» What does your email address say about you?

Email Addresses as branding for your businessCan your email address build your brand?  Absolutely.  Part of my job here at WeddingWire is to manage our email communications with our member base.  When I look at an email list of vendors I’m constantly amazed with how many vendors still use email addresses from Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, and local ISP’s (ie – Verizon, SBC Global) as their business email address.  What’s more amazing is that they have websites with their own personal URL.  If you own your domain name, there’s no reason for you to not have an email address that uses your domain.  Having your company name in your email address is branding and I’d say adds to your credibility. It’s an ultra competitive wedding market right now and these are the little things that speak to your credibility as a business owner. This is one of those things that potential clients won’t notice when you have your domain in your email address, but when you don’t, it definitely gets noticed.

It’s easier than ever to use your domain in your email address.  If you host with a company like 1and1.com or GoDaddy.com, then you defintely have email addresses waiting for you.  If you use a private company to manage your website, contant them about new emails immediately as they should have emails for you as well.  Even if you’re a true do it yourselfer and host your website on a computer in your own home and only have a domain, Google Apps provides business solutions to manage email through Gmail while still maintaining email addresses that end in your domain and not gmail.com.

The bottom line is having your company in your email address is a must these days.  Even you think too many people have your current email address to change, simply start replying to emails with your new one and people will have your and improved email address.

» 8 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts Online

If you’re like me, you want your blog posts to reach as many people as possible. Feeds and social networks have made it easier, but this morning Chris Brogan highlighted a few easy ways to promote blog posts that reaffirmed most of what I do after each post I write. So I wanted to share to see what you’re doing to get word out that you’ve got a great post to read.

  1. Bookmark your best posts on Delicious
  2. Use StumbleUpon to bookmark posts as well
  3. Use the status message on LinkedIN to link to your blog post
  4. An interesting idea is when leaving a comment on an industry related blog, put the blog post link in the URL field instead of your normal blog URL.  However, by no means mention your post.  Simply leave an insightful comment adding to the discussion
  5. Share your post on Facebook using BlogCast (could the status message here as well)
  6. Make sure your posts get shared FriendFeed automatically
  7. Let Zemanta insert related article links at the bottom of your story.  You can get the plug-in for WordPress, Movable Type, Firefox and others here.
  8. Tweet about your post on Twitter.

So what ideas work for you?  Or better yet, didn’t work for you?  I’d love to hear.

» Increasing Leads With Your Blog

blogging for businesses and leadsIt doesn’t take being in the wedding industry long to realize that blogging is one of the most popular and easy ways for wedding vendor to market their service or product for potential clients, but are you blogging effectively to generate business?

Wedding services require relationships.  These relationships are the foundation of your business and will differentiate you from your competition.  One of the best ways to get a relationship off the ground with your blog is to offer information and advice about your area of expertise.  Admittedly, some people will take your information and run, but not all will and many more will begin to return regularly.  This will help build credibility for you as an industry expert. Your passionate about what you do, so use that energy to drive your content.  People will notice your enthusiasm.

If a bride-to-be can quickly see from your blog that you are an ‘expert’ that can provide some customization or distinction to their wedding, this can often make them more likely to want to work with you.  In this instance of using your blog to generate leads, give site visitors information that is useful, but also make sure to encourage them to contact you also, perhaps to customize XYZ part of their wedding.  Give to get.

Additionally, because so much of your business relies on relationship building, being transparent and with insight about you as a person is also a great method to start connecting with brides-to-be.  Your thoughts on a news story or blog post can be a right way to share your personality with readers.   People appreciate honesty.

Lastly, make sure people can contact you, EASILY.  What good is lead generation if you’re unavailable?

Do you do anything unique or creative to generate leads?  Share them with a comment.

» Olympic Games Kick Off Today

weddingwire, wedding dresses

Hope you’re ready for some Olympics action because the games kick off today in Beijing.  In honor of the Olympic Games, we’ve put up a festive logo for the occasion on our homepage.  In case you’re wondering how to watch it when the time zones are so far apart, NBC is airing nearly all of the events via their website so we can watch the events when we want to.  How’s that for on demand?  Check it out.

Anyone think Michael Phelps can win gold in each event he enters?

olympic games, china beijing, 2008

» People are searching more and more…Is your site search engine friendly?

google, yahoo, msn, search engines

A new report was released by The Pew Internet & American Life Project indicating that people are using online search almost as much as email.  The study of 2251 adults (18+) reports that 49% are searching daily compared to 60% using email daily.

While email is still one of the most cost effective means of marketing to potential clients, and will remain so for the forseeable future, reports like this remind us that it can’t be our only marketing tactic.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts should be a component of your marketing plan now, as should the use of social media (Facebook, Myspace, Digg, etc).  This report is a friendly reminder that finding new clients takes a variety of activities.  At WeddingWire, we make sure each individual vendors’ storefront is search engine friendly to maximize your exposure to those searching via Google, Yahoo!, MSN and others to give your listing maximum exposure.

If you’re looking for tips on updating your site to make it more search engine friendly I’ll soon be posting regularly on items to think about.  In the meantime to get you started, here’s a few great resources on the web.  Some of the websites and blogs you can find in my Google Reader include:

There’s lots of sites out there to find information on SEO tactics and using the web to your advantage as well.  As most brides will start their research on the web somewhere

» 10 ways to make the most of your customer reviews

newlywed reviews, customer testimonialsOn Monday I wrote about our Rated Program logo being updated and encouraging you to grab it for your website and blog, but I came across this article on copyblogger about making the most of your testimonials that I thought provided great tips to using them effectively in your marketing efforts.  We all know customer testimonials are vital in our marketing, but how many of you have thought about how best to use them?

