» WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Highland Manor for WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a historic venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about email etiquette tips to help you turn leads into bookings from WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg, CSP.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the enjoyable evening below.

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

Check out the photo strips from the event here!

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Michael from October Oaks!

» Email Etiquette – Revising Your Signature

Email is a marketing channel that large businesses and small businesses alike use an average of 50 times per day. It’s the most common form of business communication, used to connect directly with future, current, or past clients all day long to relay certain messages. However, we often spend more time worrying about what we say in the body of the email, and give little thought to how we sign off at the end.

The truth is, your email signature is equally as important, as it’s the last bit of information you leave with a client. It’s the part of the virtual connection where you tell your client how best to reach you and what the next step should be. If you haven’t put much thought into your email signature up till now, fear not! It’s never too late to start using these tips to create an informative, professional, and catchy email signature:

  • Simplicity and consistency. The key to successful branding is consistency and simplicity. When it comes to your email signature, this holds true. So while we know it’s tempting to choose a different color for every email signature you write, consider this tip to stay professional. Color can be a great way to highlight your contact information, but you don’t want to go overboard by using crazy colors or wacky fonts. If you do choose to incorporate color, stick to one or two that match your business’s logo (or have some relevancy to your brand).
  • Create a hierarchy. Odds are, you have more than one phone number or email address that you’re currently using. Instead of including all of that information at the end your emails, only use the best ways to reach you. Direct your clients to the best number at the top, to next best, and so on. You don’t need to include your email address (unless you also sometimes use a different email) because that ultimately wastes space.
  • Use icons. Include social media icons that link your email signature to other accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Doing so will increase visits to those pages by making them easier to access and follow, plus potential clients can get a feel for who you are as an individual and as a professional. However, be cautious about which accounts you link to – for instance, if you haven’t uploaded to your business’s Instagram in several months, don’t include it in your signature. You should only include the networks you update the most so you don’t look outdated!
  • Leave some room. You want your email signature to be legible and organized since it includes a lot of important information. Make sure you leave enough space in between lines and numbers so the words don’t clump together and look messy. 
  • Show your free time. Allow people to access your calendar within your signature to book a time to speak with you. This will not only keep you organized, but will make the process of acquiring new clients seamless on both ends! Customers will love how easy it is to see your availability right from your email. Free tools like Calendly integrate with your calendars so appointments that your prospects book will show up with all your other important meetings.
  • Be mobile-friendly. The world operates almost entirely on-the-go, so your emails—including your signature at the end—have to look just as good from a mobile device as they do on a desktop. Try a couple practice tests before sending any emails to prospective clients.
  • Include a CTA. Include a call to action at the end of your email signature that keeps your clients interested. However, be careful not to make it sound too “pitchy,” or self-promoting. A good tip is to include a link to your blog or LinkedIn, where people can go to learn more about you and your business.

Understanding just how important email signatures are as a marketing tool will take your business emails to the next level. By using these tips, you can increase leads and grow your brand with each email you send!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» Top 4 Email Dos and Don’ts

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

In many situations, communication between businesses and clients occurs almost exclusively over email. While emailing is a huge time saver, it’s important to realize that they are often the first and only impression that a client or business has of you!

Take your emails seriously and follow these dos and don’ts to ensure that your emails are representing you well.

Top 4 Email Dos and Don’tsReply…and reply quickly! Do not take too long to reply to an email. An overdue email response can not only be a lost opportunity, but it can also send a negative message about you and your business. Take the time to reply to everyone who has taken the time to reach out to you, no matter how insignificant.

Think about how you sound. Although emails often seem like a very informal form of communication, you should always use correct punctuation, spelling, and format. Take the time to proofread your emails so you come off as intelligent and professional. That being said, you can (and should!) still attempt to convey your personality and excitement in your emails. This can often be hard in writing, but don’t be afraid to use exclamations to change the tone of what you are saying and make the recipient feel more comfortable.

Continue reading

» Tips for Managing Your Email Communications

Tips for managing email communicationsWhen it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. Engaged couples prefer to email vendors during the planning process, primarily because they can fit in emails between other activities or while they’re at work. Plus, many couples like to have their initial conversation via email so they can easily reference it at a later date.

