How to use email marketing to promote an event
Events are an excellent way of creating a touch point with current and prospective clients and boosting the brand awareness of your organisation. Email marketing is the perfect partner for marketing your event – providing specific statistics on who opened the invitation, who clicked on the booking link and as a way of gently reminding people of the date and details.
Why host an event?
Education: give your audience something tangible and useful that they can take back to the office and this will reap dividends when they come to review their supplier.
Brand awareness: If you’re running an event, your brand awareness will receive a boost. If you’re competition is nowhere on the scene with their own events you are one step ahead in providing best practice education and a way to engage new audiences face-to-face. Good quality education spreads like wildfire so if your event is good, you will almost certainly get some word of mouth recognition and recommendations.
Lead generation: I always tend to circulate an e-newsletter sign-up sheet at events and ask people who want to stay in touch with us to add their email address - that way I have a monthly touch point with them until they are ready to buy or have any enquiries. The idea of an event is to kick-off a relationship that you will nurture over time with good customer service and a personal approach (which can be easily undertaken with personalised and targeted emails).
Nurture existing relationships: Our events aren’t all about the newbies; we have a lot of existing clients who come to our events to brush up on latest email marketing legislation, analytics or techniques. Again, it provides us with another opportunity to have that vital face-time with clients. If you don’t want your clients going elsewhere, keep your business top of mind by hosting a few events across the year.
A recent report from Hubspot stated that 76% of businesses use email for event marketing – and that email was the most effective tactic over word-of-mouth, information on a website, mailed invitations, telephone calls or social media.
The same report also noted that the biggest challenges in hosting an event were getting people to respond to invites, getting invitees to pay attention to the invites and minimising the number of no-shows or drop outs.
Email is an excellent way of helping with these challenges. We find it invaluable for marketing our events. It can help promote, remind people of and track events – as well as helping you undertake post event follow-ups to attendees and no-shows in an easy way.
Types of event emails
My advice would be definitely avoiding sending just one invitation and hoping for the best! People are busy, forgetful and sometime lazy, so a gentle reminder using a series of emails is the best tactic, with some strategic follow-up calls to confirm bookings. It is a delicate balance though – go overboard and face the dreaded unsubscribe. We tend to roll out the follow schedule for our events at little green plane:
There are many more variants but this is the structure that tends to work for us.
- Launch of the event: What, where, when, how of the event – usually a month before launch
- Event reminder: A little reminder usually a week before the event with a countdown to the deadline ‘Just 7 days to book…’
- Informational email: We then send a pre-event email to booked delegates with more specific information on parking, refreshments, course information and contacts a few days before the event
- Sorry we missed you: We send an email with a link to the next event for the no-shows
- Thanks for attending: We also issue another email with the slides and a survey for attendees
Structure of an event email
A really effective event email will include:
- A relevant subject line, such as ‘Book now: email marketing seminar 5 July 2012’
- A call to action button and all the crucial information summarised in the top half of the email, or fold, that will be visible in the preview pane
- Further event information below the fold, explaining what delegates will learn, who it is aimed at, contact details and an additional call to action button
- A unsubscribe mechanism, required by law
All the usual email marketing rules apply – ensure the design has an equal image to text ratio, that you have run it through a comprehensive spam test and that you are sending it to a list of people who have agreed to receive your mailings in the first place.
What do you think? Do you use email to promote your events? How effective have you found it? Make your comments below.