on the site. First impressions count as do the precious milliseconds you have to capture the attention of your websites’ visitor.
Whether there’s just 1 other escape room in town or 40, you need to convince the public why they should choose your room over the competition. Sure, your escape room design should be appealing but before anyone steps foot into your room, you need to impress them.
To do this, you need to design a killer website!
You’ve sunk a good chunk of change into the design of your escape room, don’t cheap out an unappealing website design. Design your site to match the quality of your escape room.
Escape room marketing is challenging in that you can’t divulge much about your room without giving away secrets!
Unless people have tried your escape room in person, all they know about you is what you tell them on your website and the reviews they read about you online. You need to pique their interest, not cause them to click away (to a competitor) due to an unprofessional website with poor navigation.
From their “Escape From Alcatraz” to the “Bombing of Prague”, their escape rooms are quite unique and their website is perfectly designed and written to match! I don’t know about you, but just those couple sentences alone has captured my attention & sparked my imagination.
They do a great job of explaining and showing their unique value proposition (UVP). To learn more about UVP, check out this article from Xola.
Look out for our next blog post with in depth techniques to designing an awesome Escape Room website. For now though, follow these short points:
Go for a modern style & web design trend. Think: Cinemagraphs & yes, parallax is still “in”.
Spend time crafting your story. Create a page to tell people what your story & UVP is. What makes you stand out from the rest?
Create a Blog. Aim for articles 750 – 2000 words in length. Talk about escape rooms (of course), tips on solving some puzzles, news about future rooms, case studies, your city, etc.
Your escape rooms page. Have fun with it, get creative as you did with the real escape room. Above all, challenge and entice the reader!
Include your social profile icons and social sharing icons. You want it to be easy for your visitors to share an escape room of yours with all their followers & friends.
ProTip: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and fast! <3 seconds load time on all devices.
Google Analytics & Google Search Console
Imagine an owner of a store and how happy he would be to have invisible robots at the entrance of the store who followed the customers around, from the moment they entered to the moment they left. The owner can tell how that customer arrived at the store, every item they looked at, everything they saw, whether they took time to get a good feel for the products or if they walked in, didn’t like what they saw and immediately left. Those invisible robots can tell if the customer walked in, picked up a product and ran full speed away from the store and it’s products.
While the goal of most businesses is to land the #1 ranking position on Google (organic search results), we aim a little “higher” with escape room marketing goals.
Here’s how the Google Search Results Pages (SERPs) are structured
The top couple spots are reserved for AdWords (paid advertising)
Next up is the coveted “Snack Pack”. This consists of 3 local business listings. <— This is what your goal should be.
Lastly, you will find the 10 “organic” listings.
With a proper Local SEO strategy, a major success would be landing in the Snack Pack and in the top 3 organic spots.
Results & Stats: If you end up in the first couple of placements for the snack pack and the organic results, expect to see 35% of all search traffic landing on your website! That’s huge revenue & ROI!
To break it down, for a search such as “escape room denver” which has 12,000+ monthly searches, you should receive:
4200 website visitors per month.
420 “conversions” (bookings)
$10,500 profit (based on $25 bookings)
HOW Do You Get to Where You Need to Be?
Before we start with any escape room marketing techniques, we need to do keyword research.
Do you know what your target customers are searching for online? Are the majority searching for: city + escape rooms, escape rooms + city, escape room in city, best escape room in city, etc…? You need to find out and decide on what your target keywords will be.
A great resource to learn more about keyword research is here.
Reviews are golden. They can make or break a business.
With regards to the value of online reviews, the two major platforms you need to be on are:
Google My Business
Google My Business
Remember the “Snack Pack” we spoke of? You need to have a Google My Business page before hoping of landing in there.
Here are some expert tips on how to optimize your Google My Business listing.
In short though, you should do the following:
Select the proper category (what categories have competitors used?)
Take 3 – 5 attractive photos and upload those to your GMB page
Provide accurate contact information. (Business name, phone, email, website URL, address)
Provide business hours.
Link your GMB page to your website.
Claim & verify your address. Visit this Google answer page to find out how to add & claim your page.
Respond to all Google reviews left on your page. (Even the negative ones, in a friendly manner)
Escape rooms are a perfect activity for locals and tourists alike! To get in front of the visitors to your city, you need a solid presence on the major influencer, TripAdvisor.
I’m willing to bet you’ve been on TripAdvisor before just to check out the reviews. The businesses which excel on TripAdvisor are those with the best and most reviews.
There are several ways in which you can encourage people to leave online reviews. A couple of which are:
Pass out thank you cards with QR code links to your Google & TripAdvisor review pages. ProTip: pass them out to happy & excited customers!
Create a custom URL which takes people directly to the “leave a review” form. Send an email to your customers after their adventure with that custom URL.
Watch how you word this since it’s forbidden on some platforms (Google) to provide “incentive”.
Instead, create a post such as “This month we will be selecting 1 winner from our online reviews”. I’m sure you can come up with something better worded than that but you get the picture. 😉 You can then “remind” them in the post how to find your review networks (Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook). If they wrote a review on Google & Facebook, they have twice the chance of winning.
