» 10 Best Practices for Communicating with Millennials

Successfully communicating with Millennials can sound like a daunting task if you aren’t familiar with their heavy reliance on mobile devices. After all, Millennials are the “mobile generation”: everything they do or want to do can be done on-the-go. They have around the clock access to email, news, social media – you name it, they can do it!  So how do you possibly get their attention in a time when there are literally thousands of modes of interaction? The key is to understand three of the most popular (and efficient) ways Millennials are interacting with the world around them: texting, email, and social media.

To give you an idea of just how “mobile” this generation is, consider this: Millennials spend an average of four and a half hours on smartphones each day, and 87% of millennials have their smartphones on them at all times. According to the same data, 80% of Millennials said that the first thing they do when they wake up is check their smartphone, and 60% said that they believe everything will be done on mobile devices in the next five years. Looking at your audience specifically, engaged couples spend 42% of their time planning their weddings on mobile devices each week. The world is shifting to become much more mobile-based, and it’s essential to adapt your business’s marketing strategy accordingly. Is your business catering to these individuals?

If your answer is no, don’t worry. By following a few simple mobile etiquette tips and adjusting your current marketing strategy to account for this mobile generation, you’ll be equipped to successfully communicate with Millennials via email, social media, and even text messaging.

Email

  1. Make your emails mobile-friendly. About 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices, which demonstrates how important it is that all of your business’ emails can be opened from a mobile device. WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg refers to this practice as “mobile end-to-end,” which means that the Millennials who are constantly on-the-go can access your content on a desktop or mobile device and enjoy the same experience.
  2. Don’t get lost in the (inbox) crowd. Once you reach your client’s email inbox, it’s important to direct them to your email amidst the hundreds of others they’re probably receiving. To do this, use a short, descriptive subject line that grabs their attention and provides all of the important information. This strategy is crucial for a generation that often weeds out emails based merely on the subject lines.
  3. KISS. This acronym – Keep It Short and Simple – is the golden rule for your email content. Millennials’ time is precious; they’re a busy generation with very little time to read through lengthy boring content. So once you’ve grabbed their attention with a catchy subject line, make your emails are concise and exciting. Use images and large font to engage your clients, and be sure to keep the message short enough so you don’t lose their interest.
  4. Respond ASAP. Remember to respond as quickly as you can, because besides being courteous, doing so lets your clients know they are important. Our data suggests that most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours, so aim for that at a minimum.

Social media

  1. Give it whimsy. Millennials spend about five and a half hours on social media daily, most of the time via mobile devices, so it’s important for your business to have an active presence online and to post interesting, relevant content that will grab their attention. Industry thought leaders suggest that you include a little playfulness in your posts, as the social media that Millennials find the most engaging and shareable is often a combination of goofy and earnest content. Don’t be afraid to show some personality – after all, they’ll need to be working with you personally on a very important day in their lives!
  2. Be creative. Despite their reliance on mobile, Millennials switch their attention between electronic devices several times an hour, so it’s important to post engaging, creative content across all platforms that will keep users’ attention no matter what medium they are viewing it on. The key, however, is to post the right content for the platform; don’t just post the same content across your social networks. Consider your audience for each network to post the appropriate content with the right tone. Think about it: You wouldn’t post the same thing to LinkedIn that you would post to Facebook, would you? Use all types of platforms to showcase your expertise and let your product sell itself.
  3. Start a conversation. Millennials are more likely to engage with a social media post if they care about the content. Our research shows that 40% of couples say they comment, tag their partner or friend, and/or post on a vendor’s page if they like the content. They are also more likely to share your content with their own followers if they feel a strong connection to it, so encourage this behavior by posting content that they can respond to or share. If they share your content, it not only indicates loyalty, but it also extends your reach to even wider group of prospects.
  4. Follow trends. We get it; you’re busy! With countless social networks and apps available today, it can be hard to stay up to date with them all. You don’t need to have a presence on them all, but you do need to understand which are the most popular among Millennials. For instance, many engaged Millennials are using Instagram to look for inspiration and to post engagement and wedding photos for guests to see. They often use personal wedding hashtags and location tags that make it easy for friends to find, so mirror these trends by using your own hashtags or geo-tags in your media posts to direct more people to your content.

