» 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 You should only include the networks you update the most so you don’t look outdated!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.

» How to Detect and Avoid Spam Leads

How to Detect and Avoid Spam LeadsIn today’s technology-focused world, it is inevitable to encounter spam at one point or another, especially if you frequently use email for your business. Spammers try to find their way into inboxes to collect personal information, such as your social security number or financial information, and use it to their advantage. They typically use email or phone calls to gather the information they need, and use deceptive techniques to trick you into responding or clicking on a faulty link.

Even though spam is all-too-common in the online world, there are ways to defend yourself against it. Ultimately, successfully avoiding spam boils down to recognizing when you’ve encountered a spam lead that seems off or requests personal information from you. It’s important to be alert and protect yourself so your business can avoid the consequences!

According to many experts, the following five signs are typical across almost all instances of online spam. By detecting these suspicious signs, you’ll be more likely to determine what is a real email or phone call so you can avoid spam leads. 

  1. A request to wire funds. Scammers devise convincing reasons why they need you to deal them large amounts of money remotely, so beware of these suspicious requests and always double-check the accuracy of their claims before following up. Legitimate couples should be sending you money, not the other way around.
  2. Scams from users in foreign countries. Many scammers from foreign countries offer free honeymoons or sad stories about something happening while traveling that they use as a means to steal your personal information, so be cautious about that possibility. Unless you know them personally, it’s likely they’re trying to trap you.
  3. A request to provide a code. Scammers may ask you to provide a code that has been sent to your cell phone or email, which allows them to access your contact information and more. Couples should never need to send you a code to confirm your services for a wedding, so this should be an immediate red flag.
  4. A request for personal or financial information. This one is easy. Anytime you see a request like this, don’t respond! While it’s common for wedding businesses to need to collect personal and financial info from booked clients, they should not need this information from you. Always consult your legal or financial professional before providing private information if you have any doubts.
  5. Typos and emails filled with errors. If you receive an email with misspellings and blatant grammatical errors, a lot of urgency, or extreme emotion, beware. In a similar fashion, emails from unknown senders that are seeking your help with financial or family issues are usually fraud. While it’s certainly possible for a legitimate lead to have bad grammar, you should be cautious if you choose to reply. 

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» 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.

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» 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.

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» 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.

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» How to Write More Effective Emails

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

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

Make sure all your emails provide value

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

Use the KISS method

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

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» 4 Ways to Improve Your Response Time

4 Ways to Improve Your Response TimeBecause today’s world revolves around instantaneous communication, response time is very important. An untimely response to an inquiry or request often indicates poor customer service to your potential clients, and a consistently slow response time can result in the loss of multiple customers and the associated revenue.

If you respond to a lead within 5 minutes rather than 30 minutes, you’re 100 times more likely to turn a lead into a client. Responding quickly to any client communication could mean the difference between getting the sale and losing out to a faster Pro.

Use the following tips to help improve your response time and streamline the response process!

Try to respond within 24 hours. Even if you just reply to let them know you’ve received their email but you’re very busy, it helps the couple to know whether or not you check your email on a regular basis. It doesn’t take much to send a quick reply explaining that you are short on time and will get back to them as soon as you have a free moment. This could be accomplished with an auto-reply email or a personalized email response. Don’t forget that many couples reach out to multiple Pros at once, so you don’t want to miss out.

Be careful with auto-responders. Auto-reply emails are a great idea in theory, but the details can sometimes cause Pros to slip up. 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. You’ll also want to keep it conversational so that your auto-responder doesn’t seem so mechanical. For more auto-reply best practices, use our Pro Tips.

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» 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.

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» 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!

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» 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.

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» Top Google Apps for Wedding Professionals

Top Google Apps for Wedding ProfessionalsIn the wedding industry, a day of work extends beyond 9am-5pm for many wedding professionals. Between actual client events, appointments with prospects and other business errands, you often find yourself out of the “office” more than you’re actually in it! With all the back and forth, you want to have access to everything your business needs.

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you may be using outdated business tools simply because they weren’t available when you first started your wedding business. Google offers a suite of apps that help businesses get work done faster, and the functionality is only getting better by the day. Read on below for the top Google apps for wedding professionals today!

Gmail

For those old-school Pros who prefer Outlook (or Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc.) for their email needs, Gmail is worth a second look! Google’s email product, Gmail, provides a number of helpful features for wedding professionals in particular. Because Gmail is a web-hosted email service, you can access your account from any computer, tablet, smartphone or other device with Internet access! This means that no matter where you are or how you’re accessing the Internet, you’ll be able to communicate with prospects and clients. And with 15GB of free storage, you don’t have to worry about deleting emails to make room. The best feature, though, is that you can also get a custom email with your company’s domain name which runs through Gmail! It’s free for personal users, but for a few dollars a month you’ll get the professional look you’re going for and never lose access to your business’ needs. Check out our list of Gmail tips and tricks to help you save time!

Google Drive

Ever want to share a document with a colleague or collaborate with more than one other person? If you’re emailing Word documents or Excel spreadsheets back and forth, you may experience issues dealing with the multiple versions. Google Drive is the perfect solution for wedding professionals who need lots of data and information at their fingertips at all times! With Google Drive, your business can go wherever you go. You can organize, edit and share documents from any computer at drive.google.com, or on-the-go with the Drive mobile app. Multiple users can be in your documents at one time, and you can add comments/track changes as you would in a Word doc. The spreadsheets in Google Drive are also extremely useful to keep track of all your event information and expenses. You can also upload photos, videos and other files to keep them accessible to multiple people from multiple devices.

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» Gmail Tips and Tricks to Save Time

Email was originally invented to help us communicate faster and more efficiently, and to ultimately make our lives simpler. However, in these days where an overflowing inbox is all-too-often the norm, it can feel like taking the time to read all your emails and respond is a job in itself. Below are a few helpful Gmail tips and tricks available to help make your email work for you!

Gmail Tips and Tricks to Save TimeCanned Responses

If you feel like you are consistently sending the same email over and over, take advantage of canned responses. Gmail’s canned responses are pre-scripted emails at the tip of your finger tips which you can edit before sending. Canned responses are a great time saver, and you’ll also be certain that your messaging is consistent.

Pro Tip: Consistently sending out your price sheet? Rather than copying and pasting from a word document or somewhere else in your computer, set up a canned response you can easily add into the body of any email and then edit quickly to personalize.

Undo Send

Have you ever sent an email without proofreading or just wish you could take it back right after clicking the “Send” button? Gmail’s Undo Send allows you to stop the email from leaving your outbox if you change your mind within a few seconds of sending. You’ll have to be quick with this feature, but it’s worth it for those last minute, silly mistakes!

Pro Tip: Undo Send saves you from appearing unprofessional if you accidentally mistype your client’s name or notice a typo right after sending. This support article will walk you through adding this feature to your Gmail settings.

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