Top 5 Tattoo Shop Marketing Strategies for 2018

What’s Happening In Tattoo Shop Marketing Right Nowtattoo-marketing-face-700-1100

I am not a huge tattoo guy, but I pick the brains of tattoo artists.  I want to know what their tattoo shop marketing strategies are.  I want to know what they do to drive customers.  How do they keep the lights on?

I hear a lot about Facebook.  Instagram and word of mouth.

Frankly, that is a little scary.  I like to hear sustainable and measurable strategies.  Whether I am diving into a photography business, mining yoga business attraction tactics or analyzing tattoo shop marketing.  The one common thread is you need customers and to get customers you need to know what they are doing.

Forgive Them, They Know Not What They Do

First things first.  Quit asking people how they heard about you? How they found you? Etc.  Actually, keep asking but realize they are are probably giving you bad information.  Mostly, because they don’t know and people hate to say they don’t know.  I didn’t ANYTHING about tattoo shop marketing until I did the research.  I thought I knew some stuff, I was mistaken.

People forget stuff, it is natural

There is a whole lot of research about short-term memory and that it is supposed to let stuff go.  If you want to have a great memory you have to train it, like Joshua Foer did and documented in his book, Moonwalking with Einstein.  Most people are not Joshua Foer, so most people have no idea how they found you, what they were thinking when they did or where they were when they did it.

With one exception that I will talk about later.

First Things First: The Searches

I start with the searches.  The searches customers do.  Searches are not linear, I call this Wikipedia Syndrome.  Basically, they search, they see something shiny, they click that then next thing you know it is 20 minutes later. People hop around when they search and by the time they get to you the path is hard to see.

That is why I use the tools I do to figure it all out.  Basically, tattoo shops are benefitting from everyone being terrible at marketing tattoo shops.  The searches that people are doing, none of the top tattoo shops are optimizing the online presence to capture.  The tattoo shop marketing strategies basically build a webpage with some photos and links to Facebook.

The Top Two Trends

Which results in two big trends.  All the organic traffic to a tattoo shop comes from direct search or by default Google.  And you get weird referrals. Wait, that’s great. Right?!?  No.

Not to go through the stages of awareness here but let’s take a minute.  People can only do a direct search if they already know who you are.  If they don’t then you have to pray that Google shows you to them.  Photos of your shop and links to Facebook don’t cut it with Google… Generally.  Again this market seems to be benefiting from everyone doing poorly.

The referrals

And the weird referrals.  Sites like “” or “” end up sending traffic to your site.  But that traffic is fleeting and failing.  Of the top 2 tattoo shops, I looked at both had failing referrals.  One was over 50% down from the previous month.  It is one thing to have paid search as part of your tattoo marketing strategy, that you can scale up and down.  In that case, you can drive referrals to your shop as you see fit.  But random referrals mean eventually those sources are going to go away.

One interesting thing I saw, none of the top shops had traffic coming from Facebook.  Yet, I keep hearing how Facebook is integral to tattoo shop marketing.  Assuming this is true, this means (1) tattoo shops have overextended themselves on Facebook and are going to experience an extremely painful correction once Facebook changes its terms of service and (2) the key metrics to driving traffic to tattoo shops say that Facebook is irrelevant.

But that cannot be true, right?  Yes and no.  If you build a content-based super site and post to Facebook then Facebook exposure can work for you.  Right now, that is not happening.  Right now, tattoo shop marketers, are posting photos and offers on Facebook to drive traffic spikes to their business.  To them, these spikes represent actual business because people pay. And because they come from Facebook, that platform is given outsized and undeserved credit for “driving business”.  The problem is those customers are price sensitive and disloyal.  And if you don’t have a capture and follow-up mechanism you will never increase your profits and revenues with this method.  In fact, the opposite will occur because people will tend to wait for your “sales” driving margins down vice driving profits up.

Changes Coming to Tattoo Shop Marketing

Google provides 70% of searches to the world and all that.  For the purposes of your tattoo shop marketing, you need to remember this.  Google goes to extraordinary lengths to give people relevant information. Google uses so much energy just to serve search results they publish they own environmental impact report, just about their datacenters!

As mobile searches rose, Google adapted.  Famously, splitting their search results into separate databases, mobile, and desktop.

For tattoo shop marketing strategies, this means you have to account for different types of searches.  Also, you have to account for different “reasons” for searching.  For instance, someone on the desktop may be doing a little research before they head out to get a tattoo, someone on mobile is more likely to be further along that path of getting a tattoo.  You need to make it easy for Google to refer people to you.

Google’s algorithm doesn’t care about you and your fancy tattoo marketing strategies, it cares about giving the best information.  So the person that does that best wins.