Texting

  1. Proceed texting…with caution. Text messages are one of the dominant forms of communication among Millennials, well above phone calls. However, while texting is an easy way communicate a quick message, there are still important rules that apply to the business world and are important to remember even when communicating via text. WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg recommends that wedding professionals (and all professionals for that matter) never text prospective clients first. Texting is the last personal communication method we have today, so boundaries are necessary for it to remain that way. Once you’ve had meaningful contact with someone via email or by phone, you can ask if they would prefer texting. If you prefer not to text with clients, you can explain that they should only be texting you for wedding “emergencies,” or if they’re running late to an appointment.
  2. Keep it professional. Avoid falling into the laziness trap of abbreviations and emoticons. While it is easy to simply write, “c u @ 3 today,” you want to keep your texting “voice” professional when communicating with a client – even Millennials who are all too familiar with the vernacular. Adhere to basic grammar rules, don’t type in all caps (to Millennials, that translates into screaming), consider your tone, and always include your name in the text so as to not confuse your client.

Millennials may seem like a complicated generation with their smartphones, tablets, desktops, and other devices. However, following their trends on social media and using professional email and texting behavior will allow you to communicate with these individuals in the most efficient way possible, no matter what device they’re using!

 

» The 6 “T’s” of Client Communication

Client communication in the modern market can be very confusing. Technology has transformed everything about the way we communicate, so it’s important to be familiar with the best communication practices. Check out this infographic featuring 6 simple tips to connect more effectively and get more replies from engaged couples from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

For more tips on client communication, check out this webinar for Premium members with WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

Client communication tips infographic

» How to Detect and Avoid Spam Leads

In 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 a fraud. While it’s certainly possible for a legitimate lead to have bad grammar, you should be cautious if you choose to reply.

Continue reading

» 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: Make Your Website LGBTQ-friendly

How-To: Make Your Website LGBTQ-friendlySince the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, an entire new segment of the population has entered the wedding industry as newly-engaged couples. Your wedding business could be catering to those couples, but website content and images could be holding you back!

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. However, at the same time, many couples are turned away from a site if they cannot relate to the content or visuals they see.

Are all different types of couples reflected in your marketing materials? If your answer is no, here are some suggestions for how you can incorporate more LGBTQ-friendly language and images in your website, WeddingWire Storefront, and other online listings:

  • Display an assorted representation of couples you’ve worked with through visual content such as your main image, photo albums, and video content
  • Select all of the types of weddings you service within your FAQ to make it clear to same-sex couples whether or not you are open to LGBTQ clients
  • Consider your social presence and the couples you’re using to feature in your blogs, social media, and website

Don’t forget: Language is huge factor in making underrepresented couples feel welcome! Be sure to use inclusive language within your About Us section, such as writing “couples” in place of “brides,” since same-sex couples as well as straight grooms will not be able to identify with what you’re trying to say.

Small changes can go a long way towards helping all types of couples feel comfortable reaching out and working with your business. Get started today!

» How to Incorporate Instagram into Your Marketing Strategy

How to Incorporate Instagram into Your Marketing StrategyInstagram is one of the most popular social media apps, with over 500 million monthly active users. The mobile-based photo-sharing social network, launched in 2010, has had an undeniable impact on the social media industry. But many businesses still question whether to take the plunge and allocate time and resources to creating an Instagram presence. If you’re still on the fence about using Instagram for business, it’s officially time to re-evaluate.

Instagram and Millennials

Recent research shows that 26% of online adults use Instagram, a number that has increased from 17% in 2013. With a combined 75% of adults on Instagram falling between the ages of 18-29 and 30-49, Instagram is one of the best ways to reach Millennial couples who are recently engaged or approaching engagement.

Instagram is beloved by its users, who primarily use the app to effortlessly edit and add filters to both photos and videos from their mobile devices. The visual focus, when first launched, offered a simpler alternative to Facebook, with fewer status updates and links. Studies indicate that consumers are able to recall visual content longer than text, which keeps users coming back. Today, Instagram is the second most used social network, with approximately half of their users accessing the site daily.

