Event Email Marketing Done Right

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4 Best Practices For Better Engagement And Smoother Attendee Experience

Guest post by Mark Kao of COS Rental

Email is a dinosaur just like 56k dial-up modems and VHS tapes. But unlike the other two outdated technologies, email is still used by billions of people.

The event technology landscape is moving at an accelerated pace. But many people still live in their inboxes, so email remains an important channel for reaching prospects and converting them to attendees for more reasons than one:

  • Email boasts an open-rate of 20-30% and a click-through rate of 3%.
  • It’s one of the only two touch points (social media being the other) that allows marketers to better personalize their message.

However, knowing email’s massive reach and potential and using it to successfully market and grow your events are two different things.

The 4 best practices below will give you the confidence and actionable steps you need to take your event email marketing campaigns to the next level.

1. Build An Optimized Opt-In Form And Bring Visitors A Step Closer To Being Attendees

This section on opt-in forms is longer than the rest – and for good reason.

Email marketing for events starts with the opt-in form. You must have a way of capturing email addresses of people who’re interested enough to visit your event website but need a few nudges to attend.

However, not all list-building forms are equal. There are good opt-in forms and there are horrible opt-in forms, slapped together by someone who can’t be bothered to optimize his marketing efforts and yet keeps asking where he went wrong.

Don’t be that guy! Follow the optimization tips below and you’re guaranteed to get a head start in your event email marketing campaign.

Start Strong With A High-Impact Headline

The headline is the first thing a visitor sees in your opt-in form. If it doesn’t capture the attention of your prospects, how can you hope to convince them to sign up?

Here are 4 action steps for writing a headline that instantly grabs attention:

  • Are you offering an ebook full of case studies, a webinar with one of the speakers, or registration discounts exclusive to subscribers? State your offer in the headline to give visitors a reason to hand over their email.
  • Speak the language of your prospects. Promoting a fundraising music festival? Speak like your party-loving and energetic attendees. On the other hand, a “paint by numbers” and results-oriented tone can be a good fit for professionals attending a marketing conference.
  • Power words are a staple in a copywriter’s arsenal of conversion techniques. Use these to trigger a psychological or emotional response like curiosity, trust, anger, and even greed! Sprinkling a few power words in your headline can significantly boost conversions
  • Numbers in headlines are proven to catch visitors’ attention, and note too that odd numbers generate 20% more clicks and responses than their even counterparts. An easy way to add numbers and social proof to your opt-in headline is to include the number of your subscribers.

Keep The Form Fields Short For Better Conversion Rates

Having 3 to 4 form fields suffice for most email lists: first name, last name, and email address. Adding more can lead to decreases in sign-ups by as much as 11% for every field.

For attendees of B2C events, sticking to a short form field is often best. But for B2B events where relationship-building is important to convert the freebie subscriber to a paying attendee, longer form fields are necessary to gather more information for better, more targeted promotions. If you do have to include more fields, employ an auto-fill tool to make it easier for users to complete.

Add A Big, Bold Call To Action (CTA)

Don’t leave visitors guessing what to do next or where to click. Make sure to add a CTA button to your opt-in form, clearly visible and above the fold.

And to make sure visitors don’t miss it, use visual elements like arrows or images of people to direct attention to your CTA button.

Place Your Opt-In Form In Highly Visible Areas

A dedicated list-building landing page is essential both for conversion and convenience. Having one means you can eliminate all distractions, including must-have elements of your event website (ex.: navigation bar, sidebar links) that compete with your CTA for visitor attention. Plus, you can grab the link of the landing page to easily share to other marketing channels.

However, not every visitor to your event website will find your email landing page. The solution:

  • Place opt-in forms in locations where people are likely to look.
  • Adding a feature box can turn more of your visitors to subscribers. The feature box is impossible to miss as it’s above the fold, usually placed below the header but above the content.
  • The sidebar is another prime real-estate on your website. If you have other important links and content on your sidebar, placing an opt-in form above these attention-grabbers is always a good idea.

