How to Relate Web Traffic to In-Store Sales

admin wrote this on Nov 20 |

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It is very important to have an ONLINE marketing strategy that includes Search Engine Marketing and Adwords.

Many store owners have a hard time relating their web traffic to their in-store sales and therefore it doesn’t seem feasible for them to spend money on something (ie SEO, Adwords) that they cannot directly relate to their sales #s.

First, you must know the answers to these questions:

1. How many new sales do you want/can you handle?
2. What is your current appointment count?
3. What is your closing ratio?
4. How many unique web visitors to you have? (you can find this in your Google Analytics)

For the sake of our example we will look at bridal appointments only for a 1 month period and assume your customers are finding you online.
1. 20 = Local Bridal Shop wants to sell 20 more wedding dresses.
2. 150 = Local Bridal Shop typically has 150 bridal appointments in 1 month.
3. 60 or 40% = Local Bridal Shop usually sells 60 of the 150 appointments.
4. 770 unique web visitors. Given this information, we can assume that Local Bridal Shop is closing 8% of her web visitors (60 / 770 = 8%).

So…for the Local Bridal Shop to get 20 MORE bridal sales, she will have to get 50 MORE bridal appointments assuming a closing ratio of 40%.

How do we relate this to web traffic?
Currently she’s getting 770 unique visitors to her website. With a closing ratio of 40% that means she’s closing 60 web visitors or 8%.
She needs a total of 924 unique web visitors each month to get 50 more appointments per month.

How does she get 154 more (924-770=154) unique web visitors each month? What is each lead worth to you? How much are you willing to spend on each lead?

If you are willing to spend $2 per lead that’s $308 per month. If you were even able to close ONE of those new web visitors your investment would be paid for.
$300 is a great starting point (given your keyword competitiveness and geographic area) for a Google Adwords Budget.

It all starts with an awesome website and well-planned strategy!
Don’t forget to track your traffic with landing pages and conversion forms!

Let us know if we can help you increase your web traffic -> increase in-store traffic -> increase sales with our Bridal Shop Software!

BridalLive v2.6 now available! Free Update!

admin wrote this on Nov 6 |

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I'm happy to announce that the next version of BridalLive is available for you to download for free (as always)!  This version introduces some powerful and exciting features that you will want to take advantage of immediately. Let's have a look at a few highlights.

Mobile Phone Texting
You can now send and schedule text messages from BridalLive to your contact's mobile phones.  Just in time for prom season, this feature opens up a new marketing channel to a demographic that is increasingly mobile.  This feature is free for Internet Marketing Tools subscribers and also requires a Twilio.com account. You can watch a how-to video to learn more about this feature.

New Support Center
In an effort to make it even easier to obtain support and learn more about BridalLive, we are launching a new Support Center which is available at http://support.bridallive.com.  The support center has also been embedded right inside of BridalLive under Administration > Support Center.  When you need some help, just open the Support Center and search the vast knowledge base of topics (coming soon!).  Over the next few weeks, we will be filling out the Knowledge Base with articles on various BridalLive topics.  If you have a suggestion for an article, simply post a question on the new Support Center and I'll add it to the growing list of articles.

New Reports
There are 3 new reports that will help with buying inventory and customer pickups (Sales Summary by Size, Sales Summary by Color, and Pickup Report).

Discontinue Items
BridalLive now allows you to discontinue inventory items.  You will now be warned when adding a discontinued item to a Sale or Sales Order.  This feature is evolving as I receive feedback from you.  If you have any suggestions on how you'd like this feature to work going forward, please reply to this email and let me know!

Credit Card Processing Compliance
Mastercard recently announced support for partial approvals and BridalLive now supports this as well.  If you still don't have a merchant account that is linked with BridalLive, please reply to this email for a free cost analysis.

If you are already running BridalLive, updating is simple and takes less than 1 minute per computer. On each computer running BridalLive, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Open the Administration Module
  2. Click "Program Settings"
  3. Click "Check For Updates" and click "Yes".

Important Note: When performing your updates please remember to update your "Master" computer first followed by each of your "Workstation" computers.

