Communicating with attendees, prospects, sponsors, and other stakeholders is imperative to overall event success. While there are plenty of different ways that event marketers communicate, the one channel that all marketers must master is event email marketing.
While you may already be familiar with effective email management, the purpose of email encompasses more than just organization. Effective email campaigns can boost event registrations, secure sponsorships, and grow your event brand. The key to unlocking all of this is to find the ideal optimization strategy.
How can you improve your current event email marketing strategy to achieve event success? This is the exact question we set out to answer in this post. Check out the collection of best practices below to create your own event email optimization strategy.
What’s Event Email Optimization?
Because the focus of this post is on email strategy optimization, it’s important to define what “optimize” exactly means. In this context, optimization means to improve upon current methods to more effectively achieve email campaign objectives. Thus it is necessary to properly articulate these key objectives to better devise our optimization strategy. Using KPIs to measure campaign success is important for better understanding the impact of your optimization.
Below are four metrics to keep in mind while creating your event email optimization gameplan.
Event Email Optimization Metrics
- Open Rate – According to a study done by MailChimp, the average open rate for emails within the events industry is 21.21%. This is a helpful benchmark to keep in mind as you monitor the performance of your campaigns. When people receive an email, the very first option is to either open it or not. Open rates are usually a core metric of interest for many event marketers.
- Click-Through Rate – After opening the email, the next step for the recipient is to click-through to another page of content outside of the email. That may be an event website, a sponsorship package document, or a speaker application form. Whatever it is, the goal of your emails as an event marketer should be to lead your reader to more content. Clickthrough rates are key to measuring the recipient’s willingness to further engage with your content. Most times this rate is measured by how many times readers are clicking the CTA button within the email or any other links you’ve included.
- Response Rate – As an event marketer, sometimes you’re looking for more than just a click. Certain campaigns will require an actual written response from your readers, such as campaigns dedicated to securing sponsors or hiring speakers. For highly targeted and personalized emails such as these, your metric for success should be a fully-written response. Because these responses are much harder to obtain, make sure that your email content is as personalized and optimized as possible on all counts.
- Unsubscribe Rate – An often overlooked metric in email campaigns is the unsubscribe rate. Make sure to keep track of those who are completely unsubscribing from your emails altogether. Though this is never an encouraging statistic to pay attention to, doing so will indicate whether your audience was the right target in the first place. If you see that people are unsubscribing to your emails at a higher rate than the industry average, which according to MailChimp is 0.28%, then your strategy must be revisited.
The end goal of your optimization must be to improve one or all of these metrics. Keeping in mind specific event KPIs will help to more clearly define how and what to optimize for. When it comes to event marketing, if the goals are well articulated, the strategy becomes that much easier to form and execute.
How to Optimize Your Event Email Marketing Strategy
Now that we’ve defined the purpose of optimizing, let’s dive into the actual methods of optimization. The following best practices are broken down into three sections: design, segmentation, and content. You may notice that some tips can fall into more than one category. That’s the point. The most effective optimization strategies are ones that combine many methods, resulting in a more effective and personalized solution.
Design Best Practices
Though the following tips are by no means exhaustive. However, they are good core principles to keep in mind as you define your email aesthetic. Creating visually engaging emails are just as important as the message itself, if not more so. For more inspiration, check out these examples of event email design.
Rule of Three
A universal best practice for email design is simplicity and brevity. While the design and content may be amazing, having a long email to scroll down can compromise all the effort put into the email. To keep from making that mistake, commit to the rule of three. Include only three sections within the email and keep each section clear and concise.
This email promoting Wistiafest does a brilliant job of communicating separate types of information within the confines of three short sections. The first section highlights the event content, the second is a video, and the third focuses on the early bird price discount. Wistia was able to communicate three very different pieces of information by using less than 38 words. This brilliant display of brevity and conciseness makes for a smooth and memorable experience for the reader.
The goal of an email is to direct the reader to another page, whether that be a registration page or the event website. Thus, the button that leads them to the other page is very important. The design and placement of the CTA button is key.
InVision does an amazing job of making sure their “Register Now” button stands out from the rest of the text. The button appears twice in the email and is accented with pink while the rest of the email text is in white. This prevents the button from being buried with the rest of the email content and instead immediately catches the reader’s attention.
Unified Color Palette
In the context of event email marketing tactics, the goal of any email should be to capture the reader’s attention. Thus, email design is an essential component of any email marketing campaign. And this does not mean that the design must be intricate with high-quality photos. Most times it is best to adhere to basic, fundamental principles of good email design. One of these core principles is maintaining a unified color scheme.
As shown in the above example for the Forecast Conference, going with the same color creates an appealing effect. Keep in mind that a consistent color scheme does not mean using the same exact color throughout the email. It is more aesthetically pleasing to display a consistent color spectrum so that the design does not come off as one-dimensional. In this example, the purple to pink spectrum gives a unifying feel that brings an aesthetic harmony to the overall email.
Taking Design Risks
Many event registration emails can easily end up looking similar. To make sure your emails stand out, take some risks in regards to design. Creating an email that strays from conventional structures can have a positive effect on the reading experience.
AdAge Next took a design risk by choosing bold and bright colors for each section of the email, even splashing over the faces of their speakers. They have very little white space and sandwich the email with these three bold colors. Though more conservative email marketers may say that this email is breaking some of the fundamental rules, AdAge makes it work by fully committing to the decision and ensuring that the design still reflects their brand.
