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Episode 99 / May 6, 2024

Rising above the bounce: Advanced email strategies for event professionals

Tune in for strategies to ensure your event emails reach their intended inboxes, boost registration and attendance, and drive meaningful engagement.

In this fresh episode of Event Experience, host Rachel Moore is joined by email marketing experts to discuss how to overcome common email marketing challenges faced by event professionals. Tune in to hear about effective strategies for improving email open rates, crafting compelling content, and using advanced segmentation and automation to enhance attendee engagement from the following experts: 

  • Kendra Ellis, former director of client services at SmartBug Media and current Sr. Director of Growth Marketing at RevPartners
  • LaShanda Jackson, global director of lifecycle marketing at Intuit Mailchimp
  • Ghazwan Almoazen, global experiential marketing demand and communications director at DocuSign

The discussion highlights the importance of aligning email marketing with attendee expectations and leveraging analytics to drive continuous improvement.

Here’s what you’ll hear about in this conversation:

  • How to craft emails with engaging subject lines and compelling calls to action that stand out in crowded inboxes
  • The importance of list segmentation and personalization in boosting email engagement rates
  • Insights into the role of analytics and automation in optimizing email campaigns and improving event marketing outcomes

Mentioned in this episode


Rachel Moore: Welcome to Event Experience by Bizzabo, the podcast where we bring the best and brightest Event Experience Leaders together to share stories, tips, and lessons learned from creating some of the world’s biggest events.

I’m Rachel Moore, your podcast host. 

In this episode, we’re claiming victory over inboxes with our topic: Beyond the bounce: Overcoming email marketing challenges for event professionals. Our champions in this battle are: Kendra Ellis, Director of Client Services for SmartBug Media; LaShanda Jackson, Global Director of Lifecycle Marketing for Intuit Mailchimp; and Ghazwan Almoazen, Global Experiential Marketing Demand & Communications Director for DocuSign.

We’re about to get real regarding the struggles of email marketing for event planners, gain hacks and how-tos for crafting emails people will actually open, learn how to automate our way to increased efficiency, and segment lists that ensure every recipient gets an exceptional Event Experience. Let’s open it up!

[00:01:30] Rachel Moore: So glad you’re all tuning in today. Let’s go through what we’re going to explore in the ecosystem of email marketing for our events. Our goal is to equip you with knowledge and practical tips that are going to help you understand the challenges we all face today in the current email marketing climate, master the art of crafting emails that can’t be missed and can captivate today’s diminishing attention spans and automate effectively and authentically while analyzing email performance for leveling up with the next send that you do. We’re going to talk about email client regulations and low open rates- a big pain point for literally everybody. We’re also going to get into the weeds with how we can craft the email message itself from subject line to CTA to deliver something truly exceptional and attention grabbing. And we’re also going to dig into list segmentation and the metrics that matter for sending better emails to market your events.

[00:02:29] It is my pleasure to introduce today’s speakers.

[00:02:31] First, we have Kendra Ellis. Kendra is the Director of Client Services with SmartBug Media. She has delivered results for the entire alphabet, B2B, B2C, D2C, over the past 17 years with diverse teams of content creators and marketing strategists. And by the way, Kendra’s go to event day shoes are Kizzix. 

[00:02:53] Next, let’s welcome LaShanda Jackson. LaShanda is the Global Director of Lifecycle Marketing with Intuit MailChimp. For over 15 years and including her roles with HP and Home Depot, she has driven growth and loyalty for global brands focused on demand gen and event marketing.

[00:03:11] Her go to event day shoes are Adidas Ultra Boost for trade shows and Golden Goose, pure stars for everything else. She says it’s perfect for dressing up or down. So it’s pretty awesome. Thank you for joining us. LaShanda. 

[00:03:24] And finally, our third panelist is Ghazwan Almoazen.

[00:03:29] Ghazwan is the Global Experiential Marketing Demand and Communications Director for DocuSign. He brings over 12 years of experience in the events industry, delivering results for VMware, Oracle, and Yahoo, and his go to event day shoes are New Balance. I’m glad to have you here, Ghazwan.

[00:03:47] I want to ask our speakers, and this is a little pop quiz. So everyone’s going to have to look at your inbox. Let me ask each of you, how many emails do you currently have in your inbox right now?

[00:03:56] I’m going to start with LaShanda, how many do you have? 

