» Account Update: Improved Navigation, Updated Marketing Tools!

We are pleased to announce we’ve incorporated your feedback into a fresh, new design and updated tools within your WeddingWire account.

As mentioned in our announcement email last Thursday, the biggest news is that we’ve updated your Account Navigation to make sure everything is organized and easy to find!

UPDATED MARKETING TOOLS:
You can now find your online marketing tools, which include ProMotion builder, Social Media Checklist, Go Mobile, and our new SEO Links tools organized under the “Marketing” Tab.

We have also enhanced our popular ProMotion Builder, providing our paying members with the ability to create unlimited videos (with new themes and unlimited edits) to showcase their business offerings.

Additionally, we’ve launched a new SEO & Links section that provides our paying members with multiple ways to further optimize their listings for Google, Yahoo and Bing.  With these new changes, and more to come in the near future, there is no easier way to take control of your Advertising, Marketing, Client Management, and Networking needs.

OFFICE TOOLS:
We’ve created a new area to house your Inquiry Manager and Event Manager to give you quicker access to managing your inbound inquiries, appointments, and leads.

Lastly, we’ve preserved all the existing functionality from the previous version.  All features have simply been organized into one of the 6 navigation areas that you now have access to.

Our team continues to work hard to provide the leading technology and features to help you power your business.  We have lots more in the works and will be excited to share with you as we get closer to launch dates!

Login to your account to check out the new changes today!

» Facebook “Open Graph” is a Game Changer

facebook_logo2There’s been a lot of buzz recently about Facebook’s new “Open Graph” API, which gives third-party websites access to Facebook users’ data.  With the new changes, any website that integrates the Open Graph API will have instant access to Facebook users’ friend lists and preferences, like their favorite movies, foods, what groups they are a part of and more. This is a huge step for social media, and the web in general, as any website can now basically become its own mini-Facebook.

By leveraging Facebook data, third-party websites can now personalize the experience of their users based on almost any data that is posted on Facebook. Websites can now also contribute to Facebook through the use of a “Like” button- meaning a user can click a “Like” button on your website, and the data will show up on Facebook.  Since this change, sites like IMDb have seen traffic more than double after adding “Like” buttons to their site, while the Washington Post’s traffic has increased 290%.

Facebook is now more important than ever, and its influence is only going to grow as more websites incorporate its data into their sites. So what can you do about it?

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» Time to Get Serious About Bit.ly

bitly_logotypeIf you’re a small business owner with your eye on the ever-expanding reach of social media, odds are high you’ve heard of Bit.ly, the popular free URL shortening service. If you’re not familiar, Bit.ly is a web service that provides users who have a long URL (e.g. “http://www.weddingwire.com/vendor/VendorHome”) with a shorter URL that is easy to share (in this case, “http://bit.ly/JfPqh”).

Why is this valuable? With the rising tide of micro-blogging tools like Twitter, Facebook status updates, Google Buzz and more, web users are starting to put a premium on every single character they type.  Twitter, for example, only allows 140 characters per “Tweet”, which means if you had used our original “long” URL to share, it would have taken up over one quarter of the space you could use in your Tweet (44 characters out of 140). That means less space to get your message across to readers, which ultimately could translate to fewer customers for your business.

As a result of micro-blogging’s growing importance, URL shortening services like Bit.ly have become more relevant than ever. In the last year, Bit.ly has emerged as the web’s premier URL shortening service, shortening 40-50 millions URLs a day.  In addition, links shortened on their site this past March received over 3.4 billion clicks.  Short URLs, however, are just one part of Bit.ly’s appeal to users. The second, and possibly more valuable aspect of Bit.ly, is the service provides free comprehensive link tracking analytics so you can see how effective your links are.

Bit.ly gives you the ability to track:

  • How many people are clicking on your links,
  • When they are clicking,
  • Who is re-sharing your links,
  • What geographic location they come from, and more.

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» WeddingWire Celebrates 3 Years!

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Yeah, for us too! Three years ago, in May 2007, WeddingWire.com went live! To celebrate we had an official launch party in downtown Washington, DC. Invitations went out to about 600 local brides, and over 1,300 were in attendance. The evening was a great success, and we all knew it was a sign of good things to come.

Since then, we have helped over 10 million brides and grooms plan their wedding and have built the largest database of over 100,000 reviewed Wedding Pros across the country! We have all of you to thank for such great success.

