Weddings are, in a word, momentous. They're deeply personal, emotional and meaningful occasions that require immense preparation. And as such, brides, grooms, and wedding planners are constantly on the lookout for the perfect pieces to complete the wedding of their dreams.
That's where online stores in the wedding industry can help.
Because weddings are so unique, marketing your wedding-related products and services requires a more detail-oriented approach. In this guide, we’ll learn how online business owners in the wedding industry can leverage their website and marketing channels to maximize success.
I. Design for the wedding industrySo much about weddings is getting the exact look that the bride and groom have been dreaming of, which makes design such a critical element to running a successful online store in the wedding industry.
Here are some best practices when designing your wedding-related store:
1. Promote your salesMost brides have a specific budget in mind, and won't be too eager to overspend. So make sure you promote your great deals and specials on your homepage to draw them in.
2. Use professional imagesInvest in professional images for all your products. Make sure you take detailed pictures up close so the client can see exactly what the product looks like. Have your photographer take pictures from multiple angles so the bride can see exactly the product will look like. Your user is going to be very picky for this event in his or her life so they want to see exactly what they are buying.
3. Opt for neutral colorsUse neutral colors like beige, ivory, grey, taupe, black and white as your sites main colors to allow your images & content to truly stand out without getting lost. Neutral colors are often associated with calmness and elegance which is a great way to position your business in the wedding industry.
4. Use a minimalistic designStay away from designing your site to match the latest web design trend. Taking a more minimalistic approach will help your site look modern and will ensure it will never look dated or out of style. Minimalist sites also load faster for the users since they have less information/images to download. Planning a wedding can often be a stressful time so it will be refreshing for users to visit to your minimal site and find exactly what they are looking for without distractions.
5. Keep seasonality in mindUpdate your site seasonally to match the types of weddings that visitors would be planning. Almost spring? Use pictures that showcase your spring wedding accessories. Almost fall? Use content that is related to your users planning their fall wedding. Even if its as simple as changing a few colors to reflect the current season it will keep visitors coming back to see what your latest site looks like. If you plan on doing this make sure your site is designed to be easy to update. Taking a minimalistic approach will defiantly make this a lot easier.
6. Organize your navigationMake sure your navigation is nicely organized to ensure your users can find what they are looking for quickly. Consider organizing your navigation by who the user could be, for example: Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids, to make finding what they are looking for very easy. An easy-to-navigate site will put your users at easy and it will be a reflection of how your company is run.
7. Create an inspiration galleryBrides can be daunted by the task of planning their "perfect' wedding" -- having a gallery of ideas with your products would be welcomed as they search for ideas. Point out your products in each image with a nice link to where they can find that item on your site.
8. Promote your brick and mortar locationMany brides would prefer to physically see or try on products they need for their wedding before they purchase. Make sure your address and possibly a map is located on your site to encourage them to visit your store. Let users know when you will be at any bridal expos or open houses to entice them to come find you!
II. SEO for the wedding industryThe wedding industry is incredibly competitive, so succeeding in organic search will take a blend of skilled content marketing and social networking. Your social media buzz will likely influence your organic presence more so than traditional SEO activities.
The great (and tricky) part about doing SEO for the wedding industry is that there's already a lot of content out there. Your goal is to fill gaps in the wedding content world, strategically push that content out to high traffic areas and become a resource for wedding-related questions.
Here are some SEO best practices for online stores in the wedding industry:
1. Create unique infographicsBrides are juggling a seemingly never-ending list of tasks, and reading (sometimes re-reading) a hefty amount of content – like vendor reviews, etiquette tips, contracts and more. You can do them a favor by presenting your content in visual form. Not only will it help them efficiently multitask, but it tends to be highly shareable. In terms of SEO, that means quality links built back to your site which helps boost your site’s authority.
Think what processes or information may be better presented visually, and create those. Some ideas include:
- A wedding planning timeline
- A detailed day of the wedding timeline
- A day of wedding checklist of items to bring
- Wedding vendor gratuity/tipping recommendations
- A visual gift registry guide
- Ideas for wedding favors
- Seasonal or day of the week venue pricing data
2. Network with influential bloggers and vendorsPopular wedding blogs, like Style Me Pretty, get an average of 1.4 million visitors monthly visitors, around 90% of those visitors will get married within a year. Pushing out your content on popular wedding blogs gives your brand the chance to appear in front of a highly targeted audience. From an SEO perspective, the links or mentions back to your site from these extremely niche and reputable blogs gives your site even more votes of confidence in the robotic eyes of the search engines.
Some blogs may prove too difficult to network with personally and offer blog sponsorships. This may take different forms, but it could include having your brand’s name appear in one of their blogs as a sponsor or having you write a guest post. It may also include having a side advertisement on their website for a certain time frame.
Also think about networking with vendors that have an online presence. Some wedding photographers, makeup artists, bakeries or venues have an “our favorite vendors” section where they link to other vendors they have worked with. If your website sells fun photo booth props, it makes sense to link up with a wedding photographer. You may offer to give a sample of free products to the vendors to begin the networking relationship and instill trust in your website.