[00:03:59] LaShanda Jackson: Oh gosh, you really did put me on the spot there. I have 502 emails. 

[00:04:05] Rachel Moore: Woo! That’s impressive. How about you, Kendra? 

[00:04:08] Kendra Ellis: Okay I’m a little bit on the opposite end. I currently have three.

[00:04:14] Rachel Moore: Okay, wow. That is equally impressive as well. Ghazwan, how about you? What are you bringing in? 

[00:04:18] Ghazwan Almoazen: I’m more like Kendra. I go every night with a zero inbox every day. So if I need to unsubscribe, I do. If I need to keep it for the next day, I do it. That’s why I keep it clean and easy for me. 

[00:04:32] Rachel Moore: Now we’re going to dive into some specifics. Before we can overcome a challenge, this is going to harken back to if anyone remembers the days of G. I. Joe, knowing is half the battle. We need to first identify a challenge before we can overcome it. We’ve got to get cozy with it. We’ve got to truly understand it before we take it on. I think we’ve all been there. We’ve stood in a crowded room where everyone is talking at once, and we have to decide where to focus first, right?

[00:04:56] Our attendees inboxes, as we’ve already mentioned, are very much like that crowded room. And our emails to promote our events have a lot to overcome in the race to being recognized and opened and then reacted to. So let’s talk about those challenges. I’m going to start things off with you, Kendra. As event emails sit in those inboxes amidst sales emails, work emails, and calendar notifications, how has all that noise impacted open rates for our event promotions getting delivered to email addresses?

[00:05:27] Kendra Ellis: Okay one thing I do want to address that may be unpopular opinion, but for me, I don’t really look at open rates anymore. There’s so many factors that play into skewing an open rate. So I really pay attention to deliverability, unsubscribe, spam, click through rate and all of those metrics to determine the success or improvements that could be made with my overall email campaigns.

[00:05:51] However, that being said, really what I found to be true is that while all of these other emails certainly do affect our own engagement rates, I’ll call it engagement rate instead of open rate, but affecting those engagement rates are personally my own brand’s overall email strategy. How much am I inundating inboxes?

[00:06:11] What is the information or what is the messaging that I’m doing for all of my direct consumers in that email strategy on a regular basis? That to me more so affects my engagement rate for this email specifically, rather than the other brands that are playing into that person’s inbox. And so what I try and do is not only look at the event marketing email strategy specifically, but at more of a macro level to make sure that some of these other factors from perhaps maybe other parts of my brand aren’t coming into play and affecting my engagement rate negatively.

[00:06:51] Rachel Moore: That’s a really excellent point. And I think, even if that’s, you might say that’s an unpopular opinion. I think we’re all trying whatever we can and what holistically looks like, what our email marketing looks like. So you certainly can look at open rates, but that’s just such one small part of the equation.

[00:07:07] LaShanda, I’m going to take this next question to you. Email clients are setting up even higher, ever higher barriers for marketers to even get our messages through a gauntlet of regulations. And there’s been a lot that have been new even this year. Can you talk about how are those regulations impacting today’s email sends and whether attendees even see our emails?

[00:07:30] LaShanda Jackson: Yeah, I would say in terms of impacting email sends, the big question is whether or not your emails are actually reaching your intended audience. And so I would say maybe 3 things on this topic. Number 1, as someone who actually works for email marketing and automation provider, I think email marketing is, we have to utilize that as a best practice, if you will. So I think more and more consumers of the emails, their expectations are high, right? For email providers to protect them. And I think my particular team actually sits as part of lifecycle marketing. So email marketing is part of our day to day practice and events lives within that. 

[00:08:11] I see the second point I would make is just as you’re doing email marketing and your event marketer as well. It’s really good for you to utilize the CAN-SPAM Act because a lot of the things that were included in that were meant to help consumers. Reduce the amount of spam, keep them safe, et cetera. And so I think that as an email marketer, we need to make sure we’re protecting and putting best practices in place. So that’s something that we do pretty regularly. 

[00:08:42] And I say, the 3rd one is implementing best practices when you’re sending out the event communications. If you think about some of those best practices, and also the recent regulations, is your domain authenticated? 

[00:08:55] Number one like Google and I believe Yahoo did a communication back February and now they’re putting a lot of this stuff in practice. So number one, you want to make people know who you are.

