Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are the Experts ever wrong??

I’m taking a break today from the usual Wedding topics because something interesting struck me this morning.  I can recall reading several (if not many) articles back in January of February of 2012, telling us that some “experts” were predicting that gas prices would reach $5.00 per gallon by July 4, 2012.  Of course everything you read on the internet is true and I even think this bit of news was broadcast on the local news.

Being the sucker that I am for listening to experts, I expected a sharp drop in the stock market.  After all, another expert told me that when gas prices rise, the economy goes into the proverbial crapper.   So I moved all of my 401K money from a really aggressive account into the plain old interest bearing account.  Luckily in the last stock market crash, my money was sitting nicely collecting 1% interest a year, while many of my colleagues were taking a beating. 

So driving into the office this morning, I see a sign for gas that was reading $3.25 per gallon.  I think the gas station must have had the numbers reversed because the “experts” were not predicting this, and we are less than a week away from July 4, 2012.  It could also possibly be that the area of the country that I live in might also be having a Blue Light Special on gas or something.  Granted it is not $1.00 a gallon, but it is certainly much better than $5.00 a gallon. 

But geez, could the “experts” really be wrong???   Who are these clowns that gave the prediction?  I sure hope that they are fired from their jobs by now for being completely incompetent.  Maybe it was a scare tactic or a marketing ploy.  Maybe their crystal ball broke. 

Maybe it is time for me to realize that not everything the expert says (especially a prediction) is fact.  In this case, I may have been a little better off going into the city to a fortune teller and getting their take on the situation.  I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know it is time to listen to the so called experts, a little less. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

You're Paying What?????????

I've been stewing a few weeks over this one and really trying to keep quiet about it.  Perhaps I should continue to keep quiet, but's only a blog and I have a total of 6 viewers, (including my dog).  As you probably know, I have wedding websites all over the country that I use to promote wedding vendors and connect brides with professionals.  I never really promote the sites, push vendors to advertise on them, or even try to hard sell vendors to advertise on them.  I just kind of let them sit there, search engine optimize them, brides find them and use them, vendors find them and advertise on them.  All is good. I am providing a service to connect brides with wedding vendors and don't feel I am robbing the vendors to do this.

One thing I never really investigated was to see how much wedding vendor advertising costs are these days (with everyone else).  I just kept to myself and was fat, dumb, and happy offering free listings and upgraded listings for $99.00 a year.  I thought the upgrades were modest, offering free top and side banner ads, image uploads, video uploads, leads, reviews, and other things.   The main thing was to provide an affordable advertising outlet for vendors, connect brides and vendors, and provide great customer service to the vendors that advertise with us (free and paid).  I realize I am not one of the big guys and never professed to be.  I concentrate marketing to local and regional sites and really don't go after the national market.  I am not jealous of the big guys, nor am I even trying to get more business to my sites.  But I am disturbed at what some people are charging wedding vendors to advertise with them.

About 2 months ago I ran across a great guy from the Tampa Bay area, having a fit with one of the major advertising outlets.  Apparently they were using some crap technology in their filtering system and his premium ad was not being displayed when a user filtered results by distance.  It was a blatant form of misconception to the vendors that were paying.  The geek in me instantly realized that this could be fixed quite easily on this outlet's website, but I just sat back and watched the Facebook posts smoke and rise about how unfairly this vendor was being treated (and he really was being treated unfairly).   I came to find out he was paying over $2500 a year for advertising with this outlet.  I almost crapped myself!!!  I was that far out of the loop???  Were people really paying all that money to advertise online???  You've got to be kidding me!!!

So I continued my little investigation, and found another gentleman that was paying over $3500 a year to the same company to advertise his services.  Found another young lady that was actually paying the bargain price of over $450 a year to be listed on the second page (or listing number 45) of their site.  The stories are endless, but all the same.  Small businesses, wedding vendors, paying a ridiculous amount of money to advertise their wedding business.  All because they "have to" because everyone else does.  I am just floored over this whole thing.   Somebody is laughing all the way to the bank, and it is not the wedding vendors. I realize that advertising is all part of doing business, but come on.....

