» 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

With the amount of competition in the wedding industry, just getting website visits from your local market can be a big win! Once a couple makes it to your site, it’s vital that you guide them to take the next step by submitting a lead. It’s easy to get swept up in your own desires and ideas when building a website, but ultimately you need to think about how couples will view and interact with it in order to drive more conversions.

Your website is a channel that can continually be optimized, just like any of your marketing channels! Read on for six easy ways to optimize your website for generating leads and inquiries.

Reduce form fields

When it comes to creating an easy experience for website visitors, reducing the length and number of fields used is one of the easiest ways to boost 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 form can be a trade-off – shorter forms generate more leads, but longer forms generate higher quality leads. The key is to give a lot of thought to which fields you truly need and which fields you can forego during this initial contact. At the very least, you’ll want to acquire their 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 familiar with 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, don’t hide the contact form by placing it too far down on your homepage or creating multiple steps to get to it.

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 they should be able to find them there, too. When deciding whether or not to submit a lead through your website, couples are looking for proof that you provide a high quality service and that your past clients were happy with the results. If a couple is reviewing your website, you’ve already made it through several stages of consideration and offering rave reviews from other couples will make the decision easier for them. Select a few of your best reviews and add them to your website to show couples that your service is the best choice. Make sure they are located close to your contact form so a happy client is one of the last things they see before deciding whether to contact you.

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 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 with 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 the award on your website for all visitors to see.

Test your calls-to-action

Could the generic text on your button or contact link be the factor that’s driving down conversions? Or perhaps the color of your contact button blends with the rest of your website and is too hard to read? 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.

*Quick Tip – only change one element at a time (text or color) so that you can track which change makes the biggest 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 that’s only looking at one piece of the puzzle. It’s important to also use Google Analytics or another website analytics 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 to make changes that will improve conversion rates and increase time on the site.

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

» Social Media Bios That Attract Couples

social bios

Social media profiles tend to give you limited space when it comes to writing your bio. Facebook gives you 255 characters for your “About” section and Instagram only gives you 150 characters. In order to spark couple’s curiosity and intrigue them to learn more, you need to make every character count. Here’s how:

Show personality!

The keyword in social media is social. Couples want to see that your business is operated by people – people who have personalities that they can relate to. If they can immediately get a sense of your style and personality, they will be more likely to like and trust you. Doing this will also help you attract ideal clients, rather than couples who don’t fit your style.

If you’re stuck on how to infuse your personality into your bio, here are a few ideas:

  • Use Emojis throughout your bio.
  • Use exclamation points to show enthusiasm!
  • Write how you would speak. Say it out loud and make sure it feels natural.
  • Include quirky phrases that you regularly use out loud when talking with clients.

Stop focusing on yourself…

Most businesses go straight for the traditional approach of creating a business-focused company bio. They explain what the business does. Sounds like it would make sense, right?

A business focused bio would sound something like this: Bella Photography offers engagement and wedding photography to couples in Florida.

That absolutely describes what Bella Photography does, which is great, but there are a lot of photographers out there who shoot weddings. How are Bella Photography services any different? How would hiring Bella Photography over someone else benefit a couple?

You need to differentiate yourself quickly so that you don’t lose the attention of a potential client when they come across your social media profile. Continue reading

» Recovering from a Social Media Crisis

education expert

 

 

Social media is as much a blessing as it can be a curse. While it allows us to gain widespread exposure in ways that were never possible before, it also forces our businesses onto a public stage where we may not always want to appear. Before a social media crisis derails your wedding business, make sure you develop an effective strategy for recovery.

desk workBe Prepared

One of the most effective ways to combat bad press or a crisis situation is to plan ahead for every possible scenario. Begin by listing all of the things you and your team can anticipate going wrong: bad customer feedback, unusual poor performance, weather-related cancellations, or even a competitor badmouthing your services to undermine your reputation. I know it’s hard to think of these things. It’s uncomfortable to anticipate the worst, but so necessary if you’re going to survive.

Ask trusted colleagues to give you ideas of additional scenarios you might not have considered and how they would handle them. The more you flesh out what can go wrong, the better prepared you can be if something actually happens.