[00:09:08] I’d say the second one is, making sure that you make it easy for somebody unsubscribed from your communication. Honestly, as an email marketer, do you actually even want to send communications to people who don’t want to receive it?

[00:09:22] So think about that. And I think the last piece I’ll say is personalizing your communications. We learn so much through our registration forms about our audience, and if they’re someone who has attended a previous event, there’s tons of ways that you can make it easier on yourself to segment the list and then start to personalize them towards people’s interests.

[00:09:42] Rachel Moore: Really great points there. Ghazwan, I’m going to go to you because this is a great question too, that it really gets to the guts of this.

[00:09:48] One might think that always on would lead to an increase in attention by our target audiences. We’re always on, of course you’re paying attention. Are you finding that to be the case, or are our attendees instead, are they contending with sensory overload when it comes to email messaging? What do you think?

[00:10:05] Ghazwan Almoazen: Great question. And it’s both. So if you continue to have the audience with messaging all the time, you’re going to start the audience to think it’s real and it’s happening. For me, it’s all about hitting the audience with the right message at the right time, balancing the story that I’m telling for event promotion.

[00:10:21] From the time we open registration for the event, then to announcing speakers and breakout sessions, then to promoting activities happening at the event, and then ending with the keynote and the featured speakers. And, of course, while sending the reminders and event update to those who registered between the time they registered to the event, most likely they don’t have a reason to come back to the website to check out what we have added.

[00:10:46] So I make sure that they are updated often with whatever we have continued to add content to the website. Email is the first step for them to reach and know about the event and what’s happening, but really all the conversions is happening on the website. Like Kendra mentioned earlier, it’s not always about the metrics for the email as much as it’s on the conversion.

[00:11:08] Are they finding what they’re looking for on the site? Is it is the registration experience easy and smooth for them? Are we hitting them with the right cadence of email? And this applies for internal promotion within the company and the sales team and the field team and for external promotion also for our customers and prospects.

[00:11:28] And also making sure that the message that you’re sending via email is concise with the social media, paid media, external, any other promotions that we are doing. 

[00:11:38] Rachel Moore: Are you finding that people are making that decision later? And I feel like we’re seeing a lot where people are like only registering maybe the day before or super close to the event. But what are you seeing there? 

[00:11:53] Ghazwan Almoazen: Absolutely. Lots of trends for people signing up two or three weeks before the event, but also keep in mind for in person events. And I just came from our flagship event, Momentum, that happened last week, April 10th and 11th in New York City.

[00:12:08] So we had lots of registrations early on because people, they do want to book their travel, their hotel, their flights, get the approval from their company. All of these kind of events. So you always have a great chunk of people who would register months and weeks in advance to make sure that they have the right experience for them all up front.

[00:12:26] But also, you’ll find lots of local customers or local contacts who are within maybe a hundred mile radius signing up for the event two weeks before. And those will be really my focus. Within the latest weeks before the event. 

[00:12:42] Rachel Moore: Yeah, how about LaShanda, Kendra, either of you have some thoughts about that too?

[00:12:46] About how quickly or how late people are registering? 

[00:12:50] Kendra Ellis: I would agree 100%, and I think you touched on it very well. The biggest difference between sometimes in person and virtual events is that travel component, which can play a huge factor in the timing of someone signing up. What I’m seeing actually, from a virtual event standpoint, is that some people wait to see what their calendar is going to look like even that week to whether they can squeeze in that event or not.

[00:13:14] And then there some individuals that we find are signing up for the event simply to get the recording because they know that they can’t attend that day in that time, which is actually a really nice thing about virtual events that you can still get that content out to those individuals to then engage further after that event.

[00:13:30] But, yes, I 100% agree about the timing of things in terms of an in person versus a virtual event, getting down to the wire unless you have a hook that can grab them to register early. 

[00:13:43] LaShanda Jackson: Yeah, the only other thing is, and I’m not sure if everyone else is witnessing that this as well, the difference between paid and free events.

[00:13:52] That’s the, probably the only additional item that I would mention. If, somebody is paying to attend and they need to take a day off, we do see early registrations, like a large group of people. And then, like you mentioned Ghazwan, then there’s the last two weeks right before the event, if it hasn’t sold out.

[00:14:11] Rachel Moore: Really great points. 