Couples often engage with social media when they’re multi-tasking, whether at work or at night when they’re unwinding in front of the TV or in bed. This makes it that much more important to post interesting content so that you can capture the short attention span of your prospective clients. Our research shows that 34% of couples say they’ve contacted a vendor though a social network, and Instagram is quickly moving up the ranks in popularity.

Instagram as a marketing strategy

If you haven’t yet incorporated Instagram into your social media marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered! Follow these 5 easy tips to get started with Instagram for your business: Continue reading

» Infographic: What’s the Q? Best Practices for LGBTQ Wedding Language

We’re excited to share our latest infographic, which shares highlights from our recent webinar about the best practices for wedding language when working with LGBTQ couples!

It’s very important to understand modern LGBTQ terms and how they differ in definition, such as sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender. By taking the time to understand the history of these terms and the best practices for LGBTQ wedding language, you will make your clients feel much more comfortable when working with your business. You’ll also be more likely to get more leads using inclusive language that welcomes all types of couples to your website.

Learn more by reviewing the infographic’s tips, provided by WeddingWire Education Contributor Bernadette Smith, President of the Gay Wedding Institute

What's the Q? Best Practices for Wedding Language

» 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!

» Infographic: Building Your Reputation Through Wedding Industry Relationships

A strong reputation is one of the best marketing tools you can have as a wedding professional – so don’t be afraid to network locally with potential clients and build relationships with other wedding pros! By reaching out to your peers, you can create professional connections that can lead to more referrals which means more leads. It’s important to get involved in your community to spread your name and your business skills in order to develop a powerful reputation.

Check out our latest infographic, which provides important highlights from our recent webinar all about building your reputation through wedding industry relationships, hosted by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon.

June_Webinar_Infographic

To learn more, watch the full webinar available any time to all Premium members. And check out the latest industry data and reports available at WedInsights.com!

» To Snap or Not to Snap: Snapchat Marketing Explained

To Snap or Not to Snap: Snapchat Marketing ExplainedThe numbers are in: Snapchat, the image-sharing mobile app, is officially a success. Nearly one in five Americans will use Snapchat this year, and the app’s user base is exceeding Twitter and Pinterest in the U.S. for the first time. Yet despite its recent acclaim as most popular app among teens and its tremendous potential as a marketing tool, Snapchat’s marketing capabilities remain a mystery to many small business owners. The app already has various features, such as geofilters and Stories, that could undoubtedly be useful for advertising.

If you’ve never used Snapchat before, here’s a quick guide to the fast-growing mobile app:

  • Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to share photos and videos that are only available for a short period of time. The user sending the snap selects the amount of time it will be available for viewing. After the photo or video’s time limit is up, it’s no longer visible to the recipient!
  • Users can add text, emojis, and filters to their snaps. Recipients can reply with text or with a snapped photo or video of their own. Snapchat filters range from photo-enhancing color filters to silly animated filters built for selfies to geo-filters that only appear when users are in a certain area.
  • Recipients can save a photo snap through a screenshot – and the app lets the sender know when a recipient takes a screenshot. However, as the sender, you can save the photo or video to your smartphone even before sending it along.
  • The latest Snapchat feature, Memories, offers a way to save and share old snaps in a private archive within the app. Users can set their Memories as private, or share them with others. Memories can also be combined with new snaps to create a longer narrative.
  • There are two ways to snap – you can send them directly to other users, or add to your Story. A Snapchat Story is a series of snaps in chronological order, and they’re available for viewing more than once. Although they don’t immediately disappear, Stories are only available for 24 hours.
  • Snapchat users can add friends by their username, by phone number, Snapcode (a unique scannable code), or by searching for nearby users. Similar to Facebook, both users have to approve when someone wants to follow and send snaps to the other. Users who don’t accept when another user follows them simply don’t receive the snaps.

Though it may seem silly and sophomoric, Snapchat is reported to have overtaken Facebook as the most-used social network among 12-24 year olds. In fact, WedInsights data suggests that among individuals between the ages of 25-34, Snapchat is among one of the most-used as well (albeit behind Pinterest and Instagram). Your target audience is on Snapchat, and they’re using it daily.

