How to map the content for your event’s email calendar

This is a guest post by Rachel Grate, a content strategist and editor at Eventbrite. 

Pop quiz: When your goal is to sell as many tickets as possible to your event, what’s the best email marketing strategy?

     A. Blast your entire contact database with frequent emails saying “Buy tickets!".
     B. Curate a mix of thoughtful content that consists of straight-up promotion, event information, and interesting supporting stories, and send it to the right people at the right time.
     C. Launch an announcement email and then forget to send anything else. You’re busy!

You can probably guess which tactic works best for most event owners. It’s B. 

“Smart event marketers don’t just send out a bunch of emails saying ‘Buy tickets!’,” says Lane Harbin, a senior marketing manager at Emma. In fact, 41% of event marketers say that less than a fifth of the emails they send are directly focused on ticket sales. 

Why is it important to mix up the types of emails you send? Because today’s email audience is savvy, cynical, and quickly bored. If they feel like they’re being oversold to, or just get sick of your repetitive email content, they’re quick to hit “unsubscribe.”

To discover how you can hit the sweet spot, Eventbrite and Emma surveyed nearly 400 creators of events of all types and sizes for up-to-date industry benchmarks. Here’s what the data revealed on how to build your event’s email calendar.

The three types of emails event marketers should send

Event creators have a few different types of content in their wheelhouse:

1. Promotional emails

These include ”Save the date” announcements, ticket on-sale announcements, early bird and last-chance announcements.

A certain segment of your email audience is excited about this direct promotional content. For some of them, that’s all it takes—they’ll buy tickets right away.

But most people are busy, and many are noncommittal, too. In fact, 56% of people are in the habit of making event decisions last minute. Your marketing campaigns don’t just serve to let them know your event is happening. They also need to remind them and convince them as they go through their decision-making process.

That’s where non-sales email content becomes critical.

2. Informational emails

Informational emails include important details about your event build anticipation and excitement: lineup announcements, speaker reveals, session schedules, parking information, and more.

3. Event-adjacent content

Artist videos, thought-leadership articles, related news—anything that’s not technically about the logistics of your event, but would be interesting to potential attendees.

The majority of event creators make sure that less than half their emails are directly promotional. More than half are informational or simply interesting.

Hone your cadence to capture recipients’ attention

Once you have a plan for varying content, the next question is when to send each type. The team at Emma recommends a cadence something like this:

  • When your event date is announced and tickets go on sale, that’s a natural time to send straightforward promotional emails.
  • In the months and weeks before your event, step back to focusing on engaging sidebar content—the interesting, essential stuff.
  • As the event approaches, it’s time to ramp up the urgency of the sales focus. Now’s the time for details and announcements.

Of course, this is just a general suggestion for basic cadence. To get specific about what you’re sending attendees, personalization efforts come into play.

Having trouble brainstorming content for all of these sends? Get started with these email copy templates. 

Personalize and automate your event’s email calendar

While 59% of event creators use personalization in their emails, sometimes that simply means a first name in the subject line. A smaller subset (47%) use segmentation techniques to target their emails to sub-groups based on data like demographics, past events attended, and purchase history.

Sub-groups allow event creators to send specific email campaigns with messaging that’s highly relevant to each audience. For instance, you might create a list of previous attendees who have been to at least five of your events, then target this group with an offer for “our biggest fans.”

Another way to use sub-group targeting is called “interest-based automation,” and it works like this:

  1. An email recipient clicks on a particular link within an event email that has several links to different types of information.
  2. The event owner uses an email marketing platform (like Emma) to add recipients to different “tracks” of emails, based on the content they clicked on.
  3. Those tracks then receive follow-up emails targeted to that specific theme.

For instance, if your festival has music, art, and food truck components, you might send an email mentioning all three. A recipient who clicks on a food truck link is put in a “foodie” track and sent subsequent emails whenever a new food truck vendor signs on.

With automation capability built into your email marketing platform, you can personalize your email calendar for each potential attendee—without multiplying your work.

Want to read more about mastering your email content and cadence? Download The Events Industry’s 2019 Email Benchmarking Report.

Rachel Grate manages the blog for Eventbrite, where she regularly interviews organizers of the country’s most popular events, from massive music festivals to small food & drink gatherings. She’s a live music lover, a foodie, and a big fan of smiles.

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