Don’t spend your precious advertising dollars until you read this!

WeddingWire vs. The Knot

WeddingWire and The Knot are the two most prominent sites for wedding advertising in the US.  They’re often put head to head with this question, “Which is better?”

Both sites offer free listings, reviews, educational events for wedding pros and wedding planning resources for couples.

We’ll focus on their distinguishing characteristics and how to determine which one is most likely to generate leads for you.

WeddingWire Advantages: Technology & Reviews Domination

WeddingWire focuses on the use of technology to help couples plan the wedding.  Their biggest strength is delivering unbiased reviews so they can hire the best vendors.

These reviews, their ease of use and high placement in the search engines translate to brides and grooms looking to hire.  The technology tools for advertisers are a compelling bonus.
wedding-wire

#1 Technology Tools Resource for Wedding Pros

Advertisers have access to the following tools and applications:

  • Mobile website creator
  • Social  media manager
  • Facebook page designer
  • Lead management
  • Appointment scheduler
  • Branded sites for each client
  • Questionnaires for clients
  • Video builder
  • Digital contracts
  • Payment processing through Paypal and Authorize.net

Reviews traffic

WeddingWire is the “Yelp!” of reviews with top placement on Page 1 of Google for many wedding review search terms.

Placement on 5 of the Leading Wedding Sites

Advertisers get guaranteed exposure on 8 different wedding-related websites, including WeddingWire, Wedding Bee, Project Wedding and GayWeddings.com.

The Knot Advantages: Planning & Inspiration Resources Domination

The Knot focuses on providing ideas, inspiration and planning resources for couples planning a wedding.  This relentless focus drives large amounts of traffic to their website, offering an opportunity for advertisers.

Brides and grooms are more likely to return to the site numerous times during the planning process to use The Knot’s vast resources, not just at the time of hiring to search reviews.

theknot

Recognizable Brand

The Knot was founded in 1996 and is well-established as a leader in weddings.  It’s widely recognized and respected by brides and grooms.

#1 Most Visited Wedding Site

TheKnot.com gets more average unique visitors than any other wedding website.  According to Kristin Savilia, President of Local Marketplace, XO Group Inc. (the parent company of The Knot) they hit 11 million unique visitors in June alone.

These stats are corroborated by traffic searches on Alexa which clearly show The Knot’s traffic far surpasses that of WeddingWire.

National and Regional Ranked Magazines

The Knot Magazine offers advertisers the opportunity to cross-promote their business and increase exposure by purchasing both print and online advertising.

Top Wedding Planning Apps

Advertisers with Storefronts on TheKnot.com get additional mobile exposure on the Wedding Planner and Wedding Lookbook apps.  Both are highly rated on multiple lists of the top wedding planning apps.

The Wedding Planner app boasts over 1 million users to date and almost 1 million views of wedding pro Storefronts. Users spend an average of 7 minutes on the Lookbook app on each visit.

Pros & Cons of Free Listings

Both of these sites offer free listings where you can get reviews.  These reviews act as “social proof,” evidence of your value based on the opinions of other people.

Create free listings on both these sites because couples are going to search for your reviews before they book.

Online reviews = warm leads.

70% of people trust online reviews from people they don’t know, according to Nielsen.  That’s marketing you don’t have to pay for!

Warning: these free listings come with limitations:

  • WeddingWire is very clear that your free listing and reviews will NOT display in a search on their website unless the visitor searches the name of your business specifically.
  • Your free listing on The Knot WILL display under local searches in your category, but your listing and reviews will be buried at the very end of the list.
  • Your free listing may rank higher than other review sites when a couple searches for “name of your business reviews” on Google.  When they click through, they’re more likely to find your competitors.
  • When searchers click through to your free listing, they may see competitors advertised on your listing page.

Even with these limitations, establishing a free listing with both these sites is a good business practice.

Pricing

There are a few things to know about the pricing of these two sites.

Prices for advertising on WeddingWire and The Knot are comparable for most markets.  The wedding pros we spoke with for this article found there wasn’t a huge difference between the cost of advertising between these two sites.

Prices vary based on your market and the amount of competition.  Wedding pros in big wedding cities like New York City or Chicago are going to pay more for the same category of advertising than those living in tiny towns in Montana.  In addition, competition in your business category will drive the price up.

Negotiating may get you a better rate.  Sales reps seem to have some wiggle room when it comes to the listing price or renewal rate.  Act ambivalent and you may be able to get your rate reduced or have enhanced features included in your package at no extra charge.

Who Gets Better Reviews From the Pros?

Both companies have hundreds of reviews available online, both from brides/grooms who use the site and wedding professionals.  Read reviews of WeddingWire here and reviews of The Knot here.

