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!

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

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.

Automated Bridal Shop Marketing: Part #3 – Measuring Conversion

admin wrote this on Dec 19 |

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bridal shop software measuring conversion

This is the thrid article in a series entitled “A Systematic Approach to Bridal Shop Marketing“. In the last article, I showed you how to convert your bridal shop website visitors into prospects. If you’ve completed that step you are now driving tons of traffic to your web site and getting them to perform your calls-to-action. Now it’s time to focus on how you can measure the effectiveness of your website. Specifically, your website’s conversion rate.

As Bridal retailers, we routinely measure our closing ratio for our in-store product. We also monitor the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns by tracking coupon codes, asking brides how they heard about us, and reviewing the “referring sites” in our web statistics software. The more retailers I talk to, the more I’m finding out that there has been little attention paid to the effectiveness of their website. In today’s world, simply having a web site is not good enough. Your web site MUST be doing its job of driving foot traffic in to your bridal salon.

Most web sites have a conversion rate of less than 1%. Conversion can be influenced by many different things: the placement of your calls-to-action, the quality of the web site visitor, how compelling your marketing copy is, etc. In the last article in this series we talked about how to establish effective calls-to-action. Now, we’ll look at how to measure your results using Google Analytics.

The rest of this post will assume that you are familiar with Google Analytics. If you are not familiar with Google Analytics, I advise that you read my previous post entitled Setting up Google Analytics for your Bridal Shop’s web site.

Now let’s look at the steps needed to measure your web site performance.

  1. Establish web site goals
  2. Measure
  3. Tweak

Establishing web site goals within Google Analytics

Before you can measure the effectiveness of your web site, you must first establish “Goals” for your visitors to perform. These are the same as your calls-to-action and you must tell Google what they are before they can be measured. Before we get started, if you are a BridalLive Marketing Tools customer and would like to establish goals for your Marketing Tools submission, please read my previous post entitled How to use our Bridal Shop POS Software to measure website conversion.

To establish goals inside of Google Analytics click the “Edit” button next to your web site profile.

analytics-settings-edit

Next, you’ll want to add your goal. Click “Add Goal” on your web site settings page as seen below.

analytics-add-goal

Next, you’ll want to name your goal and choose the “Goal Type”. If you simply want to measure how many times a web visitor visits a web page on your site, choose “URL Destination”. This is the easiest type of goal and the only one that we’ll discuss in this post. Now, enter the URL of the page on your site that you’d like to measure.

analytics-goal-add

Once you’ve defined your web site goals, it’s time to start measuring.

Measuring your Web Site’s Effectiveness with Google Analytics

Google provides a lot of nice graphs and stats that help you visualize your web site’s performance. To view the Goals stats, navigate to the “Goals” section in the left navigation bar.

analytics-goals-nav

On the overview page, you’ll see a “Goal Performance” graph that shows how many conversions you’ve received and what percentage of visitors are converting. It’ll look something like the graphic below:

analytics-goal-performance

There are a variety of other great reports that Google provides within the “Goals” section of its Analytics software. Take a look through and be sure to visit often to keep tabs on how well your site is working for you.

Tweaking your website

It’s important to remember that measuring performance is only half of the equation. Once you’ve established the means to measure your performance, you must now work on improving your site’s effectiveness. Some things that you can play around with are:

  1. Change the location of your Calls To Action
  2. Simplify your home page
  3. Make your Call To Action stand out more
  4. Place your Calls To Action in more places on your web site

This concludes the discussion on measuring web site performance.

Follow the links below for the rest of this series:

  1. Part 1: Your Lead Machine
  2. Part 2: Conversion Principles
  3. Part 3: Measuring Conversion
  4. Pre-Appointment trust building and differentiation
  5. Fostering post-sale word of mouth

Stay tuned via Email, RSS, or Twitter. You are not going to want to miss the rest of this series.

Webinar Notes – Blogging – 12/17/2009

admin wrote this on Dec 18 |

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blog

I hope everyone enjoyed the webinar last night on blogging. I’ve included some notes from the session below.

Getting Started with Blogging

3 Step process:

  1. Install
  2. Configure
  3. Design

Installing your blog

If you don’t have a host like BlueHost that has a simple WordPress installation feature, then you’ll have to follow WordPress’s Famous 5-minute Installation

Configuring your blog

The most important things to remember here is that you want to make your blog “Public” by making the neccessary selection under the Privacy settings. After you’ve done that you’ll want to make sure your Permalinks are set up properly so that the links to your blog posts are keyword rich. To do this, set the “Common Settings” to use a custom structure of “/%category%/%postname%”.

