Some people call me an OG of wedding business marketing, but deep down I'm just another person wearing PJ bottoms on Zoom. I swear a lot, I share my struggles, and I don't pretend to be better than anyone else.
You work hard to get clients for your business.
Sometimes it feels like you’re throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks only to find that nothing does.
You feel like you’re doing everything you can and nothing is working.
That sucks, and I get it.
So what are you supposed to do?
I find time and time again that wedding professionals are missing a very powerful tool that could really supercharge their marketing and sales.
That tool is email marketing.
Now maybe you’ve heard about email marketing or you want to start but you don’t know how. Well I’m going to walk you through how it works, why it’s so powerful and how to get started.
It’s simply directly marketing to a subscriber through email. The term subscriber is important because email marketing is permission based so people have to “opt in” or choose to receive your emails. It requires you to use an email marketing service like Mailchimp, Convertkit or Getresponse. These services manage your list, allows people to subscribe and unsubscribe and allows you to track and measure the impact of your emails, because what’s the point of doing it if you can’t track what it’s actually doing?
And I know a lot of people struggle with deciding which email marketing service to use so I’ve got you covered. Click here to download the Email Marketing Services Comparison Guide!
Let’s say someone finds you today but they’re not ready to book you for another 3, 6 or 12 months (and that’s very possible considering that most couples spend hundreds of hours researching and planning their weddings). What are the chances of them remembering your site when they are ready to work with someone? Do you remember every website you went to today much less 6 months ago? They might LOVE you but simply just forget to come back to you and that’s a silly reason to miss out on a booking.
With email marketing you allow them to sign up for your email list so that you can keep in touch with them. Couples don’t make these decisions quickly, they spend hundreds of hours researching, so the chances of them booking you off of their first website visit is pretty slim. You could see this as an annoyance or you could use it to your advantage.
How do you use it to your advantage? You set up a sales funnel to nurture them as a lead over time and market to them so that when they are ready to work with someone, you are top of mind.
Unless you’re really itching to marry a stranger, you’d probably be kind of freaked out, uncomfortable and would look for a way to escape the situation. You probably don’t realize it, but this is exactly what you’re doing to your potential customers when you expect them to land on your website and get in touch with you to have a sales conversation.
There is a process that we all know and understand when it comes to meeting someone, getting to know them, dating them and then getting more serious with them and it doesn’t just happen overnight.
Sales is no different. That is why you need a game plan for taking these potential clients from total strangers to totally in love with you and that plan is called a sales funnel. Your potential clients move through the sales funnel step by step, getting to know and love you and closer to being ready to work with you.
Most wedding professionals ignore this and try to propose marriage on the first date.
The problem with that is that you are proposing something that is completely out of sync with the trust you’ve earned. That’s why you don’t marry a stranger and that’s why you don’t hire a stranger.
The real beauty of having a sales funnel like this is that you can systematize it, so it’s simpler to make sales.
There are a lot of parts that you can actually put on autopilot, and that makes your life a whole lot easier. When you have a sales funnel that turns potential clients into paying clients, you can focus on just two things:
1. Bringing in leads
2. Doing the work that you started this business to do.
Having a sales funnel makes your marketing and your life a whole lot simpler – and who doesn’t want that?!
Your sales funnel starts with your website. It’s where you convert people from casual visitor to email subscriber so it’s a really important part of your sales funnel.
What path are visitors expected to take when they land on your site? Most people haven’t thought about this but it can be the difference between someone getting in contact with you or just leaving your site.
Most wedding professionals give the following options to their visitors:
When someone visits your website while they are researching their options, they will most likely view these pages and then leave because they aren’t ready to contact you for a sales conversation and that is the only option you’re giving them. People just don’t get married on the first date.
According to Splendid Insights,
“Even affluent millennials comparison shop. Research is a way of life for this generation, it’s not a trust issue. They research everything and read an average of 13.9 reviews before making a purchase. Getting published on blogs helps give millennials more places to look when researching. This counts towards that 13.9.”
So in a world of comparison shopping, how can you ensure that more of your website visitors actually get in touch with you?