I love the idea of promoting wedding vendors, it's what I do.  I realize that wedding vendors are already getting hammered for advertising in multiple once and done bridal shows and throw away magazine ads.  Now someone is rubbing salt in the wounds by offering to get you on their first page for premium listing price of over $2000.00 a year!!  Don't get me wrong,we all know there is a cost to advertising and running these sites, but there is no reason for it to be excessive.

I recently seen a comment from a wedding professional admitting that these two sites are popular with the budget brides.  Well of course they are popular sites, because wedding vendors are making them that way by promoting them on our own sites. Don't believe me?  How about the "read my reviews on this site", or the copy and paste code that lists your reviews with their branding on there also.  So the wedding vendors are paying to promote the sites...and paying severely none the less!!!  They lure you in with the free add, and then to get to the top you need to upgrade, and upgrade, and upgrade, until before you know it, you are paying big bucks...and for what???   But don't worry, you are only stuck in it for a year, even if you pay by month, your contract is for a year.  Sure on my sites it is for a year also, but for only 1/20th the cost (had to put a shameless plug in there).

Let's just say I am a little more than annoyed at the big two (yeah you know who you are) at charging these ridiculous fees for advertising, to small business.  It is just silly so it is time to let the proverbial cat out of the bag and do some more exposing this silliness.

Time to start looking out for the little guy and time to write a few more blogs for my five readers and my dog to read.  Some interesting titles I have in mind are:

1.  Why would I send someone away from my website to read my reviews? ( I kind of wrote this one already)
2.  All these awards.  What a Load of Crap!!!
3.  I'm Paying You so I can advertise YOUR business?
4.  I'm Knot going to pay a lot for this advertising.

Am I misinformed??  Am I looking at this the wrong way??   I never once said I was always correct, so I am open to listening to more.  Feel free to comment.  

Buckle your seat belts boys and girls....It is going to be a fun ride.
Stay tuned.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is Social Networking Really Your Store Front??

I am really beginning to like the various social networking tools that are out there.  I know they have been around for a while and I was kind of late to the game, but I am there none the less.  I have found that it is a great way to connect with many wedding vendors and also a neat way to promote your business.

One thing I cannot help but notice is the increase of people using Social Networks as their store front in place of a web site.   In other words, using Facebook as their only source on the World Wide Web to have their business and using twitter as an email address.  I really took notice to this the other night while trolling through various Facebook groups.  Some people need to realize that Social Networks are just that… networks. 

If you are guilty of this, you are missing out on a whole bunch of exposure you really could be getting, plus you are looking really unprofessional to boot (in my opinion).  As a legitimate business the least you should have, besides your business, is a real website.  Domain names, web hosting, and content managers like Word Press are dirt cheap.  If you think you can’t afford a website, then let’s take a look at the costs.  I will use some examples that I personally deal with and I am not promoting any of these purposely.  Just using what I know works.

  1. Domain Name – Godaddy – Costs about $12.00 a year for your domain name.  If you are paying more than $12.00 a year for your domain name, you are being ripped off.
  2. Hosting for your Website and domain name – Hostgator – Cost about $72.00 a year.  I am sure there are others, but I like Hostgator because of it being inexpensive and they have a ton of free add ons.  It is shared hosting and probably something that most small businesses can use.  If you have a photography site, you may need some more server space, but for most wedding professionals, a regular shared hosting plan will suffice.  This also includes emails.
  3. Website – Word Press – costs about FREE.  It is included with your Hostgator plan and installs easily.  Word Press web sites are really getting great Search engine exposure also.   Some hosting service offers web site builders.   I don’t recommend these personally, but that decision is yours.   

And there you have it.  It costs less than $100 a year to have a REAL web site.  If you cannot afford $100.00 a year, it may be time for you to re think if you really should be in business.   I used to knock Word Press web sites, but not anymore.   Google loves them for some reason.  And if Google likes it, then if you want to get seen, you should like it also.     

