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

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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.

BridalLive (Bridal Shop Software) – Version 1.0 SHIPPED!

admin wrote this on Oct 25 |

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bridal point of sale software - shipped!

We’re pleased to announce BridalLive version 1.0 has SHIPPED! Thank you to all the bridal shop owners that have helped shape BridalLive’s version 1.0 release. We couldn’t have done it without you. You’ve helped us stay true to our mission of making BridalLive the easier way to manage your bridal shop.

Mike from Ella Park Bridal was critical to the early creation of many of the features you see today. Rachel and staff from Bel Fiore Bridal have all helped stress test the system and identify bugs before they made their way to the rest of the BridalLive shops.

While version 1.0 marks a huge milestone for our bridal shop software, we are forging ahead on many new and excited features. Keep your eyes open for our release notification emails as these features will be coming soon. Here is a sneak peak of some of features you can expect to see shortly:

  • Credit Card Processing – you’ll be able to process credit cards right from within your bridal pos software.
  • Prom Functions – you’ll be able to track prom dresses sold by school.
  • Tuxedos – version 1.0 handles tuxedos, but upcoming versions will support “rentals” a bit better.
  • Internationalization – Due to the interest we’ve received from our overseas bridal shop owners, we’ll be opening BridalLive up to the rest of the world. Now international bridal shops will be able to enjoy the latest bridal shop software from BridalLive.

As a BridalLive user, you are always entitled to the latest releases for FREE. The latest release always takes less than 1 minute to install for each computer.

So if you like what you see today with BridalLive, rest assured that we’ll continue to make running your bridal shop easier with our bridal shop software. Contact us today to purchase your license.

BridalLive is easy, smart, and powerful bridal shop software!

How to use our Bridal Shop POS Software to measure website conversion

admin wrote this on Oct 15 |

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using bridal shop pos software to measure conversion

In this post we’ll look at one way BridalLive helps you measure the effectiveness of your website. BridalLive is more than an excellent bridal shop POS software package; it helps you extend your brand online by providing widgets that can integrate with your bridal shop’s website.

Knowing what we know now about the importance of business websites, it’s hard to imagine that just 5 years ago many businesses needed to be convinced of the importance of having an online presence. Today, businesses without websites are having a harder time competing in their respective market. The internet is the new yellow pages and the first place brides go when they get engaged is online.

In this post we’ll talk about how our bridal shop software is helping bridal shop owners measure the effectiveness of their website. We’ll leave generating traffic and effectively converting that traffic into leads for another blog post. This blog post will focus only on how you can use BridalLive’s Online Marketing Tools to measure your website’s conversion rate.

Let’s start by explaining what BridalLive’s Online Marketing Tools are. These “tools” give the bridal shop owner everything they need to be able to capture information from brides online. The marketing tools consist of 5 widgets that can be seamlessly embedded into your website with very little effort. The individual widgets are Appointment Requests, Lead Forms, Bride Interview, Feedback Forms, and Testimonials. For more information on this, take a look at the Marketing Bundle. Now that you’ve got the concept, continue reading to learn how to measure conversion…

The rest of this article is going to be somewhat technical. But the important thing to know is that the Online Marketing Tools can be linked with your Google Analytics (it’s free!) account. Once linked, you can view reports within Google Analytics that show the number of times visitors to your site submitted one of your Online Marketing Tools.

Next, we’ll break down the steps that are needed to begin measuring your website conversion. WARNING: This is technical. If you need help setting this up, let us know and we’ll help you set it up.

Step 1: Locate your Google Analytics Site ID

This can be found by logging in to your Google Analytics Account (click here to login). Your site ID is formatting like this UA-1234567-1. Once you’ve located your Site ID, copy it and proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Add your Site ID to your Marketing Tools URL

If you’ve already embedded the marketing tools with your website, you’ll want to change the URL being used. Let’s take a look at the URL for the Appointment Request Form.

http://blog.bridallive.com:8080/bl/marketingtools/wrapper.jsp?remoteCompanyId=ABC123&&moduleId=AppointmentRequestForm&googleAnalyticsSiteId=UA-12345678-1

Once you’ve made the change, you will be able to determine your website’s conversion rate.

Step 3: Determine your website’s conversion rate

Go to your Google Analytics account and click “Content” from the left navigation menu. Then click “Top Content” and filter the report for all the Online Marketing Tools pages that were viewed/submitted. This can be done by typing “bridallive” in the filter at the bottom of the report. Take a look at the image below to see how we accomplished this with our test account.