If you can’t get a bride or groom on the phone, don’t worry about it! While email takes a bit longer to get all the appropriate details, the more conversations you have, the more opportunities you’ll get to set up an appointment and close the sale. Use these tips for managing your email communications to better your chances of booking your leads for each email type!

Inbound inquiry emails

Whether you receive them through WeddingWire or through your business’ website, an inbound inquiry email is an extremely strong buying signal on the part of the prospect. The prospect has already filtered through a large number of possible choices to select your business, so the sale is now yours to win! Despite the fact that most couples know you’re busy, responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. Our research shows that about 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value.

Consumers want a response from a real person and not an auto-reply that states obvious information such as, “Thank you for contacting us, we’ll respond back as soon as possible.” If you feel the need to have an auto-reply, make sure you tell them something they don’t already know or can’t find on your website. Consider being more conversational and adding only helpful, more personalized information the recipient needs to know so you still provide value.

Ongoing communication emails

Whether your client likes to email or talk on the phone, data shows it’s important to take a cue from your clients and respond in the form you received it. 48% of couples express frustration when their vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. If a prospect starts a conversation via email, continue using email to communicate until it’s necessary to take the next step.

Continue reading

» 3 Ways to Maximize Your Email Campaigns

Conducting email marketingWhen planning a wedding, engaged couples are inundated with emails from both prospective and booked vendors. How do you make your emails stand out from the rest? The answer, though complex, is relevancy. The more relevant your email is to every person on your email list, the more likely your recipients are to open and click through to where you want them to go.

To make your emails more relevant to your prospects and clients, think about your emails as part of a strategic campaign. Below are three ways you can go back to basics to make the most of your email campaigns!

Simplify your email design

There are a lot of considerations for a great email campaign, but it all starts with the right design. Keep your designs clean and simple so that they’re easy to read. Don’t add too much content, which can make emails difficult for recipients to digest quickly. Be cautious when adding imagery so as to not overwhelm your readers, and use clear calls-to-action. If this sounds complicated to you, skip the design! Although research suggests that users prefer more images in emails, text-only emails can still be just as effective as designed emails since they often seem more personal. Try A/B testing the same email in a designed template and a text-only template to see what your audience prefers.

Focus on driving one action

The more clutter there is in your email, the harder it is for your recipients to know what action you want them to take. Each email you send should have a clear message that is simple and compelling, with a single call-to-action. If you have multiple actions you want recipients to take, think about segmenting your list or sending a series of emails to address each action. For example, segment your list by wedding date so that clients with weddings in the next few months are encouraged to take an action, and clients with wedding dates further away are encourage to take a different action. Or, if the actions you’re driving are sequential, set up a series of emails that encourages recipients to take each step at a time.

Continue reading

» 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!

Continue reading

» Email Marketing 2015: Trends to Know

Email Marketing 2015: Trends to KnowAlthough email isn’t a new medium, the way we communicate through email is changing. Technology, software and user behavior all influence the way we interact with our inboxes. In the fight for limited space in the inbox, email marketing strategies evolve each year.

Despite the daily inundation of emails in our inboxes, email marketing is still a great way to reach your audience and share timely and pertinent information! The following 2015 email marketing trends will help your wedding business stand out in the New Year.

Adding more images

Research suggests that users prefer image-based emails over text-based emails, so consider incorporating more images into your emails in 2015. Whether you purchase images through a licensing website or use those which you already have, use them in your emails to illustrate and emphasize the message you’re conveying. You can also take this a step further by using free graphic design software (like Canva) to add text and other effects to your images for a professional look. Just remember, though, that your entire email should not be ALL images – it’s still important to include both HTML and text-based code so email providers with stricter image settings will still see the email the way you want it to look! Mix images and text to make sure all your bases are covered in the event images don’t load properly in some email environments.

