» WedInsights Recap to Boost Your Business Success in 2017

As we enter 2017, it’s important to start planning for the upcoming wedding season and beyond. Besides preparing for upcoming events, dedicate some time to assess your business and find ways to make improvements.

For many pros, a more successful year can mean focusing on a stronger online presence through social media or an improved mobile website. For others, it’s acquiring new customers or finding ways to make their marketing dollars go furtherRegardless of your specific goals, one thing is certain: you must know your customers and understand their wants and needs during the planning process to make the best adjustments to your business — and we are here to help!

Throughout the year, our Consumer Insights & Research Team conducts studies with thousands of engaged and newlywed couples nationwide to assemble the latest in industry and consumer data. Our findings are available to download for free anytime at WedInsights.com. Each volume, one-pager, report or infographic is filled with actionable insights designed to help your business grow and succeed!

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View some of the most popular WedInsights:

Check back often for new reports as we’ll continue to add new topics each month. Do you have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Email us and let us know!

» Get Up-to-Speed this Engagement Season with Fact Sheets

engagement-season-fact-sheetEngagement season is here with 40% of couples celebrating their engagement from November to February each year. Now that the fall busy season is slowing down for may pros, the holidays are a great time to decompress and prepare your business for the busy months ahead.

It’s important to stay updated on the latest industry trends and stats to understand your audience and how your business can stand out. WeddingWire fact sheets are here to help!

As part of our WedInsights content, we have a helpful library full of great one-page resources you can download to get quickly informed on the latest industry research so you can impress more couples.

Here’s a peek at some of the latest fact sheets:

  • Buying an Engagement Ring: See how couples search for the perfect ring and what attributes matter most.
  • Setting a Wedding Date: Uncover the most popular days to wed and learn how couples pick their vendor team.
  • Wedding Stress: Learn what tasks stress couples out the most during the wedding planning process.
  • Bridal Re-Brand: A look at bridal bias and heteronormative assumptions in the wedding industry.
  • Planning a Honeymoon: From destination to budget, see what decisions couples make when planning a honeymoon.

Get started accessing these guides for free!

» Taking Full Advantage of the Off-Season

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

When it comes to planning ahead, there is no better time than the off-season to get organized and map out your next steps in business development. Whether it’s streamlining your client intake procedures or doing research on an idea you’d like to capitalize on, it’s best to make the most of the time during your off-season. If you can’t make time for it now, how do you plan to handle it when your days are filled with events?

off-season-blogHere are a few ways you can take advantage of your off-season and put your business in a better position for the year to come:

Jumpstart your social media

Has your social presence been lacking? Do you need a total overhaul on your accounts? Now is the time to map out your social media plans for the upcoming season. If posting to Facebook and Instagram is too time-consuming when you’re busy with other work, look into programs like Later and Schedugram that allow you to pre-schedule your social media posts. That way, you only have to set aside an hour or two of your time each month to plan out your posts.

Streamline your emails

Email drafts are a lifesaver – in addition to making your life easier, they also set a standard procedure for others as they send emails (or future employees if you’re not quite there yet). Although you’ll certainly want to tweak each email for its recipient so it stays genuine, creating drafts of your frequent emails will save you a lot of time in the future. Consider writing up drafts for initial responses to inquiries, follow ups, welcome emails and anything else that you find yourself sending out a lot.

Rebranding and Website Redesign

Rebranding is a major process and takes a lot of time and preparation – certainly not what you want consuming your time while you’re in the middle of peak season. If you’ve been thinking about changing your name, updating your logo or even doing a complete overhaul, start preparing as the off-season begins and aim for a launch date around the beginning of the next season. Even a simpler website redesign can take some time, so don’t wait to get started!

Planning a new project

If you’ve been thinking about launching a new service or building an extension of your company, the off-season is the ideal time to do your research and begin implementing the first steps of your plan. Give yourself enough time to map it out and understand that it is a work in process – it’s not something you can finish overnight!

» 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

startup-photos-v2With all of the competition in the wedding industry, even getting website visitors in your local market can be a big win! Once they arrive on your website, however, it’s vital that you guide them to take the next step by submitting a lead to get in touch with your business. It’s easy to get swept up in your own desires and ideas when building your website, but ultimately you need to think about how your prospects will view and interact with it in order to drive more conversions.

Don’t worry; your website is a channel that can be optimized, just like any of your marketing channels! Read on for six easy ways to optimize your website for leads and inquiries.