2. Create A Strong, Positive Impression With A Responsive Design

Here’s an important tidbit:

“53% of emails are opened via mobile devices”

With the number of smartphone users worldwide expected to reach 2.08 billion by 2019, marketers have no excuse to not use responsive design in their emails.

Think about it: what do you do to emails with poor formatting, messed up blocks of text, and visual elements that overlap? You delete them.

If your event marketing emails deliver a terrible user experience, you can count on potential attendees to do the same.

Responsive design adapts your emails to whatever device it is viewed on, using style sheets designed to scale up and down (or switch out) depending on the display. It guarantees your message is seen the way it’s meant to be seen (and with the same functionality) whether the recipient is using a desktop, phone, or tablet.

Want to preview how your message will look like? Check if your email service provider also offers a preview tool.

Alternatively, you can use for-a-fee standalone solutions like Litmus’ email testing and preview tool. It gives you previews for 33 different mobile devices and email clients, and even offers analytics and spam testing as an add-on.

3. Optimize Event Invites And Boost Registrations

Different marketing emails have different purposes.

Some build initial awareness by lightly touching on the details and concept of the event, mixed with the usual newsletter content. Others give a sneak peek by presenting the speakers and their credentials, along with their session titles and contents. There are also emails that nudge undecided prospects with an incentive.

Of all types of marketing emails, the invitation, whose job is to convince people to register and attend, is the most important.

Consider this:

“50% of an event’s revenue comes from registrations”

A hamstrung email invite will cripple your efforts, but send the right invitation and you’re a step closer to surpassing last year’s attendance and revenue. Here are 6 guidelines to follow to ensure your invitation email for events are successful:

  • Start strong with a good subject line: Before readers get to see your message, you need to convince them open your email. And 33% of recipients open emails based on the subject alone. Ensure your invitations get opened by using a personalized subject line that creates urgency.
  • Add a relevant image: The human brain processes images infinitely faster than text. And with our attention spans now shorter than of a goldfish, not adding an image to email invitations is a conversion mistake. Is your event tied to an industry expert? Include his or her picture for instant recognition. Promoting a consumer technology tradeshow? Add an image of your most popular exhibitors and the tech goodies on show. Don’t forget to add your company’s logo and name!
  • Give a reason for attending: You want subscribers to attend your event. But why? Will they have a chance to meet and chat with their favorite celebrities? Will they get the opportunity to network with other industry professionals? What will they learn? Let prospects know what’s in it for them and they’re more likely to book their spot.
  • Include ALL important details: Date, time, and exact location – event invitations must contain all of these details. Be sure to include a phone number as well so people can reach you if they have any questions.
  • Call To Action: Make sure readers know what to do next. Add a highly visible, hard-to-miss CTA button.

Put the tips on this section to work and convert more of your email readers to attendees. Once your registration count takes off, the next section will show you how to turn these excited and inspired attendees to word-of-mouth marketers for your event!

4. Turn Fans And Attendees Into Word-Of-Mouth Marketers With Social Emails

Word of mouth (WOM) increases marketing effectiveness by up to 54%.

If you want to spread the word about your trade show, workshop or fundraising gala, you should make it easier for attendees to share and talk about your event on social media. InGo’s social email does exactly that!

Incorporating InGo’s amplification tool into your emails helps you achieve the best practices covered above. With options for showing your prospects who is going to the event, who the most influential attendees are, registration CTA buttons, social share buttons and one click personal invites, you can accelerate the ROI of any email campaign.

The best part? Each of these tools turns attendees to word-of-mouth marketers for your event by pulling them out of their inbox and offering them even more opportunity to advocate for the event.

Wrapping Up

And there you have it – 4 best practices that are sure to boost the effectiveness of your event email marketing! However, the list is far from exhaustive. Surely, you have a tip or two we can all learn from. We’d LOVE to hear it so share it in the comments below!


Mark Kao is the marketing director for COS Rental, a UK-based A/V and equipment supplier for events of all sizes including the Int’l Confex and Event Tech Live.


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