You’ll find bad reviews of both WeddingWire and The Knot, as well as wedding pros who swear each is the best advertising decision they’ve ever made.  Read more comments from wedding pros who weigh in on both sides here.

One of the biggest complaints applies to both companies…

Both WeddingWire and The Knot have recommendation features that send inquiries to similar vendors when a couple contacts you through their site, if they’ve agreed to be allow the site to recommend other choices.

This increases competition for the advertiser the couple is trying to reach, and reduces the quality of leads for the advertiser receiving the recommendation.

 “I tell Brides to take the glowing positive reviews with a grain of salt.  #1 – No bride wants to admit their wedding sucked.  #2 – Vendors can get negative reviews removed.  #3 – Brides really don’t have a lot to compare their wedding to when it comes to vendors.” – Jim Eppes, Eppes Entertainment

WeddingWire Complaints

WeddingWire has overwhelmingly positive reviews.  However, there are a few common issues that come up amongst the complainers.

#1 – Difficulty getting fraudulent or negative reviews removed.

WeddingWire has a very firm policy that reflects their commitment to unbiased reviews, whether positive or negative.

 “As long as a reviewer can prove that he/she was a legitimate client (by providing either a signed contract or proof of payment) all reviews that abide by our Terms of Use are allowed: positive, negative, or neutral.  WeddingWire is not a dispute resolution service and we do not get involved in disagreements between vendor and client.” – Lauren Hartman, Wedding Wire PR & Events Specialist in response to negative online reviews

#2 – Inability to cancel the 12 month contract.

WeddingWire advertising is sold on a 12 month contract.  There is a clause allowing new advertisers to cancel within the first six months, but early cancellation is otherwise not permitted.

Many of these complaints stemmed from a misunderstanding of the 12 month commitment and/or the alleged misrepresentation on the part of the sale rep.

The confusion increases because the contractual terms are contained in a “Terms of Use” agreement, rather than a written contract, which many advertisers don’t read carefully.

#3 – Bad experience with a wedding vendor.  (Bride/groom complaint.)

The third most common complaint in these bad reviews comes from couples who had a bad experience with a vendor they found and hired through WeddingWire.

While the company’s terms are clear that it does not personally endorse or guarantee service by it’s advertisers, that doesn’t stop unhappy couples from complaining about it.

 “I would like to see local vendors declare independence from WeddingWire and The Knot.  Local vendors need to work better together, as together we can do more for clients than any distant, big-money content machines and build a stronger industry.Joel Nisleit, Joel Nisleit Photography

The Knot Complaints

The Knot’s reviews are also mostly positive, though there are more bad reviews lodged against them than WeddingWire on the review sites resourced.  These are the most common complaints.

#1 – No leads were delivered.

There are so many factors involved in the determination of how many leads an advertiser will get (quality of the listing, images, reviews, match with the market, advertiser’s website) that this is certainly no proof that The Knot doesn’t deliver leads.

#2 – Slow or non-existent customer support.

Several wedding pros complained about lack of support from The Knot once their contract was signed, and slow response helping them create a Storefront.

#3 – Poor interface and website issues.  (Bride/groom complaint.)

Several bride or groom users of The Knot experienced problems with The Knot website and in particular difficulty getting a wedding website removed once it had been created.

The Knot’s Review Policy

The Knot’s policy regarding review disputes is similar to that of WeddingWire, though the system for reporting issues is less structured.

The Knot will delete wedding pro reviews that contain spam, explicit content or are proven to be factually false.  For a review to be proven false…the wedding pro provide documentation of false information as part of the initial inquiry and will reach out to the reviewer for confirmation.  If The Knot does not receive feedback or cooperation from the reviewer, the review will be removed.” – Melissa Bach, Public Relations at XO Group, Inc.

Vendors can respond to a review by sending an email to vendor support with their response and a link to the offending review.  It will be reviewed and approved if it meets their Terms of Service criteria.  A new feature is in the works that will enable all advertisers (free and paid) to respond to reviews.

Praise for WeddingWire & The Knot

Fans of WeddingWire appreciate these features:

  • Top notch business tools for advertisers.
  • Visibility in the search engines.
  • Ease of use and visibility for reviews.
  • Robust vendor dashboard.
  • Excellent customer support and back end service.
  • Helpful educational resources and vendor forum.