Bridal Shop POS Software

In this example if we wanted to measure the effectiveness of our Appointment Request targeting, we can simply measure the number of Appointment Request submissions by the number of visit to your website. So if we had 50 visitors to our site that day and 4 submitted an Appointment Request, then we’d have a 8% conversion rate. However, the best way to do this is to create a “Goal” in Google Analytics for any of the pages you see in the graphic above. Here is an image of the Google Analytics goal screen.

bridal shop software conversion

Then once you’ve created the goal it will appear beneath the “Goals” section in Google Analytics. To view your conversion rate, simply click the goal and you’ll see something like the image below:

bridal shop website conversion

Once you know how to measure conversion rate, you can start making changes to your site to increase it. You should be monitoring this number regularly and making changes when needed. Eventually you’ll develop a website that’s exceeding your conversion expectations.

Retailer Spotlight – Ella Park Bridal, Newburgh, Indiana

admin wrote this on Sep 16 |

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courtesy: www.ellaparkbridal.com
Yesterday, we talked to Mike from Ella Park Bridal in Newburgh, Indiana to see what he had to say about his new bridal shop software, BridalLive. Mike has been instrumental in providing feedback and suggestions for BridalLive enhancements. Many of the features you see in BridalLive are a direct result of his feedback. We hope you enjoy the interview!

Tom: Tell us a little about your shop? How did you get into bridal, your location, how long in business, sq footage, etc.

Mike: Back in 2004, we made a decision to get out of the corporate world and start our own business. With the help of another couple, we launched Ella Park Bridal as a pure ecommerce system. Lisa and our 2 daughters are all 10 year members of the local 4H program and as kids earned many awards for sewing and creative projects. After establishing ourselves online, we moved to our present location (about 2800 sq ft) and opened our retail store. We are located in historic downtown Newburgh Indiana and are looking to expand into a new location within the next 12 months.

Tom: What made you choose BridalLive over the other bridal-specific software vendors?

Mike: I liked the ease of use, the constant willingness to add specific features for the bridal business and the program’s small footprint. It is intuitive, easy to understand and fast.

Tom: How long did it take to learn to use BridalLive? How long to train your staff?

Mike: Learning the software was simple because it works like the paper forms you used previously. We were using QuickBooks, which does a decent job, but there were issues with finding a customer, their orders, event date, etc…plus we had to have multiple licenses for each computer. The girls have found BridalLive to be easier to use and training them was simple because the system is intuitive.

Tom: Has BridalLive improved your bridal shops operations? How?

Mike: We are more organized, eliminated the paper contact forms, keep our customer file updated with each “touch” (phone call, email, visit to our store). The online marketing tools will prove to be a winner as we develop them into our marketing programs.

Tom: What is your favorite feature of BridalLive?

Mike: Too many to mention them all, but several include all the “bride” information on the contact center including event information, measurements, items tried on, orders and items purchased…the point of sale is easy to use and now features your own customizable “Terms and Conditions”; inventory look-up is very fast and there are a multitude of ways to find the item; and of course my latest favorite feature…the ability to not only import items but the ability to mass change items. This is an easy way to correct some of the implementation issues we had once we started using the system everyday.

Tom: Would you recommend BridalLive to other bridal shops? Why?

Mike: I would recommend BridalLive to any shop wanting to get a handle on their contacts, orders and inventory. The cost is minimal when compared to other systems…and the best part is you actually respond to questions and issues in a timely, efficient and effective manner. If it had not been for the overwhelming support, I would not have taken a chance on this system.

We want to thank Mike for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts and insights with everyone.

Mike:

Setting up Google Analytics for your Bridal Shop’s web site

admin wrote this on Sep 6 |

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Google Analytics is considered by many to be the most complete package for tracking traffic on a website. It allows you to track the success of your content, your most popular items and a wealth of information regarding your visitors. Using this information effectively will allow you to improve your traffic, more effectively market your products and services and make sure your visitors keep coming back for more. The only barrier that stands in your way is the initial setup, so this guide aims to help you do just that. With this guide, you’ll be analyzing your bridal store’s website in just a few minutes.

What You Need
In order to use Google Analytics, you don’t need very much. Obviously you need a connection to the internet, a purpose for the tool (a website you’d like to track) and an internet browser. The main issue here is to make sure that you have access to edit the code of your website. Whether you do this by using a program, edit by hand and upload the files or use a service which allows you to edit the files in a web editor, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to make sure you can edit the actual code (HTML). If you don’t have access to the HTML of your site (contact your webmaster and tell him you’d like Google Analytics setup).

Step 1 – Signing Up
Navigate via your web browser to http://google.com/analytics and if you do not already have an account, create one by clicking the Sign Up Now link shown below.