“It’s amazing to think that 3 years ago, we were all working out of my living room! A big thanks to all of our wonderful clients who support our business and help drive our product vision and strategy.“ – WeddingWire CEO, Timothy Chi

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» The Value of Networking

Networking, whether used as a means to acquire new business or a way to stay-up-date with trends, is a powerful marketing tool for your business. The connections you make can lead to referrals and, eventually, increased business. Networking can be challenging, however, as it requires time from your already packed schedule to meet professionals and build connections. That’s why the WeddingWire Team has implemented some great features to overcome this challenge and help you efficiently and effectively build your professional network online. Here’s a quick overview:

Networking

  • Find: Use the new “Find Wedding Pros” tool to search for Wedding Pros you have worked with in the past or have met at networking events.
  • Connect: Efficiently connect with these Pros using our easy-to-use “Pros I Know” tool.
  • Endorse: Give and receive endorsements among Wedding Pros you have connected with as an additional way to market your business and showcase your expertise.
  • Grow: Meet and connect with local Wedding Pros, from photographers to florists, across the country in the Pro Forum to grow your network.

You can now access over 200,000 Wedding Pros in the WeddingWire Community in order to build your network, and use that network to reach more engaged couples! As the technology leader in the wedding industry, we are committed to providing you with the cutting-edge tools necessary to grow your business.

Let the networking begin!

» WeddingWire’s CMO Takes on BSPi Conference

bspi-logoWeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly, is speaking today at the annual Bridal Show Producers International (BSPi) conference in Las Vegas. Sonny will be joining the top bridal show producers from across the world to discuss the latest trends in social media and how to leverage them to increase online exposure and reach more customers.

Bridal Show Producers International was founded in 1996 as a trade association for the bridal show industry.  Membership is comprised of bridal show producers and providers of services to the bridal show industry, which represent hundreds of bridal shows annually. The annual BSPi conference brings in industry leaders, like our very own CMO, to present and educate members on the best practices of a variety of important areas in bridal show production – marketing, sales, etc. In addition, the annual conference provides members with the opportunity to meet and network with bridal show producers from around the world, as well as share ideas and inspiration for the upcoming bridal show season.

» A Fresh New Look and More Great Features

lp-headerWe are excited to introduce a new fresh new user interface for your WeddingWire account, along with great new features to help you grow your business!

Based on your feedback, the WeddingWire Team has been hard at work implementing these great enhancements. One of the most exciting enhancements is that we have simplified the navigation of your WeddingWire account, providing you with easier access to the key features that will help you grow your business.

Click here to learn more about these exciting new enhancements!

We are really excited to roll out these updates and provide you with the latest technology to grow your business!

» Think Email Marketing is Going Away?

Think again. Over 88%* of us check our email at least one time a day. And with the rise in mobile popularity, email is still an effective marketing tool that deserves some attention. Think about it – it’s low in cost, it allows you to target your audience AND it provides ongoing communication between you and your clients. So with that said, here are a few tips to think about when composing your email campaigns:

  • Good lists yield desired results: Find ways to constantly build your lists (e.g. bridal shows, website, blog) all while making sure to capture the right info (e.g. name, email address, wedding date, wedding location, etc.). We also recommend grouping your list (e.g. by wedding date, location, etc.) so you can better target your audience.
  • Think short, sweet and pretty: Put yourself in the shoes of your audience for a second – what is your initial reaction when you open an email that is full of words and no pictures? Exactly. Keep your messaging relevant and to the point, and include graphics.
  • Don’t forget the “call to action”: Provide your readers with a “call to action” in your email, whether a link to your website, WeddingWire reviews, blog or social media accounts. This will help you further promote your business and reach your clients.

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» The Next Generation of Technology

At a recent Webinar on “Building Your Business on the Web,” Sonny Ganguly, our CMO, shared a great video demonstrating the ways that ever-evolving technology can impact our daily lives.

So how does this relate to you, you might ask? Technology is an amazing thing that is constantly affecting our lives.  The internet can be perceived in the same way.  New sites are surfacing each day that can help you take your business to the next level.  The key is to be open to the change and try to adapt new ways to generate interest in your business and extend your reach to more clients.