During the post-game debrief, if anyone didn’t have an awesome time, ask what would have changed that for them. Better resolving an issue in person rather than hearing about it via an online review!
Having plenty of glowing reviews is not only great at providing social proof of how awesome your escape room is, but it also helps your Google My Business listing rank higher up, hopefully in the Snack Pack.
3) Citation Building
You should submit your business information to local, national and escape room specific business directories. Examples of these are:
Full our full escape room directory list here, along with owner interviews.
Ensure you have consistent business information listed on all directory websites, social media, GMB page, etc to better your chances of improving your ranking.
Consistent = Suite 1, 123 Main St across the board. Not “1, 123 Main St” or “123 Main St, Suite 1” or “Suite 1, 123 Main Street”.
Write an attractive introduction about your escape room business, while keeping in mind to utilize your target keywords, paragraphs, bullet points and links to your site.
4) On-Page SEO
Below, we’ve outlined the 5 main points of optimizing your escape room website with Local SEO and improved rankings in mind.
Did you know that the title & description of your webpage is one of the most important elements of On-Page SEO to help rank in the snack pack?
Just as you would guess, a title tag tells Google and other searchers what that page is about. The description tag allows you to elaborate further and entice searchers to click through to your site.
Ensure you have the following in place:
Keyword (ie. city + escape room) in your meta title & description
Keyword (ie. city + escape room) in your <h1> tag (first heading of the page)
Keyword (ie. city + escape room) in your image ALT text (text describing to google search bots & visually impaired people what the image is)
Ever notice how many of your escape room customers are creative? You’ve been creative in designing your escape room and puzzles, now it’s time to get creative with content.
On your escape room pages, tell stories and capture your visitor’s imagination and interest. Tell stories through words, images and even video.
On your Blog, aim to blog regularly about the escape room industry, your community, your fans, puzzles and more. Spice it up with quotes, testimonials, images and videos to ensure it’s “shareable” content.
Who’s your target demographic?
Couples? Write blog posts about unique date ideas (ie. escape rooms), share photos of couples shrieking and holding each other in a live escape room, etc.
Tourists? Give them your top 10 list of local attractions. (of course your escape room being one of them)
Children & Families? Talk about fun family-friendly activities in the area, events and yes… your escape room.
Think about who you want to visit your escape room. Marketing tailored towards them will save you time and money in the long run.
The longer people stay on your site, the more authoritative you look in Google’s eyes, giving them an excellent idea of sending more traffic your way.
Consistency is key. You need to ensure that you have your full NAP (Name, Address, Phone) listed on the footer of your website & on the contact page. You are using your NAP as it’s listed on your verified Google My Business page, right?
For extra credit, use Schema.org markup on your NAP to give Google everything it needs to display your escape room business correctly. This will also give an extra boost in the chances of increased rankings.
The above screenshot shows how a local London business has placed their NAP in the footer of their website, with schema markup.
Here’s their code which can be adapted to your site:
In addition to schema markup for local businesses, also look at implementing a “reviews” schema markup. A great article to help get the stars shown next to your escape room page is here.
Visit Kissmetrics for a more thorough guide on schema markup.
Embedded Google Map
While talking about ensuring consistent NAP on your website and contact page, you should also embed a Google map on your page.
Simply search your business name while in Google Maps. Once you have found it click on three lines beside your business name in the search bar on the top left. Then you can click on “Share or Embed Map”.
Once that is selected, click the embed map option at the top of the pop up box. Then copy the iframe code and paste it into your contact page. Easy!
Escape Room Marketing With Social Media
With all the awesome content you have on your site, you should now have people sharing it via social media with their friends and followers. Step in there and get in on the action!
Escape rooms are creative and visual oriented. Most escape room junkies are the millennials.
Snapchat is on 33% of their smartphones. Instagram is on 41% and Facebook is on 75%.
If you’re seeing college aged players, it’s time to amp up your Snapchat marketing! 70% of college students post daily on Snapchat vs only 11% on Facebook.
For this, our top social networks for escape rooms are:
With the right hashtags, you can get my new eyes on your escape room with each post you create.
First step is to fully fill out and optimize your Instagram bio. A couple escape rooms who are killing it on Instagram are:
These guys are heavily focused on creating amazing videos and images. Check out their website to see what I mean (or their Instagram page).
The Basement escape room knows their demographic very well. You can see this in their posts such as:
Brain torture puzzles
Behind the scenes (how’d they get that sound effect?!)
Funny & related memes
Testimonials & promoting their TripAdvisor page
Couples & even proposals captures on camera
Videos of those who escaped
I could go into all kinds of Instagram strategies but hey, just do what they do, alright?
Alright, you’ve heard about Snapchat but unless you’re between the ages of 18 – 34, you probably haven’t signed up.
Well, that’s the main demographic for Escape Room adventurers, so it’s time to create a Snapchat account. Did you know that 20,000 photos (snaps) are shared every second?!
