» The Latest Ways WeddingWire Helps Couples

We detail how WeddingWire helps couples plan their weddingAs seasoned wedding professionals know, couples who are new to the wedding planning process are often overwhelmed with the amount of coordination and careful preparation required to pull off the big day. Scattered across Pinterest are tons of wedding ideas, but it can be hard to manage it all without one place that brings it all together. That’s where WeddingWire comes in!

In addition to our wedding websites, budget and checklist tools, below are some of the latest ways we help couples with the wedding planning process:

Newly Engaged Guide

After the proposal and celebration with friends and family, many couples experience the “Now what?” moment. Our newly engaged guide offers advice and information about the first five steps of the wedding planning process. The guide helps couples announce their engagement, choose a desired wedding date, set a budget, build a guest list, and find their venue. This engagement guide is just one of the ways we attract new couples to our site every day! These couples will use our leading technology to continue planning their dream wedding vision and find the perfect professionals to execute it.

Bach Party and Wedding Hashtag Generators

Our new hashtag generators are sure to make a splash with your clients! Coming up with clever bachelor/bachelorette and wedding hashtags is a problem for today’s social-savvy brides and grooms, so we made a fun and easy tool that helps to get the creative juices flowing. Couples just need to fill out a quick form with some basic facts about the wedding day and—voila—a stream of customized hashtag options are generated! Share with your clients to help them get excited about all the wedding events.

Digital Inspiration Magazines

Our editorial team is constantly on the hunt for the latest and greatest styles, fashion, and ideas. That’s why we release a new online magazine each season! Our free wedding magazines offer gorgeous inspiration for all types of wedding styles and tastes, and each new issue provides seasonally-appropriate ideas to spur creativity in your clients. Plus, since our magazines are exclusively online, they’re completely interactive and clickable. Businesses featured in our articles and real weddings can receive direct click-throughs to their Storefronts – a huge benefit that print magazines just can’t match.

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» Tips for Managing Your Email Communications

Tips for managing email communicationsWhen it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. Engaged couples prefer to email vendors during the planning process, primarily because they can fit in emails between other activities or while they’re at work. Plus, many couples like to have their initial conversation via email so they can easily reference it at a later date.

If you can’t get a bride or groom on the phone, don’t worry about it! While email takes a bit longer to get all the appropriate details, the more conversations you have, the more opportunities you’ll get to set up an appointment and close the sale. Use these tips for managing your email communications to better your chances of booking your leads for each email type!

Inbound inquiry emails

Whether you receive them through WeddingWire or through your business’ website, an inbound inquiry email is an extremely strong buying signal on the part of the prospect. The prospect has already filtered through a large number of possible choices to select your business, so the sale is now yours to win! Despite the fact that most couples know you’re busy, responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. Our research shows that about 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value.

Consumers want a response from a real person and not an auto-reply that states obvious information such as, “Thank you for contacting us, we’ll respond back as soon as possible.” If you feel the need to have an auto-reply, make sure you tell them something they don’t already know or can’t find on your website. Consider being more conversational and adding only helpful, more personalized information the recipient needs to know so you still provide value.

Ongoing communication emails

Whether your client likes to email or talk on the phone, data shows it’s important to take a cue from your clients and respond in the form you received it. 48% of couples express frustration when their vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. If a prospect starts a conversation via email, continue using email to communicate until it’s necessary to take the next step.

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» Does Your Wedding Business Take Credit Cards?

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.

“Do you take credit cards?” seems to be an unnecessary question, but it’s still a common one on forums and social groups. With the cost of transactions ranging from just over 1% to as high as 4% (or more with additional fees) it’s certainly a subject worth talking about. It’s a cost of doing business, but can you (or should you) try to mitigate that cost?

Common types of credit cardsI think it’s as much a mindset as a real cost. In my article, You can’t save your way to prosperity, I talked about cost-saving strategies and how most are misguided. There’s a limit to how much you can save. You have to have electricity, gas for your truck, supplies, payroll and taxes. No matter how hard you try, you can’t reduce your costs to zero. Are the efforts worth the savings?

Let’s do the math

Recently I was consulting with a wedding professional and he was lamenting how it costs him 4% when he receives funds through his website. If he does $100,000 in collections, that’s costing him $4,000 per year in credit card fees. If he does $200,000 in collections through credit/debit cards, it costs him $8,000 per year. The only way to reduce that to zero is to stop accepting credit cards. These days that’s also likely to limit your sales as some people only want to pay with their credit or debit card. You also get the funds now, as opposed to waiting for a check or cash, as you can accept the cards remotely, but cash would be in person and checks are becoming a much rarer form of commerce for today’s generation of wedding couples.