Helping you thrive,
Tom Esposito
Founder | tom@bridallive.com | 888-764-2605
 Join BridalLive on Facebook

Going to Atlanta Market? Join us for FREE drinks and an amazing view

admin wrote this on Aug 13 |

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This year I'm doing something fun at the Atlanta Market and I'd like you to be a part of it.  In addition to having a booth (Booth #12E111B), I'll be celebrating the launch of BridalLive version 2.5 at the bar of the Sun Dial Restaurant from 5-7pm on Saturday, August 20th.  To attend, you just need to stop by Booth #12E111B and pick up your ticket (and free drink coupon!).

The Sun Dial Restaurant is a unique Atlanta landmark that provides a magnificent view of the Atlanta skyline from it's 360-degree rotating restaurant.  And, it's just a 5 minute walk from the Merchandise Mart building.  Walking directions will be provided at the booth and can also be found by clicking here.

From the Sun Dial Restaurant website – "An exhilarating 85-second ride in one of our two scenic glass elevators will carry you 723 feet to the observatory View Level atop The Westin Peachtree Plaza, the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere. From this level, take in the breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the magnificent Atlanta skyline."  

I hope you can join me to celebrate this milestone release for BridalLive!

Tom Esposito

Founder, BridalLive
tom@bridallive.com
888-764-2605

Don’t get screwed when your employee leaves

admin wrote this on Jul 14 |

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Have you ever had an employee leave (bridal consultant, ordering manager, etc) and since you didn’t have ‘systems’ in place it was difficult to quickly train a new employee to pick up where her predecessor left off?

If you are anything like the hundreds of bridal shops that I’ve worked with over the years, you know that having systems in place for your staff’s duties is critical. The problem is that recording or documenting these systems is not always a high priority with all of the other duties we have as bridal shop owners.

Here’s a great tip I learned from Dane Maxwell of Recruiting Ninja on how to document your ‘systems’.

Step #1: Buy a headset
You’ll want your employee to record what they do with a headset like this one.

Step #2: Setup Jing
Jing is free software that let’s you record your computer screen while you talk. Your staff will explain what they do in a video.

Step #3: Send an email to your staff
In this email tell each employee that you’d like them to show you how they rock at what they do. Give them the link to Jing (http://www.techsmith.com/jing/) and tell them to set it up on one of your computers. Also tell them that you’ll be by to give them the headset you purchased from Amazon. The final step, which is optional, is to tell them that you will give them a .25/hour raise after it is complete.

Try this out and let me know how it works. If I were you, I’d have videos as many videos as you can. Here are some ideas of videos/audio to create:

  1. Record the audio of your bridal salon’s phone greeting.
  2. Record your in person greeting when someone comes through your doors.
  3. How appointments are booked
  4. How to enter a customer
  5. How to create a purchase order
  6. What to do when a customer doesn’t show up for an appointment
  7. How to send an email
  8. How to confirm an appointment

Helping you thrive,

Tom Esposito
Founder, BridalLive

Come and get it. BridalLive version 2.1, now available.

admin wrote this on Mar 6 |

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I'm happy to announce that the next version of BridalLive is available for you to download for free (as always)!  This version introduces some powerful and exciting features that you will want to take advantage of immediately. Let's have a look at a few highlights.

Mobile Phone Texting
You can now send and schedule text messages from BridalLive to your contact's mobile phones.  Just in time for prom season, this feature opens up a new marketing channel to a demographic that is increasingly mobile.  This feature is free for Internet Marketing Tools subscribers and also requires a Twilio.com account. You can watch a how-to video to learn more about this feature.

New Support Center
In an effort to make it even easier to obtain support and learn more about BridalLive, we are launching a new Support Center which is available at http://support.bridallive.com.  The support center has also been embedded right inside of BridalLive under Administration > Support Center.  When you need some help, just open the Support Center and search the vast knowledge base of topics (coming soon!).  Over the next few weeks, we will be filling out the Knowledge Base with articles on various BridalLive topics.  If you have a suggestion for an article, simply post a question on the new Support Center and I'll add it to the growing list of articles.

New Reports
There are 3 new reports that will help with buying inventory and customer pickups (Sales Summary by Size, Sales Summary by Color, and Pickup Report).

Discontinue Items
BridalLive now allows you to discontinue inventory items.  You will now be warned when adding a discontinued item to a Sale or Sales Order.  This feature is evolving as I receive feedback from you.  If you have any suggestions on how you'd like this feature to work going forward, please reply to this email and let me know!

Credit Card Processing Compliance
Mastercard recently announced support for partial approvals and BridalLive now supports this as well.  If you still don't have a merchant account that is linked with BridalLive, please reply to this email for a free cost analysis.