One of the last steps in configuring your blog is to install plug ins. Here is a list of plug-ins that you’ll want to install:

  1. Akismet – blocks spam comments
  2. All in one SEO Pack – helps your posts be keyword rich
  3. Google XML Sitemaps – builds a “map” of your site ans submits to Google and other search engines routinely.
  4. Subscription Options – or something like it that allows people to subscribe to your blog.
  5. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Shows a list of related posts at the bottom of each post. Great for keywords
  6. Sociable – or something like it that allows people to book mark your site on social sites.

Designing Your Blog

When it comes to making your blog look pretty you have a few options.

  1. Free Themes – search within WordPress to find and install free themes
  2. Premium Theme – use a site like Templatic to find some really nice premium themes
  3. Custom Theme – use a site like Elance.com to find a WordPress freelancer who can make a theme that matches your website

I’m looking forward to the next webinar where we’ll look at how you can measure website conversion rates using Google Analytics.

Tampa Bridal Shop Seminar Materials

admin wrote this on Dec 11 |

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This year’s Tampa Seminar was amazing. There were some excellent sales and marketing sessions led by Jim Butler of Arizona’s Bridal Warehouse and Bridal Training Systems. Jim really knows what he’s talking about and if you are serious about growing your bridal business, you need to be paying attention to what he has to offer.

Jon Saltzman (Jon’s Bridal) gave 2 talks. One was for Newbies and the other was a great contrast between Special Order and Off-The-Rack shops. Lisa (Formals Of Litchfield) and Barbara (Mary and Tux) had a great presentation on how to make bridesmaids a more profitable part of our businesses.

On Monday, I spoke about “How to use today’s technology to gain a competitive edge”. During the talk, I gave away a few prizes. Angela Ng from Bridal Image in San Francisco and Lynn Atkins from Charlotte Bridal both won books. The grand prize, a FREE COPY OF BRIDALLIVE, was won by Beth Clark of Bridal Chateau. Congratulations to all the lucky winners.

Rachel and I enjoyed meeting everyone. We’ll see you next year!

Are you ready for the Tampa Bridal Shop Conference?

admin wrote this on Dec 4 |

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The Better Bridal Group seminar starts Monday 12/7/2009. Are you ready? If you haven’t yet registered for the event, jump over to www.bridalconvention.net and get signed up already! Last year (although we couldn’t attend) there were over 50 bridal stores represented sharing their ideas and networking. This bridal seminar easily pays for itself.

This year I will be giving a talk entitled “How to use today’s technology to gain a competitive edge”. I’ll address how changes in marketing have allowed savvy bridal shops to leverage new technology products. I’ll also be demonstrating how you can turn your website into a lead generation machine. After that, we’ll do some hands on demonstrations of some excellent software products that can help streamline your marketing efforts.

There will also be some excellent sessions led by Jim Butler of Arizona’s Bridal Warehouse and Bridal Training Systems. His materials on sales and marketing are a necessity if you are an independent bridal shop looking to get ahead of the curve.

I look forward to meeting new shop owners and developing new friendships.

Automated Bridal Shop Marketing: Part #1 – Your Lead Machine

admin wrote this on Nov 8 |

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gears

This is the first article in a series entitled “A Systematic Approach to Bridal Shop Marketing“. In this topic we’ll provide an action plan for effective web site design, optimizing your site for Google, and how to increase your web site search rankings. The latest issues of Vows Magazine has an article on understanding what brides are searching for online. In this post, I’ll add some action steps that you can perform to achieve more search engine traffic.

When companies explore the idea of creating a web site, many simply have a web designer convert their paper-based brochures into a “web site”. The end result is beautiful, but the content is static and void of interactivity. Visitors to these sites typically click around for a few minutes and leave. If the site owner is lucky, they’ll convince the visitor to pick up the phone and call. However, in reality most visitors leave, never to return. These “Brochure-ware” web sites have low visitor loyalty and typically have a low conversion ratio. Why? Because these sites are full of the same old marketing speak and void of any content that engages the visitor.

In this article, we’ll outline an action plan for turning your website into a lead generation machine. If you have a website like the one mentioned above, using the techniques outlined in this article will result in more traffic and more leads.

Getting Found

Before you can begin converting visitors into prospects, you must have visitors. The most effective way to drive traffic to your website is through search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO).

At the core, there are 2 approaches to SEM: paid, and non-paid. Paid SEM involves placing advertisements on search result pages. These ads appear at the top and right hand side of the search result page. With non-paid SEM, your website’s link appears in the actual search results. This is commonly referred to as organic or natural search placement. Paid search will have quicker results with less traffic, but may carry high costs for competitive keywords/key phrases. The organic approach has the potential to drive far more traffic to your site at a much lower cost.

Consider the following heat map for Google’s result page:

google heat map

Some interesting points here are:

  • Organic listings capture 75% of the traffic
  • The first page captures 89% of the traffic
  • The #1 result captures 42% of the traffic

So you want to be in the “HOT” area of that heat map, huh? Well, first things first. Google must be “taught” about the content of your website before you can achieve a high ranking. To do this, you’ll want to make sure you’ve perform the following steps. These steps should be followed in order.

