» Top 5 Lessons from the WeddingWire World Tour So Far

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.

Now that we have two of the five WeddingWire World Tour stops for 2014 under our belt, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on what I’ve seen and heard, not from the stage, rather from offstage. I’ve met so many great wedding and event Pros, exchanged business cards, heard your stories and listened and answered your questions. I’ve often said that the best part of many conferences for me is what happens in the hallways, at the meals and at the bar, and these WeddingWire World events were no exception.

Top 5 Lessons from the WeddingWire World Tour So FarSo, here are five things that stood out for me as some of the lessons I’d like to share with you (and if you haven’t made it to a stop on the WeddingWire World Tour yet, there are still three more coming up later this year!):

1) Free and cheap are worth exactly that.

Don’t be lured in by free/cheap websites and business cards. One of my presentations was specifically about your printed marketing materials (business cards, brochures, postcards, etc.). Printed marketing is a multi-sensory experience. When someone hands you their business card you unconsciously take notice of the feel of the card, the weight of the paper and the texture. Then you look at the quality of the design and printing. You’re making judgments about the quality of the business based upon the quality of the card. Don’t believe me? Has someone ever handed you a thin business card? What did you think of it? You probably didn’t think they were the highest quality business, did you?

2) What does your email say about you?

Almost half the business cards I collected had email addresses that were not matched to that company’s website URL. Instead they had Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo or their internet provider (Verizon, Comcast, RoadRunner, etc.). When I survey audiences they always say that using a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. email address makes you look like a new or part-time business, no matter how long you’ve been in business or how high your quality.

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» What Google Wants from Your Business Website

Being found easily in Google search results is important for all small businesses, not just wedding and event professionals. With everyone vying for top placement based on a finite number of keywords, it can be hard for your business to be found by engaged couples searching for their Wedding Pros.

What Google Wants from Your Business WebsiteYou’ve already made the right first steps by creating your WeddingWire Storefront, which not only helps your business get found by couples searching on WeddingWire but also helps your business achieve better search rankings on search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing. How? Your WeddingWire business listing is indexed across these top search engines, and Premium members receive direct links for across the WeddingWire Network.

In addition to our Search Engine Optimizer for Premium members, there are additional steps you can take to help optimize your business’ website! Below are five qualities Google wants from your business website. Use these qualities as a guide to keeping your business’ website in the running for better placement:

1. Quality content: One of the most obvious detractors is lack of quality content. Websites that aren’t trustworthy rarely take the time to write intelligent, descriptive content, so make sure your website doesn’t fall into this trap. Create content that is specific to your business and keeps your customer in mind.

2. Consistent content: Remember that for search engines “content” means more than just text – content on your website can be images, videos, reviews or comments in addition to text on your web pages and/or blog posts. Update your website often so that you’re consistently creating new, fresh content.

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» How an Additional Domain Name May Give You the Competitive Edge

Pro to Pro Insights

Brian Lawrence, Sell the BrideThis post was written by Brian Lawrence, one of the industry’s foremost authorities on marketing in the wedding industry. Brian has consulted with many wedding professionals and wholesale suppliers at www.brianlawrence.com. Brian also owns Local Traffic Builder, a nationally-known web design, marketing and social media firm serving the wedding and event industry. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing” and “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped thousands of industry professionals with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars, blogs and articles, and speaking engagements at leading industry conferences.

When first developing a website and choosing a domain name, the vast majority of wedding professionals pick one that matches the name of their business. And, that’s pretty much the last thought on the matter.

Except, that domain should not be everything when it comes to building a fully functional, impressive, and effective online presence. You want to secure additional domains to give your business a distinct competitive advantage. 

It can be as simple as pointing the domain name to your current site like you would using a toll free number. The secondary domain will simply link to your main domain, but be available via search so you can reach a larger audience searching for those terms.

How an Additional Domain Name May Give You the Competitive EdgeHow it Works

Domains are a solid long-term investment. Their value increases over time, especially if you generate traffic with them. With the right additional domain name in place, you can strategically enhance your business success.

Moreover, it is virtually guaranteed that using these types of domains in marketing will benefit your business. Not only will your site get more frequent clicks, you’ll experience an increased response both online and/or in print.

Additional Domains = SEO Success

It’s become common knowledge that a wedding business cannot maximize the online visibility of their website without some real focus on SEO, aka Search Engine Optimization.

Additional domains, however, allow you to make the most of SEO, and incorporate into the actual name of your website. If done right, a secondary domain name will correspond with commonly searched terms. That means more people will find your business, even if they only did a keyword and/or location based search.

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» Update your Website with WeddingWire Widgets!

