Email Marketing Automation: How to Sell Out Your Next Event
Email marketing automation makes event promotion easy. Learn how to get the most out of it in this quick guide.
An event coordinator’s to-do list is never done. No matter what the event—conference, webinar, 5k run, fashion show—a lot of planning goes into creating a flawless experience.
One of the biggest items on the to-do list is inviting guests. While it sounds like a simple line item on the list, getting guests to attend your event is crucial to its success—and it’s not necessarily easy.
To invite guests while juggling other priorities like booking speakers and caterers, many event coordinators rely on email marketing automation. Email invitations aren’t only effective; they can also be automated to ease the event workload.
With automation, you can create a series of emails that pertain to the event and have them automatically delivered to subscribers’ inboxes. You can schedule emails for a specific date or time, or you can set up triggers that deliver emails based on a subscriber’s behavior. Email marketing automation like this can help you drive event registration, increase ticket sales and ultimately sell out your event.
To help you create and send emails using automation, we’ve provided every step you need to take to automate your event email invitations and we also give you a list of follow-up emails that you can automate to ensure your event is well attended.
Whether you’re an event planner, event coordinator or event marketer—these tips will help you sell out your next event.
For more email tips, read the Secret Science to Email Marketing for Live Events.
Questions your invitation should answer
Before we dive into email marketing automation, we need to review how to create a seamless event invitation. A strong and consistent email design is crucial to making a good first impression, and will set the tone for emails that follow.
This initial email should be simple. You want to introduce guests to your event, explain why they should come, offer event specifics like the date and time, and encourage them to register or RSVP. But you also want to make sure that it’s in line with your event branding.
To make sure your invitation offers just the right amount of information, here are four questions that your email invite should answer…
What’s the event?
First and foremost, tell potential guests what the event is. The event name should be at the top of your email. Here’s a great example from an indie game festival, Bit Bash. The title of event sits at the top of the email.
We’ll get into more details later, but the first thing you want to present is the name of the event you’re hosting.
Why should I attend?
An invitation should convince guests to attend. You need more than a simple event description; you have to tell subscribers why they should attend. It’s called the value proposition.
In many cases, you have to convince guests not just to give up their time, but money too. Make sure that your invitation explains what guests get out of the event. Remember, everyone wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”
This question should be addressed immediately, just as it is in the first few lines of copy in the email invitation below. The value proposition for this webinar hosted by Amazon Developer Services is to learn how to add in-app purchases to an app.
What details do I need to know?
Your event invitation has to include the basic ‘where and when’ details. Include the location, date, and time.
Here’s a great example from Hudson Ranch and Vineyards where the event details are easy to read:
Double-check these details before sending your invitation. It puts a real damper on your first impression if you have to send a second email with a corrected date or time.
How can I RSVP?
Hopefully, subscribers are instantly intrigued by your invitation and are ready to RSVP.
Make sure subscribers can easily register for your event by clicking a call to action button. Use an email service provider that provides pre-made buttons so you can simply drag and drop one into your email. Pick a color that stands out; one that’s sparingly used throughout the email. You want the color to grab attention.
Here’s a great example from Liquorice:
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Emails to automate after the invitation
Your email invitation is just the first connection you’ll make with potential guests. As the event draws near, you can keep registered guests informed while continuing to encourage others to sign up through an event email marketing automation workflow.
Here’s a look at some of the emails that you can send after the initial invitation goes out and how you can use email marketing automation to maximize your reach and minimize your workload.
To help entice people to attend your event, you can send a follow up email that highlights some of the guest speakers, break out sessions, or main events.
SXSW, an interactive film and music conference, showcases three of its main speakers in this email.
How to automate: Trigger to send to those who open your initial invitation email but don’t register.
You can drive more event registrations by alerting subscribers about rate changes. Maybe you’re offering an early-bird rate and it’s about to expire or maybe the price to attend certain breakout sessions is about to increase.
When these rates change, let subscribers know. Here’s another great example from SXSW:
How to automate: Schedule the email to arrive a few days before the rates change so subscribers have the chance to take advantage of a lower rate.
When the deadline to sign up is nearing its end, send an email to prospects once again and focus on their last chance to register. Focus on the deadline so subscribers are compelled to act quickly.
The email should also reiterate the value of your event, and you might even consider offering a discount to increase ticket sales.
Here’s an example from Tufts that focuses on a subscriber’s last chance to register and even mentions that there are only five seats remaining.
How to automate: Send the email to those who have clicked through, but haven’t converted. Schedule it to arrive a day before registration closes.
As the event date closes in, remind registrants about the event. While it might be the only thing on your mind, your guests have busy schedules so a friendly reminder is a good idea.
Highlight the basic details once again and give registrants a chance to get in touch with you or a member of your staff. Here’s a great example from General Assembly:
How to automate: Schedule a reminder for registrants one day before the event, or several days before. Just make sure your copy matches the date you send.
Once the event is over, gauge how it went by asking participants to complete a quick event survey.
It’s important to collect feedback when it’s fresh, so you’ll want to create a survey ahead of time so it’s ready to send the day the event ends or the following day. The email can thank guests for coming and ask them to complete a quick survey to make sure next year’s event is even better.
You can also create specific surveys for different groups. For instance, if you want to know how networking sessions went, create a survey around this specific aspect and send the email to those who attended.
How to automate: Schedule the post-event survey for an hour after the event ends.
By relying on email marketing automation, event coordinators can reach guests without manually sending individual emails. Much like with event software integrations, it can take some of the hassle out of event planning and ensures a solid guest list for an amazing event.
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Andrea Robbins lives in San Francisco and is a demand generation marketer at Campaign Monitor. Her favorite things include writing, a good cup of coffee, cats, and attempting to keep her houseplants alive. Say hi on Twitter @andirobz.