» 7 Essentials of a Great Website

An online presence is vital for any business, but a poor online presence could be costing your business money. As busy season starts to wind down and engagement season ramps up, you should start thinking about using the next couple of months to tune up your business, including your website. Doing so will make sure you are putting your best foot forward for all of the newly engaged couples!

Your website’s job is to provide key information about your business, showcase your best work and impress clients to drive leads. When was the last time you considered if your business website is working hard enough for you?

Here’s a roundup of seven website essentials from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg:

  1. Personalized Content: Aim to use conversational text on your site that connects with your target audience — engaged couples. Instead of making your content all about your business, make it all about your customer and bring life to your business.

  2. Fresh Imagery: When was the last time you refreshed your website photos? If it’s been a while, it may be time to do so! Make a great first impression with high quality, modern images that will resonate with newly engaged couples who are seeking inspiration. Not only is it a great way to show off your work and service, it’s a great way to establish credibility with a couple.

  3. Relevant Information: Take a look at your site from an outside perspective, and determine what information they need to make a simple decision of whether to contact you or book your services. Then, delete everything else. Often, too much text is overwhelming and causes your site visitors to bounce. Focus on your key takeaways and make them easy to read and digest.

  4. Simple Contact Form: Long forms get in the way of more leads! The shorter the form, the less daunting it will seem to reach out. Plus, shorter forms are more mobile-friendly. For the form, only ask for the key information you need. When you respond to their inquiry you can ask them to provide more details.

  5. Narrated Photos: Consider adding captions or other narrative context to the photos you showcase on your site. Explain the photos and how your business brought a couple’s wedding day or event to life and tie in relevant keywords to boost your SEO. Keep these brief, but it can help create a personal connection.

  6. Testimonials and Reviews: Potential clients want to hear from others like them who have used – and loved your services, so make sure your reviews are easy to find! Add your WeddingWire Reviews widget to your website, and place a soundbite from an approved client testimonial on every page so they won’t be overlooked.

  7. Straight Forward Calls to Action: Make it easy to connect with your business. Consider adding a contact form or clear button to learn more about your business to every page of your website. You can also use calls-to-action to get visitors to engage with content you would like to promote such as a real wedding videos, content downloads and more.

» 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!

» Easy Ways to Improve Your Business Website

Is your business website working hard enough for you? After all, your website is often the first impression your potential clients see for your business and plays a huge role in determining if a client is interested in working with your business or learning more about your services.

As you prepare for the new year, consider taking some time to invest in refreshing your website to stand out to newly engaged couples and book more business in 2017. These seven tips from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provide helpful ways that you can assess your site, maximize your marketing potential, and get more leads quickly. From contact form best practices, to adding testimonials and reviews, to copy writing tips, you will want to bookmark this infographic as you prepare for your next website refresh!

7waystoimproveyourwebsitebefore2017

» Helpful Tips to Avoid Digital Disasters

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

In today’s world, unfortunately there seem to be many chances for technology-related problem’s to occur – such as password compromise, information loss or spam attacks. While these issues may seem stressful, there are ways you can take simple steps to help avoid them for you and your business.

Here’s an overview of easy ways to help avoid common digital disasters:

Register Your Domain

The foundation of all-things-internet is the domain name. When you register a domain name, there are four functions associated with it.

  • Registrant – Website Owner
  • Administrator – Website Manager
  • Technical – Usually Webmaster
  • Billing – Accounting

Roles may all be held by a single person; however, it’s not recommended. It’s preferable to have at least two people with full control of your domain.

Domains are renewed annually; however, you can register them for more than one year (especially your primary domains).

Your domain registrar (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc.) will notify you, periodically about pending expiration of a domain. The best way to prevent expiration is to link a credit card to the domain and make calendar reminders to check in on its status every so often.

Good news — even if a domain expires, there is 30-day time period to redeem your site and get it back in business.

Pro Tip: Anytime you change webmasters or other personnel on file with your domain registrar, do not forget to update it! Failure to do so can lead to domain problems.