Step #1: Identify your keywords

Select keywords based on search volume, relevance, and competition. Use Google’s Keyword tool or WordTracker to figure out which keywords your website should be optimizing with. The key to selecting the right keywords is balancing search volume with relevance and competition. One trick I’ve used is to setup an Adwords campaign with as many relevant keywords as I can gather. Each Adwords campaign will show you the actual number of impressions per key phrase. This trick allows you to use actual data to properly select keywords.

Step #2: On-Page SEO

There is a lot that goes into On Page SEO. I’ll touch on some of the most important items and provide some resources at the end for those looking for more detail. Ultimately, the goal of On-Page SEO is placing your keywords where Google looks for them. I recommend that your website does not use a Flash intro as this usually makes it difficult for Google to navigate to your content. Any text on your website should be “readable” by Google (i.e. no images containing text).

Follow these guidelines for on page SEO:

  • Page Title – The title of your web page helps search engines understand what your web page is about. The page title appears as the main text of your search result link as well as in the top left corner of the browser window. This should be no more than 60 characters (including spaces) and should include your key phrase. Separate multiple key words/key phrases with a pipe character (“|”). Here is example of a title tag: <title>Bridal Shop in Arizona |Arizona Bridal Shops</title>
  • Page Description – This tag provides a description for your web page. Use your key phrases in this section twice. Rumor is that Google doesn’t weigh the description as much as you may think. The goal here is to use word that contains your keywords as well as encourages the reader to click you link. An example of a page description is: <meta content=”Anita’s Bridal was voted the best bridal shop in Arizona in a contest that included all bridal shops in Arizona.” />
  • H1, H2, H3 tags – These are the heading tags that emphasize text on your web page. Use 1-3 heading tags per page that contain your keywords. The goal is to break up your text in to sections and include an H1, H2, or H3 as a heading. An example would be: <H1>Arizona Bridal Shop celebrates 25th Anniversary</H1>
  • First and last 25 words of the page – Place you keywords in the first (heading) and last (footer) 25 words of your page.
  • Bold your keywords – This should happen at least once.
  • Italicize or underline your keywords – This should happen at least once.

As mentioned earlier, this is by no means an exhaustive list of On Page SEO techniques, but these steps are a good first step if you haven’t spent time doing this. For those interested in more information on SEO, I recommend the following resources:

Once your website has been optimized for your keywords and key phrases, you can now begin your Off Page SEO. As a general rule of thumb, 75% of your time should be spent working off of your site and 25% on your site. This means you should be working to build links to your site from others once it’s been established and optimized.

Step #3: Off-Page SEO

Many SEO experts agree that Off Page SEO is the single most important step for achieving a high ranking. Google determines your site’s relevance to a search term using a complex voting system known as PageRank. The more websites that link to yours, the higher your website’s PageRank. Links from larger sites like Microsoft.com carry more weight than links from less important sites. Off Page SEO involves getting as many credible sites linking to your site as possible.

Follow these recommendations for Off Page SEO:

  • Create and distribute content – Create articles that relate to and include your keywords, then distribute them to the following 3 websites: ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com, and buzzle.com. If this is too much work, use a service like isnare.com to distribute your articles to hundreds of directories.
  • Create and Distribute Press Releases – Follow the same technique in the above recommendation to distribute press releases. If you aren’t familiar with writing press releases, use a service like elance.com and someone will gladly do it for $50.
  • Submit your website to directoriesdmoz.org, business.com, aboutus.org, and others that allow for free links.
  • Link Exchange – Find others that blog about your favorite topics and ask if they’d place a link on their site to yours.
  • Create a blog – Google loves fresh and original content. A blog is also a good way to build trust among your customers. What better want to get inbound links than having someone linking to your original and thought provoking content!

As your website climbs the list for your key phrases, you will begin receiving more traffic. The next 2 posts in this series will center around converting your visitors into prospects and measuring your conversion results.

Follow the links below for the rest of this series:

  1. Part 1: Your Lead Machine
  2. Part 2: Conversion Principles
  3. Part 3: Measuring Conversion

Stay tuned via Email, RSS, or Twitter. You are not going to want to miss this series.

Automated Bridal Shop Marketing: Intro

admin wrote this on Nov 4 |

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bridal-pos-software

This post begins a series on how bridal retailers can establish a ‘system’ to manage their marketing and customer relationship efforts. Before we begin outlining the system, let’s discuss how marketing has evolved.

I (and many others) believe that we are in the middle of a dramatic change in the way businesses effectively promote their products and services. A decade ago, our basket of marketing tactics might have looked something like this:

  1. Billboards
  2. TV/Radio commercials
  3. Print Ads
  4. Leads lists

These techniques, based on interrupting the consumer, have become less effective as our society established tools to block “outbound” messages. Caller ID, TIVO, iPod/MP3 players, and SPAM filters have all contributed to the decreased effectiveness of these marketing channels.