Next, outline how you would respond to each crisis. Keep the scenarios and possible responses in a file that you can pull if you’re ever faced with a similar situation. You’ll have to tweak your approach, but you’ll have a bank of great ideas to draw from when you need them most.

React Calmly

When you do respond, especially to negative customer feedback or competitor badmouthing, try to do it as professionally as possible. This will require that you divorce yourself from some extremely natural emotions, but it never pays to react in the heat of the moment. Taking the high road will ultimately reflect positively on you with the people who matter.

If you’re not sure you can separate the situation from your feelings, ask a trusted team member or colleague to read anything you put in writing before you send or publish it. This should include emails and replies to online reviews – things that never really go away, so you want to look good.

Many situations are best handled in-person or via a phone call to the concerned party. Consider reaching out before becoming embroiled in a social media battle. You may be able to avoid additional public debate by going directly to the source. Continue reading

» 4 Ways to Increase Engagement on Facebook Without Paying for Ads

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Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm is making it feel more and more difficult to reach your followers and get high levels of engagement on your posts, but don’t worry – it’s still possible to get a big response without paying for ads! Here’s how:

Show your personality

Giving yourself a distinct personality and showing your quirks is so important online! It gives people the ability to connect with you and gain trust, which will make them gravitate towards you when it comes time to book vendors for their wedding. It will also help your audience feel more comfortable and willing to comment on your posts.

So how can you do this? Add Emojis, use exclamation points, and write posts in your own voice. A good rule of thumb is ask yourself if what you are posting feels like something you would say out loud, or if it feels inauthentic to your personality. If it feels right, post away! If it doesn’t, try saying what you want to get across out loud, then write that out.

» Top 4 Questions about LGBTQ Wedding Terminology

education expert

 

 

 

 

gay weddings

Photo by Stephanie W Photography

For the past six years, I’ve been working closely with wedding pros in the WeddingWire family via webinars and conferences. And although the marriage equality landscape and technology available to small businesses has changed dramatically over the course of that time, the most popular questions I receive from pros who want to improve their service offerings to same-sex couples and the larger LGBTQ community have not.

This past Pride month, WeddingWire hosted our annual LGBTQ wedding-focused webinar (Premium members can access it here). As always, we hosted a lively Q&A after my presentation and, as always, I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions. Thus, I decided to take a few more minutes to answer some important – and common – questions about language for those of you who remain curious about improving your business practices to be more inclusive of and successful with LGBTQ couples.


“Do gay couples typically have a ‘Bride & Groom’ or is it ‘Bride and Bride’ or ‘Groom and Groom’? What is the correct term to use for same-sex couples?”

Some variation of this question was the most asked during our recent webinar. And, in fact, has been one of the most popular questions I’ve received over the years. Language is incredibly important in marketing materials (a proactive effort) and in speech (a receptive and service-oriented effort). One of the reasons this question persists is because there is no one-size-fits-all answer, although there are some general best practices to follow.

One of my biggest pet peeves for all couples in the wedding industry is the intensity of the heteronormative, gender-role driven expectations in planning and in the ritual itself. Truly, this limits non-LGBTQ couples as much as it limits LGBTQ couples. In my ideal world, each couple has the opportunity to participate equally in the commitment ritual that is most meaningful and reflective to them. Period.

That said, I offer this short answer to your question: the correct terms to use with a same-sex couple are the terms they themselves prefer. If you aren’t sure because, in your eyes, they appear to falling into a pattern you recognize as a ‘bride role’ and a ‘groom role,’ please ask them how they wish to be addressed and/or how they are referring to the event and their “roles” in it. Never, ever, ever, ever, never ask a couple: “Which one of you is the bride and which one of you is the groom?”

The majority of couples identify as “two brides” or “two grooms,” but this is not always the case. Sometimes couples might get creative with their language (eg, appropriating the term ‘bridegroom’ to mean something a bit more non-binary) and some might choose to go with “bride and groom” and be queer-identified. Just don’t assume.