3. Build out a content library on your websiteTo give your website visibility within the search engine rankings, you’ll need to expand your on-page SEO strategy from traditional Meta tags and on-page content. (Note: Still fill out those areas though, as they help robots and users understand your content and provide a strong foundation for your SEO.)
We’ve seen a few wedding vendors build out a content library of sorts on their website. Yours may turn into an “advice center” or perhaps a “bride guide.” The end goal is to house keyword rich and unique content on your website. Make sure when you build out this informational center, each new article or topic is created as a separate landing page. This will give the search engines more, and more specific landing pages to present in search results. It also helps better segment those pages for the appropriate keywords.
A few ideas to build your content library:
- Create checklists (outdoor/destination wedding checklist, day of wedding items checklist, honeymoon packing checklist, maid of honor checklist, etc.)
- Create pro/con lists (outdoor vs. indoor wedding, veil vs. no veil, hair up vs. hair down, big wedding reception vs. small, etc.)
- Answer tough bridal FAQs (e.g., 5 ways to Reduce a Guest List, 5 Ways to Save on Alcohol, How to Handle a Bad Hair Trial Appointment, etc.)
- Make useful templates (basic ceremony order, basic vow examples, sample (religious and non) readings, “do not play” song list for DJs
4. Set up profiles on review sitesPlanning a wedding is one of the most meaningful times in someone’s life, and so everyone involved is extra cautious to choose the right vendors. You can incline brides (and their friends and family) to purchase from your site if it’s been proven through positive reviews.
Probably the first go-to for any bride is TheKnot.com; if it makes sense for your online store, set up a vendor profile on The Knot and ask your brides for reviews on this site. Most vendors are local, so we recommend setting up a listing for the nearest city to where you’re based in the appropriate category:
Like any blog, be authentic and real; most forums have very strict regulations for postings.
In addition to The Knot, other review sites or forums you may look into include:
III. Social media for wedding industryThe wedding planning experience is such a completely personal time that a strong social media following is important for brands to better connect with their brides. If brides can see they’re not alone in choosing your product (whether it’s by the “likes” or reviews your site has) for their big day, it helps push them along to purchase from your website and keep your site in mind when making recommendations to friends.
1. Utilize Facebook advertisingFacebook allows sophisticated demographic targeting that allows wedding websites to almost perfectly target their audience. On top of age, gender and location, you can target your Facebook ads to individuals who have been engaged more than six months or within one year.
Use your Facebook ads to promote sales as well as drive traffic back to your site. You should split test ads to see what is most compelling to your target audience. The way you do this is duplicate an ad and change just one element about it in the targeting or creative; then let both ads run simultaneously until you have enough data to make a decision. You may change:
- Age range of targeting (younger brides vs. older brides)
- Picture used in ad (product vs. person)
- Type of promotion ($50 off vs. 25% off)
- Call-to-action wording (Shop now, Browse our selection, Click “Like”, Save on wedding favors, etc.)
2. Do giveaways, gifts, freebies and specialsDuring the wedding planning process, brides are opening their pocket book left and right; they’re experiencing levels of frustration with vendor upcharges and hidden fees. One way to stand out during the wedding planning period is to surprise and delete your fans.
Not only will fans appreciate your brand, but they will likely start to pay more attention to you. They may subscribe to, engage with and even share your posts; this helps get your name in front of more potential customers and gives search engines little votes of confidence in your site.
3. Use PinterestPinterest is one of the few social networks you can get in early with those planning their “future weddings” – if you stand out as a brand during their dreaming process on Pinterest, you can believe they will have you top of mind when the big day comes around for them.
On Pinterest, you should:
- Curate your own boards and posts: Having a thorough Pinterest account will give customers reasons to follow your board. Think of types of boards that will help them out in their wedding planning journey (logistically or emotionally) and make those. Some examples may include:
- Create themed boards based on types of weddings:
- Art deco
- Create topical boards:
- Types of veils
- Types of dresses (shapes, styles, etc.)
- Invitation inspiration
- Wedding hairstyles
- Create city resources
- Best of Houston wedding vendors
- Best of New York
Make sure you’re being friendly on Pinterest, and not just self-promotional! Share other pinner’s quotes, like their posts and engage with other users as well. Not only does this affect Pinterest’s algorithm for showing your posts in their feed, but it creates good will among the followers you’re interacting with. To further build the bonds with your followers, make sure to always follow back any users that follow you. Not following back may give a user a negative idea about how your brand values its fans.
Outreach to potential customers
Search keywords related to your products and repin or comment on other user’s posts in a helpful and non-spammy way. You’ll increase your presence on Pinterest and may gain some new followers!
4. Remember the human aspect of weddingsAs we’ve reiterated quite a bit, weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime moment for brides and their family and friends. Remember to celebrate the human aspect surrounding weddings.
