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Eight Email Marketing Tips for the Events Industry

By Kelvin Newman

Ask anyone in event management how they promote their events and in 90% cases email marketing is going to be near the top of their list. Despite being one of the most effective and reliable marketing channels for the promotion of events; email marketing is often neglected.

Email marketing for events

I love email marketing; without it my events would be a fraction of the size and popularity they are now. I’ve only scratched the surface of email marketing and e-crm but I want to share with you some practical advice about making more from the email marketing channel.

1. Start Building Your List Now

Seriously if you don’t have an email capture form up on the home-page of your site stop reading now and get it sorted. If someone’s managed to come along to your website, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to get more information about your event.

As soon as we decide to host an event, we get up a holding page with an email capture form to start collecting the details of people interested in the event. I’ve heard of event companies taking this to it’s logical conclusion, putting up email capture forms for “events coming soon” not having any venue booked or any other prep carried out. They use the rate of email sign ups to decide whether to host the event in the first place.

2. Write to an Actual Person

Which emails do to read and reply to? those from an actual person or those generic newsletters? Don’t get me wrong there’s a place for a well designed ‘Catch-up’ email newsletter but I try to make my emails seem as much like a ‘normal’ email as possible; mainly because we get a better response to these types of email.

We make one email about one thing, not a dozen, you spread people’s attention to thinly.

Got too many things to talk about? split it into several smaller emails, what was a monthly email could now be weekly, it’ll be much more punchy, have more specific subject lines and I promise you more of the type of interaction you want.

3. Simplify Your Template Design

Connected to the point above, I’m pretty certain you could simplify your design dramatically. There’s all kinds of reasons to do this. It’ll save you time testing across different email clients; it’ll work better on mobile, where a lot of your opens will come from and it’s more likely to appear the same as you designed it. The more complex your design is, the more likely it’s to get elements removed by over-zealous spam filters.

If it doesn’t work in plain text, then it doesn’t work!

Emails like this are the norm:

Email event marketing

4. Test Different Subject Lines

Most email marketing technologies will allow to test a number of different elements of an email on small segments of your list, and send the best performing to the rest of your lists.

One of the best things to test is the subject line. The subject line is essential, trying out two or three variations is a no-brainer.

5. Personalise the Emails, Not Just the Name

Chances are, you know quite a bit about your list, you can use that insight to personalise the emails you get. Initially I was a bit sceptical of personalisation, it felt a bit cheesy but when I saw the results I quickly changed my tune.

A couple of things that might work for you, can you use the subscriber's first name or company in the subject line? How about tailoring the description of your event based upon the interests of audience. If you know they’re interested in a particular topic or theme so set up your email so that can be automatically included in the copy.

6. Don’t Overload People

You can normally judge which events are struggling based upon how frequent their emails get in the last couple of weeks before the event. Often you’ll get multiple emails from an event per day, those might not be coming back next year.

In many cases this email overload might not even be deliberate; you might have lots of different auto-responders all running concurrently, One that sends an email five days before the event, one sent out on behalf of a sponsor, another that goes out the 30th of the month etc.

You’ve got to look at how many other emails are going out to your list, especially in larger teams.

7. Use Your Email Data to Do More

We’ve got a little script that adds anyone who subscribes to our mailing list to our CRM. This on it’s own wouldn’t be that sophisticated but our CRM automatically pulls in LinkedIn job titles, now we can search on our CRM to find potential speakers and sponsors easily. Plus we know they’re already interested in our event!

8. Protect Your List

Every event’s got to make money, and will mean doing deals with sponsors, but be really careful who you share your data with. Even ignoring the legal implications it can have a real effect on the way potential attendees view your event. There’s a couple of great events I’ve stopped attending because they shared my details with every exhibitor. If they’d been a bit more restrained I’d still be attending their events!.

In Conclusion

Email Marketing is one of the most important ways you can attract attendees to an event. It might not be as shiny and new as some of the social channels but it demands respect and attention.

With a few tweaks and changes you’ll be able to make so much more from your campaigns

Photo by 28 Dreams

about the author

Kelvin Newman
is the Founder of Rough Agenda, a company that arranges specialist digital marketing events which are among the fastest growing and most popular in the UK, including the sell out BrightonSEO. In 2014 Kelvin was voted by econsultancy as the most influential individual in digital and in 2013 won the Search Personality award at the UK Search Awards. He is also Co-founder of clockworkTalent with Natasha Woodford a specialist recruitment consultancy that genuinely understands digital marketing.
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