You can also go out and begin to spend a ton of money on website designers, logo designers, and all of the other goodies, but for starters, you really do not need to do this.  I mean, you only have a Facebook page now; anything even resembling a website has to be better than that.

And for crying out loud, get a REAL email address (it is included with your web hosting).  Don’t use hotmail, G-Mail, Yahoo mail, or any of the other free web based mail services out there.   I look at businesses that have these type of free emails and the first thing I think is “unprofessional”.    I am not saying they are unprofessional, but it is just my perception.    

It is going to take a little bit of reading and asking questions once you get it set up, but it is easy to manage after that.   There are internet forums all over the place on Word Press and designing that you could start with.   Many of the wedding groups on Facebook have a lot of individuals that are more than willing to give you some free advice in getting started.  And if you cannot find them, look for me, I’m willing to help get you started (don’t expect me to be your designer though). 

As time progresses you are going to get hundreds, if not thousands of tips and tricks to make your website better.   You are going to find yourself spending some time on building your creation, but once you have it, you are on your way to presenting yourself and exposing your business in a more professional manner. 

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wedding Vendor Reviews - The Good - The Bad- The Ugly

We’ve all seen the various review sites around the wedding world.  You have the major wedding advertising network that has all kinds of reviews, the Yelp’s, the Google Places, the Yahoo’s, among a bunch of other places that a pleased bride (or a disgruntled bride or your competitor) can place a review of your business on.  Heck even my sites have a spot for reviews. 

One would wonder if they are really worth having or really worth the hassle of having.   In my trolling around the internet on the various wedding boards (I have no life), I get to see all of the good, bad, and ugly on this subject.  I see wedding vendors complaining because they got a bad review from a disgruntled bride (or a competitor) and I see the brides complaining because a bad review they submitted was taken down.   I am seeing both sides of the story and I am sympathetic to both sides.

The reviews are nothing more than a decipher episode..   A bride has to decipher, what reviews are real and what reviews are bullshit.  She doesn’t really know the author and can only take the reviews at face value.  As the vendor being reviewed (as we never do anything wrong), we need to decipher who our competition is that put up this crap review or what we did to what bride to piss them off.   As a third party, it is tough to decipher just who is right and who is wrong in a dispute, because plain and simple…we weren’t there.   So the third party (review site) now becomes judge and jury on a matter they really know nothing about and have to make a decision based on facts presented.   Now I am a site owner, I have someone paying me to advertise on my site, and which way am I going to go? 

Things could be a whole lot less complicated if we all put on our rose colored glasses and followed a few simple rules. 
  1. If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say it.
  2. If you are a wedding professional, remember that the customer is ALWAYS right.
  3. None of my competitors would ever put up a false bad review on me, so I am not going to do it to them either. 
  4. Don't be a good wedding professional, be a GREAT wedding professional and no one will have to put up a bad review on you. 
OK…enough of living in fantasy land because we all know that these ideas may be next to impossible. 

I have also seen some complaints from wedding vendors that said one particular wedding website advertiser agreed that they can bury the bad review or make it disappear in exchange for a $7000 premium listing?   I have yet to confirm this incident or this practice, but if someone is doing this, then it is just plain wrong.  

So you understand, as a wedding advertising site owner, we open ourselves up to a whole can of worms even posting anything negative about our paying advertisers.  There is absolutely nothing good that can come out of it, NOT ONE SINGLE THING.  We open ourselves up to a loss of customers, a loss of credibility, possible court actions, and any number of different things. 

