» Keeping Up With The Jones’

twitter-previewStaying up-to-date with business and marketing trends is critical to any company, but especially in an industry like weddings where most marketing happens online these days.  But information doesn’t just fall from the sky, it means we have to do some homework.  Finding time to learn something new everyday might not fit into your schedule, but carving out an hour or so a few days a week should be a priority, after all your clients expect you stay current with today’s trends.

Keeping current with wedding trends is probably easy as you know where and how to find that information, but what about search engine marketing trends?  Or Search Engine Optimization tactics?  Or web design best practices?

To start, you’ll need a RSS reader account.  I’ll suggest using Google Reader as it’s free and easy to setup.  Below are a few of the websites I follow regularly:

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» LinkedIn DirectAds updated to include CPC ads

LinkedIn has been beefing up their advertising platform to bring it more in line with Facebook recently and today on the LinkedIn Blog, they announced that their DirectAds advertising platform has been updated to include CPC (cost per click) ads. Previously, they were just offering impression based ad packages which isn’t ideal to small businesses with smaller marketing budgets.  Now that CPC ads are an option, why not try LinkedIn advertising. Many of you have tried Google Ads by now and some even Facebook ads. While LinkedIn doesn’t have the same user base and web traffic as either of those two sites (only about 37 million members), many will fall into the typical age range of engaged couples.  As the internet space becomes more crowded, branching out and trying different marketing avenues is a must.

When will Twitter release a CPC ad platform?

» Build Your Twitter Community

In order to maximize on what Twitter has to offer, it’s important to build your community. To do this you have to start by figuring out what your objective is. Do you want to keep your followers up-to-date on your business? Do you want to share dialogue with followers, maybe potential clients? Do you want to stay ahead of the social media curve? Whatever your objective is, it is important to determine it first and then dive right in!

I found a great list of 10 tips to guide you in establishing your community. Here is a quick summary:

  • DO – create a user-friendly ID. Your Twitter ID is part of your personal brand, so use your name or business name. If neither of these are available, blend them or stay as close to them as you can (ex: MegWW). Also, the shorter the name the better!
  • DO – search for people. It’s complete normal and accepted to follow people you don’t know (a huge part of what Twitter is all about). So search for people in the wedding industry or even people from an industry you don’t know much about! Try Twitter Search or Twellow to find people to follow.

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» Become WeddingWire Rated Before the New Year

Want to become WeddingWire Rated? Get 3 or more of your past clients to review your services and you become eligible to place the WeddingWire rated logo on your website! It’s a great way to let your past clients speak on your behalf – especially before the flux of new brides hits in the New Year!

Visit the Marketing section of your WeddingWire account today to get started!

» 7 items for effective page titles

web page titles, search engine optimization

Page titles are essential to your web pages for a several reasons, which include SEO and usability.  Page titles are one of the first items that search engine spiders crawl when indexing your site, so page titles need to be relevant to the content on that page.  Additionally, that page title appears in search engine results so if you want click throughs, it needs to be relevant.  Ann Smarty at Search Engine Journal details 7 criteria for effective page titles that are good to keep in mind when building or updating your website:

  1. page title should be short and concise (unless you want it’s broken at the end);
  2. each page title should be unique and the unique part should go first (if a visitor keeps several tabs from the same open, he should clearly see what each tab is about);
  3. it should be catchy (to communicate an effective message);
  4. page title should conform to the page purpose (e.g. calling to action or informational);
  5. page title should be based on your keywords (for Googlebot to understand what the page is about);
  6. page title should be focused (don’t try to include all your keywords in the title the home page);
  7. page title should be semantically correct (Google is likely to apply some kind of semantic analysis to titles to make sure they are not spammy).

» 6 PPC Strategies to Consider During These Economic Times

I’m sure many of you hear the same thing I do: the wedding industry is recession proof.  And indeed there is some truth to that because people will always want to get married.  But as the news seems to get worse each and the stock market continues it tumble downward, being prudent would be a smart idea right now.  As a wedding vendor you have to consider your budgets carefully and as many of you start advertising on the search engines PPC ad systems, competition will drive the cost up over time.  The folks over at the Rimm-Kaufman Group Blog noted 6 PPC strategies to consider right now that I think are worth paying attention to:

  1. Have clear economic targets. Be exact with how much traffic you want or will spend.  Don’t be vague right now.
  2. Use strong bid management tools. If you outsource your PPC, stay in touch with your account manager.  If you do it yourselves, keep a watchful eye on it.  Don’t just let your PPC campaigns sit around.
  3. Shift ad dollars to stronger channels. Consider all your advertising options and use the methods with the greatest return, which may mean putting more into paid search and less into bridal events for instance.
  4. Seek capped agency or technology fees. Just make sure if you outsource your PPC campaigns, that fees don’t eat into your margins too heavily.
  5. Protect your bottom line first. Revenue targets set in 2007 may not work right now and you’ve got to be constantly adjust your targets right now.  Protect your bottom line, what that mean a year ago is probably different right now.
  6. Stay calm. Don’t over react and don’t be afraid to be creative with your advertising and constantly be testing new ad units.