We also received some great questions from attendees that we want to share with you:

  • Where do you see social media moving in the future and what roles will Facebook and Twitter play?Google, Facebook, Twitter We believe that micro-blogging sites such as Twitter will continue to be popular because 1) they require less effort than a traditional blog and 2) content from these sites is becoming increasingly important to the major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) as they start to index posts for real time search results.  Another trend that we see is that many blogs are starting to aggregate their social media efforts into one place. WordPress and Blogger make it easy to add plug ins that pull in your facebook fan page or your recent tweets. As an example, take a look at our blog at blog.weddingwire.com to see how we integrated our social media efforts across different tabs. This trend is also the reason that we allow vendors to add social media tabs to their WeddingWire storefronts.
  • Is it crucial to have a fan page vs. a regular profile on facebook.com? How do I set up facebook  fan page? Your personal profile at Facebook is for you to connect with a smaller circle of your friends and family, and may include info you may not want to share with prospective clients or business partners. A fan page, on the other hand, is meant for all of the people who enjoy your services. It is specifically designed for businesses of all sizes, and is a great way to market your business. We have a great article in our education center on how to set up your fan page. Remember that setting up a page is only half the battle. You have to make sure to try and build your fan base over time. Some of the best ways to promote your new fan page are on your website and blog (Facebook provides an easy icon for this) or through your emails and newsletters. We are big fans of creating a fan page for your business!

» 2009 Wedding MBA: “Pimp My Marketing” Plan

pimp-my-marketing-1

WeddingWire had a great time at the 2009 Wedding MBA Convention, the world’s biggest convention dedicated to teaching you how to make money in the wedding business, last week in Las Vegas.  WeddingWire’s CEO, Timothy Chi, and CMO, Sonny Ganguly, had the opportunity to educate attendees in a two part ‘Pimp My Marketing’ series on the latest trends to help increase online exposure and further reach to today’s engaged couples.  We have had such a great response on the material we discussed that we decided to share the information with the entire WeddingWire Community.

Again, we had a great time meeting all the attendees at this year’s convention. We hope to see everyone at the 2010 WMBA Convention, which will be in Las Vegas again!

» Best of the Web: September

Each month we will highlight some of our favorite sites on the web and show how they can help you run your business more efficiently. This month we feature Animoto, Issuu and Mint.

animoto_logo_lg_whitebkgd issuu mint_logo7

  • Animoto: Animoto is one of our favorite new sites on the internet. It is the easiest way to make professionally produced videos from your existing images, and it does it automatically. Simply upload some of your photos, add some copy, and pick a song. Animoto does the rest! Within a couple minutes the site will create a professional quality video for your business using ‘Cinematic Artificial Intelligence.’ Animoto videos have “the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.” We love the quality of the videos, they look great on your WeddingWire storefront, and you can get started for free!
  • Issuu: Do you have a presentation coming up? Looking to create a wow factor with your next client? Issuu is an online publisher that allows you to publish your presentations, documents, sales kits, brochures, magazines and more online. You can send a link to potential clients and they can flip through the contents just like reading a book. Issuu allows you to create a free account and is a great way to showcase your portfolio. Simply add a link to your work in your email footers.
  • Mint: Mint claims to be ‘the best Free way to manage your money,’ and so far we think they may be right. The site allows you to link all your accounts in one place, from checking and savings accounts, to credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and more. Mint makes it easy to track your spending and provides detailed breakdowns by various categories. Even better, the site sends a notice any time an upcoming payment is coming up or if any of your accounts are hit with unwanted fees. Mint is like having a personal money manager on your staff that doesn’t get paid!

» Introducing Vendor to Vendor Chat

meebo3 WeddingWire has teamed up with Meebo, one of the largest social media companies on the web, to provide a new real-time vendor to vendor chat feature within your WeddingWire account. Now you can ask questions, get feedback, or simply communicate with vendors you know from anywhere across the country. Whether you are updating your Storefront or perusing the Vendor Education Center, the chat feature will be visible in the lower right hand corner of your account so that you can easily connect with other vendors.

Don’t see any buddies on your list? Simply connect with other vendors through the Vendors I Know tool, located in the “My Community” section.  Once the connection is approved by the other vendors, their names will show up on your buddy list.

The new Meebo feature also allows you to gather all of your friends on a single buddy list from within your WeddingWire account, so you can communicate in real-time across different IM platforms and social networks, including AIM, Twitter, and Facebook Chat.   All you have to do is log-in to your Meebo account from within the new vendor chat bar to access your accounts.  And if you don’t have a Meebo account, you can easily register for an account and then connect with your various IM and social network accounts straight from the new vendor chat bar.

Log-in to your WeddingWire account and check it out today!