» How to Write More Effective Emails

How to Write More Effective EmailsDespite the fact that we all receive dozens (or sometimes hundreds) of emails a day, a recent poll by MarketingSherpa suggests that 72% of U.S. adults prefer communication with companies to happen through email. The high volume of email in today’s inbox doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send emails, it means you should be smarter about the emails you send!

We share some suggestions to help you write more effective emails, below.

Make sure all your emails provide value

This tip is first in the list because it’s the most important! Email is a valuable marketing channel, but only if your audience remains active. If your emails are consistently promotional or provide no value, you run the risk of a higher unsubscribe rate. Once a user unsubscribes, you’ve lost that connection. Don’t waste your audience’s time with emails that don’t cater to their needs or offer something useful. Whether you dial back on the number of emails you send or create your own customer segments to provide a more targeted message, look at every email you send as an opportunity to build value with each individual on your email subscriber list.

Use the KISS method

Keep it short and simple. Don’t get too complicated with your message – the most effective emails are clear, concise and compelling. Some businesses can make their point in a paragraph, while others need more room to properly explain the offer. Unfortunately, there’s no magic word count to know, but you can test a few different lengths to see what works best for your audience. Remember that the point of your email is to get the user to take a next action, whether that action is to click through to a landing page, answer a question or provide a certain reply. If you add too much information, the point will get lost. And don’t forget that most emails are opened on mobile devices, so shorter is better on small screens!

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» Wedding PR: Embracing Brand Journalism

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and NACE Education Chair for 2014-15. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

If you’re a millennial, or anywhere in the vicinity of being a millennial, then you’ve spent the majority of life being sold to. And because of this, companies are having a more difficult time reaching their audience through traditional PR methods.

While press releases, media pitches and ads in general still have their place, companies are eager to find additional methods for getting their message out and engaging with prospective clients.

Wedding PR: Embracing Brand JournalismEnter brand journalism, a discipline that marries storytelling with promotion.

The fact is, stories connect us in an authentic way to our readers. The transparency involved invokes trust. And trust builds loyalty.

Brand journalism is relatively new to the public relations world and is now making its way into the wedding industry. It’s a perfect fit if you think about it – nearly every weekend you have a new story to share about a happy couple in love.

So how does it work exactly?

First, you need to dig into the story of your brand as well as develop the message you want to get across to your defined audience. You’ll also need to ask yourself what type of content will resonate with your target market. Just like qualifying company news to determine if it’s newsworthy, you need to put yourself in the role of the journalist and ask yourself if your prospective readers will actually look forward to reading what you have to say.

For some, that may mean in-depth profiles of each event, or perhaps behind-the-scenes peeks into planning.  If you pride yourself on your relationships with your clients, then perhaps they’re willing to share their story about how they came to work with you, and how you made a difference in their day. If you’re focused on building a personal brand, then be ready to share actual glimpses into your life – from the design of your office to the shoes you put on your feet in the morning.

Very simply put – if you’re having a conversation with your audience, what would that look like?

From there, it’s time to develop actual content. If you’re a strong writer, then it’s time to get to work. If it’s not your particular strength, then consider bringing in a writer to help craft your message. Regardless of what you do, make sure you do so from a place of authenticity. The moment you lose sight of this is the moment you lose your reader.

For many companies, their channel is their own web site and if you already have a blog in place, it can certainly be your platform to start. Like any good promotional strategy, you’ll need to continue to monitor it and evolve with the changing needs of your audience.

Ira Glass once said, “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” So the question remains – what story are you ready to tell about your brand?

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» Top Wedding Planning Tools for Your Clients

Top Wedding Planning Tools for Your ClientsAs the wedding professionals in the WeddingWire community know, we’re committed to providing the top tools to help Pros build, manage and grow their businesses. What many wedding professionals may not know, however, is that WeddingWire is also a valuable resource for brides and grooms! We not only help them find their perfect professionals, we also provide tools to help them plan each important detail related to their wedding.

The more educated and organized couples are before they make an appointment with your wedding business, the better understanding they’ll have of the value of your service and all the ways you can help them plan and execute their wedding vision. Find out more about the wedding planning tools we offer for engaged couples below!

Wedding Websites

Creating a wedding website is a great way for couples to put all the pertinent information regarding the Big Day in one place for all their friends and family to see. Your wedding clients can personalize their WeddingWire wedding website easily with our sleek new website editor that even allows couples to use their own photo as a custom backdrop for the design. Couples can create their own custom web address and interact with guests before, during and after the wedding with a social guestbook. Plus, our wedding websites are mobile and tablet friendly, with a stacked design that displays perfectly no matter what device your clients prefer.

