I signed onto the list of Riverhouse in February. This was on a wedding oriented page. Since then, I've received four e-mails: an invite for Easter brunch (February 27), a July/August newsletter (July 30), and an invite to book my holiday parties (August 25). Why would I get these e-mails if I want to get married?
I got to Riverhouse by way of its marketing for Belle Terrace at Avon Old Farms (recently reopened as The Northhouse by it's new proprietors, the Chabot Family, which also owns Farmington Gardens). Neither the website nor the e-mail campaigns are doing all they could to drive business to these companies.
This is what I'd do if I were developing for Riverhouse or Farmington:
Segment the e-mail List I signed onto the Riverhouse e-mail list eight months ago. Riverhouse took my e-mail on a wedding page. They should send me information for planning a wedding: a tip about choosing a photographer, what to look out for in a band, what makes a hall, flowers, cakes, taking care of special needs, themes. These can be set up as autoresponder sequences, even his (the ring, the tuxes, best man gifts) and hers (the dress, the bridesmaids, the shower, the rehearsal dinner) sequences. And in each e-mail, they should remind me that I'm not alone in this, and that if I have any questions, I should contact them. If a Wedding hall positions itself as the first, and maybe last, stop for all my wedding needs, I'd be much more likely to book there.
Create an e-mail List Farmington doesn't ask for my e-mail address. But Farmington does have a blog. With its last three blog posts, it's finally dialed in to an audience, which is the wedding market. But most people don't come back to check a blog. They give their e-mail and expect the blog to get notice when the next post is up. With an e-mail address, Farmington could continue to reach out and make itself the address for those planning a wedding.
Use What You've Already Got As I look at the sites again now, I notice that Riverhouse already has everything it needs to create a winning e-mail campaign. But it's something I overlooked on a number of previous visits to the site. These links are in the footer. Riverhouse has Resources, Articles and Wedding Tips. These would be great sources of periodic e-mails that could keep any bride (and groom) engaged, particularly the wedding tips section.
Farmington has a longer list of vendors. If Farmington doesn't already have the material to fill a blog, it can use its vendors to create it. Invite trusted florists, photographers and other affiliates to provide content that will become part of the e-mail sequence or blog.
Lead With Benefits Not Features Testimonials are typically about nice staff and a pretty location. Sell the feeling. Of course the physical space and service is great, but that's not the best grab. Why not sell the experience of love and family and being taken care of. While they may touch on these, they are not the central message. Lots of places provide great service, but we stand out in providing a great experience. Do you want “elegance and charm,” or a “celebration of love and life”?
Fix the Footer Riverhouse has its Resources, Articles and Wedding Tips links in the footer. The problem is the footer doesn't really look like one. It looks like it's part of the page. You probably caught on to this before. The e-mail sign up is also there. So while I thought I was signing on to a wedding list above, it was a general list, and it's added no value. Also the Articles link brings me to a generic list of articles, distinct for instance from the Business Event Planning Tips, which is essentially another set of articles, buried about three layers into the site. The problem is obvious. If I'm on a business events page, and I sign up for an e-mail list or click on an Articles link, I want stuff about business, not a Mother's Day invite.
Meet Your Clients Where They Are First, Segment them into their appropriate groups. I know this was my first point. It bears repeating. Make sure that when they add their e-mail on a wedding page, it goes to a wedding list. Same for Business. Same for Special Events. You might even have lists for certain types of special events, such as proms, annual balls or charity events, company retreats.
I'm sure most people don't book on their first visit to the site, but a company can start building a relationship with them on that visit. Provide a lead magnet. For instance, give your visitor a relevant checklist in exchange for an e-mail address, name, and maybe even phone. Then provide value: Share successful ideas from other events, follow up with the articles you already have, send them additional planning resources. When they are ready to book, your name will rise to the top.
The bottom line is you want to book your space as often as possible for as high a value as you can get. The more value people get, the more likely they'll want to go with you, and the more they'll be willing to pay. The steps I've outlined above are a matter of organizing and delivering information, and there is a lot more that can be done. The tools to automate customer engagement are getting better and better. It wouldn't take more than a slight uptick in business to justify taking these steps. And if you are willing to be a little creative, you could earn a lot more.
So, whether you are Riverhouse, or Farmington Gardens, or one of their competitors, and you are ready to rock out your website and online presence to boost your business, you should:
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