(and now a word from our sponsors)
On the record, I approve each and every review for each and every site before it is posted to the site.  I do this only because I did catch one person (a vendor) putting bad reviews and ratings in for other vendors (I keep track of ip addresses).  Our policy is that negative reviews are always forwarded to the vendor so they are aware of an issue.  Negative reviews are not posted.  After more than one negative review, I personally call the vendor and we would come to an agreement that maybe our site is not the best place for them to advertise their business.
(end of commercial)

One thing I can say, is that on all of our sites, we have had to deal with negative reviews minimally.   The worst we ever had was the phony-balony (yes I know I spelled that wrong) circumstance I spoke of earlier.  Other than eliminate the reviews entirely, maybe we should change the name from Reviews, to Raves or Positive Reviews.  Perhaps this will deter anyone from posting the negative review and gives us the license to only allow positive reviews.  I doubt it, but it is always a thought.   

I may be out of the loop, but one practice I just recently heard of was a vendor offering a discount to a bride, if she went to the one wedding advertising site and placed a good review on them.  I cannot help but laugh at this practice.  It has got to be on the top ten list of dumb things.  Begging brides to put up a good review on wedding vendors has now given way to bribing brides to put up a review???  You have got to be kidding me!!   I’m sorry but if you are doing this, it is not a good business practice; it is desperation in my book.  You are not only paying to advertise on that site, now you are paying to put content on that site.  I hope that payment is in your advertising budget.  And to put some icing on the cake, you are advertising the same people you pay and expect to be advertising you, by sending your customers to their site to read your reviews.  

Whether we like it or not, more and more brides are eventually going to become very skeptical of online reviews.  You may as well have your reviews on your site so you can at least control what is put up there.  Call it your mailbag, or satisfied customers, or something positive.  If you have not already, it might be time now to begin collecting the real thank you notes that you get from brides for your display of reviews.   It might also be a great idea of asking a bride or two if you can share their contact information with future brides for a reference on your service.  I've recently seen some video testimonials.  I don't know who's idea that was, but whoever thought of this, you are a genius.  These video testimonials can be put onto your website and could possibly be more credible that written reviews (hmmmmmm that even gives me an idea).  When the online review skepticism becomes an issue, you will at least be prepared and have something else in your back pocket.   

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not being there – The advertising FEAR FACTOR

One of the things I see in the wedding advertising world is the statement, “Everyone else is advertising there.  If I don’t someone will take my spot and get that business”.   I guess it is the fear of not “being there” when a potential prospect is looking.   This is not only in online advertising, but in printed advertising, billboards, bridal shows, and the list goes on.  

Unless you have an unlimited advertising budget, you need to realize something…You are not going to be everywhere all the time.   You just need to do the best job you can at making sure are going to be at the right place at the right time.   But you need to do that within reason or your advertising budget. 

One of my favorite bloggers (well my favorite blogger) recently discussed something very similar to this when it comes to the VenueAdvertising books.  You know the ones I am talking about, the wedding magazine that every venue has, that you NEED to be in.  They get the printing and showcase their venue for free, and all of the costs are picked up by the advertisers in this book.  Once again, someone is laughing all the way to the bank (I think the name was Hawthorn).  This blogger finally said NO, and it isn’t hurting her business a bit. 

I had a conversation with another gentleman recently who was spending over $4000 a year with one of the online wedding websites.  His comment was that everyone in his area was on it and he “HAD” to be on it.   He admitted himself that it took over 30 jobs a year to make up for this ONE advertising campaign.  I am still scratching my head but it is his business model and as long as he is happy, I am happy.  I am sure he is looking at the overall cost and effect of spending this much money.  Even at the cost of advertising these days (which advertising cost is really getting stupid in my opinion), one would think that you could invest in 4 or five other effective advertising outlets for that amount.  If you follow up to insure you are getting a return on your investment on each of those, you would probably make out just as well, if not better.  You may even save on some of your advertising budget.

I am not saying stop all of your advertising or don't advertise here or there as I know advertising is a cost of doing business.  Of course it is your money and you can do what you want with it.   You can always look at it as the proverbial "brand exposure", but how much are you really willing to spend for brand exposure.  One would think that we would use some common sense in advertising and getting some facts before writing that check or breaking out the charge card.  Just because everyone else is doing it, it doesn't mean it will be a cost effective form of advertising for you.   Don't let the FEAR FACTOR sway you in trying to make an informed decision on where you spend your advertising dollars.  