Some businesses are becoming early-adopters of Snapchat and attempting to use it for marketing purposes. Snapchat marketing is a bit less traditional from other social networks, particularly because posts disappear and there’s no way to send or post links. However, in January of 2015 Snapchat released Discover, a version of Snapchat Stories for editorial and brand teams. While Discover is reserved for massive brands and news outlets, the added flexibility and advertising implications indicate more to come for businesses on Snapchat in the future.

Continue reading

» What’s the Q? Best Practices for LGBTQ Wedding Language

LGBTQ Wedding Language WebinarWebinar recap!

Language is an important thing to remember when marketing to the LGBTQ community. You do not want to isolate any couples by using offensive wording, or failing to account for specific terms that welcome LBGTQ couples and make them feel comfortable to use your business.

One year ago this June the Supreme Court passed their decision on full marriage equality! To help celebrate, WeddingWire Education Contributor Bernadette Smith hosted an educational webinar this week to discuss the best practices for LGBTQ wedding language, so you can continue to effectively reach and serve all couples.

Here are some of the great tips for using inclusive language that were shared during the webinar:

  • Not all people identify as a single gender, or have a single gender expression or sexual orientation. It is important to recognize that there can be fluidity between each of these categories. Since there are various ways that individuals can express themselves, aim to use inclusive language for all.
  • It is okay to ask a client what pronoun they prefer, or by what title they would like to be called (“bride,” “groom,” etc.). It is better to ask your clients for their preferences so you can address them in a way that is respectful, rather than to make assumptions. And, be sure to honor their response!
  • There are several offensive terms that are outdated or too risky to use when marketing, especially if you are not apart of the LGBTQ community. For instance, Bernadette recommends avoiding terms like “gay agenda,” “that market,” and “sexual preference,” among various others.  
  • Millennials often have a different take on the proper language that should be used to refer to LGBTQ individuals. They frequently follow their own trends, and are more likely to have more traditional wedding experiences. Learn more about these trends and the latest statistics by reading the 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples Report.  
  • The best way you can show your support of LGBTQ couples is to be inclusive in your marketing, website and language. Show photos of all types of couples, express that you are excited to serve all types of loving couples explicitly, and update your contracts to use inclusive language not just “bride” and “groom.”

Interested in learning more? Watch the full webinar, or check out past blog posts on serving same-sex couples.

For more great education and resources from Bernadette, be sure to visit Gay Wedding Institute, and grab your free download 5 Social Media Tips to Increase Your LGBT Wedding Bookings.

Plus, don’t forget to opt-in to the GayWeddings vendor directory and update your main image to attract more engaged same-sex couples – learn how with our step by step guide. Once you are listed, add your GayWeddings badge to add to your website or blog and get added traffic to your listing!

» Have You Registered for Wedding MBA?

Have You Registered Wedding MBA?Don’t miss three exciting days of presentations and seminars from top-notch wedding professionals and favorite industry experts at Wedding MBA this October 3-5th in Las Vegas!

Did you know you can save extra on your ticket just by being a WeddingWire member? Register using this special link to save an extra $20 on the current ticket price (please note your discount will be applied when you complete checkout).

What can you look forward to at Wedding MBA?

  • An entire first day  filled with specialty content covering a variety of categories. There will be Wedding Venue Seminars, Photobooth Seminars, Decor Seminars, Florist Seminars, and many more! Attend the sessions to learn from your peers.
  • Many WeddingWire Education Experts will be in attendance, such as WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, who will be presenting his own talk, “Wedding Cashers,” on making more sales in less time. Alan’s other presentation, “Word Up,” will discuss ways to optimize your website text. You can also hear from WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm on “Serving Same-Sex Couples: The Real Story”, and Meghan Ely on “One for the Money: Ten Ways to Boost Sales Without Discounting.” Plus, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly has three main stage sessions you won’t want to miss.
  • WeddingWire is excited to have our booth, annual party, and to sponsor a Happy Hour as the closing celebration for the event Wednesday evening! We can’t wait to show you what fun surprises we have in store this year.

The event will be here before we know it! Don’t forget to register now and save on your ticket before the next price increase on Saturday, June 25th.