I asked my client how many of his customers he might have lost if he didn’t take credit cards, and while it’s hard to say, it’s likely he would have lost a few. The most he can save is $4,000 or $8,000, depending upon his collections. It’s very likely that the lost sales would have cost him more than the credit card fees are costing.

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» 3 Ways to Maximize Your Email Campaigns

Conducting email marketingWhen planning a wedding, engaged couples are inundated with emails from both prospective and booked vendors. How do you make your emails stand out from the rest? The answer, though complex, is relevancy. The more relevant your email is to every person on your email list, the more likely your recipients are to open and click through to where you want them to go.

To make your emails more relevant to your prospects and clients, think about your emails as part of a strategic campaign. Below are three ways you can go back to basics to make the most of your email campaigns!

Simplify your email design

There are a lot of considerations for a great email campaign, but it all starts with the right design. Keep your designs clean and simple so that they’re easy to read. Don’t add too much content, which can make emails difficult for recipients to digest quickly. Be cautious when adding imagery so as to not overwhelm your readers, and use clear calls-to-action. If this sounds complicated to you, skip the design! Although research suggests that users prefer more images in emails, text-only emails can still be just as effective as designed emails since they often seem more personal. Try A/B testing the same email in a designed template and a text-only template to see what your audience prefers.

Focus on driving one action

The more clutter there is in your email, the harder it is for your recipients to know what action you want them to take. Each email you send should have a clear message that is simple and compelling, with a single call-to-action. If you have multiple actions you want recipients to take, think about segmenting your list or sending a series of emails to address each action. For example, segment your list by wedding date so that clients with weddings in the next few months are encouraged to take an action, and clients with wedding dates further away are encourage to take a different action. Or, if the actions you’re driving are sequential, set up a series of emails that encourages recipients to take each step at a time.

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» Same-Sex Weddings: Tips to Be Gay Wedding Competent

In celebration of Pride month, check out our latest infographic to learn what you need to know to take your skill set beyond “gay-friendly” to “gay wedding competent!” Be ready to better serve your couples and be prepared for your same-sex weddings with these five tips from WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm.

For additional education and resouces, visit WedWeCan.com. Plus, show your support of serving all loving couples by joining the #WedWeCan campaign and posting your favorite photos of couples, past events, or our custom equality image on Instagram!

May_Webinar_Infographic_The-Same-Sex-Marriage-Evolution-From-Niche-to-Modern-Market-final

» How to Write More Effective Emails

How to Write More Effective EmailsDespite the fact that we all receive dozens (or sometimes hundreds) of emails a day, a recent poll by MarketingSherpa suggests that 72% of U.S. adults prefer communication with companies to happen through email. The high volume of email in today’s inbox doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send emails, it means you should be smarter about the emails you send!

We share some suggestions to help you write more effective emails, below.

Make sure all your emails provide value

This tip is first in the list because it’s the most important! Email is a valuable marketing channel, but only if your audience remains active. If your emails are consistently promotional or provide no value, you run the risk of a higher unsubscribe rate. Once a user unsubscribes, you’ve lost that connection. Don’t waste your audience’s time with emails that don’t cater to their needs or offer something useful. Whether you dial back on the number of emails you send or create your own customer segments to provide a more targeted message, look at every email you send as an opportunity to build value with each individual on your email subscriber list.

Use the KISS method

Keep it short and simple. Don’t get too complicated with your message – the most effective emails are clear, concise and compelling. Some businesses can make their point in a paragraph, while others need more room to properly explain the offer. Unfortunately, there’s no magic word count to know, but you can test a few different lengths to see what works best for your audience. Remember that the point of your email is to get the user to take a next action, whether that action is to click through to a landing page, answer a question or provide a certain reply. If you add too much information, the point will get lost. And don’t forget that most emails are opened on mobile devices, so shorter is better on small screens!

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» Top Wedding Planning Tools for Your Clients

Top Wedding Planning Tools for Your ClientsAs the wedding professionals in the WeddingWire community know, we’re committed to providing the top tools to help Pros build, manage and grow their businesses. What many wedding professionals may not know, however, is that WeddingWire is also a valuable resource for brides and grooms! We not only help them find their perfect professionals, we also provide tools to help them plan each important detail related to their wedding.

The more educated and organized couples are before they make an appointment with your wedding business, the better understanding they’ll have of the value of your service and all the ways you can help them plan and execute their wedding vision. Find out more about the wedding planning tools we offer for engaged couples below!