(And now a word from our sponsors)
It is no secret that I also have wedding professional advertising web sites throughout the country.  I would hope that the professionals that are paying our sites to advertise, are doing it because we are providing a value, and not just because "everyone else is doing it".   I also do everything we can to insure we provide a means to get a quick return on our advertiser's investment. After all, our success is totally dependent on our advertisers success.   This also mean (unlike some of the national sites out there) we do not overcharge our advertisers. 
(end of commercial)

Are you REALLY getting your return on your advertising investment???  You need to find out and get some facts so you are not overtaken by the FEAR FACTOR.  You need to do your research with each and every prospect, continue to check your web statistics, and find out what brought that prospect to you.  Last but not least, before spending money on advertising, sit down and figure out how many jobs it is going to take to recoup the costs of any form of advertisement…..and are you really getting that many jobs from that advertisement.  That is when you will turn the FEAR FACTOR into the KNOWLEDGE FACTOR.     

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tracking Your Return on Your Investment for Online Advertising

In a previous blog post, we talked about how important it was to track the visitors to your website.  You want to do this to insure that the good money you spent with your advertising venue is paying off for you.  In other words, am I getting my money’s worth.  In that post we gave you some instructions to add Google Analytics to your website.  Analytics is a great in detail tool to track this for you..

But you haven’t installed it yet.  Reasons could range from I don’t like Google, to I really don’t know how, to my webmaster is really slow.  If you haven’t installed Analytics, there are other ways you can check your web statistics.   Most web hosts have some sort of user control panel.   Good web hosting companies have something called CPanel.  Other web hosting companies like Godaddy, have their own version of the user control panel.   No matter what web host you are using, most will have some sort of Statistics tools available in the user control panel.  

Two of the most common are Webalizer and AW Stats.  Although these two tools provide you with some good information, for our purposes (and to keep our tracking to 5 minutes per month), we can get the information necessary to make a sound decision if we are getting a return on our investment. 

In each of these two alternate tools, look for something called the referrer.   In Webalizer it is a little harder to find, but it is at the top of the menu.  The webalizer is a little harder to read because your own in site referrals are in there.  If you have a lot of other pages in your site, the information can be a little tough to read.

That is why I prefer AWStats.  In AWStats, the referrers are located along the left side menu.  You will see two different referrers.  One being the search engines and one being sites.  For our purposes you will look at sites.   The order of these sites should be very simple.   The sites you are paying the most for should be right at the top.  Because after all, you are paying them to send visitors to your web site.  If they are not at the top, then there is something amiss and you are not getting a good return on your investment. 

No matter which Statistics method you are using, you are still getting some basic “need to know” information and not having to rely on the information being supplied to you by anyone else. 

Once again, I hope this information helps someone.

Until next time,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Keep Your Customers on Your website until they are booked

That’s right folks, the title says it all and it is Marketing 101.  Keep your customers on your website until you have that booking.   Don’t give your customers any reason to leave your website until they fill out your contact form or contact you to book their wedding.   That means at the very least, on every single page of your website you need to have a call to action (ie Contact us today at this link”, Call us Now at, etc).  

This also means that you should NEVER purposely send any of your visitors away from your website to do anything.  As soon as you purposely send anyone away from your website you increase the possibility that you have lost that prospect for good.  This includes all of your reviews, your images, and your tube videos that are hosted on other sites.  Better yet, keep your reviews, your images, your videos on your website.   If you have a word press site, I am sure they have some sort of plug in to do just this.  But NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS purposely send your visitors away to another website to view anything about you.  

Now it is ok for people to put reviews of your business on other websites.  Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and good reviews of your business on other sites are great.   After all, those reviews are a link and get people to your website, which gives you a great chance to sell your business.  What is great is that most of these are FREE, so that is creating a free link to your website.  The same thing applies for images, don’t even take the chance of sending your visitor away from your site so they can look at your competitor's images while they are there or maybe even forget about you.  

