You’ve got that bridal show lead list in your hot little hands, but before you start blasting out emails, take a gander at the CAN-SPAM Act. These guidelines dictate what you can and cannot do with email addresses if you are using them for commercial purposes….which you are.

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What You Can’t Do and Must Do with the Bridal Show Email List

  • YOU CAN’T Use a deceptive subject for your email. If your purpose is commercial, you have to make it clear.
  • YOU CAN’T Use a fake name or business in your “from” address.
  • YOU MUST Identify your message as an ad and include your mailing address.
  • YOU MUST Make clear how the recipient can opt-out of receiving emails from you and remove them from your email list promptly when requested.

Unless the brides have specifically requested email information from you, it’s very likely that you will be reported as spam. If this happens, you can be fined $16,000 per violation. More likely than that, if your email receives even a few spam complaints, your IP address can be blacklisted, which means your emails will end up in brides’ spam folders permanently.

My recommendation: don’t email brides unless they give you their email address separately at your booth. Don’t subscribe them to a list unless they agree to be signed up.

I know, I know, you pay for those leads! But if it’s unsolicited and it ticks the bride off, is that really going to get you more business?

What to Do With Those Leads Instead

1) Send a direct mail piece.

A postcard can be a powerful marketing tool if you design it correctly. Include an attention-grabbing headline, an image that reminds them of your bridal show booth, and make sure you include a “call to action” giving them a reason to contact you.

An example of that call to action: “Call today for your FREE [insert cool service here]!” or “Visit our website to get your FREE copy of [insert cool free report]!”

Want the bride to actually read your mailer? According to Tom Quiner of Breakthrough Marketing, the most effective direct mail piece is a hand-written envelope containing a letter, a brochure and a reply card.The same principles apply: use an attention-grabbing headline, a compelling benefit-driven offer and a call to action. Don’t just sell yourself; provide valuable free information that makes them want to get more, and tell them exactly what to do to get it.

2) Send your very best leads a “lumpy mailer.”

Christine Boulton of Think Like a Bride recommends that you cherry pick your lead list down to the very best locations and affluent zip codes, and send those premium leads a more expensive direct mail piece in a real “lumpy” envelope they’re guaranteed to open. 

Very few of your competitors will be sending a direct mail piece, let alone one that stands out. Check out this blog post for 30 brilliant direct mail pieces.

3) Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

Don’t just rely on one meeting at the show to book the wedding. It typically takes 3-7 exposures before the customer is ready to buy.

In your direct mail pieces, encourage the bride to opt-in to your email list. Get her to happily give you her email address and permission to follow up by offering a compelling “Bride Bribe” in the form of a free report with information she really wants.

Follow up by email (without violating anti-spam laws) and different forms of direct mail.

I’m not a huge fan of “cold calling” because it’s usually unwelcome, ineffective because few brides even answer the phone anymore, and downright unpleasant to do.

The best follow up is personalized with the couple’s name, date and location, but 90% pre-done so that it requires little of your time and energy. Email and direct mail services like Aweber  and Sendpepper (which offers direct mail services, too) make this personalization easy.

What’s the most effective method you’ve found for bridal show follow up?

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Stephanie Padovani

Stephanie is a Hudson Valley wedding insider, blogger, writer, and wedding business coach. Want to book more weddings at higher prices? Quit dealing with price shoppers? Transform your wedding business so that it supports the life you really want? Look her up! They don't call her the Wedding Business Cheerleader for nothing. :)

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10 thoughts on “What Should I Do With That Bridal Show Lead List?”

  1. Robin Kemp says:

    I subscribed to Wedding.com which guarantees that I will book a wedding or my first 6 months is refunded. They provide the couples’ first names, wedding date and some brief wedding info. However, they do not publish any email addresses or other contact information. All I can do is email them through the contact box provided and then wait for a response. Needless to say, there’s been no response. How should I proceed with this given what you’re saying about spam?

    1. We were members of Wedding.com for one year (6 months paid and 6 months free because we did not book a wedding). We did not book any meetings or weddings in more than 400 leads. I send each and every lead a personalized response within 24 hours of coming into my inbox. Many I sent second emails inviting them to local bridal shows, no obligation to come see us. Others I sent other follow up 2-3 more times. Still nothing more than the cricket! I find my best leads to be those who directly contact us–those that register across the board on wedding.com, wedfolio etc don’t usually pan out regardless of how I follow up or how often.

  2. Stephanie,
    I paid for a full color ad in a magazine advertising my wedding photography services in the Outer Banks of North Carolina which included a bride lead list, I’m receiving about 30 leads a week, are you saying that I can’t respond to any of them, because it’s illegal?

    thanks for your time,
    Click Here for More info steven

    1. Hey, Steve!

      It all depends on what those brides agreed to when they registered. The first thing I’d do would be to ask the company sending you the leads how they get them.

      Even if you do have permission to email them, it’s still likely to be considered spam by the bride (she’d not going to remember what she clicked YES to and she didn’t ask for you specifically) and she’ll probably report it as such.

      If you insist on emailing, only email ONCE. Don’t add them to your autoresponder. Try to get them to sign up for your email list so that you can follow up.

      You’re better off sending direct mail postcards and offers in this case, if you can.

  3. Wendy Dall says:

    How about when you only get email addresses rather than full addresses – are you not allowed to send a general followup to the whole list with a “nice to meet” you at the show?

    1. Hi, Wendy. Unfortunately, since your business is commercial, you must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. That means you shouldn’t send a general follow up to the entire list because you’re likely violating anti-spam regulations.

      However, you can send emails to anyone you really did meet in person at the bridal show who also signed up for your email list.

      Other things to consider: it’s extremely time consuming (and not particularly productive) to send individual emails to the entire list. Yet if you use an email marketing service, the most efficient way to do it, you’ll be violating their terms and will get your account shut down.

      It’s frustrating, but your best bet is to collect your own leads at your booth. There won’t be as many, but the quality will be high and you won’t have spam issues.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It confirmed what I felt I should do with my bridal list, and has solidified my decision.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Great idea! I have lists, and could never figure out what to do with them. Emailing to a list of people, seemed highly impersonal, and ineffective!

    Thanks for the ideas!!!
    Cicily

  6. Anonymous says:

    great post! thanks!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m always afraid of getting spammed. I have a new found love with direct mail! I never thought of a “lumpy” mail piece. So glad you guys are here!

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