First, stop and think about why they are visiting your site to begin with. Are they trying to figure out how this whole wedding planning things works? Then be the person to give them that advice! They will remember this when it comes time to make a purchase.
You can’t propose marriage on the first date and expect to get a “yes,” but you can propose something that is proportionate to the amount of trust that your potential client has in you.
I teach the members of The Wedding Business Collective to think about the first step they want people to take and I suggest making that something small like asking them to provide their email in exchange for something like a helpful ebook, checklist or video. This way, you can start to build a relationship with them via email and you’re not just pouncing on them trying to get them to commit right now. Let’s be honest, that’s a big turnoff (Both in dating and in sales, see? They’re pretty much the same thing.)
Take some time today to examine your own site and figure out what you are asking people to do.
Are you trying to marry them or are you offering to take them on a first date?
The “know, like, trust” factor is incredibly important in marketing. People don’t do business with people until they feel like they know, like and trust them.
What can you offer your potential clients to help them get to know, like and trust you BEFORE you ask them to work with you?
Here’s a tip to get your gears turning: answer their biggest questions.
If you’re a wedding planner and the most common question you get is, “When do I need to book each of my vendors?” offer a timeline or a checklist in exchange for their email! You’ll answer their question, build that crucial know, like, trust factor and be able to market to them via email. It’s a win-win-win.
For legal reasons you need to have people opt in via an email marketing service (download this free guide to choosing the right email marketing service for you)
The website visitor signs up via a form you create with the email marketing service. Don’t worry, it’s simple to create and simple to embed or integrate with your website.
That’s the technical aspect. Now how do you actually get people to take action and sign up for your email list?
Unfortunately, they don’t do it just because you want them to. What’s in it for them? Offering something for free (an “opt in offer”) in exchange for the email address gives them a reason to sign up. Make sure what you decide to offer is targeted and valuable to your ideal client.
One member of The Wedding Business Collective created an invitation wording guide because as a stationer, she found that her potential clients were really unsure about how their invitations were supposed to or could be worded. She solves that problem for them with her guide.
Another Wedding Business Collective member created an ebook called 7 Smart Ways To Keep Your Sanity While Planning Your Wedding. As a planner, she helps people stay on track with their planning without losing their mind.
One of my former clients created a little black book of recommended vendors in the area because as a photographer, he was getting hired early on in the planning process and his couples were asking him for recommendations. That’s perfect for a couple in the research phase!
In The Wedding Business Collective we have a course called Selling With Email Marketing and the very first lesson digs into figuring out what to offer for free, because it can be difficult to decide and difficult to guess at what people want. Screw guessing, you can figure out what people want and just give that to them.
There are 2 types of emails that you’ll send – your autoresponder emails and your regular emails.
Your autoresponder is a series of emails that get sent to subscribers automatically (woohoo!) in the order you designate. You set it up once and it works for you forever. It’s freaking incredible! Every new subscriber goes through this series of emails upon signing up so I’m sure you can imagine that it’s a pretty powerful selling tool.
Your regular emails or broadcasts line up with your content schedule. If you’re blogging each week, you send an email to your list each week to deliver that new post to them along with any promotional information or calls to action to get them to take the next step and book you.
So what has email marketing actually done for wedding professionals like you? I asked some and here is what they had to say:
“I am very dependent on email marketing as a communication tool for my current and prospective couples. People are visual with a short attention span, email marketing gives you the ability to grab their attention by using key words, vibrant images and compelling call to action strategies in one message. If done correctly, your audience will engage with you and share your information with others in their social media circles if you gave them useful information.
Email marketing is also important for growing your business by analyzing your analytics. It is crucial to track your data to ensure that you are reaching the demographic that you are trying to communicate with. There are useful tools to assist you in your current and future email marketing campaigns. The data you collect will reveal statistics such as:
– Your open rate
– Which page and or section was open the most (if you included hyper links)
– How long they stayed on your email (this is important to see what they spent their time on)
– What they did not like (this will be clear if that section was not opened etc.)