And over 25 more new enhancements and bug fixes…
For a complete listing of new features and improvements, check out the release notes.

Update Now!
If you are already running BridalLive, updating is simple and takes less than 1 minute per computer. On each computer running BridalLive, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Open the Administration Module
  2. Click "Program Settings"
  3. Click "Check For Updates" and click "Yes".

Important Note: When performing your updates please remember to update your "Master" computer first followed by each of your "Workstation" computers.

Helping you thrive,
Tom Esposito
Founder | tom@bridallive.com | 888-764-2605
 Join BridalLive on Facebook

Email Marketing Science (& special offer)

admin wrote this on Feb 10 |

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I just attended a webinar on the ‘Science of Email Marketing’ and thought I’d share some findings.  These findings are based on over 9 billion (with a B) emails that were sent to consumers and businesses.  I’ve stripped this webinar down to just the most important pieces of information for us bridal retailers.

  1. Email is not dead – Having an systematic approach to building your email marketing list (i.e. audience) is crucial.
  2. The best time to send email is on weekend mornings, when highest click through and open rates prevail.
  3. More people are reading email on their smart phones, so make sure your emails are readable on mobile devices (iPhone, Android, Blackberry).
  4. Fill your email with links. The more links there are to your targetted landing page (i.e. request an appointment), the higher your click through rate will be.
  5. Exclusivity is important.  Let your readers know that they have “special access” to something (i.e. an offer, a special report, etc) and they’ll be more likely to read your email.

I’m a firm believer in the power of email marketing.  That’s why I’ve made the next version of BridalLive an email marketing powerhouse that can completely automate most of your emailing duties, including appointment confirmations and follow up sequences (i.e. drip marketing).

In preparation for launching version 2.1 of BridalLive on February 28th, the first 10 people to purchase any one of BridalLive’s plans (Pro, Plus, Starter) will get a special Pre-Release of BridalLive v2.1, a FREE Custom HTML Email Template and 1 free hour of consulting (total value = $399).  During our time together, I’ll show you how to use BridalLive to send professional emails (including appointment confirmations, after purchase Thank Yous, Feedback Requests, etc) and how to set up a drip email marketing sequence that will entice your customers to come back and buy more from you.  If we have time remaining, I’ll show you how to leverage BridalLive to target your customers’ behaviors and respond by automating follow up sequences, scheduling tasks and much more.  As an added bonus, I’ll show you how to stop wasting time processing bridal show leads by leveraging BridalLive’s new import and bulk subscribe features.

If you are looking for a way to reduce customer acquisition and follow up costs, this is how you do it.

Call me at 888-764-2605 or buy online TODAY! This offer Expires 2/28/2011

Ella Park Bridal owner speaks about BridalLive

admin wrote this on Oct 10 |

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This week at Chicago, I met up with Mike Daniel who owns Ella Park Bridal in bridal and formal wear store Newburgh, IN. He was one of BridalLive’s first customers and has helped shape many of the features in the software. Here’s what he had to say about BridalLive.

I’ve changed the name of our blog

admin wrote this on Oct 6 |

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I’ve just returned from Chicago Market and based on the feedback received from independent bridal shop owners, I’ve decided to change the name of this blog to “Bridal Shop Meets Internet”. After the first day of speaking with shop owners is became clear that many of us are struggling to effectively use technology/internet to build their sales.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be posting pithy insights on how the independent bridal shop owner can utilize technology to create an experience that the internet discounters and big box chains could never provide.

Cheers,
Tom

Version 1.3 now available

admin wrote this on May 2 |

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Version 1.3 is a direct response to your feature requests. All of the enhancements and new features added in this version were a direct result of the outstanding feedback I’ve received from shops using BridalLive. In this blog post, I’ll outline some of the more notable new features.

Improved Order Tracking/Management

In version 1.2, in order to be able to see the status of a customer order, you had to open the customer’s Sales Order and click “Associated POs”. We’ve improved this in version 1.3, by adding the PO #, Est. Ship Date, and Qty Received to the contact’s purchase history tab. These new fields are available for each sales order line item listed in the purchase history. Also, you can now jump directly to the Inventory Item, Sales Order, or Purchase Order right from the from the line item!

Additionally, we’ve added the ability open the contact tab directly from the Purchase Order. For each line item on the PO, we’ve added a new icon that will open the contact’s tab. Also, we’ve added the ability to copy the Contact’s name and event date to the notes field on the PO. Simply select “Copy contact information to PO” when you are creating the PO and voila!

