Events are an important part of your organization’s yearly calendar. They’re engaging, informative, and fun! Your events are a crucial part of your supporter engagement strategy, and they help your organization build community and move forward together.
However, long before the event even happens, your team has to be on the move. Planning, budgeting, and marketing all have to usher your target audience towards attending the event, or everything will have been for nothing.
Attendees make the event planning and management world go round, after all. Without them, your speakers have no audience, your caterers no one to feed, and your sponsors no one to advertise to – and that would be a nightmare! To ensure that doesn’t happen, your team will need to set up a stellar marketing strategy in the months leading up to your event.
Email is going to be one of the most valuable tools in your staff’s wheelhouse for event marketing purposes. It allows you to communicate directly with your supporters anywhere in the world for less money than a direct mail campaign while being bright, flashy and engaging.
We’ve collected a few of our favorite tactics for event marketing via email here for you. Our top 8 strategies are:
- Start with a killer subject line.
- Write your copy, then focus on design.
- Plan a drip campaign.
- Segment your email lists.
- Personalize your emails.
- Provide visual interest.
- Entice them with up-front value.
- Optimize your landing pages.
With these 8 tips, you can elevate your marketing strategy and make this year’s event, whether it be a gala, a conference, or charity event even more successful.
1. Start with a killer subject line.
When you send an email to a supporter, whether it’s an invitation to your event or a monthly newsletter, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. The first thing that they’ll notice about your email when it gets delivered is the subject line.
If your subject line is boring and doesn’t catch their eye, or worse, makes them actively disinterested in what your email has to say, you’ve lost out on a potential attendee. In order to prevent this from happening, you should strive to create the best subject line that you can think of.
The most effective subject lines are:
- Urgent. Creating a sense of urgency in the subject line makes the reader more likely to open the email immediately or get to it sooner. It also makes them want to get involved in the exclusive offer.
- Intriguing. Making your readers feel curious about what you have to say is a useful way to ensure that they open and read your emails. Reel them in with a short teaser about what you can offer them.
- Personal. If your email marketing software is linked to your donor data, flow your reader’s name into the subject line to really catch their eye.
- Short. If your email’s subject line gets cut off by your reader’s inbox, they might miss out on the whole message and lose interest if you don’t grab them in the first few words.
When you start your awesome email with a great subject line, you’re more likely to increase your open and click-through rates.
2. Write your copy, and then focus on design.
How can you design an effective email if you don’t know the story that you’re trying to tell? When you write the copy of your email invitations and registration reminders before planning out the layout and imagery, you give your graphic designers more to work with.
The copy of your email should be:
- Easily understandable.
However, none of these attributes should prevent you from telling the most important story about your event to your potential attendees. Once you have your story, you can effectively design an email that matches the aesthetic.
Aesthetically pleasing and consistent emails will convert readers better than a plain-looking email any day.
3. Plan a drip campaign.
How many of your readers will register for your event after receiving the first email? 10%? 5%? 75%? No matter where on the spectrum your conversion rate lies, half of your email campaign should be dedicated to cultivating prospects and funneling them towards event registration.
A drip campaign is designed to usher your email recipients towards registering for your event, even if they don’t convert on the first, second, or even third email. The key to a successful drip campaign is triggering your follow-up emails to send when your readers will be most receptive to them.
For example, a successful drip campaign might look like this:
- Send the first email.
- Someone opens it and registers for your event
- Send a follow-up thank-you and registration confirmation
- Someone opens it but doesn’t register
- Send a follow-up reminder a week later
- They open it and register
- Send thanks and confirmation
- They open it and click through to the registration page, but exit before confirming
- Send a “Don’t Forget Me!” email 24 hours later
- They open it and register
- Send a follow-up reminder a week later
- Someone opens it and registers for your event
A drip campaign prevents anyone from slipping through the cracks when it comes to follow-up and engagement. Plan effective emails for each step of the process to ensure that every supporter gets as many chances to register for your event as possible.
If you’re using association management software to keep track of your members and supporters, make sure that you’re using it to engage your supporters in your community. Check out this guide to building community from Fonteva.
4. Segment your email lists.
Segmentation is an email best practice no matter what the topic, but it’s especially effective for event marketing. With this strategy, you break your entire supporter pool down into smaller categories, or “segments”, that have something in common.
The things that your segments have in common could be:
- Age bracket.
- Previous engagement history.
- Demonstrated interests.