I scratch my head when I see people advertise on their website “See our reviews at this website” or “See our images at that website”.  Geez, put the reviews and images on your own website so you can continue to sell YOU to that visitor.    Don’t send them away almost certainly never to return again.  If you are that proud of your reviews and images, make sure they are on your site.  At the bottom of those reviews, don’t forget your call to action “You can be our next satisfied customer.  Call us at.. “.

If you really want to display the reviews of your satisfied customers and don’t want to put a review form on your site, then use the other review services that provide you with a small bit of code that you can put onto your site to display the reviews.  With this small bit of code you can display some of your reviews, but of course for this service you will be advertising this other company and also providing them with a back link.  That is OK if it is free, because, hey it is only right.   But if you are PAYING for this service to advertise you, then why would you advertising them on your website.  Sounds like the tail wagging the dog and you get to pay to advertise them.   Maybe you should charge them?

To combat this continued silliness, I’ve been developing my own little website for wedding vendors to have their own reviews, approve which reviews are displayed, then put a one line snippet of code on their website to display these reviews.  The only difference is there is no advertisement for my other site, so it looks like the reviews belong on the page and visitors reading the reviews are not directed to another website or have to see an advertisement for another website.  Like I said it is currently under development as I am giving the ability to choose your own colors for the background and text, to make it integrate seamlessly into your site.  Should be pretty cool and of course, it will be either dirt cheap or free.  That is just the way I operate.   I’ll fill you in as soon as it is complete. 

Until Next Time,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Make your own FREE wedding business video commercial

Don’t be fooled that you have to buy one of the paid upgraded memberships to any of the wedding advertising sites to make a video highlighting your wedding business.   You can do this for free (once again my favorite price) at Animoto.  You can make a highly effective video of your wedding business and use that video to help promote your wedding business on various websites, your own website, or get increased exposure on You Tube. 

I’ve tried this myself and actually loved it.  It is very simple to do and only take about 15 minutes to complete.     First go to and sign up for an account free.   Once signed up you can create a free 30 second video commercial about your business.   Just grab about 10 or 15 images of you in action or your logo beforehand and you are ready to roll.  It is simple drag and drop technology so you just grab your images and drop them into a timeline.  You can select some background music right from Animoto.  Now the music is not all that great, but it is music none the less.  

Your wedding business video will have and Animoto logo at the end of it, but that is ok, it is free and that is the least we can do for using the service for free.  There is no sense paying someone for an upgraded  membership, making a video then having THEIR logo on the end of it (what’s up with that WW…who is paying who to advertise who here?).   

Now, after you have completed your video, you SHOULD upload this video to You Tube.   Why??  First of all, for additional SEO exposure (who owns You Tube???   Yeah Google).   Secondly,  because you can embed You Tube videos into your own website or most of the advertising venues out there.    You can also reference You Tube Video is Facebook.  Animoto provides a link to upload your video direct to You Tube.  This process may take about 20 minutes, but well worth the wait.  You can go on about your business while this is uploading.  

You now have a 30 second commercial about your business that you can display anywhere your heart desires as many places as your heart desires.   All you have to do is insert the embed code that You Tube provides into your html.  PLUS, you are only advertising Animoto and you are not advertising someone that you had to pay to advertise your site (I still don’t get this practice).  

Videos are great for advertising your wedding business.  The free Animoto video is about 30 seconds long (about the equivalent of a Television commercial) so it great for people that are in a hurry to get information (instant gratification) about you or someone who may be A.D.D. 

I am by no way devaluing a professional quality video that can be done by many other wedding professionals.   You may want to consider this free video as a stepping stone to a professionally made video commercial by many of the videographers and cinematographers out there.   But it is FREE and if it works somewhat to get a bride to hire you, then you may want to consider the professional route.    

Hope this helps someone.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Is my online wedding advertising working?