Please also do your best not to overthink the issue. Be open. Be inclusive. Be welcoming. Be curious. Ask the couple about how they met. What they hope for in their wedding day. How you can best help and support them. And be sure to ask if they have any additional concerns about which you might not have inquired. Finally, be sure to give the couple permission to give you feedback if you’ve made a mistake in the language or approach you are using. Open communication and building relationships is everything. Continue reading

» Millennials: They’re Not All the Same

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I was recently preparing for a new presentation, and among the other interesting information I found, there were several references to articles about millennials. One of them struck a familiar chord, which was that there’s a tendency to generalize about millennials. Whether it’s their communication skills, their shopping style or their work ethic, millennials are the focus of a lot of bashing, for lack of a better word.

There are two, really good reasons why we shouldn’t be bashing millennials: 1) stereotyping an entire generation is short-sighted and prejudicial, and 2) they’re our customers and employees. Saying that all millennials are one thing, or another, is like saying that Gen-X are all the same, or all Baby Boomers are the same. It just isn’t true. Are millennials different than Gen-X or Baby Boomers? Yes, of course, in the same way that Gen-Xers are different than their parents and grandparents. Each generation grows up a product of its environment, media, technology and more.

Digital Immigrants vs. Digital Natives

I’ve said this before, but I’m a digital immigrant. I started selling wedding advertising “B.I.” – before the internet. No, I’m not a dinosaur, or tech averse. Just the opposite. I love technology, and use it throughout my business (says the guy wearing an Apple Watch, listening to music on my iPhone 7 Plus, and writing this on a new MacBook Pro). Technology doesn’t make me sell better, but it does allow me to connect with my audience in a way that wasn’t available when I started. That doesn’t make it better or worse. It just is, what it is. Things are always evolving, are you?

I know lots of millennials who are ambitious, entrepreneurial and have great attitudes. I also know lots of Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers, who constantly complain about how lazy millennials are and how much easier it was, back in the good old days (whenever that was). The disconnect comes when we pre-judge a prospect (hence the word prejudice). Each customer is entitled to fair treatment. If we assume they’re going to judge us, only on price, we’ll likely do and say things that will attract that kind of behavior. For instance, not putting price on your website, at all, will encourage them to either ask about price, or leave without giving you a chance.

Continue reading

» WeddingWire Networking Night St. Louis

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Randall Gallery for WeddingWire Networking Night St. Louis!

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 local-industry statistics and how to better reach engaged couples through social media from WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Megan Hayes.

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:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Deb from Artistry Crowning Beauty!

» Wedding PR: The Art of Managing Press Expectations

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Between print deadlines and calls for submissions, it can seem tough to navigate the waters of media relationships. It’s exciting to begin a press campaign for your company but with that, it’s imperative to understand press expectations so you can best determine if your efforts are successful.

Below, you’ll find our top things to keep you mind (and keep you going!) when managing press expectations as you represent yourself:

Patience is a virtue

PR takes time – it’s not a one-time overnight fix; it’s a continuous process. While it may be tempting to shoot out emails to every media outlet you think of, the best approach is a carefully calculated one. Take your time to properly research the media outlets that best fit your brand and create a media list based on your findings. From there, you can craft up a pitch to send along that shows how you can be of value to each outlet. With that said, keep in mind that not every pitch will get picked up but if you offer yourself as a resource and successfully engage with the editors, you can still consider that a job well done.

Print vs. Online

With the wealth of online media outlets and blogs that are available to us, it can be easy to overlook the value in a print feature. While it may not be your primary target, magazine placements can speak volumes about your company. When it comes to print, however, the pitching process tends to be quite different than that of online press. When we submit our features to an online source, we expect to hear back within several weeks and, if picked up, we expect to see it within a few weeks. Many magazines, on the other hand, are published quarterly, bi-annually, or even annually and come with strict deadlines, meaning you may need to hold on to that gorgeous wedding or shoot if you don’t pitch by the deadline.

Continue reading

» 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.

» 5 Ways to Market Your Business in the Busy Season

Now that summer is upon us, wedding professionals across the country face an extremely busy time of year: wedding season! While we know that the most popular months to get married are June, September, and October, it’s critical to remember those couples who are only just getting started planning a winter wedding. Here are a marketing strategies your business can use to keep new clients coming in despite all the rushing around you’ll be doing in the busy season.

