How to excel at event email marketing (and 6 mistakes to avoid)

It’s every event planner’s worst fear: You spend months organizing speakers or acts and securing the perfect venue. Finally, the day comes and no one shows up.

But don't worry, with the right email marketing campaign, you can pull it off and ensure your invitation reaches the right people to fill your seats.

Like the big day itself, event email marketing takes a lot of strategic planning. The key is knowing how to structure your upcoming event emails and which common mistakes to avoid.

By putting your readers’ interests first with these tips, you can avoid a lackluster attendance and keep subscribers coming back.

8 tips for getting event email marketing right

Email marketing for events is in a different ballpark than traditional email marketing.

However, at the end of the day, some of the same general concepts still apply: you want to target the right audience, pique their interest, and get them to take action.

The only real difference is that you need to spark their curiosity enough to get them to take action at the just the right time.

In a fast-paced world with dwindling attention spans, you might as well be moving a mountain by asking people to show up at a specific place and time–even for online events like webinars.

But if you develop the right event email marketing strategy, you can not only get your target audience to show up but they might also bring some friends along.

1. Develop an email series.

Like any other email campaign, you want to keep your message clear and simple. At the same time, you have a lot of information to get out about registering for the event. 

First, you’ll want to develop a structure for your series. This structure will depend on the nature of your event. Is it an online or in-person event? Does it have an entertainment or business-related purpose? 

You could start with an introductory email announcement that includes a summary of the event and call to action to register early. Next, you follow that up with additional emails highlighting different aspects of the event, like speakers or musical acts.

Make sure to trigger automated follow-up campaigns based on subscriber engagement. Automate different email sequences for people who didn’t open the initial email versus those who show immediate and consistent interest.

2. Get straight to the point.

Each email in your sequence should serve a specific purpose. Are you summarizing the event? Highlighting speakers? Or reminding subscribers that the event is coming up soon?

Make sure every email includes a single call-to-action as well. If you give your subscribers too much information and too many links to click, they might not take any action at all.

This announcement email from Fred Perry provides readers with a quick summary and details with a high-quality graphic in an easy to read format.

Source: Campaign Monitor

3. Embrace video and multimedia.

According to a study by EyeView, including a video can increase your event email marketing conversion rates by a staggering 80%. If a video isn’t an option, go with GIFs and high-quality images.

Email is already an intimate method of contact, but adding a video message from one of your speakers or footage from last year’s event can add a personal touch and transport subscribers to the event from their device.

This email from Wista has a nice simple layout that lets a video do all the talking:

Source: Really Good Emails

4. Highlight keynote speakers or main events.

Consider dedicating one email to the keynote speakers or headlining acts. After all, your event wouldn’t exist without them, right?

Give readers a taste of what they’ll experience at the event and provide quotes, if possible. Get personal. This might also entice subscribers to share the email with their friends.

This email from Dreamforce does an excellent job of highlighting both keynote speakers and sponsors.

Source: Really Good Emails

5. Offer early bird discounts.

Everyone loves to save money. Offering early bird discounts will help create a sense of urgency so subscribers feel compelled to register as soon as they can. You could even offer gifts or swag bags for those who register through the CTA button in your initial email.

6. Give a shout-out to your sponsors.

Your subscribers will feel more confident registering when they see the list of sponsors from your event email marketing. This will also let them know about helpful booths or information they’ll be able to find at the event itself.

Plus, your sponsors will appreciate dedicating an email to them and they might feel compelled to sponsor your events in the future.

7. Provide testimonials from attendees.

If you’re hosting an annual event, reach out to last year’s attendees for some testimonials. Testimonials work wonders for building trust with new subscribers in a similar vein to personalized videos.

8. Make it easy to register.

Give your subscribers a nice big registration button to click in a prominent place in each email and use a color scheme that’s bold but not overwhelming. This will ensure that your readers can register quickly and with minimal effort on their part in every email.

If you’d like people to attend your event from out of town, make it easy for them to both register for the event and book a discounted place to stay in the same email.

Source: Really Good Emails

6 Event Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

While it’s important to take the above tips into consideration, there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all solution to event email marketing. However, it’s important to avoid common mistakes as well.

The key is to develop a strategy that works for your specific event and the type of audience you’d like to attract.

1. Letting your subscriber list rot.

It’s only natural for people’s interests to change over the years. If you’re hosting an annual event, you’ll need to regularly clean up your email list to ensure you’re still reaching the right people each year.

One simple way to do this is by sending out an email that asks readers to opt-in for additional emails. From there, you can purge the inactive subscribers.

2. Not sending enough event-related emails.

Everything is good in moderation, right? If you only send one or two emails, your subscribers might not receive all the information they need to feel compelled to register for your event.

Meanwhile, sending too many emails can overwhelm your users. Develop a strategy that gets all the important information out in a concise fashion.

3. Too many colors.

It’s a good idea to create a specific color scheme for your event email marketing that reflects the logo and vibe of the event. Just don’t go too crazy with the colors or it will feel overwhelming. Color psychology plays a big role in getting readers to take action, so use it wisely.

This email from NeoCon has a bold color scheme that reflects the aesthetic of the event without feeling overbearing.

Source: Really Good Emails

4. Not following up with attendees.

You toiled away with your email schedule leading up to the event but you forgot one crucial detail: the post-event follow-up.

Your follow-up email might just be one of the most important emails you send in your sequence. According to HubSpot, thank you emails generate a 42% open rate and 12% CTR. This helps you stay in touch with your subscribers and lets them know you appreciated their attendance.

This email from EiQ has a bold-yet-simple format personal message from the CEO thanking the reader for attending the event.

Source: Really Good Emails

5. Ignoring mobile accessibility.

It may seem obvious, but too many event promoters make one big mistake: their high-quality images, videos, and layouts don’t render properly on mobile devices.

With people spending the equivalent of an entire day on their phone each week, mobile accessibility is paramount. Not only should your emails render properly, but it should be easy for subscribers to register for the event from their phones as well.

6. Sending too much information in a single email.

Think of your event email marketing campaign as an opportunity to build trust with your subscribers. Instead of sending out one or two emails crammed full of information about early bird tickets, keynote speakers, and after-party details, plan a campaign over the course of a few weeks.

Wrap up

As an event planner, you’re already dealing with a lot of pressure to pull things off. Avoid adding to the stress by strategically planning your event email marketing sequence.

Instead of worrying about reaching as many people as possible, put your subscribers’ interests and needs first. This will help you explain why your event might be useful to them and entice them to take action.

Relax and take things one step at a time. Give your readers a lot of information to work with but don’t overwhelm them either. Keep things simple and make it easy for them to register or share the event with their friends.

If you do things right, they might even bring some friends along.

Do you need help with your event email sequence? Emma is here to help.

About the Author

Lane Harbin is a senior content marketing manager at Emma. When she’s not geeking out over email marketing, she enjoys binge-listening to podcasts, catching up on the latest tech news, and constantly rearranging her living room.

More Content by Lane Harbin

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