So now you have invested some of your hard earned cash into advertising online for your wedding business.  You are still not quite sure if your investment was worth it but you are anxious to find out.  I always encourage any advertiser on any of our websites to check this information to insure they are getting the value from advertising with us.  You could take a number of approaches to begin to track the return on your investment. We will cover a few of those approaches today. 

What, you are not tracking your investment?  Shame on you!!! It is your money.  Don’t be throwing it away needlessly or “hope that it is working”.  I have personally heard some wedding vendors say “I don’t have time to track my visitors to see where they are coming from”.  But those same vendors had the time to fill out all the forms, do an online profile, and either fill out a check or do a Paypal/Credit Card payment.  If you are not going to check up on your investment, like anything else, you are wasting your money for online advertising.  You need to spend at least 5 minutes a week (and that is all it takes) to see if you are getting what you paid for. 

You could ask your bride how they found out about you?  Of course she is going to tell you “the internet” and have the foggiest idea which web site.  Or you can even put a form on your website to ask that question and I am sure the bride will fill it out (yeah right).  You can even ask your advertising portal (that you paid) to send you statistics (I have some Ocean Front property in Palm Springs to sell you also).  Last but not least, you can not rely on someone else and see for yourself how people are or are not finding your business online.  Today I am going to cover one simple and FREE way to track your visitors.   I will try to hit more ways in future blog posts…which may be converted to Word Press soon BTW.

Let’s not be confused by visitors to your listing and visitors to your website.  One of the sales approaches by some of the big names is them telling you the amount of visitors to your listing.  Visitors to your listing don’t mean diddly if they are not going to your website, where you are really selling your business.   Let’s find out who is coming to your website. 

We'll go to our old friend Google.  They have something called Google Analytics.  It is FREE (my favorite price), easy to install, easy to read for our purpose, and an easy overall way to track your online advertising investment.  Sign up for the Google Analytics account.  Once you have your account established, you will need to place a single line of code into your HTML to track your visitors.  You copy and paste this one line of code in the header of your web page(s).  If you have a webmaster taking care of your site, he should be able to do this for FREE for you or at the most charge you $5.00.  If you have a Word Press web site, there are Plug Ins you can get (for free) that will let you put this code in.  The All In One SEO plug in does this for you.  Once you have the code installed, wait a week or so until Google begins to track some statistics for you. 

After you waited a week, log into your Google Analytics account.  It may appear like information overload, but that is OK.   We can look at all the other tools later.  Right now we are only interested in where our visitors are coming from.  We can get to the rest of the features later.     On the left, you are going to look for the “Traffic Sources” tab where you will get an overview.  Click on Traffic Sources to open it up.  Then click on All Traffic.  You will get a view of where all of your website traffic is coming from.  The search engines may be first but other sites that refer people to you may be in that list also.  Hopefully the site that you paid money to, will be high on that list. 

Next click on the Referrals tab.  Here you will find a list of sites that sent people to your website.   One again, take a look at what sites sent people to your website.  You will also seed how long visitors spent on your site and how many pages of your site they viewed.  There is all kinds of other information that is there, but we can get into all of the other information in a later blog post.    

But there you have it.  A total of 5 minutes spent on who sent visitors to your web site.  I surely hope that the advertising portal you spent money with for your online advertising is sending you visitors and customers.  If so, great and keep checking this as your money was well spent.  If not, it may be time to reconsider just where your advertising dollars are going.    

Until next time…..


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Get Your Customers to the Correct Page of Your Website

For many of the wedding professionals who post a listing to your business on another website, it is important to insure that you are directing your customers to the correct page of your website to see any meaningful results.  Here is what I mean:

If you are a disc jockey and your business allows you to do more than one type of event (weddings, parties, teen dances, etc) or a photographer (weddings, portraits, family photos), the home page of your website may be quite generic in nature, as to cover all of the different events your service covers.  If you are going to send someone to your web site that is specifically interested in weddings, then create a separate page just for weddings.  Make sure that page has some images of a smiling happy bride, some great content directed at weddings, and of course the all important "Call to action".