1. Keep gathering reviews

With all your weddings and events happening in the spring, summer, and early fall, it’s important to gather as many client reviews as possible. Each review is another chance for your clients to spread the word about your business, and each review is valuable for potential clients who are researching your business and other professionals in their area. Plus, recency is still a big factor when couples are evaluating your wedding business, so it’s essential to continue collecting them even if your calendar for the next few months is full!

2. Tailor your content

Blogging is a great marketing tool no matter the time of the year! Continue creating great content about your business with an off-season twist – think about where your potential clients are in the planning process and try to appeal to them with the right content for that stage. Are there things couples should know about your business when they first start planning? Is there a particular time period couples should focus on your business category versus others in the planning process? Gain more readers by targeting them with the right message at the right time.

3. Offer off-season deals

Take advantage of those couples who are engaged but not getting married during the busier months by offering discounts or deals for the slower times on your calendar. Remember there are still a significant number of engaged couples who choose not to get married in the warmer months, and they’re still doing their wedding planning while others are taking their trips down the aisle. Think about popular off-season dates like Christmas, New Year’s or Valentine’s Day and provide special offers, discounts or free add-ons now that help make your business stand out as the perfect choice for their winter wedding needs.

4. Boost your social

One of the best ways to stay top-of-mind even when your workload is full is to continue being active on your social networks. Use social media to offer special discounts, collect reviews and testimonials, share your own content, and run contests or promotions. Your posts will appear within your followers’ social streams, and if you’re creating and posting engaging content, they’ll be more inclined to share your posts with their own networks. Plus, with all the weddings on your calendar, you’ll likely have a ton of real wedding photos and details to post! When their wedding date moves closer, you’ll be the business they remember.

5. Focus on other events

If your business works on more than just weddings – corporate events, sweet sixteen parties, baby showers – ramp up your marketing efforts for those events when the wedding season slows down. By decreasing your marketing budget for promoting weddings and compensating by increasing your budget for promoting your events services, you’ll be able to focus on events that tend to happen all year round. Balancing your efforts in this way will be easier on your budget and help you boost your conversions in your secondary lines of business.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Denver

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Baldoria on the Water for WeddingWire Networking Night Denver!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an waterfront venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned from a panel of their peers on the challenges and opportunities in the Denver wedding market, moderated by Regional Sales Director, Lee Hagen.

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

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 give away – congrats to Valen from Pink Floral and Events!

» How to Respond to a Negative Review

Negative reviewsReviews are key to your online reputation, and it can be frustrating to receive a review that you may not be satisfied with or feel you don’t deserve. Although you may disagree with the review, it’s important to be professional in your response. Here are some suggestions for responding to negative reviews you may receive on your WeddingWire account:

  • Never write a response while you’re still upset. Take a few hours or even a day before responding to a negative review. Your response is public, so you want to make sure you don’t say something that you will regret later. When you’re calm and ready to address the issue, then you can carefully write your response.
  • Check and re-check your response. Before posting the response, have someone else read it as well just to make sure it does not come off as defensive. Try reading your response from the perspective of a potential client– you want them to see that you are open to feedback and always professional in your communication.
  • Don’t play the “He Said, She Said” game. Remember, the customer is always right (even when they’re wrong!). Apologize for any mishaps you may have caused, or that even may have been outside your control, and point out your other great reviews as proof of your other satisfied customers. Always let them know you value their business and that ultimately your goal was to help create a fantastic event.
  • Keep it simple. Try not to post a long response; leaving a short 3-4 line response is best! Address the reviewer’s concerns, apologize and leave it at that.

What’s the best way to move on after a negative review? Keep collecting more reviews! The more recent reviews you receive, the lower that review gets pushed on your list. Use our Review Collector Tool to keep collecting positive reviews, and you’ll soon forget all about that negative review. Remember, a less than perfect review every so often also adds to credibility, after all, no one is perfect 100 percent of the time!

Pro tip: Don’t forget to respond to positive reviews, too! Let your reviewers know that you appreciate them taking the time to respond to them and return the compliments. Responding to both positive and negative reviews helps show potential clients that you listen to your clients and want to help them have the best experience. It also shows you value the time they took to write the review after their event.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.