[00:14:13] For the daunting task of writing subject lines, that very first impression of every email that we send, what can we do to catch the eye, prompt, and open? 

[00:14:23] LaShanda Jackson: This is a tough one. I think, all of us as marketers it’s really difficult sometimes to get to land that perfect subject line.

[00:14:32] And as much as we try, we don’t always get it on the first time. And so I’ll give a few tips that we utilize here and number one would be, really writing short personalized and descriptive subject lines. Your goal is really to garner interest, but not necessarily give everything away.

[00:14:51] So I would say get somebody’s interest so that they want to click on that email and open it. And this topic comes up a lot. So I don’t know if you all are uncomfortable about using emojis in your subject lines, but I would say 1 is fine. More than that, it starts to be overkill. So that would be something that we talk about is the best practices. Our team is how many emojis is too many; one, you’re in a safe zone. 

[00:15:18] I’d say my 2nd point would be including a sense of urgency around it because ultimately you want to drive action. And if we’re doing a paid event tickets are selling out fast. Don’t lie about it. They’re not, but at the end of the day, you want to make sure that people take the action you desire.

[00:15:35] And then the 3rd one would be A/B testing your subject line. A lot of times, our team runs into this as well. We’re so busy. We have calendar full of events. You’re running fast and then you’re like, wait. We got to build in time to actually test the performance of this. When you’re doing paid events versus free events, how are garnering the interest and support?

[00:15:56] So I’d say those are, would be my top three points. And then this is more of a shameless plug for MailChimp. We do have a feature called Subject Line Helper, because we noticed that a lot of our users were having the same challenge.

[00:16:08] It does like. Basically, look and evaluate over all of our customer base, and it gives you best practice tips on writing better subject lines. And so that’s something that may be helpful to you. 

[00:16:20] Rachel Moore: Really good advice. Kendra or Ghazwan, I didn’t know if you, did either of you have any extra advice to pile on about subject lines?

[00:16:27] Kendra Ellis: The one thing that I was going to say she mentioned, and I won’t steal Mailchimp’s thunder, but I do have a subject line tester that I use for every single email I write just to get even an outsider’s perspective, not in the box so much, you can get it as an event marketer, you can get so focused on your goal and your task at hand that you’re inside the box.

[00:16:47] And a subject line tester, for example, can really help from an unbiased perspective, saying, you’re not making the mark with this one. Try again.

[00:16:57] Ghazwan Almoazen: Also agree and also add to that at this time, day and age, it’s just personalizing, but the first name is not current anymore. We have to be different. We have to be smart.

[00:17:07] We have to be fun. And consider that people are viewing their emails on mobile as well. So it has to be like quick and grab the attention and choosing the right emoji versus just the smiley face lots of options right there. Whatever email subject line I test with to promote the event internally or sales team.

[00:17:24] And I see that work. I can tweak it to use it for the external promotion as well. Sometimes ChatGPT helps me with generating some subject line, and then I tweak them as well as I see fit, but you always have to remember just at the end of the day, it has to capture their attention, and then we are at the time where they’re having tons of emails in their inboxes.

[00:17:45] So you have to stand out as much as possible, and sometimes I use the tactics where we do the false forward thing when you have the FWD at the beginning of the email, so that grabs lots of attention usually and lots of conversions as well. 

[00:18:00] Rachel Moore: We’re going to get to another portion of the email and that is the CTA, the holy grail of each email since it’s -and I didn’t mean that to rhyme, but it did -since it’s the pathway for our attendee to register and begin engaging more directly with the event at every stage. What are some examples of CTAs we can either steer clear of or totally try?

[00:18:20] Ghazwan Almoazen: I wouldn’t say necessarily bad, but I would just say it’s plain or ordinary like just “register now” or “join us.” We have been using this for God knows how long. It’s time to up it a little bit. So for example, it’s a free event. Make sure that you call that out. Join us for this free event. Claim your complimentary pass, or for example, if you have the early bird pricing, register now and save 200 or register now in under one minute, enticing them to do what’s going on, like on that one day to convert on your page that registration is easy registration can take less than one minute.

[00:18:58] We’d love to join you at New York City or we’d love to join you at this webinar, be part of our, this gathering or that event or whatever we are really promoting. That usually cuts it for me when I’m promoting the in person events and for digital events as well. Just make it more fun and more exciting.