Now when listing your company, when asked for your web page, enter the page you want the brides to go to, not your home page.  This way, your target select audience will go to a page that will give them the "instant gratification" they seek and they will not have to go searching your site for your wedding information.  It really doesn't matter if you have a giant link on your home page to go to your wedding page, brides want information and they want it now and they do not want to have to search for it.  So give it to them without them asking.

A perfect example of this was a recent DJ I spoke to about his listing on one of our sites.  Unfortunately he was going to cancel his subscription to advertising with us. His reasoning was that he wasn't getting enough business with his ad on our site.  I always want satisfied customers on our site and thought maybe that our site was not doing it's job in getting visitors to his site.  So while we were talking I visited his statistics page on our site and noticed that he was getting many click-throughs from our site to his.  My first thought was maybe he expected more.  I then clicked through to his site and the answer was quite obvious.  You open his website and his home page is all about the Bose L1 sound system.  Luckily his rotating photo gallery happened to be on a page with a bride doing the Electric Slide, but nothing else about weddings.  To be sure I did not have a preconceived notion, I later had my wife look at the site and her words were that she would have clicked off of the site right away because it looked like a site that was selling sound system equipment.         

I explained to this DJ that brides want to see images of a happy bride and people having fun at their reception dancing and partying.  I also explained that most brides don't know the difference between a Bose and hose and at that point of the sales process, they did not want to educate their brides on the sound system quality.   At that point of their sales process, they need to lure brides in with what the brides want to see and hear..."What are you going to do for me and how are you going to make my day a worry free day I and my guests can enjoy?".  Needless to say, after presenting a few facts, the DJ did decide to renew his listing with us and hopefully he will act on our constructive criticism of his site.

I would imagine that brides would have the same reaction  looking for a photographer for their wedding and they open up a page that has all baby photos.   Everybody loves baby photos, don't get me wrong, but at that moment in time of the sales process, a bride is not looking for that and will click away from the site if they need to dig to find the wedding section.  In a later blog we will answer the all important questions...What do brides want? (that should be good).

So the bottom line through all this rambling, please insure you are directing your customers to the correct web page of your website and not just to your home page.   Whether it be on one of our sites or any other site you are advertising your wedding business on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Here goes my first attempt at blogging.  My passion is wedding vendors and the promotion of wedding vendors.  Of course I own some 40 something internet wedding websites that promote wedding vendors.  Hopefully in some of these blogs I can offer some tips to wedding vendors to actually help them in their advertising efforts.

I'm a firm believer in that fact that advertising your wedding business should not be an expensive venture.  And of course, I have some real issues with the major venues out there that are currently offering advertising to wedding vendors.   My primary issue is what they are charging for the real value that they provide.

I was a Disc Jockey in the wedding world for 28 years.  I could not believe some of the costs associated with advertising my wedding business.  Many times I would just get disheartened once looking at the costs associated with this advertising.   Hence, I decided to create my own wedding website for wedding vendors to advertise on.  The foundation that I built that wedding website on was that I am going to provide the most value for the least cost to the advertiser.  I continue to follow that foundation today with the many websites that I operate throughout the United states and will continue to operate that way.

So in my blogs, I may talk up my wedding websites and may even trash some of the other major advertising venues.  If I do this and it offends anyone, I apologize.  But please realize that I am quite annoyed at the charges that some wedding vendors are incurring simply to advertise on these major networks.  And to be quite honest, the wedding advertising venues need not instill these charges on the vendors.  These advertising venues are forgetting that they are dealing with small business, not big business.

I am not jealous of these advertising venues either.  One would think that, beings the sites I have are doing the same thing, but it is simply not the case.  In fact, I love the idea of promoting wedding vendors.  My beef is the charges and the value they are (or are not) providing.

So here goes.  Let's see if I can get my second blog out there and actually get anyone to read it.