Protect Your Hard Drive

A typical hard drive lasts about three years. The best way to protect your business and personal files and information is to replace it at or before three years to be safe. If you don’t, here are some other pre-emptive measures to keep your business running.

First, it is mandatory to have an external hard drive wired directly to your computer. If the computer has a 500 gigabyte hard drive, it would be wise to have a 1 terabyte external drive.

Second, it is wise to have a wireless backup drive, located in a different part of your home or office. As with the first backup, make sure the capacity is larger than the original computer.

Third, have an external drive backing up by broadband to the cloud. There are several popular products, such as: BackBlaze, Carbonite, and others. This final group is extremely important, especially if you are affected by a disaster such as a fire or flood. There is nothing worse than permanently losing data. Saving key documents securely in the cloud is the best way to make certain it doesn’t happen to you.

Set Strong Passwords

Over the last few years hacking is on the rise. The more obvious hacks are big companies such as Target or Yahoo! among other high profile companies and groups.

Don’t think just because you are a one-person operation that you are somehow immune to such intrusion or danger. Whether talking about email, websites, credit cards or anything else, it’s time to take action and be cautious.

The best methods of self-protection are services such as 1Password.com or LastPass.com. These tools will help you generate different passwords for each of your accounts – which you should update often. With just a little effort, you won’t have the need to use the same password for multiple accounts. Plus, you won’t have to simply rely on commonly known information like the names of your dogs or family members!

Focus on Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization requires daily awareness and upkeep; SEO is not a one-time operation. When you build and launch a website, it will only be the first effort to create search engine optimization for your site. It should be monitored and updated often to establish the best performance for your business.

For those of you who use WordPress for your website or blog, one of the best tools is a plug-in, Yoast SEO. It is one of the simplest devices to recognize and apply good SEO practices – no high level of expertise required!

Protect Your Mobile Phones

The device we use most often is our cellular phone. Every year, companies such as Apple, Samsung and others make new versions of their phones – and they are not cheap — often with new models in the $750 range.

Of all the disasters striking a phone user, the worst is the immediate loss (or theft) of their phone. The shock of such a loss is quite jarring.

The iPhone has a feature (for iPhones, iPads, and computers) called FindMyiPhone. You can track down your phone, shut it off, or otherwise take it out of commission should it become compromised with your personal information accessible.

Remember, There’s No Need for Paranoia!

The best approach for safety is a good defense. Making sure you use these tactics will keep your business thriving, and prepared for unforeseen issues that may arise in the future.

» Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?

Megan Hayes is a Regional Manager of the Customer Success Team at WeddingWire. As a client-facing customer advocate with 6+ years of experience in both account management and online advertising, she’s now taken her experience and travels nationally speaking on topics to empower small businesses with industry trends. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a Public Relations concentration from James Madison University.

One of the oldest (yet often overlooked) challenges in the wedding industry is that of diversity. While society has led us to think a certain way based on what’s portrayed to us in media outlets such as magazines and television, the reality is that today’s couples reflect a variety of ages, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, and financial backgrounds.

Just think: How many times have you seen a young bride standing alone on the cover of a wedding magazine? Does she represent all of your wedding clients? The short answer, of course, is no. We all know that, yet you wouldn’t know that from the imagery and language used in the majority of wedding-related media.

Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?Whether it’s your business website, your social networks, or ads in wedding magazines, only catering to one type of client could mean that your website (and marketing materials) could be turning away potential clients. According to a recent WedInsights fact sheet, 40% of straight grooms and 50% of brides and grooms of color say it is challenging to see themselves reflected in the content and imagery of magazines and online resources. Additionally, same-sex couples and those with lower household income are also more likely to say they experience this challenge.

It’s important to remember that all types of couples are looking for inspiration and relatability to help them with their decision-making needs throughout the wedding planning process. If couples can’t relate to or identify their own similarities within your work, this might deter them from considering your services. Conversely, our data shows that representing more diverse audiences can actually benefit your business. According to our 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends, 98% of same-sex couples surveyed feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral.

And diversity doesn’t only matter to those who aren’t represented in mainstream media. That same study indicates that 53% of opposite-sex couples have the same positive sentiment; half (49%) find it important for their vendors to be inclusive and provide services for all types of couples.

