20 Best Practices: Reach More Engaged Couples, Get More Inquiries from Your Website, and Book More Weddings

Thank you everyone in Charlottesville for the opportunity to speak to your association at Pippen Hill Farm & Vineyard.

Here are the notes, as promised. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Use the print friendly option at the bottom to print a hardcopy.

Chris Jaeger
Book More Weddings
(978) 325-2983

1. Disaster Recovery
2. Secured Certificate Website Hosting
3. Mobile-friendly “Responsive” Websites
4. Google Analytics
5. Google Search Console
6. Claim Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing
7. Update Your “Dusty Brand” or Dated Website
8. Review Your Competition
9. Review & Update Your MARCOM
10. Focus on Conversion
11. Create a Take-away
12. Consider Using Auto-responses
13. Create a Post-inquiry Landing Page (PILP)
14. Use More Social Proof
15. Amp Up Your Social Media
16. Blogging
17. Minimize Friction
18. Optimize Your Communication Channels
19. Fish Where the Fish Are
20. Subscribe to My Weekly Book More Weddings Newsletter

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1. Disaster Recovery

Don’t trust that your website hosting company can restore your website in the event of a disaster, even if they tell you they are performing backups of your website. Create your own disaster recovery program that includes backups and off-site backup storage, ready to be used to restore your complete website if the need arises.

2.  Secured Certificate Hosting

Websites today must have a secured certificate also known as encrypted https:// hosting. All the major Internet browsers now label websites without secured certificates as “unsecure” and that will scare your website visitors away! A non-secure website may also adversely impact your search engine visibility – an important part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Even if you buy one for your website, make sure it works properly on all of your pages. This is a common problem people run into.

3.  Mobile-friendly “Responsive” Websites

Responsive website design automatically sizes the pages at your website to show properly for whatever device your visitor is using, whether it be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Up to 48% of people surveyed said they are more likely to leave websites that do not appear properly on their mobile devices. Since 50% to 60% of your website traffic is most likely coming from a mobile device, responsive websites are a must. Visit your website from a smartphone – Does it appear like you thought it would or should?

4.  Google Analytics

Track your website’s visitor traffic using Google Analytics. It is free from Google and will tell you a lot about your visitors:

  • What are they doing at your website?
  • What are they NOT doing that you want them to?
  • Where is your traffic coming from?

Send yourself automated weekly reports via email by selecting the small email icon at the top of any report. https://analytics.google.com

5.  Google Search Console

Another free tool from Google, the Google Search Console (GCS), formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), is critically important to managing your online presence at Google. It will give you valuable information about how your website appears at Google, or why it may not appear how you want it to. If there is anything at your website that may adversely impact your visibility at Google, GCS will tell you. https://google.com/webmasters

6.  Claim Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing

Another free tool from SEO Google is Google My Business (GMB), formerly Google My Places, or Google Maps. It controls how your official business profile shows up in a Google search. It should be “claimed” as well as properly configured with your business hours, address, contact information, and website address. https://www.google.com/mybusiness

7.  Update You “Dusty” Brand or Dated Website

If your website is 3 to 5 years old then there is a good chance it would benefit from some updates, or maybe even a complete overhaul. Get an objective opinion and make the appropriate investment to stay competitive in a very competitive marketplace.

If your website does not create the “Oh Yes!” moment (which is that first impression when a couple visiting your website says “Oh yes, this is what we’re looking for!”) then don’t be too surprised if your inquiries drop off.

The bar has been raised significantly in the last few years in the wedding industry, so don’t get left behind. Is it time for a new, professionally designed logo?

8.  Review Your Competition

Get out a notepad and review your competition at least twice a year. Put a reminder in your online calendar (I use Google Calendar).

  • What are they doing?
  • What promotions are they running?
  • What are they doing that you are not doing, but probably should be?
  • Take a look at their social media feeds. What is working there?

You absolutely must keep tabs on your competitors. If not, your business will be at a significant competitive disadvantage. Couples compare websites and look at your competitors – you should too!

9.  Review & Update Your MARCOM

After that perfect “Oh Yes!” moment at your marketing copy, or the marketing communications (MARCOM) at your website, comes the next make-it-or-break-it moment with engaged couples who visit your business online. To generate more inquiries at this point, review your

  • unique value proposition (UVP)
  • what’s in it for me? message (WII-FM)
  • use of social proof (reviews, testimonials, professional credentials), and
  • calls-to-action (CTAs) all directly impact the results you get from your website and ultimately the number of inquiries it generates.