Wedding Websites

Creating a wedding website is a great way for couples to put all the pertinent information regarding the Big Day in one place for all their friends and family to see. Your wedding clients can personalize their WeddingWire wedding website easily with our sleek new website editor that even allows couples to use their own photo as a custom backdrop for the design. Couples can create their own custom web address and interact with guests before, during and after the wedding with a social guestbook. Plus, our wedding websites are mobile and tablet friendly, with a stacked design that displays perfectly no matter what device your clients prefer.

Wedding Budget

One of the most important aspects of wedding planning – not to mention one of the first tasks necessary to start booking wedding professionals – is to set the budget. The WeddingWire budget tool helps your clients track spending across all service categories by suggesting budget allocations for each part of the wedding. Couples can then add or remove line items depending on their specific needs, as well as redistribute funds based on which areas are most important to them. Your clients can also set up payment schedules by recording due dates and creating payment reminders to make sure nothing falls through the cracks! A good understanding of their budget will help couples understand the true value of the different service categories, which means they’ll be better prepared for your appointments.

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» The Art of Acknowledgement

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.

Growing up, there were several occasions that my parents required that I send thank you notes – birthday parties, graduation parties, and so on. Today, it’s still good advice; it’s just more complicated. How we give and how we receive gratitude is a tricky, but it’s an important element of personal and company interaction. It says volumes to others about the soul of you and your company.

Below I share some of my best suggestions for both thanking others and accepting thanks in return!

The Art of AcknowledgementAccepting Praise

During the course of an event, most wedding professionals will respond to verbal appreciation with something like, “No problem,” “It’s no big deal,” or “Just doing my job.” I know what you mean by those responses, but as the customer, hearing responses like that can seem dismissive, somewhat clueless, and disconnected. It makes one walk away, shaking your head as to why the appreciation didn’t register.

Don’t underestimate the power of acknowledging that appreciation! Simple responses like, “You’re welcome,” or “It’s my pleasure” can go a long way towards connecting with that customer. Accepting a compliment with a warmer response shows that you are appreciative for their business.

Unexpected Appreciation

You can also put a smile on someone’s face before you work with them to set a warm tone for the upcoming event. I suggest day-of wedding professionals send handwritten notes to the venue representative and the wedding couple. A simple note lets the couple know that you’re looking forward to working with them and will set you apart from all other wedding professionals. Whether your business is present at the wedding or reception, just know this communication, unrelated to logistics, final payment or anything else, is a ray of sunshine.

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» 8 Best Practices for Displaying Your Reviews

8 Best Practices for Displaying Your ReviewsBy now, it’s clear: Reviews and testimonials are extremely important for wedding and event professionals. Your WeddingWire Storefront already features your reviews prominently to help engaged couples evaluate whether or not your business is a good fit, but it’s important to extend those reviews beyond your Storefront to feature them on your website, blog or other branded online sites.

We offer awards for the quantity and quality of your reviews through annual programs like the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® and WeddingWire Rated, which both include badges you can proudly display on your website. In addition, premium WeddingWire members can highlight one review to be featured at the top of their reviews on their Storefront, but you may have a ton of great reviews that you want to show the world! If you want to start displaying your reviews in other places online, use these best practices to get started.

  1. Select reviews from customers who best represent your ideal prospect. You know your ideal customer: that bride or groom who loves your services and sees the value in your expertise without having to negotiate. Those customers are often the easiest to please and would therefore be more likely to write you a stellar review. Put your best foot forward by featuring this type of review!
  2. Select reviews that include specific details about your service. Reviews that detail how nice or professional you are can still be valuable, but when featuring reviews on your website or blog it’s important to select those reviews that go into specific detail about your business. This gives web visitors and prospects a better idea of what to expect, and lends more credibility to the reviewer.
  3. Feature several short reviews instead of a few long ones. If you have limited space, it’s best to display several shorter reviews instead of one or two long reviews. Short reviews will make it easy for those who like to skim through the list, and featuring reviews from multiple clients shows that your business is able to satisfy a variety of clients with different needs and budgets.
  4. …But don’t be afraid of long reviews. If you’re featuring reviews on multiple pages of your website or blog, you can leverage one or two longer reviews on each page. For example, if you have separate pages for your DJ services and lighting and décor services, feature a review that mentions specific details about your DJ services on the DJ page and a review that mentions specific details about your lighting and décor services on the lighting page.
  5. Include names, titles and locations when possible. While reviews you receive on WeddingWire may not include the full name of the reviewer depending on his or her privacy settings, that doesn’t mean your business can’t use names if you have permission from the client. If you have a good relationship with the client, feel free to reach out for approval on using more details about them on your website.
  6. Feature the reviewer’s head shot. When you reach out to your client for permission to use more identifying information to accompany the review, why not ask for a recent head shot? Visual confirmation that the reviewer is a real person can be extremely powerful when combined with an already favorable review.
  7. Don’t forget the quotation marks! This may seem silly, but quotation marks are a huge visual indicator that the review is unedited and straight from the reviewer. Forgetting to include them may indicate to visitors and prospects that you’ve made edits or changed the review in some way. Always include quotation marks to ensure readers know that the review is a direct quote.
  8. Be consistent in formatting. Though you should never edit a review, you can make sure that the name, title, location and/or headshot formatting is consistent across all the reviews you display. Also think about the styling of the review – you can use big block quotation marks or italic text to distinguish the review from the rest of the page. However you choose to style your reviews, keep it consistent so that the reader can easily follow and understand what the reviews say about your business.

