By Nicole Bojic, Group Executive, Strategic Solutions Group
We all know that email marketing and your event website are two of the primary workhorses in any audience acquisition strategy. But in a world where people receive hundreds of emails a day, how can you ensure anyone is even noticing your email, let alone opening and reading it? In this article we will cover 8 tips for improving the performance of your audience acquisition email marketing.
8 Tips for Better Email Marketing of Your Event
1. Only Send to Opt-In Emails. Never buy a list!
This isn’t just a best practice, it’s the law in many places. With the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies who do business in and market to individuals in the EU must obtain explicit opt-in consent before collecting personal data. But there’s an even better reason for utilizing an opt-in email list. By limiting your outreach to only those individuals who are actually interested in your event, your engagement rates are likely to be higher (due to inherent relevancy) as will efficiency. That means you should never buy a list of emails, which are unqualified at best and completely irrelevant and inaccurate at worst.
2. Personalize, personalize, personalize.
Segment your audience (and your lists) and then map key messages to each audience. For example, if you’re announcing a new product, your email messaging around that product announcement might be more technically oriented for a developer audience and more business objective-oriented for an executive-level audience. Same product announcement, different messaging. On top of that, you can add true personalization, such as the recipient’s name in the greeting and/or the subject line. By targeting and personalizing the content of your emails, you’re more likely to grab the attention of your reader. In fact, according to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.
3. Plan messaging by attendee status.
Just because a prospect registers for your event doesn’t mean you should stop communicating with them. You’ll want to keep them excited about the event (especially if the event is free) to ensure they attend, but this outreach should happen at a different cadence and with different messages than what you would use with prospects. Create a dual-path email plan and use nurture messaging to drive registrations and engagement messaging to drive excitement and attendance as shown below.
4. Be emotional. And specific.
If you want to capture the attention of your reader, you’ve got to resonate. To resonate, you’ve got to appeal on an emotional level. Segmenting your audience will make it easier to pinpoint what they care about, and then you can leave a curiosity gap or appeal to their emotional triggers (e.g., fear of missing out) to hook them. But you also need to balance all of this with a level of specificity that gets to the point as quickly as possible. This is especially important with your subject lines as that is the first engagement barrier you’ve got to cross. Consider these examples: 1) Hurry! Only 15 Seats Left for ExpCon with Michelle Obama Speaking; or 2) Join Us at ExpCon – Register Now! Which of these two subject lines would capture your attention?
5. Follow the rule of 7.
It’s going to take a lot more than a few emails to convert your prospects to attendees. In fact, multiple marketing research studies have shown that, on average, it takes seven touches before someone will take action on something. And, when messaging doesn’t resonate with a lead, they’re less likely to move along the funnel, which means more touches may be needed. Some research says that it takes 8, 13 or even 20 touches to convert a prospect.
Building a comprehensive communications outreach that incorporates the rule of 7 is a key factor in your success. But the emails must be unique, relevant and compelling. Your customers don’t want to get two save-the-date emails and five registration reminder emails. Your email campaign should tell a story that aligns with your event narrative. The effect on the prospective attendee should be one of an experience that builds and becomes richer with each communication.
6. Invest in design.
The emails you send should have an attractive design that is consistent with your event branding and website to ensure a cohesive experience. They should also be designed to render flawlessly on desktop and mobile, including the range of mobile devices, email clients and their various versions. The best way to achieve this is through responsive email design, but if you’re unable to deliver on this, we recommend focusing on perfecting the default preview widths (about 600 pixels) to ensure the most important content is viewable as desired.
7. Use images.
It’s probably no huge surprise that people prefer pictures over words. And in fact, research shows that images can actually significantly boost your click through rate—as much as 42% higher than emails without images. So, it’s worth it to take time to select relevant, compelling images and integrate them into your email designs. These could be images from last year’s event (to show the overall experience), an infographic (to show a concept), portraits of speakers (to put a face with a name), location and venue shots (to illustrate the environment and create a mood), and so much more.
8. A/B test your subject lines for better open rates.
I introduced A/B testing in my last article on audience acquisition strategy because it’s a great way to optimize your efforts. When A/B testing with email subject lines, you compare two different versions of a subject line within one email campaign to determine which version produces better open rates.
Let’s say you’re offering a special registration rate but are not sure the best way to message the promotional offer. You could offer the lower rate to the first X number of people to register, or you could provide a specific window of time. Testing both options could not only give you valuable information about which option people respond to better in email, but also which promotional offer they prefer. Other things you could test are various types of personalization. You could even compare one subject line that uses emojis and one that doesn’t.
Improve Your Email to Drive Audience Acquisition
Think of your email campaign as a rich story you’re telling prospective attendees as a prelude to your event. You’re providing a peek into what the experience will be with the goal of creating desire. Need help in pulling it all together? InVision has the full-service team to deliver. Read our press release or contact us to learn all about our comprehensive audience acquisition offering.