From the POS side, you can now enter notes for each line item and track which items have been taken home on a Sales Order. Also, for those of you who require a certain deposit percent for Sales Order (i.e. 50% down), you can now specify this percentage under Administration > POS > Default Deposit Percent.

Receipts got an upgrade as well. With version 1.3 you can now print your logo and any line item notes. To add your logo, simply go to Administration > POS > Print Logo on Receipt.

Improved Appointment Options

In version 1.2 appointments were either “Pending” or “Completed”. With version 1.3 we’ve now introduced the concept of “Re-Booked”, “No show”, and “Canceled”. Using the accompanying report titled “Appointment Status Count By Month”, you can now track how many appointment were not completed and why. With this feature, you will now have the ability to measure improvements made in Pre-Sales communication with the bride.

Also, the Quick Appointment now has a notes field where you can enter notes specific to that appointment without having to open the appointment.

Improved Inventory Management

In version 1.2, every item was unique by short description, size and color. As a result, new items for the same style were added to the inventory every time a different size or color was sold. While some prefer this technique, we added to option to manually specify color and size on the Sale and Sales Order without new items being added to the item list.

To make things even easier, we’ve added to concept of Color Groups and Size Groups that can be added to Vendors. When these color and size groups are linked to the inventory item, the color and size fields on the Sale/Sales Order use these available options. Moreover, this feature establishes a foundation needed to be able to suggest sizing based on the contact’s measurements.

For a complete listing of new features and improvements, please reference the release notes.

How to get the new version

Updating is free and simple and takes less than 30 seconds. On each computer running BridalLive, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Open the Administration Module
  2. Click “Program Settings” in the left navigation menu
  3. Click “Check For Updates” and accept the updates.

As always, if you have any questions/suggestions, please contact me.

Helping you thrive,

Tom Esposito

Top 7 Bridal Shop Website re-design tips

admin wrote this on Jan 27 |

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In this post, I’ll outline my top 7 website re-design tips for your bridal shop website. If you are thinking of overhauling your website, be sure to read these first.

  1. Focus on conversion – The only reason you have a website in the first place is to generate new leads. If your old website wasn’t set up to measure conversion, make sure your new one is. For more information on this, take a look at my other post on Measuring your bridal shop website’s conversion rate .
  2. Your website must attract prospects – Your website has to be more than just pretty, it has to attract visitors. Visitors are attracted by remarkable content. Whether that be a great blog post, a cool video, or a special promotion, you must give web surfing brides a reason to visit your website. Once you’ve figured out what that is, be sure to tell the world. Post to Facebook, tweet, write a blog post, share a video on you tube, etc. The bottom line is that your brand now has more real estate that it can claim online and much of it is free. If you do nothing else, be sure to create your local listings at all of the top search engines. Here are the links: Google Local Business Center, Yahoo Local, Bing Local. As an added bonus, the effort spent to create your Local listings will help you out in the SEO department as well.
  3. Create Landing Pages – Landing pages that visitors usually “land” on first. Often times, these are pages have been optimized for search engines. Since most visitors don’t enter your web site through the front door (home page), make sure that each of your landing pages are well designed with appropriate calls-to-action.
  4. Re-use what’s working with your current site – Don’t completely trash your old site if there were parts of it that were working. For example, if you have a significant amount of inbound links to a page, don’t get rid of it. Keep any keyword rich copy that you spent time creating and re-use that as well.
  5. Don’t re-invent the wheel – There is a reason why amazon hasn’t done a major re-design of it’s website. It’s because it works. There are plenty of designs out there that work really well. Take inspiration from them.
  6. Spend more time creating content than beautiful design – Be sure to include elements to your site that allow you to change and/or produce content on a regular basis. A blog is a great way to keep fresh content on your site. Plus, it shows that your business has a pulse.
  7. Include a simple way to measure your site’s effectiveness – We’re bridal retailers and we don’t have time to check our web site analytics every day. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place for measuring your site effectiveness. I keep tabs on a few key numbers: Conversion rate, bounce rate, total visitors. Then I look at my top 10 referring sites to make sure that my marketing spend is in check. These numbers usually give me an idea of how well our site is working.

What are some of your tips for redesigning a web site? Anything you learned last time around? Share your ideas with the readers of this blog by commenting.