Tips for Improving Your Audience Acquisition Through Better Emails


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.

 

 

Top 10 Questions to Ask When Evaluating an Audience Acquisition Partner


By Nicole Bojic, Group Executive, Strategic Solutions Group

Acquiring the right audience for your event may be one of the most important elements to achieving event success. But it’s not as easy as it used to be, especially with a flood of new events entering the market each year. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, the number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year increased by 17%.[i] That means prospective attendees now have more events than ever to choose from, often without the benefit of bigger spending budgets. So, it’s critical that your audience acquisition strategy stands out from the competition to give your event the edge that will attract and convert the high-value attendees you desire.

This article is designed to help you pinpoint the latest skills and services you need to be successful when planning and implementing a comprehensive audience acquisition strategy. Whether you’re looking for an outside agency, a freelancer, or help from another internal team, here are 10 questions you can use to help find the right partner(s) for success.

What roles will be involved in the audience acquisition strategy and implementation effort?
A successful audience acquisition campaign will likely require more than a registration website and a few emails. That means you’ll need a cross-functional team that includes:

  • Strategist(s)—to identify and characterize the right target audiences, map relevant messages to each audience segment, determine the best mix of media channels and tactics, and plan the right cadence for your outreach
  • Copywriters—who have the experience and unique skills writing copy for each of the channels in your mix—from web copy and online ads to email marketing and direct mail, and more
  • Graphic Designers/Art Directors—who can create engaging designs that work online and offline
  • Developers—who can code everything from HTML emails and websites to online ads, and provide support in capturing data for analysis and optimization; you may even need someone who can provide API support between marketing automation and registration platforms
  • Project Managers—that oversee all of the moving parts and ensure each of the elements are completed and deployed on time

What discovery information and data do you require prior to beginning strategy work?
If your potential partners are not asking for discovery data, you might want to keep looking for another partner. Your audience acquisition strategy will have the best chance of success when built on a solid foundation of knowledge and insights. The following discovery sources can provide a wealth of useful information from which to build an audience acquisition strategy.

From previous events:
– Attendee survey and poll data
– Registration data, including YOY, registration cadence, registration to attendance rate
– Email opens, click-through rates (CTR)
– A/B testing data
– Mobile app analytics data
– Social engagement and sentiment analytics
– Google Analytics reports
– Heatmaps
– Ad performance data

Support for current event:
– Event brief (including background, purpose, goals)
– Audience segmentation
– Event personas
– Copy and brand style guide(s)
– Theme and messaging guidelines (if applicable)
– Overall marketing plan (to understand how this event fits within the larger marketing effort)

How will you reach our target audience(s)?
A good partner will be able to clearly articulate how they will segment, identify and reach your target audiences. They will also outline how they will use messaging and the attendee journey to create an engaging experience that goes beyond event registration to create attendee value during and after the event. You’ll want to listen for the inclusion of helpful tools like a messaging matrix or a messaging map, which are instrumental in developing copy that resonates with your target audiences.

What KPIs do you recommend tracking for audience acquisition?
This might seem like a simple question, but you should actually be looking for a partner who understands the importance of ROA (return on attendee). Yes, it’s important to hit registration and attendance goals, but it’s even more important to attract and engage attendees who take action as a result of your event. That’s where your investment really starts to pay off. Whether attendees are seeking more information or placing an order (or something similar), these actions work to actually move prospects along the funnel, giving you a higher ROA. Partnering with someone who can help identify and track meaningful KPIs will help ensure that you’re focusing your efforts wisely.

What media channels and tactics do you typically employ?
Although research shows that 46% of B2B organizations believe email marketing is the most effective channel to promote an event[ii], it should not be your only channel. Depending on the size, budget and goals of the event as well as the target audience profile, you’ll likely want to explore and consider a combination of the following channels to create a rich outreach campaign:

– Email
– Owned websites (e.g. corporate site, event site, blog, etc.)
– Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
–  Social Media
– PPC and display advertising, including social
– Retargeting
– Direct mail
– Out of home (e.g. billboards, transportation ads)
– Public relations (e.g. online event listings, press coverage, etc.)
– Internal communications
– Sales team outreach
– Partner outreach


How will you work with our marketing automation team?

At some point you’re going to need to send out some emails, and most likely, you own the contact database. That means either your partners will need to provide you with content that you can send (either “content pieces” that can be used in a template or a finished piece) or they’ll send the emails on your behalf using their own email platform or an API into yours. Understanding these capabilities upfront—and how experienced your partner is in delivering on this—will save you a lot of heartache when you’re working against the clock to get communications out on time. It will also enable you to proactively plan for regular reporting that is critical to optimizing your campaigns.

What special skills does your team bring to the table?
This is a pretty open-ended question, but it can be a good way to tease out who has that little something extra that will help you be successful. For example, an agency partner with specialized skills in messaging may have just what you need to reach a target audience segment that has been elusive at past events. Or you might find someone who has deep experience in search engine optimization (which is actually the primary driver for many event websites). You might even find that the partner you’ve been leaning on to produce your general session can offer some unique insights into how to engage and follow up with your audience.

Who will manage tracking and optimization throughout the acquisition effort?
It’s important to understand who can and will be tracking the data against your key performance indicators. If there are multiple players involved, it’s good to establish who will be responsible for tracking what and when, as well as determine how that reporting will be shared. If no one is on the hook for tracking and optimization, then it won’t get done.

How do you connect audience acquisition to audience engagement?
With so much money being invested in live events, it’s not enough just to get people to the door of your event. For one, if your event doesn’t deliver a highly engaging experience, that attendee is not likely to return again, which means you’ll have to work that much harder to find a new attendee to fill the slot next year. Additionally, the goal of most events is not to just get people there, but rather to drive sales or increase brand/product awareness (or something similar). Your audience acquisition effort should be viewed as the beginning of this overall engagement effort, creating a cohesive attendee journey that builds on itself. If that connection is not being made, you’re only getting half of what you need.

How do you close the audience acquisition loop?
You might argue that it’s not the responsibility of the audience acquisition team to also follow-up with attendees after the event, but we would ask, why not? Creating this closed loop with up-front planning ensures attendees get the right messages at the right time. All too often, this final step can fall through the cracks because the focus is on getting a complex event done on time and on budget. Once the event is over, there’s little energy left to plan creative ways of following up with attendees, so it’s helpful to create that strategy up front.

Hopefully, you will find these questions helpful in your search for the right audience acquisition partner. Want to learn more about audience acquisition services at InVision? Read our press release or contact us to learn all about our audience acquisition offering.


[i] Source: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/survey-finds-consumers-crave-authenticity-and-user-generated-content-deli/511360/
[ii] Source: https://blog.bizzabo.com/event-marketing-2018-benchmarks-and-trends