[00:19:17] Rachel Moore: Excellent. And then I think you, we alluded to this a little bit, but I think you have some takeaways you could share with us from your recent promotions of Reese Witherspoon at your flagship event, Momentum. Can you tell us more about how did you promote that an A list celebrity from planning to executing that?

[00:19:34] Ghazwan Almoazen: Definitely not your average promotion promoting Reese Witherspoon. You have can imagine the, all the time that it takes to get everything approved. First of all, creating all the marketing materials, approving all of that with the creative artist agency, then legal team, then Reese’s publicist, then Reese’s agent, then it trickles down to Reese herself to get her final blessing on that.

[00:19:54] Keeping in mind that I’m running just some time limits here that are going to promote the speakers and making sure that you drive registrations while waiting for all these approvals to come in. However, when we got those approvals, I’ll make sure that we are really leveraging Reese in any way I’m shown possible from email to web to search media to internal promotion, all of these kind of help to drive registration.

[00:20:17] Cause really, this is what’s going to drive the last, this is the icing on the cake where people are excited to join this event in person and be part of this experience and they will get to see Reese In person speak about her, how she uses agreements in her everyday life and leverage a few signs, of course, in her everyday business life.

[00:20:33] So definitely I had to tweak some of the timeline for the promotions where I have just the same date or the content of the emails, making sure that she’s up front and center in the email. She’s in the subject line. She is in the follow up emails, in the rush confirmation emails. You name it, we’ve done it to make sure that people are fully aware that she’s part of the in person event and the online event as well. 

[00:20:59] Rachel Moore: Excellent. And obviously, it’d be nice if we had a Reese Witherspoon or A-list celebrity to like, promote an event because like easy draw. But something you alluded to there segues beautifully into the next question for Kendra.

[00:21:10] Let’s talk about the actual structure of emails. We all use tools that lets us drag and drop or customize templates. But are there some more winning ideas and tactics that can help us win the full attention and action of our email recipients when it comes to the structure of the email? 

[00:21:26] Kendra Ellis: Sure. And yes, I, as a person that started their career with a design background, I’m obviously going to be slightly biased to beautifully designed emails, but that’s not always what you need. Sometimes depend on your list segmentation and who you’re speaking to on the other end of that receiving email really dictates what the email is going to look like and how it’s going to function. What I mean by that is the very big difference between a one to many beautifully designed email and more of a one to one appearing so it’s more like plain text. But even when you break down even a one to one plain text email, there are certain design elements that are important, that you do want to adhere to, and these would be similar things like don’t use all caps. No one wants to be yelled at when they’re receiving an email, regardless of whether it’s in a beautifully designed newsletter or a one to one email. So there is certainly some rules of engagement in terms as it relates to design elements, but I think that we can all understand that all caps in an email is probably not a good idea.

[00:22:28] However, that does play in, but what I would say from a structure of an email when you’re trying to convey a lot of information all in one email, say maybe the agenda of an event, you’re going to probably want to have that in a beautifully designed one to many email versus when you’re trying to get them to take action on what you want for that event.

[00:22:48] Say the end result is booking time with a salesperson during the event or scheduling a demo that might come across better as more of a one to one or plain text email from a design standpoint. 

[00:23:01] Rachel Moore: Super interesting. I always think about the one where I try to scroll down and it says, to see the full message, like it truncates it.

[00:23:07] So I have to go actually click to see the whole thing. And sometimes a lot of us have a lot of information we’re trying to pack into that email and it’s hard to avoid that, but pay attention to what do you need to get out of that person, right? And craft that email accordingly. 

[00:23:23] Before we segue into the next part, I wanted to ask too, for any of you want to answer this, how about list segmentation? Where does that come into play here? Are we missing the boat on how much we can personalize each email touch point to those specific subsets of our audiences?

[00:23:40] Ghazwan Almoazen: I would say if you’re segmenting the same way year over year, or event over year, then yes, you are missing on the boat. You have to continue to test with your segmentations. If this year segmenting by line of business worked for me, it might not work the next time.

[00:23:53] So maybe try this segmenting by your industry, your vertical by a job title, depend on the event and the content that you are offering. Always feel free to test and see what works better and what how this affect the conversions for the audience as well. 

[00:24:09] Rachel Moore: Any other, Kendra, LaShanda, anything more about segmentation?