Brides have begun shopping (and learning) in a whole new way and it is our job to adapt. Brides seek out their information using search engines (Google). The average bride performs dozens of searches per day and will sit behind her desk gathering information for hours before she visits a bridal shop. She’ll spend time compiling a list of shops to visit. Will you be found?

With this premise established, I plan to outline a system for managing “inbound” marketing efforts over the next few blog posts. Here are some questions to think about while waiting for the first installment:

  1. Is your bridal store positioned to leverage advances in technology to effectively spread the word about your products and services?
  2. If a bride searches Google for “bridal shops in <your city>” what page do you show up on?
  3. What are you doing to convert every bride that visits your website into a lead?
  4. What is remarkable about your bridal shop’s brand?
  5. What are you doing to nurture your leads after you’ve established a rapport?
  6. Does your bridal shop software allow you to communicate with your customers and leads on their terms?
  7. What are you doing to turn your brides into evangelists for your shop?

Stay tuned via Email, RSS, or Twitter. You are not going to want to miss this series.

Follow the links below for the rest of this series:

  1. Part 1: Your Lead Machine
  2. Part 2: Conversion Principles
  3. Part 3: Measuring Conversion

Automated Bridal Shop Marketing: Part #2 – Conversion Principles

admin wrote this on |

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image courtesy of Roadside Guitars

This is the second article in a series entitled “A Systematic Approach to Bridal Shop Marketing“. In the last article, I showed you how to build your bridal shop lead machine. If you’ve completed that step you are now driving tons of traffic to your web site and it’s time to start thinking about what you want all those visitors to do. Whenever I consult with folks about the design of their website, I always start off with the same question. “What is the purpose of your website?” So, what’s the purpose of your site? If you answered that by saying “to impress brides or help brides learn more about my shop”, then I challenge you to rethink that.

For non-e-commerce sites, I have yet to find a better purpose than converting website visitors into in-store traffic. Studies have shown that the most effective way to convert a site visitor in to a lead is with a clear call to action that can be performed immediately.

The days of web users randomly surfing the web is coming to an end. The Web is a selfish place. People don’t have time to read the same old sales messaging about beautiful and exquisite gowns. Besides, they’ve already visited a hundred other sites with essentially the exact same wording. Web surfers today scan pages looking for something specific. Most have no interest in links such as “What We Do” and “Who We Are”. They only care about what you can do for them. Keep this in mind when you are creating your web content.

Great web content is active. It lets you buy, subscribe, donate, apply, submit, contact, discuss, get help, or get involved. Every time you write a piece of web content you should also write at least one call to action at the end of that content.

A link is a call to action. Think carefully about your calls to action. Are they clear and precise? Are they making the right statements? And, most importantly, will they result in more foot traffic in your bridal store.

You have to tell your users what they can do on your site. Avoid rhetorical questions and get to the point. “Request an Appointment”, “Watch a video”, “Sign Up”, “Join Us”, are all effective call to action statements.

So what are the top 3 call’s to action on your website? If you’d like to share your calls to action, add a comment to this post!

I’ll close this post with a case study of our shop’s website (Bel Fiore Bridal an Atlanta Bridal Shop) as an example. Take a look at this excerpt from from our home page and then read the reasoning behind and the placement of these calls to action.

Atlanta Bridal Shops

If you look closely you’ll see 3 calls to action on the home page. Each targets brides in various stages of the buying cycle. The main call to action is “Request an Appointment”. This is aimed at brides who are ready to start visiting bridal shops. The next call to action is “Sign up for a free bride tank”. This is aimed at the bride who is still surfing the web and assembling a list of atlanta bridal shops that she’d like to visit. We want to be one of those shops, so we encourage her to engage with us by giving her something tangible to leave our site with. The final call to action is to connect with us via social media.

One important thing to note here is the placement of these calls-to-action. User studies show that people digest web page content in the shape of an “F”. So you’ll see our primary call to action is right in the middle of the page with a BIG BUTTON, followed by the sign up form and social media to the right.

As an exercise in examining your calls to action take a look at these sites and try to locate their calls to action:

Project Management Software – http://basecamphq.com/

FreshBooks for Blackberry – http://www.bookkeeperapp.com/

The Knot – http://www.theknot.com/

Follow the links below for the rest of this series:

  1. Part 1: Your Lead Machine
  2. Part 2: Conversion Principles
  3. Part 3: Measuring Conversion
  4. Pre-Appointment trust building and differentiation
  5. Fostering post-sale word of mouth

Stay tuned via Email, RSS, or Twitter. You are not going to want to miss the continuation of this series.