The 4 best ways to grow your event’s mailing list


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

Generally speaking, the more people you have on your email list, the greater the opportunity to scale up and sell out your events. But as people move away and change focus, the average email list naturally churns about 25% a year. That means you must proactively and continuously work on attracting new subscribers to maintain your list, much less grow it.

Yet, according to a new survey by Eventbrite and Emma of nearly 400 event professionals, nearly one-fifth of event creators don’t. Instead, they rely on passive list building: hoping people will take the initiative to seek out an email sign-up form on their website.

There’s are some faithful fans who will. But the majority of people can be shy about giving out their emails. Sometimes, they need a little encouragement to opt in. 

Here are the four most effective strategies event professionals use to grow their mailing lists.

Use inbound marketing to capitalize on your opt-in forms.

48% of event professionals rely on inbound marketing and email capture forms to grow their mailing list. Think newsletter opt-in forms on your website that promise to let people be the first to know when tickets go on sale. 

Sometimes, though, you need to coax event-goers to commit. Think of your inbound marketing strategy as a trade you make with potential attendees. They give you their email address, and in return, you give them something valuable, such as: 

  • An exclusive discount code
  • Access to past event footage or keynote speeches
  • A branded playlist full of your headlining artists

Retail brands do a great job of this. When potential customers first visit their site, they recognize a new visitor and offer them “20% off your first purchase,” for instance. The customer inputs their email; the discount code arrives in their inbox. You can use the same strategy to build your event’s mailing list.

Post on social media to build your following across channels

Another 48% of event creators rely on social media to drive followers to their email opt-in forms. As you build a follower base on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, let them know there’s another way to stay in touch: your email newsletter. After all, things can get lost in the social feed. With periodic emails, though, recipients stay fully informed.

Organic posts are a great place to start promoting your newsletter, but advertising is where you can grow your list quickly. On Facebook, for example, you can enable users to sign up for your email newsletter right in their feed via paid ads. This makes it incredibly easy for a user scrolling on a smartphone to autofill their email address with the click of a button.

The social and email alliance goes both ways. Once you have a healthy newsletter list, you can upload it to social media to re-target those prospects with periodic offers and invites. It’s all part of driving awareness of your event. People might not buy tickets or sign up the first time they hear about it. But after multiple mentions across social media and email, they start to realize they don’t want to miss out!

Lean into free giveaways to entice subscribers

Free giveaways are where social media and inbound marketing collide. 18% of event creators use this method to build their email lists. In exchange for a chance to win things like free tickets, VIP passes, and swag, users sign up for your newsletter via social media. You can also incentivize a follow, comment, or tagging a friend to really multiply your reach.

Such contests can help you rapidly build up your subscriber count, but make sure you are following platform rules closely. Every social platform has its own rules regarding contest entry, and if you aren’t careful, your efforts (and your account) could get shut down.

Build your mailing list in-person at the event

And finally, one of the best ways to build a mailing list is entirely old school: Do it in person.

This might mean a clipboard and a pen at your welcome booth. But there are now more modern ways of collecting email addresses onsite, too. For instance, use “text to join” technology to share a number people can quickly text if they want to sign up for your mailing list. Put those digits on all your printed collateral and any billboards or signage at your event.

Keeping your mailing list alive and thriving cannot be a passive effort. With the above techniques, you’ll find your numbers growing, and your tickets selling, faster than ever before.

Want to read more about email marketing best practice for events? 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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