10.  Conversion

Conversion occurs any time someone who visits your website, blog, or social media channel does something you want them to. In many cases, you want conversion to be a new, high-quality inquiry. Many things impact conversion, including the following:

  • the look and feel of your website,
  • the marketing message couples read,
  • your use of social proof, and
  • easily identified “next steps” when they are ready to move forward.

Turn inquiries into sales with prompt follow-ups (response time of less than an hour).

11.  Take-aways

Take-aways are something someone who visits your website can download or “take-away” after visiting your website. In most cases, your take-away is helpful wedding planning advice combined with more information about doing business with you. It should also include testimonials, reviews, professional credentials, and awards. Many wedding businesses do not use take-aways, which gives your company an immediate competitive advantage if you choose to use them.

12.  Consider Using Auto-responders

Auto-responders can be used to create an initial and prompt follow-up to the inquiries you get from your website, but only if they are used very carefully and do not come across as an impersonal “canned” message. I use auto-responders in addition to quick follow-up phone calls. I use and recommend the auto-responder tools from AWeber. https://aweber.com

13.  Create a Post-inquiry Landing Page (PILP)

The page someone is redirected to AFTER they make an inquiry at your website is known as a post-inquiry landing page (PILP). Instead of an impersonal and short “thank you” message flashed to your visitor, a post-inquiry “landing page” is a powerful way to leave a better, more memorable first impression, start the conversation more effectively, and also tell someone what to expect next. Just be sure that you do all of those things! Here is a PILP demo that I created: http://trypilp.com

14.  Use More Social Proof

After word-of-mouth, “social proof” is the #1 reason couples make an inquiry for more information about your business. Social proof includes the use of testimonials, reviews, awards, professional credentials, and membership in industry associations. Use social proof effectively throughout your Internet marketing – in your website, blog posts, social media channels, and email signature. Remember to use it in all offline marketing avenues that you use. Social proof will ALWAYS lead to more inquiries and more sales (i.e. improved conversion).

15.  Amp Up Your Social Media

Engaged couples use social media channels and online “communities” for wedding planning more than ever before. They primarily use Facebook groups, Instagram, and Pinterest. When they come across your social channels, it is important that they see your business is active; offers fresh content, advice, and social proof; and, of course, links back to your website. I recommend you post daily to both Facebook and Instagram. Tools like Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com) and SmarterQueue (https://smarterqueue.com) make desktop social media marketing management much easier and less time consuming.

16.  Blogging

Blogging is an important part of a successful, long-term, effective Internet marketing strategy. It will also give your business competitive advantage. It helps your overall online visibility and search engine rankings; and couples reading your blog posts are more likely to trust you and your expertise. All of your blog posts should

  • provide helpful wedding planning information and advice,
  • use social proof (specifically testimonials),
  • clearly communicate that you are an expert and in high demand, and
  • end with a CTA to your website or website inquiry form.

17.  Minimize Friction

Friction is anything that makes it more difficult for couples interested in your business to contact you or do business with you. Friction occurs when

  • a website doesn’t leave the right first impression,
  • web pages load slowly,
  • graphics are dark or fuzzy,
  • a website looks dated,
  • a website has a weak marketing message, or
  • a website doesn’t effectively use social proof.

Long inquiry forms with too many fields can also create friction, particularly when more and more couples visit your website from a mobile device.

18.  Optimize Your Communication Channels

Using today’s technology, “digital” couples can come at you through a variety of different communication tools including email, text messaging, online contact forms, online chat tools, Facebook messenger, What’s App, FaceTime, or maybe Skype. Like it or not, these things are here to stay and are becoming more popular. Make sure you use the appropriate communication channels that allow couples to easily communicate with your business.

19.  Fish Where the Fish Are

Both The Knot and WeddingWire are huge brands that engaged couples know, use, and frequently visit during their wedding planning journey. Advertising at these websites can be a powerful way to drive more traffic to your website and generate more inquiries.

Do your homework and know what you are buying and where you will appear at these websites if you do buy in. Document everything including conversations with any sales reps. Measure the results so that you can make an informed decision on the effectiveness of your advertising and return-on-investment (ROI). Optimize your online listings or “storefronts” with each these sites in order to get the best results.

Wedding businesses with thin profit margins are less likely to see a good ROI when compared to businesses with higher profit margins.

20.  Subscribe to My Weekly Book More Weddings Newsletter

All of this Internet marketing stuff can be overwhelming and even confusing. Subscribe to my weekly Book More Weddings newsletter for helpful, easy-to-use information that will help you reach more engaged couples, get better results from your Internet marketing, and book more weddings. Subscribe now! https://bookmoreweddings.com/book-more-weddings-newsletter/

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