Update Your Website with WeddingWire Widgets!It’s always important to make sure your website represents your business, but it’s especially important at this time of year! With spring and summer quickly approaching, your business is likely to be extremely busy with all sorts of weddings and events. While you’re spending all that time making sure your couples are happy, you may lose sight of your business’ WeddingWire Storefront and website. Even though it may not be your highest priority, your business’ website should be updated often to make sure it’s both aesthetically-pleasing and user-friendly.

We’ve created a gallery of Website Widgets to easily display important and relevant information on your Storefront or website. Below are three ways your business can incorporate WeddingWire Widgets into your website!

Use the Reviews Widget on your testimonial page

Do you currently have a testimonial page on your website? You can make it easier to display your client reviews by using our Reviews Widget! It will automatically display your three most recent WeddingWire reviews on your website, meaning that you don’t have to spend time copying and pasting reviews to move them over to your website. To view the rest of your reviews, users can click to view the rest of your reviews on your Storefront. You can use the Reviews Widget as the sole content for your testimonial page, or in addition to any other content or testimonials you’d like to display. It’s a great way to keep your website fresh and up-to-date without spending a lot of time each week or month.

Streamline your inquiries by using the Contact Us Widget

Do you feel like there are multiple outlets that prospective clients use to submit a lead Even if you’re already using inquiry questionnaires and automated email templates to make managing inquiries easier, it’s not hard to get these multiple outlets confused, or worse – to forget about one! By using the Contact Us Widget on your website, all inbound inquiries will automatically be added into the Inquiries tab of your account. You’ll be able to see all inquiries from both your website and Storefront in one place, making it even easier to keep track of all your clients.

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» 4 Common Website Myths

Many of our Wedding Pros are small business owners with a small number of employees. These types of businesses don’t have the same budget as some of the big industry players, so they have to be more careful about how they spend their time and money. Often these Pros don’t have a website because they don’t have the time or money, or just because they think they just don’t need one.

Should your business have a website? Yes. Even if your business is small? Yes. Even if your business sells products or services that can’t be sold online? Yes!

The answer is yes – always.

4 Common Website MythsWhile your WeddingWire Storefront will provide you with search engine value and a place to upload photos and videos of your work, having a website allows you to provide searching couples with more information about your business. Having a listing on WeddingWire will get you in front of those couples, but if they don’t find the information they’re looking for on your Storefront, you don’t want to lose them just because there’s nowhere else for them to go!

In this day and age, a website is an absolute must for any business. But there are a lot of myths floating around about how expensive, complicated or time-consuming websites can be. Creating an online presence and additional source of information for potential clients can be easy and cost-effective if you know where to get started.

We’ve busted these 4 common website myths so you can know exactly how to begin!

Myth #1: I don’t have the money to create a website.

Wrong! There are many inexpensive services that will handle everything related to your website – domain, hosting, design and more – for a few dollars a month. Most website services also have tons of templates for your business to get the right look. Make sure your choice allows you to add widgets so you can use tools like our Reviews widget and Contact Us Button to easily integrate your WeddingWire Storefront on your website!

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» Check Out the New Look and Feel of WeddingWire

We’re excited to announce that WeddingWire.com now has a new look and feel! Visit our website from your desktop or tablet to experience the new cleaner and even more user-friendly design.

Check out the new look and feel of WeddingWire!

Check it out now >

As the leading technology company in the wedding industry, we aim to improve our site and tools to better serve your business. That’s why we’ve updated the design and functionality to help drive additional traffic to your Storefront! Specifically, we refreshed the desktop and tablet experience by optimizing the look and feel to streamline how couples navigate the site and find your Storefront.

A key update to help improve couples’ experience is in the vendor search function. Now, when consumers visit WeddingWire.com, the vendor search function is front and center, prominently located to meet the eye. The streamlined design also applies to the WeddingWire vendor directory, making it intuitive for them to find you and locate the most pertinent information about your business (including your contact info and reviews!).

This update is the result of various rounds of consumer testing – including sentiment testing – to gauge what consumers feel best serves their needs. Users expressed that they desire a cleaner, easy-to-navigate layout. Our update makes it easier than ever for them to navigate through the WeddingWire vendor directory.

While our look and feel has improved, couples will continue to experience the same premium functionality when using our site to help plan their wedding and find the perfect vendors for their big day!

We hope you like our new look!

» Website Do’s and Don’ts

Many wedding and event professionals create and manage their own business websites to help establish themselves in the wedding industry and build brand awareness. If you’re a small business just starting out, it can be hard to determine what should be on your website, how it should look and how it should function!