Wedding Budget

One of the most important aspects of wedding planning – not to mention one of the first tasks necessary to start booking wedding professionals – is to set the budget. The WeddingWire budget tool helps your clients track spending across all service categories by suggesting budget allocations for each part of the wedding. Couples can then add or remove line items depending on their specific needs, as well as redistribute funds based on which areas are most important to them. Your clients can also set up payment schedules by recording due dates and creating payment reminders to make sure nothing falls through the cracks! A good understanding of their budget will help couples understand the true value of the different service categories, which means they’ll be better prepared for your appointments.

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» Video Marketing: The Six Keys to Success

Video Marketing WebinarWebinar recap!

Making professional videos for your business doesn’t have to be difficult or daunting. In this month’s one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly joined Animoto’s Partner Management Director, Jeff Kahsen, to share the importance of video marketing.

Jeff and Sonny shared why video marketing matters for your business, how to create a successful video, and the six keys to video marketing success.

Learn more about these six keys below, and watch the full webinar to get all the great video tips!

  1. Make it personal: Use video as a way for the audience to get to know your brand a bit. Don’t be afraid to show your personality! This will make the video more interesting and engaging, and create a positive brand impression for potential clients.
  2. Show, don’t tell: Don’t just tell them about your work, show them through great images! Shoot live video, add your favorite photos of your work and maybe include a testimonial to showcase your work visually.
  3. Less is more: The sweet spot for a video’s length is between 45 and 60 seconds. Interest for videos can drop off quickly, so anything beyond a minute may not be viewed in its entirety. Also aim to create an engaging first 10 seconds and work to keep the full video brief to get a lot of views.
  4. Add your logo: Make sure you brand your video by adding your business logo! A great place to do this is at the start and end of the video to make a lasting brand impression.
  5. Include music: Music is a great addition to your video. Whether it is soft background music or the focus of the audio, it helps to make the viewing experience pleasant and your video seem professional.
  6. Call to action: Don’t forget a call to action! Tell your viewers to take a step once the video ends. Whether that is to contact you, view your website or Storefront ,or even share something on social media, make sure you end with action!

Excited to take on video marketing? Get started creating unlimited, professional videos in minutes for your business with the WeddingWire Video Builder tool, powered by Animoto.

Did you know that all of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for premium Pros? Get great education about the topics that matter most to you, available any time!

» The Art of Acknowledgement

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Growing up, there were several occasions that my parents required that I send thank you notes – birthday parties, graduation parties, and so on. Today, it’s still good advice; it’s just more complicated. How we give and how we receive gratitude is a tricky, but it’s an important element of personal and company interaction. It says volumes to others about the soul of you and your company.

Below I share some of my best suggestions for both thanking others and accepting thanks in return!

The Art of AcknowledgementAccepting Praise

During the course of an event, most wedding professionals will respond to verbal appreciation with something like, “No problem,” “It’s no big deal,” or “Just doing my job.” I know what you mean by those responses, but as the customer, hearing responses like that can seem dismissive, somewhat clueless, and disconnected. It makes one walk away, shaking your head as to why the appreciation didn’t register.

Don’t underestimate the power of acknowledging that appreciation! Simple responses like, “You’re welcome,” or “It’s my pleasure” can go a long way towards connecting with that customer. Accepting a compliment with a warmer response shows that you are appreciative for their business.

Unexpected Appreciation

You can also put a smile on someone’s face before you work with them to set a warm tone for the upcoming event. I suggest day-of wedding professionals send handwritten notes to the venue representative and the wedding couple. A simple note lets the couple know that you’re looking forward to working with them and will set you apart from all other wedding professionals. Whether your business is present at the wedding or reception, just know this communication, unrelated to logistics, final payment or anything else, is a ray of sunshine.

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» 3 Reasons Your Wedding Business Needs Video

	3 Reasons Your Wedding Business Needs VideoWhen we talk about the popularity of visual content, we’re often referring to images, graphics and infographics – but why not video?

A survey by our partner Animoto reveals that 73% of U.S. adults are more likely to make a purchase after watching an online video explaining a product or service. If you haven’t yet experienced the power of video marketing, now is the time to start!

Show off your personality

Video is so popular today because technology has made it so much easier (and cheaper!) to create a quick video clip. Social networks like Vine and Instagram make recording and uploading a video simple, and there are even some limited editing options. The success of these short videos has been largely seen by individuals with big personalities and stories to tell. Many brands are starting to pick up on this trend, though, and incorporating more personality into their video marketing strategy.

Whether you have the budget for a professional video or not, your brand can show off your personality through video. Make a personal connection with potential clients right away by combining the text you would use to describe your business with visual content and music. You can be in the video yourself, or you can let the footage do the talking for you. Here are some great brand personality video examples from Brad Jefferson, CEO of Animoto.