Organic versus Paid search

I looked and found no one using paid search to drive business to their tattoo shop.  It seems that paid search is not a part of tattoo shop marketing.  Paid search results are the results you used to see on the right side of the Google results, now they are on the top.  It is a fast and easy way to drive traffic, if.

You know what you are doing.  Going in with no plan is a fast way to lose hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, very, very, quickly.

Tattoo Shop Marketing Strategies

Here are the big things you need to do to drive traffic and sales in 2018 to your tattoo shop.  These tattoo shop marketing tactics are time-tested and proven.  Nothing here is fly by night and some of the stuff here takes some effort to get done.  But I guarantee, you take this stuff to heart, build it into your tattoo shop marketing plan and execute, people will be wondering how you did it.

1. The Tattoo Shop Marketing Experience

The quickest way I have ever seen, heard and found to drive traffic is to give an experience.  Back in the 30-40’s before pet shops were puppy mills, an owner would give you a puppy to take home for the weekend.  Free. If you didn’t like it, he would take it back on Monday.

How many puppies do you think, pet shop owners took back.  Not many.  It earned the name the puppy dog close.  You give the customer the experience and buy.  Simple as that.  It is used in some form in every industry.  You as the smart tattoo shop owner are going to have to figure out how to give that experience.  Do you do it through testimonials… very good idea.  Through videos explaining the process and showing how a tattoo is done.  another good idea. How about equating the pain to something the customer is familiar with and offering “prize” for being a good sport… Dentists do this ALL THE TIME.

In the very near future, if you want to have a business you are going to have to lure people in with an experience.  Your tattoo shop marketing plan needs an experience component.

2. Near Me In Tattoo Shop Marketing

I was going to save this one for last, then I was going to put it first, in the end, it is here.  Near me, searches are gigantic traffic hogs.  One because people want stuff near them, two because Google autocompletes to “near me”.   You need to have something in your tattoo shop marketing plan to account for this.

Yet, still, alas.

Tattoo shops have not done anything to make it easier for Google, which is pushing 80% of the search traffic to the tattoo shop. Getting to the top of near me searches is not hard to do and the parlor that does it first is going to have a huge advantage.  Right now Google is doing the work, mining the information.. Once people smarten up and spoon feed the beast, that person is going to catapult to the top.  It is just a matter of time.

3. Driving Traffic The Old Fashioned Way

762,923 searches for just five search terms.  Excuse, 762,923 searches per MONTH for just five terms and none of the sites I reviewed were optimized for ANY of them.  You get 45% of traffic when you reach the top organic search result.  Do you think your business could benefit from 343,315 website views per month?  It is a question worth asking.  Because the term that got 246,273 of the hits of the over 700,000 per month is still listed as easy to get to the top spot.

I could not make this stuff up.

Build a site that appeals to what people are searching.  Simple as that.  Let’s stop taking photos of our designs and fantastic work and just give the people what they want.

Leonardo DaVinci was so curious he was famously known for not taking yes for an answer

4. Using Smart Tattoo Shop Marketing To Cash In On Trends

Again, I am not a tattoo guy.  I am a curious person that asks questions, reads, and searches.

Body leasing… This trend of getting a temporary tattoo to promote something for money… Is a thing, people are asking about it and apparently people are giving these tattoos.  You should see these trends and position yourself as a provider. Google Trends is an awesome tool for this.

5. Forecasting and Following Demand

Also,  And Anything people are irrational about you can expect they will tattoo. The Deathly Hallows, Lord of the Rings stuff.  Transformers logos.  Go online, search, 2018 movie releases, then build your tattoo shop marketing plan around some of these movies.  Hollywood is paying hundreds of millions of dollars for brand awareness the least you could do is cash in.

Make These Changes In Your Tattoo Shop Marketing Today

  1. Set your site to maximize your presence local search results
  2. Give the people what they want
  3. Build an experience

These are the top 3 you need to do right now.  Building your value ladder and all that can come later.  Right now you need to do these three.  There is a flood of traffic just waiting for you and the old sources are drying up.

Someone with pockets is probably going to try and buy exposure.  In this market, most likely they will use print ads in alt-newspapers.  That is both good and bad for you.  If you don’t leverage yourself into the top position you will be blown away by those deep pockets.  On the other hand, if you have a well positioned informative and Google-friendly site. Your foundation will be strong and you will be able to anticipate and outmaneuver those deep pockets.

Does Your Tattoo Marketing Need Help

Get in touch with me and we can figure out what you want and how to get there.  The good thing about this market is you can develop a strong local following and keep building profits that way.  Kind of like Disney only smaller scale.  Get them when they are young and hooked and keep providing for the next generation. Ok, not a perfect analogy but there is some truth there.

Here is the link to schedule a consult.  Let’s get started.

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