Whether your website is new or just needs an update, our infographic with these top 10 website do’s and don’ts will help you put your best foot forward and book more weddings in 2014!

Website Dos and Don'ts

» 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 2014

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at https://alanberg.com/.

As we approach the end of another year, it’s a great time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and what you can do to make next year your best year ever. In my recent educational webinar, “4 C’s of an Engaging Website,” I touched on the factors of an engaging website and went through some real website examples with my suggestions. I’ve since received a lot of questions from Pros eager to learn more on the topic of websites.

Below I’ve outlined 7 things you can do to improve your website for a fantastic year. Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t mean your site is doing them well, or at all. Most will take little time and very little, if any, money.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 20141. Read the text on your site to make sure it’s up to date.

Many of us haven’t read the text on our websites since they launched. How long has it been? Read the pages out loud to make sure it sounds like you. Every person and every business has a “voice.” Make sure your website uses that same voice, as they’ll likely get to “hear” your site before they get to hear you. Do this one page at a time – you don’t have to tackle your whole site all at once. Check your tracking report (Google Analytics or whatever you use) and see which are the most visited pages. Start with those, as they’ll have the biggest impact.

2. Speak to them, about them, not about you.

While you’re reading the text on your site, make sure you’re using the words “you” and “your” more than you do words like “I,” “we,” “our,” etc. It’s not what you do that matters. It’s why what you do makes you the best solution for them.

3. Optimize the text for the people who visit first, then for the search engines.

In the latest search algorithms (geek-speak for the formula that a search engine uses to figure out which are the best results), search engines are looking for keywords and phrases with context. The days are gone where you could fool the search engines by stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny. You’ll actually get penalized for doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that way. Simply write to your visitor in a conversational way. Then, go back and fill in keywords to sentences where you implied them, but didn’t say them. For example, if your DJ site says “Well make all of the announcements, introductions and coordinate the cake cutting,” you could instead say, As your wedding DJ and Master of Ceremonies, well make all of the announcements, introduce you and your bridal party, and help coordinate the special wedding moments, such as your cake cutting.”

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» 4 C’s of an Engaging Website

Webinar Recap!4 Cs of an Engaging Website

You have likely heard the four C’s of diamonds, but have you heard the four C’s of an engaging website? Yesterday, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg hosted our monthly educational webinar for premium members. This month, we focused on the four C’s of an engaging website, and how to improve your business website to convert more of your web traffic into leads and clients.

What are the website four C’s to keep in mind?

  • Color: Light backgrounds with clear and moderately sized fonts that pop are key to a simple, yet visually appealing, website! Your site colors should work with your logo and overall branding, without being too busy. Also be sure to include several great examples of your real work photos that give visitors an inside look into your business, without being overly distracting.
  • Content with context: Don’t say what you do without saying why it matters to your website visitors. What problem will you solve? Why are your services the best for their needs? Share your work and relate it to your target audience so they will want to reach out to learn more about your business and get excited about your work!
  • Confirmation: Add great testimonials to your site. Prospects trust online reviews and testimonials from your real past clients, so don’t be afraid to brag a bit! Publish short, client-approved testimonials where relevant on your pages, and add your WeddingWire Reviews Widget to your site to show off your great reviews!
  • Call to action: It is important to add several clear calls to action on your site. What do you want your visitors to do? Visit your blog? Fill out a contact from? Give you a call? Share what makes your business special and make it easy for them to reach out to learn more about your services! Add links to your ‘contact’ page on every page of your site so they can’t miss it.

This month, the winner of our ‘best tweet’ contest to @WeddingWireEDU won a 90 minute website one-on-one consultation with Alan. Congrats to Amber of Blue Sky Ceremony!

Want to watch this webinar? All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for premium Pros! And stay tuned for information about next month’s webinar, What’s Next in Tech!

» 5 Tips for Improving Your Business Website

A business website is an important tool to reach your potential clients where they are searching – online! When was the last time you updated your website? Find below some key elements that should be included on your website to effectively connect with your potential clients, and top tips to make your business stand out!