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» Expanding Worldviews, Serving Modern Couples

View More: http://carlyfullerphotography.pass.us/kathryn-amy-weddingThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com. You can follow her on Twitter @gayweddingscom. GayWeddings.com is the leading online boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999, and a partner in the WeddingWire Network. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography.

Expanding Worldviews, Serving Modern CouplesI didn’t plan on becoming a professional in the wedding industry, let alone a same-sex wedding expert. I had only wanted to marry my partner at a time when this was still uncommon; and, then, I had only wanted to help my straight mom with the business she had founded in 1999 in response to our wedding.

But I’m also an educator and a social worker with an entrepreneurial spirit at heart and, like my mom, I recognized the gap in the wedding industry. There were couples who wanted to affirm their life-long relationships and there were initially very few resources at all. Now, thankfully, there are more than ever and attitudes and service capabilities have improved, but my experiences within the wedding industry have also opened my eyes to its other glaring omissions: people of color, diverse representation of ethnicity and religion; grooms (whether straight or gay!), etc.

As a result, I’ve wanted to inspire more dialogue and introspection beyond the question of how wedding professionals are serving same-sex couples. And, because of the education needed for the emerging LGBTQ wedding market, I believe our industry and its professionals have an opportunity to re-examine everything we are doing and update the habits that no longer serve us, let alone the modern couples who need our services and support.

I have found an incredible partner in the WeddingWire team, who have engaged in these conversations in their business considerations has in the implementation of their industry leading tools and educational opportunities for wedding professionals and engaged couples. And our conversations led to the creation of a forward-thinking panel discussion at the recent WeddingWire World 2015 conference in Washington, DC.

We are pleased to present a recording of the full conversation I enjoyed with Ross Oscar Knight, international photographer and photoculturalist from Atlanta, GA; Bree Ryback, founder of Capitol Romance, LLC and editor of its popular Washington DC-based planning blog; Bethel Nathan, owner of the San Diego-based Ceremonies by Bethel; and Kyle Mihalcoe, Regional Manager of Customer Success at WeddingWire.

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» WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas

Earlier this week, Texas wedding professionals gathered at the Tower Club Dallas for WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas!

At the Mix & Mingle, Pros from the Dallas area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the afternoon (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Greater Dallas Facebook community.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack: Congrats to Alicia Kam of The Castle at Rockwall!

WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas
WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas
WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas
WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas Continue reading

» Customer Success Profile: Brendan M.

Did you know that all premium WeddingWire Pros have access to a dedicated Customer Success representative?

Our Customer Success Team is there to share ideas and tips to help you get the most out of your account. No matter if you have a specific question or you’d like recommendations on best practices, the WeddingWire Customer Success team is dedicated to helping you grow your business.

In our Customer Success Profile series, we interview a member of our Customer Success team each month. This month’s profile is on Brendan M., Associate Director of Customer Success!

	Customer Success Profile: Brendan M.Name: Brendan M.

How long have you worked for WeddingWire?

4 years and 5 months

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

Having the opportunity to work with such an amazing, smart, and hard-working team of Customer Success representatives who are dedicated to providing our community of wedding professionals with the best experience with WeddingWire possible!

What’s your favorite tip to help Pros?

Be open and willing to change. Whether it’s changing technology, the latest generation of customers you’re targeting, your website, your client management tools… always be open to change. Be willing to adapt and evolve yourself, your business, and your practices so that you can position yourself for success. As our CMO, Sonny Ganguly, has said repeatedly: Change is the only constant!

How do you keep up with technology trends?

I keep up with the latest trends by reading different blogs and websites that are tech related. My favorites are Mashable, Wired, Inc., HubSpot, and CrunchBase.

How do you keep up with trends in the wedding industry?

I have the unique opportunity to travel across the country and actually speak with our vendor community at WeddingWire events like our Networking Nights, Mix and Mingles, Workshops, and other types of speaking engagements. I always try to keep my finger on the pulse for the community that I’m visiting by finding out directly from the local professionals what is going on in their region of the country.

If you’d like to learn more about the WeddingWire Customer Success Team or find out who your Customer Success representative is, please email pros@weddingwire.com!

» 4 Reasons to Use More Images on Social Media

4 Reasons to Use More Images on Social MediaWith more and more brands creating a presence on social media, more and more content is being consumed. Forrest reports that content volume is growing at a rate of 200% annually, which means it’s becoming critical that your business stand out. One of the biggest trends in social media for 2015 and beyond is the increase in visual content – images and graphics.

In fact, we recently redesigned the look and feel of WeddingWire Storefronts to bring more attention to photos of your work, and we’ve seen that visitors who click the new Storefront photo carousel view an average of 22 photos per session. Images can have a big impact on your business, no matter which channel couples are using!