Displaying your WeddingWire reviews on your website or blog is a great step towards using what your customers say as part of your sales process to help manage your online reputation! These best practices will help your business convince more visitors that your business is the right choice boost conversion rates on your contact forms.

Don’t have that perfect review yet? Keep collecting reviews! Start here.

» Introducing the WeddingWire Education Guide

WeddingWire believes in the power of education to keep your business ahead of the competition so you can gain new clients. We’re excited to announce that the 2014-2015 WeddingWire Education Guide is here, full of tips and strategies for growing and improving your weddings and events business!

The WeddingWire Education Guide provides lots of great content to answer your most pressing business questions from how to get more reviews and marketing strategies that work to the top client advice, networking suggestions and much more.

Check it out today!

Education Guide

» The New Rules of Facebook Engagement

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.

Facebook has many moving parts. It may be more accurate to describe being a Facebook user as “being caught in the crossfire.

Facebook is no longer simply a social media platform but a communication eco-system. No longer a place just to meet people, it’s now a sharing and marketing machine.  At every turn, your ‘friends’ are giving concert, movie and restaurant reviews, promoting/recommending almost anything they like, and painfully detailing a frustrating experience from the day.

Sponsored and promoted posts now pepper your News Feed, and ads now take up your precious computer screen real estate. At the same time, our minds race with infinite thoughts, competing for our primary attention in real time. Whether it’s good news, bad news, humor, recommendations, or our innermost thoughts and feelings, Facebook is a powerful magnet for expression.

The New Rules of Facebook EngagementIt’s becoming more and more important to understand the new rules of Facebook engagement. If you want to be noticed on Facebook or want to use it to drive business, you’ll need to follow these rules.

Use the “Who Cares?” test

As a general rule for status updates on Facebook, ask yourself, “Who would really care about what I’m about to post?” I often see many businesses or business owners posting this sort of status update:

“Thanks to Patty Harrison for choosing me as her engagement shoot photographer! I’m so excited to shoot your session on Monday!!!”

To most of us who might read that post, it’s name-dropping, spam, or both. The better action is to thank Patty directly with a handwritten card, a voicemail or a private Facebook message. It’s a personal, one-to-one communication, showing appreciation – not a general announcement. Using the “Who Cares?” test before you post will save you from adding more white noise to the mix.

Check your sharing settings

You have the option to share with Friends, the Public (that means EVERYONE on Facebook), or an assortment of other options (including Close Friends – those you have designated with a Gold Star). Being more selective about whom you share what with will help you be more relevant.

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» How to Cultivate Repeat Customers

Many wedding professionals do more than just weddings – they’re also event professionals who may provide products or services for birthdays, baby showers, corporate events and more. While many wedding services are one-time-only, others can be applied to different types of events. In those cases, each time you book a client for a wedding or event lays the groundwork for a turning that person into a client for life.

Below are a few guidelines to follow to help you cultivate repeat customers who will come back to work with you again and again!

How to Cultivate Repeat CustomersBe Personable

It’s important to build a relationship with all your clients. Having a relationship with your clients will lead to them thinking of you first when planning their next event! To build that relationship, always respond to any communication (phone calls, emails) in a timely fashion to show that you are reliable and they can depend on you to exceed their expectations. Whenever possible, meet with your clients in person so that you can establish a stronger connection than just a voice on a phone call.

Pro Tip: If you’re juggling multiple clients and have a hard time remember who is who, you can upload an image to their booking using our tools in the Clients tab! This is a great way to make sure you remember each of your clients by name and face, and it will help you remember them longer.

Be Their Guide

Most of your clients have never been married before, so keep this in mind when you begin working with them. While they’re new to the engagement process, you’re not! You are a helpful resource for them, guiding them in the right direction to make their day perfect. Gain their trust by sharing your experiences with them and you’ll build a stronger relationship.

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