Marketing your wedding business in 2020
Where to start, and how to get it right.
When a couple starts to plan a wedding, you’ve got to remember, they’re probably not professional wedding planners. It’s also most likely it’s their first time doing so. And what’s the first thing we all do in unfamiliar waters? Default to what we DO know. Looking to move home? You check RightMove, Zoopla, etc… Booking a holiday? It’s TripAdvisor, Bookings.com, right? These are all directory sites where you can find and read reviews, see photos and prices, and most importantly, start making decisions.
It is exactly the same for weddings – directory sites are the first and most trusted resource for almost all new wedding planning couples.
The only exception is when the couple already have a very strong idea of a particular supplier, and even then, they’ll still use directory sites to read independent reviews and compare their choice with others on that site. If you’re not listed on the sites they are using, you are giving away your bookings to your competitors that are.
Want to try before you buy?
Any good directory site (i.e. are confident in their service) will allow you add a directory listing for free.
Is it worth is? Yes – no question – it’s a great place to start. Here at Guides for Brides, we generated over 23,000 enquiries for venues and suppliers with free listings during 2019, so it certainly worked for them. Our data shows us you’ll always get more and better quality enquiries for paid and premium listings, as you’d expect. But if you really don’t have any marketing budget for 2020, it is still far better to have this base level of trusted digital presence covered.
Enquiries sent to free listings in 2019
Top tip for free listings: If you can update your listing regularly and include all the optional information such as FAQs, your listing will be favoured by couples and search engines alike.
Why? Google loves up-to-date and content-rich pages, and we prioritise these pages to help Google index them more easily.
Want to maximise bookings and enquiries for 2020?
Venues and suppliers who are growing their businesses will always opt for premium (i.e. paid) listings. A premium listing gives you a professional image. And no, it’s not by coincidence; hands in the air, it’s how we make our money. So, in return, we make sure our premium listings are placed front and centre, standing head and shoulders above their free-listing competitors. A paid listing also shouts that you’re open for business, and would like to hear from couples and wedding planners right now.
As with any marketing spend you’ll want to maximise return. So how can you get the most from this opportunity?
- We know that more couples click on listings towards the top of the page.
- We know that the more information you have included, the longer couples will spend on your profile.
- Couples are more likely to look at businesses with more than 10 reviews, regardless of the review rating.
- Brides say that their biggest frustration comes from venues and suppliers not showing prices and important information.
For maximum enquiries; get near the top of the page, include at least 10 reviews, and at the very least a price range – if you don’t want to include exact prices.
Then – and this is possibly the most important – maximise your conversions
Couples will continue to look at alternatives while they wait for your reply, so act fast.
Below you can see the most common days and times for sending enquiries.
Enquiry volume by time and day
So, if you can respond between 8-10pm on a Sunday evening, you’ll be a step ahead and will reach couples while they are still in “buying mode”.
Too many enquiries from your premium listing?
Some venues and suppliers can struggle to prioritise the most important enquiries. It’s a nice problem to have – sure – until you have it. However, you can sift the wheat from the chaff:
- Add more information to your listing to pre-qualify couples and receive only relevant enquiries. Yes, you might get more enquiries if you are vague with information as couples have to contact you to see if you are a good fit, and there is always a chance you can convert them, but in the meantime you could be missing enquiries from couples who are already an exact match for you, but aren’t aware as they don’t have the patience and time to contact you to find out.
- Respond to those from the most relevant sources first; 83% of couples using Guides for Brides email no more than 3 venues, so your conversion rate will be higher than sites encouraging indiscriminate enquiries. Most relevant of all, though, are couples emailing directly from your site. They may have come from a directory site where they have read your reviews and have compared you with others, then came to your website to move to the next step.
Which directories work?
Most businesses advertise on 2-3 directory sites. Couples are more likely to book if they feel familiar with you and have seen you before, so don’t worry about reaching the same audience twice; it won’t be wasted. In fact, the opposite. In addition to sending you enquiries and web visitors:
- If the directory is linking to your website and has a high Domain Authority, it should give a significant boost to your Google ranking.
- If the page you are listed on is relevant (i.e. specific to your county and business type) it should boost your Google ranking.
- For 2020; by March all directories should mark paid outgoing links as ???? rather than “No Follow” or it could damage your Google ranking. So check for this.
In most cases you’ll only need one booking to pay for the listing, but monitor your results so you can spend wisely year on year.
Top 3 errors in monitoring results
- Focusing on quantity.
- It is better to judge results based only on enquiries that are pre-qualified and relevant. Irrelevant enquiries are a waste of everyone’s time, and could even cost you a booking if you’re too slow responding to your closest matches.
- Assuming it is all about enquiries.
- Couples that do their research before contacting you are more likely to book. If they click out to your website or social media, it is a positive sign. If they like what they see there, they’ll contact you. It’s relatively simple to set up online tracking to see how many couples sent to your website go on to contact you. (See Google’s intro guide for setting up conversion tracking or “Goals” within Google Analytics.)
- Ignoring the value of brand awareness.
- You need to constantly be in the sight and mind of wedding planners, local wedding businesses, and couples. They might not have clicked your profile today but with familiarity comes trust. So the more they see you, the more likely they are to contact you or recommend you to someone they trust.