Reduce form fields

When it comes to reducing friction for your website visitors, reducing the length or number of fields used in your form is one of the easiest ways to boost your conversion rates. The fewer fields the visitor has to fill out, the more likely they are to submit a lead. Inevitably, though, shortening your contact forms is a trade-off – shorter forms generate more leads, but longer forms generate higher quality leads. The key is to think hard about which fields you truly need and which fields you can forego until you get the chance to learn more at the next point of contact or at the appointment. At the very least, you’ll want name, email, phone number, and wedding date; the rest depends on your service category and routing needs. Just remember: Keep it simple!

Prioritize form placement

If you want your website visitors to submit a contact form to get in touch, give your form top placement on your website. While today’s web users are used to scrolling past the “fold” to learn more, placing your contact form above the “fold” guarantees that they’ll see it regardless of their next action. In fact, Education Guru Alan Berg suggests adding a contact form to each page of your website to guide visitors towards submitting an inquiry. Whichever option you choose will ultimately depend on the layout and design of your website, but whatever you do, just don’t hide your contact form by placing it too far down on your homepage or by putting too many steps between their entrance and the form.

Utilize your reviews

Your WeddingWire reviews are easy to find and evaluate on your Storefront, but if a potential client is looking at your website you want to make sure they can find them there, too. When deciding whether or not to submit a lead through your website, couples are looking for proof that your work is quality and that your past clients were happy with the results of all your efforts. If a couple is reviewing your website, you’ve already made it through several stages of consideration and offering rave reviews will help make their decision easier. Select a few of your best reviews and add them to your website to help convince prospects that your business is the best choice. Make sure you add them close to your contact form so a happy client is one of the last things they see before deciding whether to commit.

Show off your awards

Awards are one of the best ways to lend outside credibility to your business. After all, you can say how awesome your business is, but your opinion isn’t impartial until someone else also verifies it! Showcase what sets you apart from your competition by featuring your awards near your form or in the header or footer of your website. Unlike other awards in the wedding industry, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® are solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with their wedding professionals. If your business is prestigious enough to be among the top five percent of wedding professionals on WeddingWire, we’ll provide you code so you can easily feature your award on your website for all visitors to see.

Test your calls-to-action

Could the generic text on your button or contact link on your form be the factor that’s driving down conversions? Or perhaps the color of your contact button causes it to blend in with the rest of your website? Test the color and text of your call-to-action or submit button to see if your conversion rates differ. Try changing your formal ‘Contact Us’ text to ‘Get in Touch!’, or use a contrasting accent color on the form button to attract more submissions. A word of caution, though – only change one element at a time (text or color) so that you can track which change truly had an impact.

Track and analyze changes

All of these changes will be hard to measure if you don’t have enough information to see what’s working! Tracking the number of inquiries you receive each month is easy enough to analyze, but then you’ll only be looking at one piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to use Google Analytics or other website analytics platforms (sometimes offered with your web-hosting platform) to track how many visitors you receive, how long they’re staying on your website, and how many pages they visit before submitting an inquiry or leaving your website. Keeping an eye on all of these things will help you understand the behavior of your website visitors and make changes that will improve your conversion rates and time on site.

Every website is different, and it may take some time to find the right combination to work for you. Remember to give it time – you likely won’t see changes in leads overnight, but that doesn’t mean your updates aren’t working! You can always ask for feedback from your friends and industry peers, or ask a client to explain what they did or didn’t like during their research. Happy optimizing!

» Download Our Updated App to Use Messages On the Go

clients app downloadWe’ve added our Messages feature to the refreshed Client Manager app – and it’s now available for download!

With the updated app, it’s never been easier to connect with clients while on the go. You’ll be notified when you get new leads or messages and can reply right from your phone.

Here’s how it works:

  • Receive instant notifications for new leads and client messages
  • Read and respond quickly with automatic account syncing
  • Easily view your shared attachments and important client details
  • Access your full client conversations anytime
  • Update your availability right from your phone (select categories only)

Learn more about the Client Manager app!

» Latest Updates to Make Connecting with Clients Easier

We’ve made some exciting updates to your WeddingWire account! To make it easier than ever to share your favorite documents, stay organized, and communicate more quickly, we’ve added a number of WeddingWire Messages enhancements. Plus, Florists and Wedding Planners will notice updated new vendor directory search filters based on pricing information. Learn more about each update below!