Once you’ve clicked the link, you’ll advance to the next stage and you’ll need to confirm your desire to sign up to Google Analytics by clicking the Sign Up button shown below.

signup-2

Now comes the important stuff. You should get a form similar to the one shown below. You’ll need to enter the URL of your website (basically the address your visitors and the rest of the public uses to gain access to your site) as well as provide an account a name (I usually just accept the default name the form generates) and specifying your time zone. After you do all of this, head on to the next screen.

signup-3

Here you’ll enter your name, phone number and country in another form which is shown below. After you finish this form, go on to the next screen.

signup-4

You’ll be taken to terms and conditions statement for the Google Analytics service. Read through it and if you agree to the terms then select the check box at the bottom of the statement to agree to the terms and conditions. It is worth noting here that by default, you are opted in to share data with Google. If you’d like to change these settings, you’ll need to click the Edit Settings link.

signup-5

The next screen you should come to is the screen which contains the code (shown below) you must insert into each and every one of your pages you wish to be tracked within Google Analytics. You’ll need to copy the entire contents of the text box to get all of the code. Once you’ve got it all selected (ctrl-a on a PC or cmd-a on a Mac) and copied (ctrl-c on a PC or cmd-c on a Mac) you may want to save it to a plain text file for future reference or in case you forget and copy something else before you’ve pasted it in your code. If you don’t remember to do this, it is no big deal. We can get back to the code later. When you’re finished with this screen, go ahead and click the button at the bottom to finish the process.

signup-6

Step 2 – Inserting the Code
This step is going to be different for each individual site, so we’ll cover the most basic methods here. First of all, let me reiterate that for most basic sites, you must insert the tracking code on every page you want tracked. This may not be true in the case of a site which is running a content management system or a self hosted blogging solution such as WordPress which has header and footer files which are included on every page. In this case, you could put the tracking code in the header or footer files and it should theoretically work for each page without having to insert it multiple times. For a standard static site, though, your basic method is going to be as follows.

You’ll need to use your normal method of accessing your site code. Make sure you’ve copied the appropriate tracking code and navigate to the file for the page you want to be tracked. For the example below, I’ve just used a basic index.html file, which would be the root of my site – for purposes of this example, let’s call it http://www.example.com. Open up the file and look through the code until you’ve found the tag. This should be toward the bottom of your page. Immediately before this tag, paste in your tracking code. Do this for each page you’d like to track. See below for my example.

more-5

Note for WordPress users – you can setup Google Analytics without editing any files by installing the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin

Step 3 – Getting Acquainted
Once you’ve signed up for Google Analytics and have successfully logged in to your account, you should find yourself at the overview screen. From here, there are some important things to notice. First of all, you may notice that you have a warning icon (shown below) in the status column of one of your sites. This means that either you haven’t correctly pasted the code into your webpages or that there has been no traffic to the site since it was pasted so you haven’t received any data yet.

more-2

One way for you to get information regarding the success or failure of your tracking code is to go into the edit menu for that specific site. To get to the edit menu, you’ll need to look to the far right of the overview table along the row for your site and find the Edit link as shown below.

more-3

Once you’ve advanced to the next screen, you’ll see the Profile Settings for your individual site. You’ll see the information you supplied during your setup of the site as well as some additional information on Goals and Filters, but at the top right of the table, you’ll also see a check mark or or a warning sign as well as a Check Status link. Click the link to see some tracking status information as well as gain access to the tracking code, just in case you didn’t insert it correctly or forgot to insert it at all.

more-4

Another thing you should know is that in order to add more sites or domains for tracking, you’ll need to click on the Add Website Profile link below the table. When you click on that link, the site will essentially take you through a similar process to the one we’ve just outlined above. There is also a similar link at the top right of the overview table.

more-1

You should be set up by now to actually use Google Analytics as intended. You’ll find that it is extremely useful to be able to shift between reports based on Day, Week, Month or Year at the top right of the table. You’ll get access to different reports this way and you may find interesting trends you may not have discovered on some of the more long term views. Aside from that, it is best just to delve into the wealth of information Google Analytics can provide. Just click the View Report link and you’re on your way.

Drip Marketing and your bridal business

admin wrote this on Aug 22 |

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The term “Drip Marketing” is derived from the common phrase “drip irrigation”. This technique of watering involves applying small amounts of water over a long period of time. One effective way to include drip marketing in your toolbox is to design a series of marketing messages (email, direct mail, phone, etc) that are routinely “dripped” out to your prospects. These messages are initiated as a response to an interaction your prospect has with your business.

Let’s look at some examples…

Trigger Response
Brides registers on your website Email sent welcoming bride and offering assistance
Bride makes a Trunk Show appointment Email sent with information about designer and promotions offered during Trunk Show
Bride leaves store without purchasing gown Follow up phone call to touch base and re-iterate value proposition

These are just a few examples that illustrate how “drip marketing” can fit into your bridal business. The real power of this technique, once established, is it’s ability to be automated with technology.

One way to do this, within BridalLive’s bridal shop software, is to create email templates for each of your “Responses”. Then, when a customer performs one of your triggers, you can send the email from within BridalLive. Alternatively, if your response is a phone call, setting up a Task Type helps you schedule follow ups with your customers.

This technique keeps your brand “top of mind” during a bride’s engagement period. Once automated, you can spend more time focusing on other forms of engagement.