You may include:
- A real wedding photo section: have your brides send pictures of them using your product
- Testimonials: while testimonials are like reviews, they typically are a bit longer and more detailed. They may paint a story, which helps other brides understand the process of working with you. Encourage and promote a testimonials section on your social channels.
IV. Paid Search for the wedding industryIn the competitive world of wedding products, paid search strategies can help get your products in front of customers you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to reach. With paid search, you can tailor your message and advertise to customers who are looking for the specific products you offer.
1. Take advantage of the visual nature of shopping feedsShopping Feeds work well for wedding-related products for two great reasons: they convey the price and show an image of the product. This helps shoppers know exactly what to expect when arriving on your site!
A bride shopping for vintage wedding veils in Google is presented with the following search results. These show her what the veils look and which items fall within her allotted budget even before she clicks through to the website and the merchant pays for that click. (highlight the section that says “Shop for vintage wedding veil on Google”)
With shopping feeds, make sure your images correctly show off the product and also that you are including descriptive keywords in your product titles and descriptions. For many items, it can be helpful to show the product in use, as most of the images in the above example do.
2. Speak to your audience through PPC adsWith PPC (pay-per-click ads), speak directly to the bride and groom. Use ad text such as “your special day.” Also, understand that many brides (and grooms) may prefer to call and speak to someone when purchasing wedding-related items, especially if those items are high-priced. Use AdWords Call Extensions and identify phone conversion goals.
To accurately measure conversions, extend the conversion window to longer than 30 days since wedding items are rarely an impulse buy and many brides explore options for months before making a final purchase decision.
3. Drive traffic through banner placement on wedding blogsPaid placement on wedding blogs can drive a lot of traffic (and sales). For some merchants, advertising on some of the major wedding blogs (stylemepretty.com) can be a good investment, while other merchants may benefit from targeting local (bklynbrideonline.com) or lifestyle-focused blogs (offbeatbride.com).
V. Email marketing for the wedding industryDon’t miss out on the opportunity to reach customers through email. If shoppers have signed up for your email list, they want to hear from you, and there is no better time than when they are engaged planning their wedding.
1. Offer timely promotionsIf you have gathered information about when a couple’s wedding date is, you can send them timely emails at the time when they are most likely to purchase. Check out Real Simple’s wedding checklist for ideas. Segment your email distribution list by wedding month, allowing for easier targeting.
2. Partner upMany larger companies out there allow partnerships that will give those partners placement on their newsletters. This is a great way to gain access to a large customer base. Some of those lists could have 50,000 subscribers or more, and being able to market to those customers that are planning their weddings is valuable. Seek out companies that fit with your brand, and find out how you can work together.
3. Offer tips, tricks, and fun informationThese days, unsubscribing from emails is as close as a click away. Keep your customers opted-in and provide not only special offers and product-focused communications, but also tips and tricks that get them excited to receive emails from you. You may send out emails that are “Our Top Five Bridal Veils Pinned on Pinterest” or “Nine Things to Do Before You Say I Do.” Don’t be afraid to also use what you’ve come up with for social media/blog posting. Promote that content!
VI. Increasing conversionsOnce customers arrive on your site, make sure they have all the information they need to make that purchase decision.
1. Clearly state return policy and shipping policyPotential customers may be hesitant to buy if they are unsure of whether products will arrive in time for the wedding. Clearly state the time to ship, and make sure to give customers the option of expedited shipping. You’d be surprised, many customers will pay more for the reassurance that the product will be there in time for the wedding!
Some brides and grooms may want to try on items or have the option of returning if it is not exactly what they are envisioning for their wedding. Take the guess work out of purchasing by clearly stating the return policy so customers know when they can return products and if there are any costs associated with doing so.
2. Provide product specifications, down to the detailsFor weddings, it can be important that items match. Brides want everything to be coordinated, down to the smallest details! In your product descriptions, be clear about what materials items are made of. In product photos, it can be hard to distinguish between gold, bronze, or brass at times. Be very clear about what options are available so that shoppers are not surprised when they receive an item and it’s not what they expect.
Include Success Stories
Showcase happy customer’s success stories on your website. When it comes to planning a wedding, brides like to be reassured that other brides had great experiences with your products before they buy for themselves. Maybe choose a wedding of the month and do a small article about the wedding and highlight your products that helped the wedding go so well. Include helpful links or bridal checklists to help your customers plan their perfect wedding.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget to think outside the gift-wrapped box with wedding-related products! For some products, promoting them at local wedding events can get the name out about your business. Provide takeaways such as business cards that will remind shoppers of your products, so they can visit your online store later to purchase the products they saw in your booth.
The wedding industry and ecommerce can be a match made in heaven if you make sure your marketing and design are married correctly to your products. When running a wedding-related business, considering the human element in all of your marketing efforts is key. And remember: What you do helps make someone's special day even better.
Special thanks to Sarah Oen Cottle (Design Team Lead), Tori Klem (Marketing Consultant Team Manager), and Mia Wenske (Search Marketing Manager) for their significant contributions to this guide.