More A/B testing

Modern marketing strategies are largely based on data, meaning that businesses are getting smarter about the way they engage with clients. In order to gather data on the best send times, email length and messaging, try more A/B testing in 2015. With A/B testing, you send version A and version B to a small subset of your email list, then send the winning version (the version with the highest open rate) of the email to the rest of your email list. Most email service providers incorporate A/B testing as a feature to make it easy to try out different things. If your email service provider allows for A/B testing, they’ll automatically segment your list and send the winning version to the rest of the population for you so you don’t have to do it manually. This type of testing will help you learn how to optimize your emails and ultimately achieve better results.

Continue reading

» Pro Tips: Auto-Reply Email Best Practices

As engagement season ramps up and couples start the first stage of wedding planning, your business is likely about to see an increase in wedding inquiries. For many wedding professionals, an email auto-reply is the simplest (and quickest) way to respond.

However, nothing shouts “auto-reply email” more than the typical “Your email has been received” response. Email is not a new channel, so it’s assumed that when a person sends an email that the recipient receives it. It’s nice to let him or her know that the email was received, but it’s important that that’s not the only message you include in the email. You need to add value right at that first touch.

Below are five Pro tips for auto-reply email best practices that will help you immediately add value so you can convert more of those initial wedding inquiries into paying clients!

Pro Tips: Email Auto-Reply Best PracticesSet expectations up front

If you know that you spend most of your days out of the office or performing tasks that take you away from the computer, use an email auto-reply to set expectations for the potential client to hear back from you. Be specific; don’t simply state that you’ll reply “soon.”  It’s implied that if you want their business, you’ll reply “soon.” Give a specific time period where they can reasonably expect to hear back from you – and be sure to respond within that time period!

Provide everything they need

If you want to suggest that they call for faster service or for more pressing requests, provide your business’ phone number right there in the email. They’ve already gone through your business’ Storefront and website to find your email or submit a contact request, so don’t make them do it again! You can also add your business’ address and hours of operation to make it easy for them to know how and when to reach you if something should happen with their email.

Don’t regurgitate your website

While you want to provide everything they need, don’t regurgitate your website. You don’t need to fully describe your services or go through your business’ mission statement in your auto-reply email. You want to find the sweet spot where you’re providing helpful, valuable information but without repeating everything they’ve already read on your website. A good way to decide how much information to include would be to put yourself in the potential client’s shoes and go through the contact process from finding your business to email. That should inform you about what information they’ve already seen and what information they still might not know!

Continue reading

» Email Marketing: What Not to Do

Many service categories in the wedding and events industry have the possibility of repeat customers. Bands, Caterers, DJs, Florists and Photographers are the types of Pros that clients may go back to for future events if they had a great experience, so make sure you’re capitalizing on those opportunities! Email marketing is a great way to stay top-of-mind for those past clients and alert them to new products or services you may offer.

There are hundreds of articles online that explain what to do for a good email marketing campaign, but sometimes it’s important to know what not to do so you can cover your bases! Below, we detail what not to do when creating and sending an email marketing campaign.

Email Marketing: What Not to DoDon’t make your emails “one size fits all”

Let’s face it – every couple is different. While you can’t write emails that will be perfect for every single couple, you can learn to be smarter about the emails you send. If you have both prospects and past customers on your email list, you should not be sending both groups the same email! Think about the buying and planning process for the members on your email list. Is there a way you can group them based on timing or behavior? By creating these market segments, you can send the most relevant and helpful content to everyone on your list. Start by separating prospects from booked clients and past clients, then think about each group in turn. Your prospects are looking for something to put them over the edge to make a decision, so you might try sending a discount. Thinking strategically will help your wedding business start personalizing your email marketing.

Don’t assume people know who you are

Members on your email list could be very old depending on when they last worked with you or signed up to receive your emails. It’s important to remember that as you’re creating your email campaigns! If they haven’t heard from you or thought about your business in a while, it can be off-putting to receive an email from your wedding business out of the blue. For those users, send emails that are more personalized so they don’t automatically believe it’s spam. As for the rest of the list, start slow when you begin an email marketing campaign so that you don’t start sending them a lot of email they may not want. If they do unsubscribe, the next point will tell you how to approach the situation.

