Email Marketing for Events: A Cooking Class for Beginners!

Here’s the thing with email marketing – on the one hand, all marketing emails get perceived as “spam” and apparently as many as 21% of email recipients consider it Spam, even when they know it isn’t. Оn the other hand, email marketing remainspound for pound your best source for quality leads. According to Custora E-Commerce Pulse, at the end of 2015, email marketing drove the most Black Friday transactions in the US, with 25.1% of sales originating from an email.

Email marketing is essential in the events industry, just consider how many emails you receive inviting you to attend events? How many per week? How many of them do you actually read all the way through, and finally, how many of them get your registration?

We have a number of data and statistics showing email marketing is incredibly effective, but at the same time, we are on a constant *SPAM* alert, and let’s face it, no one likes spam!


So, How Does That Work?

Firstly, email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective direct, personal ways of reaching both loyal and potential customers by the thousands. Secondly, email marketing has evolved so much, it has now become a science for e-commerce.

It’s now time for the events industry to catch up, and for organizers, planners and promoters to start using the email marketing research carried out by the e-commerce giants (quoted in this article), to promote, market and sell their events like a well-oiled machine.


Let’s get cooking!

There are hundreds of email marketing software solutions, but some of the key features you should have a look at are:

  1. Mail Merge
    With a mail merge you can upload your email contact list and personalize all of your emails according to your recipients, and any additional information you may have about them.
  2. Email Tracking
    With email tracking you can see who opened your email and who clicked on what content. (Accuracy of this data is still contested by some)
  3. A/B Testing
    With A/B testing you can even try different designs, tracking opens and clicks to see what design works better and converts more.

Of course, there are more advanced features according to the tool you decide to use for your email marketing campaigns, but these 3 are the ones that will boost your events’ email marketing campaigns.

But even with the best available tools for cooking, there are still two crucial ingredients for your emails – Content and Design.


The Ingredients Create the Taste, and The Contents are Your Ingredients

And while we’re on the Subject…

The subject line of your email is what gets your foot through the door. To stay away from that spam folder you need to really offer something special, an incentive for your readers or potential attendees.

According to MailChimp research, shorter subject lines work best, more precisely subject lines no longer than 50 characters.

“Subject should not be longer than 50 characters.” – that’s 50 characters!

With such a short space, you really must target effectively with your “opening line”, so here are some suggestions for your email “ingredients:”

  • Special Offer – 2 for 1, Early Bird, Super Early Bird
  • Contest – A Giveaway, Prize Draw
  • Survey or Poll – (+ a Giveaway, Prize Draw)
  • Free Gift – Everyone loves a freebie!
  • Announcement – New Speaker, New Performer
  • Milestone – X number people already registered, X exhibitors attending
  • Sneak Preview – Behind the Scenes, Event Set Up, Line Up, Schedule
  • Urgency – Last tickets, Promotion ending soon, Last gifts available

Of course, you can combine one, two or more of these ideas and create enticing newsletter-style updates to inform and engage your readers. Try not to go overboard though, because when we start adding call-to-actions (more on that below), the emails may become cluttered and confusing.

Note: Don’t use the exact words “Free”, “Offer” and such, because they are spam triggers that will send your email directly in your contact’s spam folder!

“Hey, Matt!…”

On average, personalized emails have a 26% higher open rate, but don’t just leave it up to personal greetings alone, use a Mail Merge solution to personalize the whole email. You want to make reader feel unique and special!

Just like your social media tone of voice, try to be as informal as your audience permits in your email communication. Start by using your own personal signature and not a generic company one. Ask for feedback and replies, be open for questions or even a “call”, if appropriate.

☀ Rise of the emoji ♥

Informality in email marketing has evolved so much, some companies now even use emojis (emoticons) in their customer emails, but should you too?

Past research by Experian has reported that brands which use emojis in subject lines experience an increase in open rates by 56%. The question of course is whether an emoji is suitable for your event and audience? Interestingly enough, the same research showed that the most popular emoji a black heart (♥) only provided small open rate boost of 2.2%.


The Contents are Your Ingredients, But Design Gives That Special Flavor

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Indeed. Written content paired with a matching image gets 94% more views than pictureless content, while according to another research, text content paired with images generates a whopping 650% higher engagement!

If you’re talking about new partners, performers, speakers, special offers or anything from the content ideas list above, make sure you add a corresponding graphic, logo or picture to raise interest and engagement with your readers. Again, don’t clutter with images and graphics, otherwise they’ll end up receiving what appears to be a lost Minesweeper game of broken links and warning messages.

Why won’t you respond to my texts?

Responsiveness is the ability of content to adapt to the device it is viewed on, whether that be PC, smartphone, tablet or whatever Silicon Valley comes up with next.

According to 2015 research by Pew, 68% of Americans own a smartphone while 45% have a tablet computer. At the same time, only 34% of US marketing professionals claim their outbound emails are truly optimized for mobile and tablet.

These days, it is essential that your communication is not only viewable on any device, but also that the content responds on all devices without any loss of design and function. You can find out more about testing for responsiveness here.

CTA means call-to-action

So you’ve designed and wordsmithed the most enticing, mouth-watering email for your upcoming event. But no marketing content is complete without a call-to-action.

“Words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action, such as “Write Now,” “Call Now,” or (on Internet) “Click Here.” A retail advertisement or commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete and ineffective.” – Business Dictionary

Depending on your content, you can explain that the special offer is only available in a limited quantity, and attendees should get it NOW. Or maybe the contest expires soon, and readers should register in the next 12 hours for a chance to WIN!

Decide how many CTA’s to add depending on the amount of content in your email, and again, just remember not overdo it and leave readers wondering what they should be doing next, before their phone rings and Samantha announces that long-awaited engagement and your event’s limited time deal is left like an uncut newspaper coupon.


Further Inspiration

Canva have a great article on email newsletter design that lists the following websites for great email design inspiration – Really Good Emails, Inspiration by MailChimp, HTML Email Gallery and HTML Email Designs.
Now go forth and SELL! While stocks last! For a limited time only! *EXCLUSIVE*


Featured image: derivative of untitled photo by schaedlich licensed under CC0

In-text images: derivatives of: “Spam! With Bacon!!” by Thad Zajdowicz; untitled photo by Steve Buissinne; untitled photo by tookapic; untitled photo by Juanita Mulder; untitled photo by Zachary Staines; untitled photo by Ryan McGuire, Gratisopgraphy, all licensed under CC0

Guest Author:

Dimitar Toshkov
I’m a wiseacre Millennial, but you’ll find my articles are the result of meticulous research and careful observation.