– Increasing your email list, by sharing with others and gaining more subscribers
– Analytics shows you geographical location (what area of the country received and opened it the most”
“These days, we’ve replaced many email messages with tweets, likes, and status updates, but that doesn’t mean that our affinity for email is any less. In fact, because of the noise that is social media, one could argue that the inbox has become our virtual dojo, our place of solitude amongst the chaos. This is why, as an entrepreneur, I believe that building successful email marketing campaigns has never been more important than it is now.”
“I have a small email list. And I’ve long thought that I have to “get my act together” and grow my list into the 4 and five digits.
About a month ago, after taking a class on adding value to sales conversations, I was challenged to “email my list” with an offer to jump on an hour-long strategy call with me. Inwardly I chuckled. I had fewer than 100 people on my list at that time. But, being a diligent and good student, I emailed them anyway. I got 4 people signed up and booked 2 full-paying clients immediately.
I was stunned but learned a valuable lesson: It doesn’t matter how small your tribe, community or email list is. If you show up in the world with your gifts and adopt a heart of service, your tribe will respond to you.”
“I use a version of email marketing through my CMS (17 hats). They have a lead capture form for my website so that new leads are automatically submitted to my CMS. Then I add a marketing workflow to their contact. That automatically generates a series of 7 emails explaining what makes my company great that are timed based on their wedding date and when I think they would book my services.
It has helped tremendously to follow up with leads from the bridal shows and leads from my website. Before my current system it was such a chore to write these emails. It was also impossible to keep track of who I should be emailing when. Now its just automatic! I set the system up, and then just let it do its thing! AMAZING!”
“It’s early days as newsletters are still a new and growing thing for me, however, I can already see the benefits of doing these. I use them to reach both brides and grooms and also other photographers, who I now offer mentoring and workshops too. Being able to directly talk to potential and current clients is wonderful. It’s helping me to build a little community around my photography work and allowing me to reach clients more easily.
I look forward to seeing how this builds over the rest of the year. I know it will play an important roll in my overall marketing plan.“
“I get a LOT out of email marketing. Here are some of the benefits…
The biggest benefit for me is everything I’ve built as a result of the email list. The email list was just the beginning and things have snowballed from there – i.e. the blog brought in income before it was even launched, as advertisers could already see the community I built was valuable.
I know plenty of people who hear they need to start doing email marketing and they collect emails – but that’s it. They need to be consistent about emailing – weekly, fortnightly, whatever frequency they can keep up. That’s how you build trust and rapport.”
I hear this a lot and it’s because the person saying it is thinking about email marketing as a post-purchase follow up mechanism, and it can be, but that’s not how it helps you book more clients.
Email marketing works best when it sits in that period between someone thinking about hiring someone who does what you do and them actually booking someone. You can swoop in there, provide valuable and helpful content and stay relevant and top of mind with your potential client. And who do you think they are going to decide to work with, the person who spent time helping them or the one who was only interested in the sale?
Email marketing allows you to be that person who markets in a really helpful, non-icky way over time AND when you use an autoresponder, you only have to write it once and it works on autopilot.
It’s true that a certain % of your website visitors turn into clients. You could just send more people to your site to have the vast majority of them leave and never take action or you can increase the % of people who turn into clients by allowing them to take a small first step (opting into your email list). Once you have your sales funnel in place, a larger % of people who visit your site will join your email list and through the wonders of email marketing, more of them will become clients.
So yes, more traffic can help, but sending more traffic to a website that isn’t set up to generate leads is like trying to fill a leaky bucket. Plug the hole in the bucket first by setting up your email marketing, then fill it.
Remember when Facebook changed their algorithm and people who were relying too much on Facebook for business were totally screwed unless they wanted to pay for ads? That’s what happens when you put too many eggs in baskets that you don’t own.
You OWN your email list. You do not own your social media followers. If all of your social media profiles and your website were hacked tomorrow, could you still get business? I could, because I have an email list of people who are interested in my work, the problems I solve and in working with me.
You’re going to need an email marketing service in order to set up anything. The good news is there is a huge variety of them available. The bad news is that having a huge variety can be very overwhelming. That’s why I’ve created the Email Marketing Services Comparison Guide for you and it’s totally free!