The easiest way to create Landing Pages for your bridal shop

admin wrote this on Nov 13 |

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We all agree that landing pages are one of the best ways to convert qualified website visitors into bridal appointments. If you haven’t heard of landing pages? You should enroll in our free Bridal Breakthroughs Course. In this course I explain landing pages and teach you how to implement systems for turning visitors into sales.

Ok, let’s get on with the technique for creating landing pages.

As a bridal shop owner, you may not have the resources to be able to create these landing pages. Who has time to learn HTML and all the other mumbo jumbo that goes into successfully implementing a landing page? Not you. And that’s why you are going to outsource this task to those that do this all the time.

Here’s how to do it successfully.

Step #1: Create the Landing Page Wording

This step you should not outsource. You are the subject matter expert and a techie is not going to be able to create wording that speaks to brides. You know what brides want and so you will need to create the landing page wording. You can simply use a text editor of your choice (Microsoft Word, etc). Keep the word count between 300-500.

What should you say??? Well, you need to sign up for the Bridal Breakthroughs Course to learn that. It’s free, so there is no excuse.

Step #2: Design your conversion form

The conversion form is the form that the visitor fills out to send their inquiry to you. Submission of this form “converts” them from a visitor to a lead. The general consensus is that you want to keep your forms brief. The more fields that are on your form, the less likely a bride will complete it. You can do a brief write up of the form you would like to use and include it in the document you created in Step #1.

How do you build these forms if you are not a “techie”? Well, there are a bunch of form builders available online. Some are free (like Wufoo). The problem with these form builders is that the way you receive the lead is through email. This means that you will be spending time doing data entry. Is that what you signed up for? No way. There’s got to be a better way. It’s called BridalLive’s Web Forms. When you use the BridalLive Web Forms, leads (i.e appointment requests) will arrive right inside of your BridalLive app and no data entry is required.

Step #3: Outsource on oDesk.com or Elance.com

The secret weapon of the savvy entrepreneur is to use services like oDesk/Elance to outsource tasks to other that have the requisite expertise. You will be amazed at how affordable this is. And if you find someone you like, you can keep using them again and again.

However, outsourcing does not work if you do not give a detailed explanation of the task at hand. At a minimum, you must outline the task and your expected delivery timing.

Bonus Step: Rinse and Repeat

Once you’ve outlined the process for creating landing pages (yes you should document this in your process binder), you can now hand this task off to an employee. You should task this employee with thinking about each “niche” (or bride profile) that you serve and have them create the wording document and manage the outsource process.

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

How to sell 50% more bridal gowns

admin wrote this on Jul 27 |

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In this post, I’ll show how my former bridal shop increased the average bridal gown closing ratio from 27% to 40% representing a 50% improvement. Before reading on, you may want to read my other blog post on how compute bridal gown closing ratio for your store.

First, a little background. My former bridal shop is in metro Atlanta, GA, a market that has nearly 6 million people and over 40 bridal and formal wear shops. In our first 8 years of business, our Atlanta bridal shop grew at 25% year over year and we’re always looking for ways to continue our upward trajectory and prevent a plateau in sales.

This past year one of the things we focused on was improving our closing ratio. In conversations with other wedding shop owners, we learned that the most successful stores were selling gowns at an unbelievable rate. Some of these stores touted that they had consultants with a 90% close rate! That number blew us away and we wondered “How can we help our consultants become this successful?”.

Here’s how we improved
WARNING: This idea may not be right for your store. It’s an idea that took a ton of time to implement and requires buy in from your entire staff. The bottom line is that it achieved results for us and I wanted to share with the BridalLive community.

Over the years, we invested a lot of time and money in bridal sales training from BridalTrainingSystems.com with only marginal success. The quality and quantity of material is amazing, but even though our consultants ‘knew’ the material very well, they weren’t improving like we had hoped.

It was obvious that we needed to do more to help our staff put the material into practice. So we instituted a training program that did 3 things: created a standard score card, improved accountability and provided huge incentives for execution.

The Score Card
First, we distilled our mountain of training materials down to their most essential elements. We then created a Training Score Card to use as a measure of how well we were following the training materials. Each category was given a point value. As you can see in the score card, the point value was determined based on it’s significance to the overall sale. Each week, our training meetings focused on one area of the score card (i.e. asking for the sale). Once we had developed this measurement tool (score card), it was time put it into action.

Improving Accountability
We needed a way to score each consultant during their appointments. Since it’s physically impossible to shadow every consultant during every appointment, we decided to give out voice recorders for the consultants to use during their appointments.

Every week, we chose 1 random appointment from each consultant and ‘scored’ it against the Score Card. This uncertainty helped to increase the likelihood that the sales staff was using the training materials in every appointment.

Incentives
We knew that recording our consultants would seem a bit “big brother-ish” so we made the program voluntary, but put large incentives in place to encourage participation. Each point on the score card was worth $4. This meant that a consultant who scored perfect could earn an extra $120/week. That’s almost $500/month just for executing.

In retrospect, we probably went a little over the top with the incentive. However, we knew that over the long term, we would recoup the cost many times over.

The Results
Overall, the training program was a huge success for everyone involved. We all learned a lot and became better at helping brides find their dream gown. Take a look at the chart below to see how our closing ratio improved throughout the year. We started the program in June. You’ll see from graph that January – May our average closing rate was 27%. Then over the next 11 months we averaged 40%.

We haven’t reached that 90% mark, but we were able to increase our closing rate 50%. One step at a time, as they say.

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.

Announcing BridalLive v2.0 – Update now because it’s free.

admin wrote this on |

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In Version 2.0 you will find many new features, some you’ve requested and others were created to soothe the pains I’ve had in my own store. Let’s have a look at the most notable features and how they can help you increase profits and build traffic.

Event Item Registry
In this version, you can create an entire wedding party and specify what each member will wear. Once the items are registered, you’ll enjoy tracking the entire order process from 1 screen. Look for this new feature on the ‘Event Tab’ of the ‘Contact Screen’.

Marketing Flows
Whether it’s simply automating the sending of an appointment confirmation email or building out your entire marketing sequence, BridalLive’s unique Marketing Flows feature is the first of it’s kind in the bridal industry.

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

Bridal Image talks about their experience with BridalLive

admin wrote this on Oct 7 |

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I was lucky enough to meet up with Colin and Angela from Bridal Image a bridal salon San Francisco, CA. They stopped by to say ‘Hi’ and check out the upcoming features in BridalLive 2.0. Here’s what they had to say