If you’re basing ROI solely on the leads received in your inbox from The Knot or WW you might be disappointed. But does that mean that the couple you booked the other day who contacted you from your website or fb didn’t read your online reviews or look at your storefront?? That’s why there’s never one way to calculate ROI from these types of sites. There’s always something to be said for residency in a market place and that is what WW and The Knot provide wedding businesses.” – Kellie Daab, Kohler Catering

Fans of The Knot appreciate these features:

  • Brand recognition by brides and grooms.
  • Association with The Knot Magazine.
  • Access to a more affluent market.
  • Better advertising analytics.

Don’t Advertise On Either Site Until You Answer These Questions!

better
None of which really answers the original question…

“Which is better: WeddingWire or The Knot?”

The best choice of advertising for you depends upon your business, your target clients and the competition in your market.

Answer each of these questions to make the best choice:

#1 – Do you have a professional website that’s optimized to capture leads?

If your website as it exists right now doesn’t do a good job of capturing leads, don’t waste your money on this advertising.  These sites may drive hundreds of visitors to your website, but that won’t do any good if its poor design or lack of an offer drives them away.

If you’re not 100% confident that your website will turn those visitors into leads, you’re better off investing those advertising dollars hiring a web programmer or conversion specialist who builds websites that get results.

#2 – How will you track the leads and bookings from your advertising traffic?

You need to know definitively how many leads your advertising listing is sending you, and whether or not they end up booking you.

Don’t buy advertising until you’ve figured this out!  Google Analytics and Goals is the simplest and easiest solution for tracking this, and you may need to hire a Google Analytics expert to help you set it up the first time.  It will be worth it’s weight in gold.

#3 – How will you follow up with those leads?

You need a proven follow up system for turning those leads into bookings.  If you don’t have that nailed down, fix that first before you invest in advertising.  Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money.

Now that you’ve answered Questions #1 – 3 with a plan in place, you’ve determined that you are fully qualified for advertising success.

Let’s continue and figure out which choice is best for you…

#4 – What ranking does each site get for your business category keywords?

You want to reach the maximum number of brides and grooms who are searching for what you do.  The advertising site you choose should have Page 1 visibility for those terms – other than the name of your business.  (Those couples have already heard of you and will find you when they search.)

  1. Go to Google.
  2. Search the keyword phrases couples use when seeking a vendor who does what you do.  For example, Asheville wedding photographers, Sacramento wedding officiant.
  3. Notice which sites come up on Page 1 for those terms.  This is what potential clients are finding when they search, and the advertising sites that rank higher potentially get more traffic.

#5 – How many clicks does it take for a visitor to find your listing?

Now you know which of these sites (if either) ranks higher on Page 1, but that’s not the whole story. The page these visitors land on is filled with your competitors.

We want to know how likely they are to find your listing.

Notice how many competitors there are for each level of advertising.  How many times will they have to click after landing on the initial page until they see your business listing?

The more clicks necessary, the less traffic you’ll receive.

#6 – How much competition is in your market category?

When you compare each of these advertising sites, notice how much competition there is in your category.  If one site has 50 competitors and the other has 1,000, you’ll probably get more visibility and visitors from the first one.

#7 – Are your target clients using this site?

Wedding pros have complained about getting “budget clients” from both WeddingWire and The Knot.  Others claim they get higher end clients from one or the other.

The best question to ask: are YOUR ideal clients using the site?

Notice the style of the wedding inspiration and ideas on each site.  Read comments on the blog posts.  Do these sound like your target couples?

You want the highest quality leads who are the best match for you, so investigate the personality and demographics of the sites’ website visitors before making a decision.

#8 – What are the specific terms of your advertising agreement?  What is required to cancel?

The biggest complaints of wedding professionals about either WeddingWire or The Knot advertising can be avoided if you read the Terms of Service carefully.

Since there is often no written contract, it’s easy to check the little box saying you agree to the terms of service without reading them.  Don’t do this!

Read the terms of service before initiating your advertising agreement.  Make sure you understand how you can cancel, and the penalty for early termination.

How to Increase Your Leads From Advertising

The best clue we have for maximizing your results from online bridal advertising lies in imitating others who have had success.

Success secrets to keep in mind:

  • Your listing must stand out.  You’re literally right next to the competition, so you need a strong image that attracts attention.  Note the controversial strategy one DJ used to “steal” clicks from his competitors on WeddingWire.
  • Go for maximum clicks first.  You can’t book the wedding on WeddingWire or The Knot; you need to get them to your website.  Effective ads make that the focus.
  • Increase your exposure.  Remember that it takes 5-12 contacts with your business before a prospect will buy.  The more visibility you have online (your listing, Real Weddings, reviews, etc.) the more leads you get.