Frequently Attached Documents in WeddingWire Messages

Frequently Attached Documents

Do you have a few key documents you typically share with couples who are interested in learning more about your business, such as pricing packages, service details, or a marketing brochure? Now, it’s easier than ever to share these attachments from within your Messages inbox.

How does it work?

The attachments you’ve shared most will be listed as ‘Frequent Attachments’ when you click ‘Attach File’ while you’re composing a message reply.  Simply select one and send it with your message. If you prefer, you can still choose to upload custom attachments from your computer each time, but it’s faster to choose a commonly shared document from this list.

Inbox Search

Inbox Search in WeddingWire Messages

Staying on top of your Messages or finding a specific client’s history can be challenging for busy wedding pros. To help, we’ve added a new search feature to your Messages inbox.

How does it work?

Use the new search box at the top of your Messages inbox within your account to search by key information and instantly find the client details you need. You can search by first name, last name, email address, or even past message content to find what you’re looking for and catch up on your conversation.

Continue reading

» Risk Management: Identifying Significant Risks

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Nobody wants to face a crisis during an event – that’s a fact. However, that’s all the more reason to prepare in advance and develop a risk management plan. That way, if things go awry, you’ll be ready to mitigate the repercussions and bounce back.

Risk Management: Identifying Significant RisksThe key to a solid risk management plan is open communication between all parties involved. This includes the clients, their parents, the venue coordinator, and all of the wedding professionals on the event team.

Each event is unique, so it may make sense to develop a standard crisis plan that can be tailored to the situation at hand. For example, uncooperative weather is a common worry for outdoor events, so a rain plan is something that can be planned in advance. However, for each event, you’ll need to be familiar with the venue so that you can tweak the rain plan if necessary.

The same goes for other potential risks – use your foresight to think about what could possibly go wrong and find a solution before it does. Worried about an elaborate cake surviving the summer heat? Ensure that there is a nice and cool place for it to stay safe and sound. Concerned by a vendor’s lack of communication? Draw up a phone tree with everyone’s day-of phone numbers so each person can be reached.

Once there is a plan in place, send it along to the rest of the event team to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Communicate your expectations and what you define as a successful. Be sure that everyone understands what kind of constraints they are operating under, as it may have an effect on the level of damage control necessary. An event is truly a team effort, so include all involved parties in the crisis plan so that each has their own role that will contribute to a successful event, no matter what happens.

It will help to schedule a monthly call with the rest of the event team just to check in on everyone’s progress and ensure that everyone has what he or she needs. This is a great way to not only keep everyone accountable and avoid risk, but also to build a better camaraderie between members.

You may not even need to use your risk management plans – that’s the good news! However, if something does happen, you’ll be confident in knowing that you’re fully prepared to handle the crisis and lessen the damage that can come from it.

» 3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your Business

WedInsights

	3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your BusinessWhen it comes to closing the deal and signing on the dotted line, many wedding professionals unintentionally end up delaying the final sale due to outdated processes surrounding contracts and payments. As a result, engaged couples can become frustrated trying to find the time to meet in person or find a printer or fax machine.

In today’s digital age, millennials expect to do most of their wedding planning and vendor communication online. Using an online contract can not only help you close the deal faster, but also reflects well on your reputation as a tech-savvy wedding business! Below are some compelling statistics about the use of online contracts from Volume 8 of the WedInsight Series:

Over 60% of couples are required to sign a contract by meeting in person or by printing, signing, and sending the contract back.

Fax machines and scanners are no longer a household device, so why force your clients to spend time tracking down these devices to deliver you a signed contract? Plus, businesses that require their clients to fax a contract back take 1-2 days on average to receive a signed contract. Today’s couples prefer to use online methods, so use it to your advantage to make closing the deal as convenient as possible.

When given the choice, a couple’s most preferred method for signing a contract is using an online contract platform.

Using antiquated, offline methods could have a negative impact on your business’ reputation. The majority of couples perceive businesses that require contracts to be signed and sent back via fax or snail mail to be outdated and not tech savvy – which could give couples the same perception about your business. Make sure this same perception doesn’t carry over to your professional work by staying up-to-date with modern technology to show that your business is able to adapt.

Continue reading

» The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral List

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Many wedding venues maintain their own referral lists of preferred vendors, and getting on those lists can feel like finding the proverbial “golden ticket” when it comes to more inquiries and more sales. As a bonus, when a venue you love is sending business your way, you get the pleasure of returning again and again – you know the layout, the load-in procedures and the staff, and that makes your job that much easier.