Over the years, companies have taken an initiative to step away from the stereotypical imagery to a more inclusive outlook on society. We’re starting to see a shift in focus with well-known brands launching campaigns tht promote real people such as Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign and Campbell Soup’s #RealRealLife Campaign. Additionally, companies like General Mills, Swiffer and Coca-Cola are great examples of established companies that have followed a similar strategy towards representing the realism of today’s culture through online marketing campaigns, print ads, commercials, and branded hashtags.

Continue reading

» 7 Components of a Successful Website

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Your website is always evolving, but it has one singular purpose: to generate inquiries and leads. Creating an engaging, optimized, easy-to-navigate site is a critical part of your success. Now, more than ever, an impressive website is the sign of a successful and trustworthy business, so it’s vital that you modernize and update your website often.

How to build a successful websiteThese seven components of a successful website will help you update your site to today’s standards and put your best foot forward for potential clients in your area.

Functionality

How your website functions and responds to visitors is the starting point of your website’s user experience. If visitors can’t find what they need or your website is broken in some way, the content you write doesn’t matter. There are several considerations to take into account when thinking about your website’s functionality:

  • Intuitive Navigation: Your website’s navigation is the blueprint for visitors – they’ll use your framework to find what they’re looking for. Give your web pages logical names, and keep it simple. The ideal number of pages in your main navigation is seven or fewer. If you have more pages than that, consider adding sub-pages that drop down from the main pages. Additionally, recognize that there is a top-down or left-to-right bias in order and choice. A user is more likely to click one of the first three tabs, so be thoughtful about choosing the order.
  • Internal Search: Our collective brains are wired differently. Some people will follow your carefully thought-out main navigation menu, while others prefer a search box to find specific information quickly. Offering a search box gives visitors a number of options for how they prefer to navigate your website. Most website builder platforms/programs offer this sort of option, plus third-party widgets are available to incorporate a search function into your site.
  • Mobile-friendly: Google reports that more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan. It’s no longer acceptable to expect users to pinch the screen to zoom in or out to view all the features of your website on a mobile device. In fact, Google has begun prioritizing mobile-friendly, responsive sites in search results to encourage those who have not yet updated their sites to make the necessary changes. You can check your website’s compliance with Google’s mobile-friendly test. The best solution? Choose a responsive template that automatically adjusts to the visitor’s screen size.

Continue reading

» 5 Questions a Winning Website Must Answer

Your website is an important part of your business’ marketing and sales process! Creating an engaging, optimized, easy to navigate and use site is a critical piece of your business’ success. In our August webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg share his tips for how to create a winning website.

This infographic shares the five key questions every successful website must answer. Read below to find out if your website is a winner!

5 Questions to Make Your Website a Winner

» Make Your Website a Winner

August-Webinar_MakeYourWebsiteaWinner-HowtoWriteBetterCopy_TileWebinar recap! Make Your Website a Winner: How to Write Better Copy

This month, as part of our monthly educational webinar series for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for how to create a more successful website by writing better copy and adding key features.

Find below some top highlights from the session.

5 Things to Look for on a Website:

  1. Who are you? Does your website clearly and concisely tell the viewer who you are and what your business is about? That should be apparent within the first few seconds of landing on a site.
  2. Where are you? Be sure to provide where you are located, and the areas you are willing to serve. It will save both you and the potential client time if they learn up front you don’t serve their area. Or, make it clear you serve outside your typical location if that is an option.
  3. What do you do? What does your business provide and how are you unique? This will engage the viewer and help ensure that you are the solution they are looking for.
  4. What do you want me to do? Make it clear the action you want your visitor to take. Whether that is read your reviews, look at photos from past events, or contact you, make your next steps clear and a contact form readily available on every page.
  5. Is it aesthetically pleasing? Having a visually appealing and easy to read website really matters! Avoid bright backgrounds with light text as that is hard to read, or too much copy on a page. Viewers are more likely to stay on a website they find aesthetically appealing.

Continue reading