 “Those who take a more passive approach to building and maintaining their Storefront on TheKnot.com…typically do not get as many leads as others who take a more proactive approach...the more photos featured on a Storefront, the more lead conversion…pros who take the extra step to get featured in real weddings publications like The Knot typically get better results…Lastly, reviews are a huge driver for today’s couples — today’s consumer, really! — so those who invest in building a strong review base will also perform better than those who have very few reviews.” – Kristin Savilia, President of Local Marketplace, XO Group Inc.

Additional Resources For Wedding Pros

If you want more information, these additional resources may be helpful:

Mobile DJ Advertising Dollars – A DJ walks through his advertising and marketing expenses, as well as his decision to advertise with The Knot, giving an excellent overview of the considerations when choosing where to invest.

WeddingWire vs. The Knot: Comparing the Offers – A comprehensive comparison of advertising offers from 2013.

Is It Worth Paying to List Your Business on Sites Like the Knot or WeddingWire? – Consider these factors before investing your advertising dollars in paid advertising

The Verdict

There is no single answer to the question of WeddingWire vs. The Knot.

Each of these advertising sites has its pros and cons, and the best choice for you is determined by the factors above.

The bottom line: do your research, consider your unique situation, and measure your results.  This isn’t a guarantee that it will work for you, but it certainly increases your odds.

What do you think about WeddingWire vs. The Knot?  Share your thoughts below!

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Posted By

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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9 thoughts on “WeddingWire vs. The Knot Advertising”

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  2. Sue Jarrett says:

    I payed into WeddingWire a couple of years ago after being with them for free. There was no change — I still had only a few finding me. I left the pay site and went back to free.
    I am free on Google and I get many weddings, events, families, etc. through Google. I am also on Yelp for free and they want me to buy in. I get very few contacts through Yelp, so I don’t plan on paying $400 a month with them.
    Thumbtack is like Wedding Vender because they now only charge you if the searcher choses you.

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  5. Thank you for this article. As a very small home-based business, it’s been difficult to come up with an advertising budget that allows me to purchase advertising on either The Knot or WeddingWire. Creating free listings has not generated leads, but it has meant that I have had multiple phone calls from persistent advertising departments trying to get me to commit to paid advertising. Fortunately, both companies have been up-front about the annual commitment – I didn’t have to read the Terms of Service to learn about that. At the present I am using my advertising dollars to create the best website that I can – and that’s not free. Thanks again for all of the pro’s and con’s. Book More Brides is a valuable resource with reminders in my email inbox regularly. I appreciate it, Stephanie.

    P.S. Chuck, no need to post a comment suggesting that I check out http://www.weddingnook.com – I will!

  6. I advertised on Weddingwire for two years. It is hard to say just how much business it got me. I have 46 5 star reviews, so I always got some leads. Every year or two, they make the free listing worse. It would be better if they offered more comprehensive analytics, instead of degrading the free listings, but I guess thats not their game plan.

    I am taking a break. Its not worth it to me to just break even or get a small ROI.

    No work for no money is better than work for no money.

  7. Dan Hubbard says:

    I just read your post. From a photography company’s perspective, they’re all lack-luster — My Wedding, Borrowed and Blue, brides.com, Wedding Vibe and all the others competing in the wedding vertical for bride dollars via the advertising vendors (17 in the U.S. generating over 5 million in annual revenues; collectively “wedding vertical ad sites”).

    The primary issue is cost over value (i.e. ROI) — to the bride and to vendors like our company — but also false primacy and privacy. Taking cost over value first: cumulatively, those companies generated over $1.3 Billion in FY 2014 revenues just from vendors listing fees (e.g. venues, photographers, officiants, etc.). The Knot alone generated the XO Group $81.7 million from local and online advertising (i.e. vendor listing fees). Now, consider that the total amount spent on wedding vendors by brides (et. al) on 2014 weddings for costs associated with wedding vendors was $39.7 bill ($58 bill = est. total wedding spend on 2.2 mil weddings). A little math: $1.3/$39.7 = 3.275% or $599 per wedding. WOW, on average nearly $600 cost per wedding is attributable to vendors (in globo) paying to list on wedding vertical ad sites!