» You have no social media presence? 93% of Americans say you should

Well maybe not all Americans, but Cone Inc, a communications company, released the results of a survey they did of 1092 people earlier this month about their social media habits that I found on Search Engine Watch. The results of the survey indicate that 93% of the participants say that a company should have some sort of social media presence.  Additionally, 85% of the same group say that the same companies should be interacting with them on social media outlets.  Other findings include:

When asked about specific types of interactions, Americans believe:

  • Companies should use social networks to solve my problems (43%)
  • Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41%)
  • Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37%)
  • Companies should market to consumers (25%)

It’s an interesting study that supports the common notion that social media should be a part of your overall marketing plan.  Whether it’s a Facebook Fan page, a Myspace profile, a Flickr profile, or a company blog, customers today have many places to visit on the web today so being where they are is going to be key to attracting new business.

What social media avenues are you using to reach today’s brides?  What has or hasn’t worked?  What are your barriers to using social media if you don’t already?

» WeddingWire to present at Wedding MBA conference

Today, Timothy Chi, our Chief Executive Officer, and Sonny Ganguly, our Chief Marketing Officer, will be keynote speakers at the fifth annual Wedding MBA convention, America’s largest educational event dedicated to the business side of the wedding business. This year’s conference will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, and kicks off on September 22 and concludes on September 23. Tim’s topics will cover the latest technology trends in the marketplace and how businesses can take advantage of them. Sonny will be presenting on the different ways you can market your business online for no cost.
For more information on the conference, please visit the conference website.

» 2 Ways to Jazz Up Your Online Documents

I read many articles each week on new things in social media and the rest of the Web 2.0 world, but I’ve come across two new companies that make presenting your online documents so much more professional.

The first is called Issuu.com.  This company lets you upload a PDF document and it will turn it into a Flash version of the document to link or embed on your website.  Here’s an example from Practical Photography magazine using it to put the magazine online. As a wedding vendor, I can envision you using this to show off your portfolio or even as a new way to manage your sales documents online.  This small, embedable version opens up to a full version by clicking on it.

The second is Flowgram. This company allows you to create online presentations that incorporate images, powerpoint, and even live webpages. Additionally, you can narrate your presentation by recording audio and music. You can place your online gallery of photos (even if it’s on flickr already) on your website, but with Flowgram, you can narrate it. You can literally tell prospective clients how you designed this piece or what the newlywed couple was doing here or your inspiration for something else. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Flowgram lets you put a few of those words with your image. Here’s an another embedable example:

» Wedding in a Week

WeddingWire has partnered up with My 106.1 FM in Philadelphia for a Wedding in a Week contest where one lucky couple will literally have a week to plan their wedding…with the help of WeddingWire’s great vendor base.  The actual wedding will take place on 10/10/08.

This is an interesting contest for us and we hope that one lucky couple will make the most of this experience.  The typicaly wedding planning cycle is almost 16 months and we’re shrinking it down to just 6 days!  Voting starts this weekend on My1061.com.  Anyone can vote, but you’ll need to be in Philadelphia to actually see the wedding.  So be sure to check out My1061.com this weekend and choose the couple you feel is most deserving.

Here are some of the participating wedding vendors making this event possible:

» 9/11…A Day of Rememberence

In honor of our fallen heroes of 9/11, I hope everyone takes a moment to remember those who passed in the tragedies on this day 7 years ago.

Ironically, I also came across a new social network dedicated to remember those that have passed called Footnote which recently presented at the TechCrunch 50 conference.  Footnote bills itself as the “Easiest way to gather and share the unique life of someone or something special.”  So perhaps if you’re ever in need of a place to digitally remember someone, you might try Footnote….apparently 80+ million other people already have.

» America’s Got Talent….Running of the Brides Edition

Many of you may know that WeddingWire partners with Filene’s Basement on their Running of the Brides wedding dress events around the country.  We’ve met so many eager brides ready to find their perfect wedding gown.  And to add to the excitement, we’ve put together a must watch video with some great clips from the event held in Washington, DC this past August. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Running Brides – Mazza Gallery from WeddingWire on Vimeo