The only limit to what segmentation can do for your email marketing campaign is your imagination! Two examples of effective segmentation for your event marketing are:
- Segment your population by location. Then, once you’ve determined where your event will be hosted, send your supporters different emails based on where they’re located. For example, send your local readers emails emphasizing how convenient and valuable attending the event will be for them, and send your far-away readers emails reminding them about discounted hotel rates or fun tourist activities to do in the city.
- Segment your population by previous engagement history. Then, target your most passionate supporters with emails thanking them for their previous event attendance , and offer them the chance to register early. They’ll appreciate that your organization has noticed their support.
Segmentation is an easy way to ensure that your emails are targeted towards the right supporter persona. A general email, designed to interest all, will always end up only interesting a precious few. Spending the time to create more content based on segments will be a more valuable use of your time and increase your ROI.
5. Personalize your emails.
This step goes hand-in-hand with segmentation but takes the process a step further. When was the last time that an organization or business addressed an email to you as “Dear Valued Customer” and you actually wanted to keep reading?
The use of a fill-in title like Valued Customer or Friend makes your reader feel as though you don’t know or care about them or their support for your organization. To prevent this detached tone, as well as to increase your click-through rates, get a little personal.
You should try to fit the following data points into your emails:
- The supporter’s preferred name—Dear Susan, instead of Dear Friend.
- Their last interaction with your organization—open with “We were so glad to see you at last year’s gala,” instead of “Thanks for your ongoing support”.
- Their employer or school—“We would love to see a representative of [insert respective Employer or University] at our upcoming conference”.
Personalization will make your supporters feel known and appreciated by your organization.
6. Provide visual interest.
Your email copy might be the most engaging words ever written, but even the most dedicated supporters will lose interest if they open an email and encounter a veritable wall of text. Instead of displaying your copy in one serious chunk, break up your emails with rich text and media.
In order to provide visual interest, emphasize the key points, and create emotional connections between your readers and your message, include some of the following in your emails:
- High-quality photos of people at your last event, tied in with your storytelling copy, can create an emotional bond.
- A “hype” or “sizzle” video embedded into your email can help build anticipation for your event and encourage new attendees to get in on the fun.
- Different fonts, sizes, and colors will help you emphasize the most important parts of your email, like dates, times, locations, prices, and deadlines.
Visual interest will inspire your readers to pay attention—the pictures will catch their eye, and then make them want to learn more by reading the copy around it.
7. Entice them with up-front value.
To really make your event marketing emails stand out, offer your readers something in exchange for their registration. This step varies for every organization based on event size and financial capacity, but it doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective!
To entice your readers to register as soon as possible, consider some of the following ways to tempt them to your event:
- Early-bird registration costs.
- Free or discounted t-shirts for early or pre-event registration.
- Discounts on purchase bundles when your attendees register and buy a food voucher, or any of the options that your event offers.
When you give your readers a little taste of the value that your event will provide, they’ll be more willing to commit up-front and register for your event.
For a little help creating t-shirts that share your message and make your supporters want to wear them, check out this list of easy t-shirt templates from Bonfire.
8. Optimize your landing pages.
This tip isn’t specifically about your emails or what goes in them, but it is a crucial step in increasing your conversion rate. Your emails are sending readers to a registration page thanks to a big, visible button.
Just because someone has clicked through to your landing page from your email doesn’t mean that you’ve sealed the deal. If they get to your sign-up page and are forced to fill out field after unnecessary field, or if it doesn’t look anything like your organization’s usual branding, they’re more likely to abandon the page and not register for your event.
To prevent this from happening and decrease your shopping cart abandonment rate, update your landing page for your event with a few best practices:
- Minimize the amount of fields that your registrants have to fill out. You’ll have plenty of time to get to know them later. To increase your conversion rate, only include the fields you absolutely need—contact and payment information.
- Brand your landing page to your organization, so that it matches your usual color scheme and logo. Doing this makes your readers trust the page more, and they won’t hesitate to enter their sensitive information.
- Make it mobile optimized. Many of your readers will access their emails from their phones, and click through to your registration page on their mobile devices. If your landing page isn’t attractive and functional on every device, you risk losing out on registrants.
These tips will help improve your conversion rate from your email marketing campaigns. In order to ensure that your email marketing is as successful as possible, don’t forget about the steps that come after the actual emails.
Email marketing is an important tool for your event marketing campaign. Strengthen every aspect of your email marketing campaign with these tips designed to engage and inspire.