» 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!

» 4 Tips to Optimize Your Lead Replies

4 Tips to Optimize Your Lead RepliesIn the competitive wedding industry, everyone wants lots of high quality leads – but how you reply to each lead plays a pivotal role in determining if you will successfully book the client. These quick tips will help you optimize your lead replies so you’re more likely to receive a positive response and ultimately win the business!

Don’t forget to be personal

Clients know you’re busy, but responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. About 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value. Take an extra minute to include in your reply some details from their message, such as wedding date, style, or venue, or to add a personal comment. This effort makes a human connection and helps you stand out in their crowded inbox.

Keep it short and simple

Many couples check emails primarily on their mobile devices, and short emails are more likely to get a reply. Start with a brief subject line and get to the point quickly, since lengthy emails often go unread. Avoid long paragraphs by adding line breaks and use bullet points or numbers where possible to highlight important details. Come up with a few sample responses to keep on hand so you can quickly add in a bit of custom information based on the inquiry and hit ‘send.’

Answer any questions they asked

Many pros make the mistake of not responding to directly asked questions, which can frustrate couples because they’re often reaching out to a number of pros and may have specific questions or criteria they need to know to move forward. You can prepare ahead of time by coming up with a list of answers to common questions such as price range, packages, and availability – but be sure to address any specific questions they asked in your initial reply. These answers are important in determining if you are a good match – nd will ultimately save you time!

NEW – Use their preferred contact method

Our research shows that 48% of couples express frustration when a vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. Get off on the right foot with potential clients by contacting them in the way they prefer!

As of September 2016, couples can now give you their phone number and indicate their preferred contact method for your response. The couple’s preferred method will be shared with you in their message details saved on their client information card within your account. If they choose to provide a phone number, it will also appear within their client details for easy reference.

Check out the change on your Storefront now >>

What other tips do you have that have helped your response and conversion rates? Let us know in the comments!

» 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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» Can You Hear Me Now? Communication Tips to Get More Replies and Bookings

July-Webinar-ImageWebinar recap!

Communicating with clients in this day in age can be very confusing. Technology has transformed not only the way we communicate, but what we should be saying and how we should be saying it.

It’s important to be familiar with the best modern communication practices in order to get more replies and book more couples! In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for successful communication in the wedding industry!

Here are the 6 T’s that Alan suggests for better client communication:

    • Technology. With literally thousands of apps available for communication–from Messages, to Live Chat, to email, to calling, etc.– it’s difficult to know the best way to get in touch with a couple. At the end of the day, customer convenience is the motto to live by. Follow their lead using their preferred communication type. If you’re making the first contact, email is typically your safest bet, as most couples prefer email over all other communication methods.
    • Timing. The faster you respond to a couple, the more likely it is that they will choose your business over others. Most couples expect a response within 24 hours, so if you know you won’t be able to get back to them before then, at least make contact to let them know you will be in touch soon.
    • Text. Whatever method of communication you choose, be sure to keep your message short and sweet. Also make sure that anything you send can be easily read on a mobile device. Alan suggests that you avoid using attachments and graphics when possible, as those tend not to load properly on mobile devices.
    • Tone. When it comes to your tone, the golden rule is to mirror your client. Get a feel for their manner, and respond accordingly. However, don’t feel obligated to ditch your unique voice, and don’t change your tone once you’ve booked a client. Stay true to yourself and your business personality!
    • Transition. Alan says that one of the most important elements to remember (and one that many business owners forget) is to always provide a call to action. Give your clients a sense of direction, letting them know what the next best step is. However, don’t be pushy; you don’t want to rush them or make them feel forced into an appointment.
    • Tenacity. Don’t give up on a sale if you haven’t heard back right away! Couples are very busy when planning a wedding, so follow up to remind them that you still care about their sale. Ask for the sale if they ask you a question, but avoid seeming impatient. It’s a best practice to follow up 3-5 times on a lead before you let it go, just remain professional and try different approaches to see what gets you a reply.

For more great advice, watch the full webinar, and be sure to check out Alan’s blog all about the business of weddings!

Pro tip: WeddingWire Messages is a fast and easy way to connect with couples, available now in your account! You’ll be notified about new leads or messages, and you can reply using your email, account or mobile device. You’re easily able to send attachments, manage conversations and client details, and move from inquiry to marked as booked instantly. Learn more here!

» Introducing Messages by WeddingWire

Introducing Messages by WeddingWireWe’re excited to announce the launch of our new Messages feature, which is free with your WeddingWire membership!

With Messages, you can reply to leads, manage client conversations, and track your bookings all in one place. Here’s how it works:

  1. Get notified: When you receive a new lead or message, you’ll get an email notification, plus the message will be stored in your WeddingWire account. Couples will also receive a notification when you respond, which helps keep the conversation going.
  2. Reply from anywhere: Reply right from your own email inbox (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) or login to WeddingWire to reply, with access to all your messages at any time. This flexibility means you can respond from your smartphone, too.
  3. Send attachments: Share important documents such as price quotes and contracts within your messages – no need to create a separate file share environment!
  4. Manage conversations: Access message history from start to finish to easily find specific client messages, plus view full contact information for leads and clients directly from within message threads.
  5. Track Bookings: Messages syncs with your WeddingWire Inquiries and allows you to mark clients as ‘booked’ from the conversation, so you’ll be able to monitor interest and conversion rates at a glance.

