Wedding venues have suffered greatly due to the pandemic with many venues losing up to 85% of their business in 2020. As we head into the late fall and winter, things look even dimmer since spring through fall are the busiest time of year. Wedding venues should be preparing for a comeback in 2021 and now is the time to plan your marketing strategy. The pandemic has caused consumer behavior to change as more people are shopping online more than ever before. Many of those 2020 weddings will be postponed until 2021, but new weddings will be planned during the winter for next year. So how do you position your business online to book more weddings this off-season?
Update Your Website
Look at your website and look at some of your competitors’ websites. How does it stack up? Adding fresh photos and content can make your website really pop. Adding a video walkthrough of the venue and other video content can entice more bookings. Video content is 59% more effective at creating engagement over photos alone.
The best looking website in the world is useless unless people can find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy to add elements to a website to make it rank higher in search results. Make sure text content contains words that people use to search online. Also, add meta tags and meta descriptions to each page that contain keywords yet accurately describe the content of the page. For photos and videos, use file names that contain keywords instead of the names that the camera gives them (i.e. wedding_hall instead of img_001). Also consider adding captions and alt descriptions on the photos. Once the changes are made, use Google Search Console to index the website so that Google can update the site in its algorithm.
Add or update the Google My Business (GMB) and Bing Places page for the business to improve local SEO. Local SEO is a strategy to show up in the maps section of the search results when people are searching for a business in a geographical location. 46% of all searches have local intent, meaning people are searching using a geographic qualifier such as “near me” or “near Boerne”. GMB allows you to add business description, photos, menus, products, services, events, and posts. It is like having a second website. The more relevant content that is on these pages, the better chance and showing up in search results.
Over 60% of all website traffic is done on a mobile device, so make sure that your website is mobile friendly. Search engines rank sites higher if they are mobile optimized, plus you will get more people to engage with your website. You can test your site here.
Other Marketing Tips
- Ask for Reviews: Trust is the biggest factor in getting more bookings and people trust customer reviews, especially on large purchases. 40% of people read reviews prior to making a buying decision. Good reviews also help in search result rankings. Simply email previous customers with links to your GMB, Facebook, The Knot, Wedding Wire, or TripAdvisor pages and ask for them to rate their experience. In today’s world, people don’t mind rating your business if asked.
- Get the Venue Listed on Multiple Directories/Websites: Be everywhere that your prospects are looking. Don’t just use one social media channel. Use the big ones like Facebook and Instagram, but also create a page on Pinterest, where 40 million people have planned their weddings. Most wedding businesses are aware of and using The Knot and Wedding Wire to promote their venue, but there are other sites such as Wedding Spot, TripAdvisor, and Expedia Group (owner of Travelocity, VRBO, Orbitz, Hotels.com and many others). These last two have over one billion visitors per year and are great for destination venues. There are many other smaller, more local wedding sites where you can list your business. Do a Google search to find them. Having listings on all of these sites puts your business in front of your target audience as well as helps SEO on the search engines.
- Digital Advertisement: Run ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to build awareness. These channels are a very inexpensive way to reach thousands of people in your target audience. They allow targeting by age, location, interests, and relationship status. Running ads on Google will put your ads on the first page of search results when people are searching for wedding venues. Use the keyword planner provided by Google to choose the most used keywords for wedding venues.
- Be Active on Social Media: Most marketers recommends posting 3 to 7 times per week and that is backed up by studies. By adding a hashtag and a relevant keyword, engagement can increase by 12.5%. Hashtags are a great way to reach people outside of your followers, but don’t abuse them. Use no more than 4 to 6 hashtags per post. Using too many can be distracting to the reader and lower engagement. Engagement (likes, shares, and comments) is the key to getting more readers of a post.
- Build Relationships with Wedding Professionals: Wedding planners are one of the most influential people to give referrals for venues. Reach out and work with them to give wedding clients a good experience. Others influencers that you may not of thought of are wedding publications and bloggers. Reach out to them and invite them to visit the venue and show them why it is better than the competition.
In the past few years, many wedding venues have opened up in the Texas Hill Country, so there is a lot of competition. With the pandemic, it has made it even more difficult to stay afloat. Take this time to ramp up marketing so that you are ready when things turn around. These tips can be implemented on a large or small budget, the important thing is to get started. If you need help, let us know.