The 10 ways consist of:

  1. Select testimonials from customers similar to your prospects.
  2. Select testimonials that give specifics.
  3. Edit carefully and lightly.
  4. Group testimonials for greater impact.
  5. Use many short quotes instead of a few long ones.
  6. Don’t be afraid of long testimonials.
  7. Include full names, titles, and locations when possible.
  8. Feature photographs (maybe).
  9. Enclose each testimonial in quotation marks.
  10. Use a powerful headline to introduce testimonials.

The article contains more detailed information on each bullet point.  So if you’ve got testimonials, or reviews on WeddingWire, be sure to make them work for you.  You’ve done great work in the past, now show prospective clients how you make their dream wedding happen.

Have you done something unique or different with your testimonials?  Leave a comment to share the community.

» Are you WeddingWire Rated?

weddingwire, newlyweds, reviewsFor those that haven’t noticed yet, our 2008 WeddingWire Rated badges are available to place on your website.  These badges are meant for your websites and blogs so potential clients easily click through to your reviews (our system generates the code that will link it to your reviews automatically)

You can find this badge in your account by logging in > click on Marketing > click on WeddingWire Rated.  Just paste the code onto your website.  It’s that easy!

Do you have the Rated badge on your website or blog? Leave a comment with the link!

» What is a RSS Feed?

With the latest release to the WeddingWire platform, we are now allowing vendors to not only link to their blog, but also post their blog feed on their storefront. This new feature will allow vendors to show their latest 4 posts directly on the storefront and link to their blog as well.

So in the spirit of this new feature, I thought I’d do a little introduction on what an RSS Feed is and how to find their feed URL (or create one).

What is a RSS Feed?

An RSS (or Atom) Feed allows blog writers to syndicate their content quickly to people across the web. Feeds are piped into feed aggregators, programs or sites that allow people to read multiple blog or news feeds instantly without having to visit the actual site.

How do I find my Feed?

Each blogging solution differs slightly in how they display your Feed link. Below is the method to finding Feed links on some popular blogging programs.

Blogger (or Blogspot)

  • Blogger typically provides a link at the bottom of your blog homepage that should read: “Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)”
  • Right click this link and select “Copy Shortcut” (Internet Explorer) or “Copy Link Location” (Firefox)
  • Paste this in WeddingWire on your storefront

WordPress

  • Hosted
    – Feeds for hosted WordPress blogs (the free blogs that WordPress hosts) are simply your blog URL plus /feed/ on the end.
    – i.e. – https://yourblog.wordpress.com/feed/
  • Installed
    – Installed WordPress blogs (blogs that you host on your servers) do not all automatically have a feed setup and ready to go. It’s best to create a feed for this type of blog anyway. The easiest way to create a free Feed is to go to www.feedburner.com. It takes just a minute to setup an account with a Feed.
    – Your feed link will look like this: https://feeds.feedburner.com/WeddingWireVendors
    (WordPress also offers a popular plug-in to manage your feeds called FeedBurner FeedSmith)
  • Paste this in WeddingWire on your storefront

Typepad

  • First ensure your feeds are enabled by going to your Weblogs tab > Configure > Feeds
  • Then select “Post” to enable feeds
  • Once your feed is enabled, you will need to display a link on your blog to obtain the link for it
    – Do so by Setting Your Content Selections and selecting Post Feed for display
  • Once the is on your blog, simply Right click this link and select “Copy Shortcut” (Internet Explorer) or “Copy Link Location” (Firefox)
  • Paste this in WeddingWire on your storefront

And for those creative minds, here’s a link to 51 different RSS icons for those that like something different.

» WeddingWire to present at the Northeast Regional Coordinators conference

On August 3rd, Sonny Ganguly, our Chief Marketing Officer, will be a keynote presenter at the Northeast Regional Conference for the Tri-State Coordinators conference in association with ABC (Association of Bridal Consultants).  His topics will cover new marketing trends that we’ve seen lately in the wedding industry as well as tips to help market your business to day’s web savvy brides.

The event is coming up fast so if you’re thinking about attending, registration and other information about the event is on the event website.

Conference Website

We hope to see you there!

» Check us out on Facebook

WeddingWire's Fan Page

WeddingWire’s Fan Page

If you aren’t on Facebook yet, I might recommend doing so. Facebook just announced they have 80 million registered users on their site. Oh and while you’re there, stop by the WeddingWire Fan Page and become our fan! Fan pages and groups can be great social networking tools for your business.

As additional way to keeps users interested in your business using Facebook (and Myspace) is to put links in your sidebar.  We have those little boxes with our logo in them so be sure to do something unique to your business if you choose to follow a similar route.

How are you drawing attention to your social network page?  Leave a Thought with anything you’d like to share.

» “Write a review, donate to a good cause”

wedding vendor reviews, i do foundation

Newlyweds can donate just for their reviews

This can be your new invitation line when emailing your brides to write a review about your business on WeddingWire.  We’ve teamed up with the I Do Foundation to donate $5 for 5 reviews on WeddingWire.  If you think your brides might appreciate this, feel free to use it.

The I Do Foundation links engaged couples with a charitable options for their wedding registries.

» See who links to your site

Yahoo site explorer, internal linking, search engine optimization

Another of the many factors that goes into search engine optimization is link building.  One-way, incoming links to your site help determine the popularity of your site. So if you want to find out who is linking to your site, one popular way is to use Yahoo! Site Explorer.  There you can simply type in your domain and it will return all links to your site. It will also return internal links so filter them out by selecting “InLinks” and then choosing “Except from this domain.”