    In 2014 our cost per wedding attributable to wedding vertical ad sites listing cost was approx 4%. That’s peanuts, but we’re not typical; we buy ad space and pay at volume, which correlates to our volume business. Most photographers are lucky to shoot 16 weddings per year at approx $2,400 per wedding, and spend an average of $5,713 to list on wedding vertical ad sites. This is obviously where the numbers get bad. Those photographers are spending approx 15% of shoot cost billable to brides that is attributable to wedding vertical ad sites listings. That’s bad, but it’s even worse for venues at approximately 22% of cost billable to brides that is attributable to wedding vertical ad sites (they typically may more for listing). Obviously, these high percentages translate to low margins and unpredictability, but moreover prevent vendors from improving their product and/or service, from innovating and from investing in knowledge & education and ensuring their compliance with laws and even insurance coverages. We hear this same story from our thousands of wedding vendor partners; the ROI simply isn’t there for the vast majority of those listing on wedding vertical ad sites. They do continue to list, but vendors are looking for a better option. But what does that mean to the bride-customer of said vendors? Foremost, they’re paying an additional $600 on average for their wedding, attributable to wedding vertical ad sites. But they are also in many cases contracting with the vendors mentioned hereinabove that must cut costs to hang on, and those cuts have very real implication to service and ramifications to product quality and price. The $2400 dollar photography contract tends to turn into an additional $300 to $700 for prints and/or products due to copyright and print restrictions. Also, there tend to be limitations on number of images captured and edited. The bride is ultimately being blind-sided by after-thought upcharge, and short-changed in terms of imagery. The same metrics exist for most vendor categories.

    False primacy is the second large issue with these wedding vertical ad sites. Join for free, get a very simple but low listed non-existent SEO placing, with virtually no customer interest. Pay for a basic listing, get a little better placement, but with little more customer interest. As you move up in listing price, you get better placement (featured, premium, etc.), you get awards or special banners (“wink”) for being so great, and yes you attract more bride attention. After all, if you’re at the top or in the top percentile of list you must be great, right? Wrong! That vendor – whether good or not — pays a great deal more for featured/premium listing, which typically does not get offset by any measurable volume. So now, an inexperienced vendor has debt along with their top placement, and is buying awards to hook brides. Additionally, now the wedding vertical ad site ‘has’ the vendor, and they use the vendor in a number of ways to attract more vendors. Still, the bride gets nothing out of this. Only the wedding vertical ad site wins.

    Finally, there’s privacy, or lack thereof. Each of the wedding vertical ad sites listed hereinabove bombard brides to opt-in to all communication (defeating CAN-SPAM), and force agreement to surrender their personal data to be used internally to up-sale them and to be sold to commercial data warehouses. Now, this is nothing new. Consumers agree to the same with most websites they sign-up on. But wedding vertical sites also take data from the vendor(s) brides’ contract with and aggregate it to push initial wedding products, and later baby products, home products, etc.

    The moral of the story is that wedding vertical ad sites deliver little to no ROI for the average vendor; harsh but true, they are predatorial towards their vendors and their brides. So this got us to thinking, what if there was a site that only charged vendors when they made a sale, never before? And what if that charge was a fixed 10%, no matter what vendor category or contract amount, but with an incentive cost structure down to 5% with volume vendors? The vendor will get a “Highend” Theme WordPress one-page styled customizable listing, with the ability to add any information they want, a VOIP toll-free phone number extension and email address, contracting and payment services, unlimited file storage, unlimited collaboration and CRM platform use, and an order to sales channel for discounted prints & products. Optional, are a third-party background screening and discounted premium insurance to demonstrate trustworthiness. The vendor never has to worry what the ROI will be because it’s based solely on their sales in fixed-amount, and they do not need to worry about many high operations costs because they are inclusive. Brides have the peace-of-mind knowing that they’re vendors are screened, insured, using proper contracts and secured payment platforms, and moreover that their cost is not inflated by costs of predatory wedding vertical ad sites. The forthcoming site is named ‘http://www.WeddingVendor.Space’.

    Dan

    1. Dan, I think the concept of http://www.WeddingVendor.Space is genius. “…a site that only charged vendors when they made a sale, never before? And what if that charge was a fixed 10%, no matter what vendor category or contract amount, but with an incentive cost structure down to 5% with volume vendors? The vendor will get a “Highend” Theme WordPress one-page styled customizable listing, with the ability to add any information they want, a VOIP toll-free phone number extension and email address, contracting and payment services, unlimited file storage, unlimited collaboration and CRM platform use, and an order to sales channel for discounted prints & products.” Can’t wait to check it out. Thank you.

  8. Jay Farrell says:

    I think the landscape is changing for portal sites, and they will be even less of a resource for the advertising pro. Both are expensive, and in the end, we are paying to bring THEM traffic and divide the little bit we get by however many other listings there are. Wedding Wire never produced well enough for me to continue past 3 years paid advertising. Too many underhanded tactics these days causing mass exodus, like the big brother client follow up emails and other vendor recommendations, etc. And allowing the client to review at ANY stage of the service. I saw the writing on the wall and went to a free listing, no real loss. The Knot, I’d not currently consider because they don’t offer regional listings in my State, only Statewide. Tell me how that is a good idea for a State 120 miles tall, and 480 miles wide?

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