The Secret to Earning a Spot on a Venue’s Referral ListSo what’s the secret to getting on a venue’s referral list? Here are some secrets that have worked for my business, and should work for yours, too:

Start where you already have a foothold. Take a look at your calendar – which venues have you worked at recently, and where are your weddings taking place over the next few months? Those venues are a great starting point, because you’ve either had or are about to have the opportunity to do your very best work and make a great impression. It’s always easier to approach a venue contact about referrals if you’ve just done a great job at that site.

If you are flying blind, choose venues for which you’re well-suited. Consider your branding (is it classic, modern, edgy, sophisticated, whimsical, something else?) as well as your target client – do these align with the branding and target client of the venue you’re soliciting? Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but using my own segment of the industry as an example, I wouldn’t expect a five-star historic hotel to be too excited to refer a DJ whose website blared loud party music upon loading, or whose DJs wore glittery bow ties to every event. By focusing your efforts on venues for which you’re a good match, you’ll increase your chances of earning their referrals.

Be respectful of the venue, always. This is so important, and something on which I train my entire team. Virtually every venue has rules – some stricter than others – and you need to follow them if you want the contact person to refer you. When you work an event, make sure you’re loading in where you’re supposed to,  you’re not causing damage to the venue by placing tape on delicate surfaces, you’re no standing on furniture and – by all means – you’re not rude to the staff. Continue reading

» How Advertising and Marketing Work Together

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

How Advertising and Marketing Work TogetherWhile many wedding professionals think that marketing and advertising are one and the same, there are important distinctions between the two. Advertising is a strategy for getting your business in front of as many potential clients as possible, while marketing is a strategy for making sure your business stands out from the competition. Both are necessary to reach and book wedding clients.

For your advertisement on WeddingWire or other online listings, your business should focus on:

  • Clearly communicating your products/services
  • Images and/or videos of your work
  • Consistent and recent client reviews
  • Pricing and/or any deals or discounts you offer

But for your marketing strategy, consider the following as ways to distinguish your business from the other listings the couple passed before you:

  • A well-written About section that describes who you are and why you’re a good choice
  • A website that provides more detail about your business and why you’re unique
  • Text on your website or blog that speaks their language to connect with potential clients
  • Strong calls-to-action that guide potential clients through the inquiry process

Both advertising and marketing are about pulling clients towards you, not pushing them to book you. The aforementioned tactics will help you drive potential clients to take action – whether the action is as small as clicking your ad or as big as signing a contract. When a bride sees a photo that she can imagine herself in, or a couple sees a review from an authentic client, they’re compelled to take action.

Continue reading

» Updates to Your WeddingWire Account: August 2015

client proposal imageYesterday, we rolled out a new Client Proposal feature and review improvements to make it easier for users to review you. Learn more below!

Introducing Client Proposals

Due to member requests, we are excited to announce a new addition to your client management tools within your WeddingWire account. You can now create client proposals to send to prospective clients!

Easily customize your package options to share with prospective clients. Then, when you book the client simply convert it to a client contract with just a click to keep you organized and to save time! Take a look »

Review Improvements

Review ImageNow your clients can review your business directly on WeddingWire easier than ever with new improvements to the client review experience.

Updated features include saving the review while they write it so no info gets lost, the ability for newlyweds to submit a review without a password, and updating the Review Collector tool to default to your custom WeddingWire URL. Request new reviews »

Questions? 

To learn more about the new client proposals feature, check out this article. Review the Support Center for more information on all updates and common account questions, or email pros@weddingwire.com any time.

» Promote Your GayWeddings Listing with a Custom Button

We’re excited to announce new GayWeddings.com custom buttons you can add to your website or blog to showcase your service to same-sex couples! Get started promoting your GayWeddings listing and boost your Storefront traffic by adding your button today.

Get your button by following our step-by-step instructions!

  1. Choose your button design from our four badge options
  2. Enter your GayWeddings Storefront URL, which you can easily grab from your WeddingWire account under the Networking tab
  3. Paste your GayWeddings Storefront URL into the form to get your custom code
  4. Add the code to your business website or blog, and your button will appear!

GayWeddings listing badgesLooking for more? You can also add a Wed We Can badge on your website or social media accounts, and show your support of all couples by joining in the #WedWeCan social media campaign.

Have additional questions? Learn more about our partnership with GayWeddings.com, get instructions on how to opt-in to the directory (open to all WeddingWire professionals), and learn how to customize your GayWeddings.com profile image. Plus, you can always contact support@weddingwire.com with any of your account needs!