Continue reading

» Five Tips for Successful Email Marketing

email-marketing-tipsEmail marketing is a great way to connect and share important details about your business with your audience. However, it’s very important to consider your messaging, design and calls to action to ensure your email marketing is effective. Most importantly – always focus on the consumer first! Consider their needs, interest and what would engage them and be sure to avoid ‘me’ language. Tell them what you can do to make their life better, not just why your business is so great.

To help maximize the impact of your next email campaign, check out these top tips for effective email marketing!

  • Send people the content they want. Great content is an important part of a successful email campaign. Determining your email content is really all about understanding what your audience would like to know about or what would be helpful for them. Consider sending relevant wedding planning tips to your category that would be relevant and engaging to them!
  • Keep your email short and sweet. Your email should be simple, and right to the point with one main focus. Too much content or differing messages will not only be confusing to your audience, but also will cause reader drop off. Too much writing is overwhelming and not digestible from all devices.
  • Create a brand voice and design. Strive to reflect your brand message and voice in all communication and all your marketing materials. Ideally, your audience should recognize your email campaigns and the content you share, and over time will look forward to your emails and updates.

Continue reading

» 4 Email Marketing Metrics to Track

4 Email Marketing Metrics to Track

Of the major marketing tactics employed these days, email marketing is one of the least used by wedding professionals. In order for email marketing to be a viable option, you must have a solid email list. But if your “client” is an engaged couple who’ve booked your product or service for their wedding, they might not be a repeat customer, in which case it doesn’t make sense to email them about your business on a semi-regular basis. This is often true for Pros in the Venue, Dress & Attire, Officiant and Wedding Planning categories.

For many service categories in the wedding and events industry, though, there is the possibility of repeat customers. Bands, Caterers, DJs, Florists and Photographers are the types of Pros that clients may go back to for future events if they had a great experience. To capitalize on those opportunities and stay top-of-mind for those past clients, email marketing is a great tactic!

Email marketing is a valuable tool because everyone has an email address (or two or three!). And better yet, people are accessing emails 24/7 through both their computers and mobile devices. But for those who are just starting out with email, it can be hard to figure out how to measure success.

Below are four email marketing metrics to track so your business can determine the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns (and improve on them in the future):

Open rates

The open rate of an email is usually the first metric most businesses will look at to understand the success of the email. The open rate tells you the percentage of those who opened your email out of the total number sent. Since people can’t possibly click through the content in your email without opening it first, the open rate of your email is the first step in determining whether or not your email is resonating with your audience. A good open rate is a good indicator that your subject line for the email was engaging and relevant to your audience!

Continue reading

» Email Signature Do’s and Don’ts

No matter what size your business is, email signatures are an important part of your business’ marketing. Think about it – every email you send and even every auto-response you trigger includes your personal or business information at the bottom of the email. This signature does more than just inform the recipient of your name, title, business name and/or contact information; it’s an opportunity to call recipients to different types of action.

As we’re rounding the corner into busy season, follow these email signature do’s and don’ts to make sure your business puts its best foot forward at the end of every email!

Email Signature Do's and Don'tsDo: Include all the basics, but keep it simple! Your name should be first, followed by your professional title if you’d like to include it, then your business’ name (linked to your business website). If you do business by phone you should also include your phone number, and re-typing your email address is a nice touch so that all your contact information is in one easy-to-find place.

Don’t: Go overboard with links and information in your email signature. Including every single possible way to contact you may seem like you’re being helpful, but all that information can be overwhelming. The more choices you offer the recipient, the more likely you are to cause confusion and the less likely it will be that they’ll use any of them!

Do: Encourage users to follow you on your most popular social networks. If your business is on Facebook or Twitter and you would like to highlight that content, include those links as your recipients are most likely to have their own accounts on those networks. You could also include other social links, but don’t include all of them! Remember the first point: keep it simple.

Don’t: Include irrelevant information in your email signature. It’s common that you’d like to drive traffic to your blog or various pages on your website, but not all of that information will be useful to your email recipient. You email both potential clients and current clients, so be sure to consider both audiences when deciding which links to include.

Continue reading