The best part? You can use your own email address to correspond with potential clients – no @weddingwire.com email address required for your or your clients. It’s never been faster or easier to connect with potential clients and track your conversations!

Login to get started with Messages >>

Have feedback for future Messages updates? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Visit our Messages feedback page to provide any comments you have about this new feature.

» What to Do When They Don’t Respond

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

If you’ve watched the webinars, read the blogs and/or have seen me present on sales at WeddingWire World, then you should be well versed in how to reply when you get an email inquiry. When it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. It makes sense when you think about how many are doing some or most of their planning from work, or late at night. It’s not only convenient; it’s very natural for these ‘digital natives’.

	What to Do When They Don’t RespondBeing first gives you an edge

Whether it came through your WeddingWire storefront or directly through your website, replying quickly is your first step in getting them closer to a sale. They expect a reply within 24 hours of when they send it to you. Over 70% of engaged couples find vendor responsiveness to be one of the most important characteristics to look for while researching professionals. Unfortunately, 40% of couples say that they aren’t hearing back within five days! In today’s digitally-connected world, that’s an eternity.

Now consider the fact that WeddingWire’s data shows that if you respond to a client within 5 minutes, rather than 30 minutes, you’re 100 times more likely to connect with a qualified lead. If you’re worried, thinking you’re already a slave to your email and now you need to be constantly connected, I want to give you hope. Weddings pros just like you are finding a balance or solution to this reality.

What’s a wedding pro to do?

So, let’s say you do respond quickly, certainly within the 24 hours that they expect, but they still don’t respond to you. What happened? There are a few possible explanations for when they don’t respond:

  1. Someone got back to them faster. While the first one to reply certainly has an edge, if you’re the second and reply in a way that connects with them better, you’ll still be in the running. As I’ve been saying for years, reply as quickly as you can, without ignoring your family or current customers.
  2. They never received your email. Maybe it went to their spam/junk folder. Try replying the next day if you still don’t hear back. Say something like “Hi Dale, I got your inquiry yesterday and didn’t hear back, so I wanted to make sure you received it, as I know how excited you must be as excited to find out more about having [insert your outcome-based value statement here – packed dance floor, creative floral design…], as we are to hear about your wedding vision.”
  3. They did receive your message, but they can’t reply now. We know that a huge percentage of couples are doing some of their wedding planning from work. What you may not know is that many of them get in trouble for doing so. Some could even get fired! Give them a day to get back to you, then reply as suggested above and see if they reply.
  4. They received your email but it turned them off. Yes, even if you reply quickly, it still has to be a good reply. The short answer is to make it a personal reply, keep it to fit on one screen of their phone, don’t answer questions they haven’t asked and end with one question, not a statement. Saying “Let me know if you have any questions” will not get a reply. Asking “What other questions can I answer for you?” will get a reply more often.
  5. Don’t force the phone call/appointment. If they wanted to talk to you on the phone, they would have called you. If your initial reply asks them to schedule a call, or appointment, and that’s not what they had asked, you’re likely getting more not responding than you should. Let the conversation evolve so the call or appointment is the next, natural step for them.

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» 4 Tips for Better Client Communication

WedInsights

	Understanding the New Rules of Client CommunicationApproximately 80% of engaged couples use email to inquire about their products or services – that’s a huge shift from the more traditional phone calls and appointments that many pros may be used to! Because more and more client communication is taking place online, understanding the communication preferences of today’s couples is important for setting your business apart from the competition.

Response time and method can make a huge difference in whether or not you get the business, so check out thesetips to help you better manage your client communication with statistics about consumer communication preferences.

Know when to be ready to reply

Roughly 33% of all online leads are submitted on Monday and Tuesday. During the weekday, lead submission is generally the highest between 11am-4pm; however, a second peak occurs after couples are home from work between 8-10pm.

Since most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours of sending an online request for more information, it’s vital that you take note of these peak periods so you can dedicate time to reply. With those two peak periods spanning most of the work day, plan to reply to last night’s inquiries first thing in the morning and the day’s inquiries at the end of your work day. This way, you can address incoming inquiries in a timely manner without interrupting your day each time you see a new message appear.

Respond as quickly as you can

39% of professionals say they respond to an inquiry within 24 hours, meaning that the majority take longer than a day to respond due to busy schedules, appointments, and other events. In fact, 40% of couples say they haven’t heard back from a vendor within 5 days, leaving a negative first impression and giving other wedding pros the opportunity to win their business instead.

Want more insights surrounding consumer preferences for response time, method, and style? Download volume 4 of our WedInsights series.

If you’re not able to respond within 24 hours, try sending your prospective client a quick message thanking them for their interest in your business and letting them know you will respond with more information specific to their questions soon. This small effort can go a long way with clients who expect a timely response, especially if you know you won’t be at your computer for a few days.

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