If you’re not familiar with the app, here’s what you need to know: a person or brand on Snapchat can send photos and videos—called Snaps—to their friends and followers. These Snaps can then be viewed for up to 10 seconds before they vanish. Colorful filters, face-swapping effects, messaging, and other playful functions have made this app wildly successful with people of all ages.
There are 3 main ways in which businesses can advertise on Snapchat:
We recommend ignoring all that and focus on: On-Demand Geofilters.
These are proven to be highly effective at bringing in new customers. They are essentially small art / graphics that show up over a Snap. Example on the right –>
Snapchatters just need to snap a pic / video in the location you have your geofilter set, they swipe & select your geofilter.
This is a great way to promote corporate escape room events, birthdays, etc.
The On-Demand Geofilters cost starts at $5 per 20,000 square feet. Visit this article for more info. This makes for a cheap & effective escape room marketing strategy!
Twitter is also heavily focused on hashtags, almost as much as Instagram. It’s quick and easy to write a Tweet, share one or retweet one.
Soon you will have people publicly promote your escape room to the world in Tweets such as:
Create and publish an attractive cover image for your escape room
Create and publish an attractive profile image / logo
Write a bio / intro for your escape room (view the examples below). Include 1 or 2 hashtags & your target keyword(s).
Here’s our top picks for escape rooms succeeding on Twitter. Remember, it’s not the amount of followers but the quality of them that counts. The following accounts have awesome engagement rates: fans which mention them, retweet them and converse with them on the platform.
In my observations, many Millennials are leaving Facebook for Instagram & Snapchat. They keep their Facebook accounts but are the most active on the other two networks.
75% of your target audience will have a Facebook account but they don’t actively search on there. This is why you need to make it obvious to your customers that you have a Facebook account.
Promote your Facebook account on your other social networks
Promote in your email signature
Promote on physical brochures and business cards
Promote on your website and citation listings
Facebook is one of the only social networks which many corporations allow the use of on company time.
Don’t fill up your Facebook posts with hashtags. In fact, don’t use any at all here. It just looks spammy on this social network.
Instead, create posts similar to your Tweets and focus on Facebook Ads for your escape room. Marketing via Facebook Ads has seen huge ROIs!
Facebook lets you target customers based on age, gender, location and more. Start by focusing your Facebook Ad campaign by location. Narrow this down further by age or gender.
Want to get a high school grad team into your escape room? Target by: location & age.
Or think it would be a fun bachelor party? Target by: location & gender.
Before you start with Facebook Ads, consider creating a Facebook Pixel. It essentially tells you who has clicked on your ad but never purchased and who did purchase.
Facebook “Lookalike” Audience
Facebook can analyze your customer’s Facebook accounts and generates a list of other people with similar interests and demographics. Visit Facebook’s page on how to create a lookalike audience.
Now you can go ahead and create your Ad campaign, using your lookalike audience.
1) Gather the Facebook names of your players.
2) From the group photos, tag the players in the photos and nudge them to post a comment. Do this with a message on the group photo posts such as “Who do you feel lead the group to a win?” or “Which player surprised you the most?”.
3) Include the URL to your website in the group photo as well as your logo.
Only thing missing: discreet URL & logo.
Many escape rooms are now going the route of Google AdWords. If you’re anxious to start seeing some new clients and have $30 – $50 per day to spend, AdWords is the escape room marketing strategy for you.
I won’t reinvent the wheel here since there’s already other amazing guides on setting up AdWords. Specially, check out Neil Patel and SEJ.
Save money by implementing location filters. These allow you to only show ads within a certain location or you can show them based on a place of interest. (ie. “best escape room in toronto” or “exciting things to do in toronto”)
ProTip: Setup “Remarketing” for Facebook Ads and Google AdWords. Visit another great Neil Patel article for the remarketing guide.
By now you have the following in place:
Awesome escape room website
Amazing escape room content & blog posts
Engaging social media profiles
Verified Google My Business page with reviews
TripAdvisor page with reviews
Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone) across all business directories & websites
Paid advertising bringing in profits
There are several more strategies we can implement but to close off this post, the last step we recommend is Link Building.
Inbound links = other websites linking to you Outbound links = links you place in your website text and blog articles
The best way to acquire high-quality backlinks is to write high-quality content which people will ultimately read, share and link back to.
If you’re a new escape room, people may need some help in finding those articles though.
A few ideas to get started with are:
Reach out to local escape room bloggers & offer a free escape room adventure in return for a review (and link) on their blog
Start interacting on local forums & escape room forums such as: https://www.reddit.com/r/escaperooms/
You can even do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit such as what Nate at Puzzle Break did.
Join or start a local Meetup group for escape room junkies.
Let other lifestyle bloggers & influencers on social media know about you, your blog and your escape room.
To view some excellent guides and ideas on how to obtain quality backlinks, check these articles out:
Daniel has an interesting background to say the least. He has lived abroad in several countries, traveled through over 50 countries on 6 continents & still has that pesky travel bug. He has worked in haunted castles in Scotland, taught English while he practiced martial arts in Taiwan, acted through Mexico etc. He has found a home with SEO though and is very passionate in helping businesses thrive online. It doesn't hurt that he can use his online marketing skills anywhere there's an internet connection ;-)