5 factors to consider when improving your business website:

  • Design: Your website must be visually appealing. Clean designs, easy to read copy, and fonts and colors consistent with you logo are important. Avoid bright or dark backgrounds, colorful fonts for large amounts of copy, and overcrowding the pages with content. When in doubt, remember “simplicity is key” to engaging clients on your website.
  • Images: Be sure to include images of your work examples so potential clients can see you in action and get a sense of your work and capabilities. When deciding which images to include on the website, consider five aspects: purpose, tone, relevance, timeliness and uniqueness. The images you select to include on your website should pass the test of all five aspects in order to represent your brand. Remember to give credit when necessary as well, and obey by copyright laws.
  • Brand Exposure: Make your branding apparent on all pages of your website. Be sure to include a business logo, create complimentary web designs, and include links to your social media accounts, blog, photo galleries and anything else you may want to share! These elements all work together to create your overall brand impression.
  • Services and Experience: Make sure to provide information about your business, contact information, and of course what services you offer! List the services you provide, and be sure to note anything that makes you unique. Also, be sure to show off any industry rewards, memberships in industry Associations or experience that separates you from the competition. Consider giving a sneak peek into your team so website visitors get a sense of the personality of your business, and the passionate people who make it great!
  • Reviews: Reviews are key to establishing a strong online reputation! Potential clients search for feedback from past clients as they are determining their wedding or event team, and reviews are a great way to show off and stand out. Get the My Reviews Widget to share select WeddingWire reviews right on your website. Simply copy-and-paste the HTML code into your website and your recent reviews are there for visitors to see!

Additionally, it is important to not let updates your website fall by the wayside. Take time to evaluate your website every so often, and do your best to view your website as a potential client who is not familiar with your business. Seeing your website from an outside perspective will help to determine areas of improvement that may ultimately lead to positive updates that bring more inquiries and bookings! Need another perspective? Consider asking a trusted friend or team member to take a look and send any suggestions to evaluate! More perspectives lead to more ideas, more points of view, and potentially more future business. Additionally, frequent updates improve how often your website is crawled by top search engines – ultimately improving your SEO!

Ready for more website tips? Review the webinar “Stand Out with a Winning Website” in the Education Center!

» Your Business Website: Friend or Foe?

This article was written by Alan Berg, a WeddingWire Education Guru. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at https://alanberg.com/.

If you’re like most businesses, you understand that your website is one of the first impressions a potential client sees about your business. For example, when they click through to your site from your WeddingWire Storefront, you’re showing them who you are, what your brand looks like and what you can do for them. At least that’s what your business website should be doing…

Is your website your best asset, or just a big liability?

If their first impression of your business doesn’t match their expectations, they’ll leave. If they don’t understand who you are, where you are and what you can do for them, they’ll leave. They’ll leave if you make it hard to navigate to the information they want. They’ll leave if you play music or videos automatically (the busiest times of the day for most wedding websites is during work hours, don’t get them “busted” by their boss). They’ll leave if they can’t easily read the text on your site. If they’re leaving without contacting or doing business with you, your website is a liability, not an asset.

There’s no shortage of reasons for them to leave.

While there is no shortage of reasons for them to leave, there is a shortage of reasons for them to stay, especially when there are so many of your competitors’ websites waiting for them to arrive.

What you need to do is make your site more “sticky,” which is internet-speak for getting your site to engage your audience to want to invest their time to learn more about your business. How do you make your site “sticky?” First, make it clear what information you provide about your business for your relevant audiences, and then make it easy to navigate. Just because you have great content on a page on your site doesn’t mean anyone is actually reading it if it is buried, or you aren’t making it appealing and easy to learn more about your business.

What does a new website cost?

While I don’t make websites (yes, I’ve written a couple of books on websites, but I leave the building to the professionals!), I get asked all the time what it would cost to make a new site. While the needs of each business are very different, even in the same market and category, my answer is always the same: a new website will cost you less than the business you’re losing every month with your current site. Think about it, if your current site chases away prospects every month, what does that cost you in lost business?

Plug the holes in the bucket.

If you had a bucket that was leaking water and you relied on that water to survive, wouldn’t you fix the bucket, or get a new one? Of course you would. Well, every link in the sales and marketing chain is part of your “bucket.” What’s leaking out of your bucket are sales dollars. Find the holes and plug them, or, when the time is right, get a new bucket.

When is it time to get a new website?

When you can no longer repair your current site or when the features of a new site will drive more business, it’s time. But don’t wait until your current site needs replacing, start preparing now. My website will be two years old this month and we’re already working on the new site. Why? If I wait for my site to look old and dated, it’s way too late.

My plan is to replace my site way before it’s no longer functional. You can’t make a site in a day, at least not a good one. You should always be thinking about constantly improving your current site, while having an eye on the next one. So, stop thinking about what a new website will cost and start paying attention to how much your current site is costing you in lost business. If that number is more than it will cost for a new site, you’re already behind schedule on getting a new site. Begin the process today.

Want to learn more from Alan and other Education created specifically for Wedding Pros? Check out the great articles and info in the WeddingWire Education Center. Additionally, premium WeddingWire members can review Alan’s past webinar, Stand Out with a Winning Website and all other past educational webinars in the Education Center!