Combining Design Principles
The following example from does well to combine many core principles into a single email. This example maintains:
- A consistent color scheme that reflects the event logo
- Minimal text with most of the words being included in the images
- Speaker spotlight with a captivating quote
- The contrast in CTA buttons, emphasizing the “Register Now” over the other buttons
The combination of all of these email marketing best practices creates a memorable and captivating piece of content. Emails like this one help to drive event registration while also strengthening the event brand.
Effective Ways to Segment
Design choices won’t matter much if the email is sent to the wrong person. The audience you target to read your message will have a large effect on their level of engagement. The more relevant and personalized the message, the more likely the recipient will respond to both the design and the content of the email. Here are some ways to segment your email campaigns to optimize for success.
Job Function – An attendee’s specific job function will largely determine the reason they registered for the event. A C-level executive will be attending the event for different reasons than a sales associate. The information being communicated should directly address the interests of the intended recipient. Segmenting email campaigns based on job function will do just that.
Industry – Your event will most likely bring together professionals from a variety of professional backgrounds. To ensure your email content is relevant, organize campaigns based on industry. An email sent to a SaaS marketer should be tailored differently than an email sent to a financial analyst. Segmenting campaigns based on the industry will let your attendees know that the event content will be specifically relevant to them, further cementing their excitement for the event.
Ticket Type – Similar to differing job functions, people will also have different roles as an attendee. Some attendees will be going to the event as sponsors, some as speakers, and others as guests. These roles are often determined by the type of ticket they purchase. Using this data, prepare email campaigns that are specific to each attendee’s role to let attendees know that this event will specifically address their needs, regardless of their role.
Promo Code – A great marketing tactic for increased registration is to endorse different promo codes. Perhaps you’d like to have a promo code for bloggers and another one for product marketers. Having different promo codes will naturally divide your attendees into different sectors. Thus, take advantage of this segmented data by sending email campaigns accordingly. Keep in mind that this is only possible if your event management software offers promo code functionality and tracking.
Email Engagement Level – Attendees will tend to respond to your emails to different capacities. By segmenting your email strategy based on email engagement level, you can make sure to send just enough content and messages for the recipient to be satisfied. Sending weekly emails to the section of your email audience with the lowest open rate will make your emails seem spammy and that is always something you’ll want to avoid. Also, gathering this type of email engagement data will likely require event software integrations so make sure your platform provides these capabilities.
Creating Engaging Content
While the aesthetic and intended audience are important parts of event email marketing, the actual message itself is also a focal point. Remember that email content begins with the subject line and ends with the signature. Be sure to optimize all aspects of the email content to provide the ideal reading experience.
Effective Subject Line
When sending an email, the opportunity to make a strong first impression comes before the actual email content. The subject line is the first thing the recipient sees and optimizing it will play a large role in yielding high open rates. Keeping a short subject line tends to result in stronger click-through rates. According to one study, emails with subject lines less than 10 characters long had open rates of nearly 50%. In fact, there was a direct correlation between the shortness of the subject line and the email open rate, as shown in the chart.
Though correlation never equals causation, it’s worth noting the relation between having a short, to-the-point subject line and high open rates. One of the core components of successful event marketing is the ability to keep things simple and memorable for attendees so applying the same principle to email subject lines makes perfect sense.
Sometimes there is a lot of information you need to convey to your reader and there’s simply no way to shorten it. Though you may feel you’re breaking the cardinal rule of simplicity, you can still make it work just as long as your info is conveyed in a consumable way.
The Saastr Conference always has much to offer so it was difficult for them to keep their email brief. This ended up not being a problem because they were able to organize the information in a way that was still easily digestible for the reader. By creating a list of fun facts as opposed to long paragraphs, the email keeps the reader’s attention while communicating the necessary information.
Early Bird Offering
Early on in the registration cycle, launch dedicated email campaigns to promote the early bird ticket sales. These campaigns work well because each email is centered around a single offering, keeping the message concise and focused. This also makes for much simpler email graphics, as shown in the example with Dreamforce. When an offering is this direct, the email can consist of very minimal or no text, focusing completely on the early bird discount.
Video is a great way to engage a reader as soon as they open the email. According to a study done by Syndacast, having the word “video” in the email subject line increased click-through rates by 65%. If the email is inviting them to register for the event, including a “sizzler video” that showcases highlights from the previous year’s event. Or if your email campaign is intended for prospective speakers, record a high-quality video of yourself or a team member warmly welcoming them to apply for a speaking panel at your event. Using video to communicate your message makes the email feel more personable and engaging. This example shows how UnBounce, a marketing technology company, uses video directly addressing readers to register for the event.
Remember that every part of the email is an opportunity for you to engage the reader. The email signature is often a overlooked piece of real estate that can have a significant impact on engaging the recipient. Below you can see how Social Media Marketing World uses the email signature to their advantage.
After conveying the core message, use your email signature to offer an additional link to the reader. This may lead to the event website, social media channels, or a sponsorship application page. The point is to take advantage of this portion of the email and to not pass up an opportunity to offer something to the reader.
The aforementioned best practices are meant to help you concretely define your optimization strategy. Once your KPIs and success metrics have been defined, piece together a strategy that would be most relevant to your event goals. Though the industry is constantly changing with evolving event trends, one thing that will continue to be a constant tool for communication is email.