If you’re not sold on the power of images on social media, check out these statistics to convince you to start incorporating more images in your posts on some of the top social networks:

  • Facebook: In a study of the top 10% of posts by over 30,000 Facebook pages, posts with photos accounted for 87% of total interactions. Photos are more shareable and users can recall visual content longer than text. Creating photo albums of your work is a great start, but you should also include those photos in your posts whenever appropriate.
  • Twitter: Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets. Tweets are such quick, disposable posts that an image in your tweet can help it stand out from the rest of the tweets with just text and links. Think about how your business can tweet more photos, or attach more images to your links on Twitter.
  • Google+: According to Quick Sprout, Google+ images receive 9.4% more +1s than regular text posts, and animated GIFs receive 39% more +1s than regular text posts. With Google+ it’s important to still add links to your posts, but big, eye-catching graphics will definitely stand out more among the rest in your circles.
  • Pinterest: OK, so Pinterest is all images – but there’s a method to the madness! Curalate has an entire infographic on the topic of Pinterest images, but here are some of the most important points for your business:
    • Vertical images with an aspect ratio between 2:3 and 4:5 get 60% more repins than very tall images
    • Brand images without faces receive 23% more repins than images with faces
    • Images with multiple dominant colors have 3.25 times more repins than single dominant color images

Using more images on your social networks will help you build engagement with your current followers and help you acquire new followers. The more people engage with your content, the more likely your business is to show up in other users’ news feeds and streams. Start focusing on boosting engagement with more images today and your business could see more likes, retweets, repins, clicks and more!

» Optimizing Your Content for Search Intent

Optimizing Your Content for Search IntentWhen users find your website or blog via organic search, they’re typing in certain keywords or phrases that direct them to your website. Many of them may be general search terms like “wedding rentals Austin,” but some of them may be more specific search terms like “Chiavari wedding chairs Austin.” The latter suggests that the user is in a different stage in wedding planning.

Optimizing your website and blog content for search engines is a great way to boost your rankings, but it’s important to think about user intent. There are generally three reasons users search a given keyword or phrase:

  • Informational – User is looking for the answer to a question
  • Navigational – User is looking for a pre-determined website or destination
  • Transactional – User is looking to make a purchase or complete a given task

It’s certainly important to drive those informational searchers to your website to help aid their research, but it’s also important to drive those transactional searchers to your website as well. Below are a few steps to help you incorporate search intent in your content optimization!

  1. Think through user intent

Think about the visitors to your website. Why are they visiting your website? Why would they land on a certain page within your website? What questions are they looking to find answers to? Think about the multiple reasons a person would land on your website, and think back to the terms they would be most likely to enter in order to find your website. If they’re searching for information, come up with the terms you think they would enter. If they’re searching to make a purchase decision, come up with those specific terms you think they would enter. If you’re not sure, write down the main categories of your business and the terms associated with each category. You can also double-check the phrases you come up with by searching keyword volume in Google AdWords.
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» Updating Your Brand Presence for Wedding Season

Updating Your Brand Presence for Wedding SeasonAs we move into the spring season, Pros across the country are preparing for a busy wedding season full of events. While you may have already booked most of your weddings through the fall, couples are still seeing your business as they continue to search for their wedding professionals. It’s essential that your brand presence remain strong while you’re otherwise occupied!

Below we break out the individual areas that affect your brand presence online, with tips for updating each area in preparation for the wedding season.

Brand: Add professional photos

It’s important to take time several throughout the year to update your Storefront with recent photos and information. Before you reach for that cell phone camera, though, consider getting some more high-quality images! Featuring high-resolution, professional photos that showcase your business is an important way to make your Storefront and website more appealing to visitors. We recently redesigned the look and feel of your Storefront to bring more attention to photos of your work, and we’ve seen that visitors who click the new Storefront photo carousel view an average of 22 photos per session. The more visitors to your Storefront who check out your photos, the more time they’re spending on your Storefront considering your business. Make the decision easy by giving them plenty of great photos to choose from!

Public Relations: Submit a real wedding

One of the most crucial aspects of developing strong wedding PR for your business is getting published. Whether you’re a DJ, florist, venue, caterer, wedding planner or any other wedding professional, getting published will expose your business to an even wider audience. If you’re taking our advice and adding more professional photos, your Storefront will look more attractive to our Editorial Team, who spend a lot of time browsing WeddingWire Storefronts to look for Wedding Pros to interview and feature. We also created RealWeds.com to streamline the process of submitting real wedding photos to WeddingWire and our sister site, Project Wedding. Whether you submit your own photos or your business is selected by our Editorial Team, being published on WeddingWire will help your business reach even more engaged couples.

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