[00:24:11] LaShanda Jackson: I was just going to add, I know we’re in the tech industry, so we have three different types of people that we are promoting events to. So we have prospective clients. We have customers, which are the users of our product, and we also have partners, which is also a form of customers, but they also are doing it on behalf of the client.

[00:24:34] And so a lot of times I think the registration form, depending on the types of questions that you’re asking, Ghazwan made a really good point. You may not want to have an exhaustive registration form, but I just think it’s a gold mine for looking and seeing how people, some of the commentary that you can start to segment audience or is it a repeat user?

[00:24:53] Rachel Moore: Kendra, anything there too, about segmenting?

[00:24:55] Kendra Ellis: Yeah, number one, LaShanda already touched on it, but I think that sometimes we forget that our current clients are our clients. And so we shouldn’t just be thinking about our prospective clients. We need to be catering to in our events, our current clients. Also, we want to keep them loyal and retention, and that’s really the easiest ones that we can.

[00:25:17] So for a quick example, if you’re segmenting by prospects and segmenting by clients, maybe the CTA would be meet to demo versus meet with a specialist to help you in any of the problems that you’re currently having. If you’re say a software provider, I think that’s a great hook in terms of meeting with someone, an expert at your brand to then further that loyalty and that retention and really drive the difference between your current clients and your prospective clients.

[00:24:55] Ad Break Intro: We’ll be right back with more Event Experience after the break. 

[00:24:55] Ad Copy: Event enthusiasts, are you hungry for the latest event trends and insights? 

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[00:24:55] Ad Break Outro: We’re back with more Event Experience to talk about how we all might be underutilizing the power of automation in our email marketing. 

[00:26:36] Rachel Moore: How big of a role does automation play in delivering a great email campaign that actually converts?

[00:26:42] Like what tools do we need to put those into play?

[00:26:45] Ghazwan Almoazen: All the tools you can have. Definitely, you cannot enough have tools to help you analyze and measure all the conversions and between from sending the email. For example, we use a lot to send our emails from looking into emails, conversions, open rain and click rate.

[00:27:01] And they also spend some time looking at that heat map where people are engaging within that email. Is it on the top? Is it in the bottom? Do we have too many? Is it above the fold or below? These kind of things help us not only designing the content for the email, but also the design template of the email as well, and how to make things simple and easy and fun for them to consume and convert on then moving that all these leads or go into the Salesforce and then beyond maybe to Tableau to measure the pipeline and the revenue, and if they didn’t MQL, maybe we add them to the right nurture for them to MQL later on. This all comes into play, so just sitting given the time to analyze everything that goes within the customer journey within those emails and nurtures, definitely helps you build that story and the right communication for them to convert properly, for sure.

[00:27:53] Rachel Moore: Yeah, love that point. Kendra, I’m going to come to you next. This is actually bringing us a little bit full circle from the first question we asked you, because we did ask about open rates and, what your philosophy is around that. But, when we come to reporting on how our emails did, we are looking at average open rates. We’re looking at CTRs after the event has wrapped. I’d love to ask you, how do we go beyond just reporting saying here’s what the numbers were and actually get into analysis of what that email data is telling us?

[00:28:20] Kendra Ellis: Absolutely. And from a macro level as event marketers, I’m sure we’re checking a lot more than just our email engagement metrics here.

[00:28:28] And so what I do is I back out from email. Yes, I’m looking at click through rates. Yes, I’m looking at deliverability and spam and unsubscribe and all of those things. I’m also looking at, is this a part of a larger lead nurture component and where are those drop rates happening from one email to the next?

[00:28:44] That’s a big component that I look at from a holistic email perspective with the event marketing. On the flip side, I look at CTAs. I look at heat mapping on landing pages or registration pages. I take a look at follow up emails. So if you have a conversion path on your registration page, what is that conversion for that?

[00:29:03] What is the email engagement rates of that follow up email? I’m really looking at a holistic picture to then drive down the individual assets of my overall event strategy to make sure that I’m not missing anything in the data that’s telling me that story on where we’re winning and where maybe we could make improvements in the future.

[00:29:24] Rachel Moore: Yeah. And LaShanda I’d love to learn, especially with your role, how have you used email metrics to change your approach when the data demands something new?

[00:29:33] LaShanda Jackson: I recall this and I will share one time where we had to fail fast and quickly adjust and particularly it was an event that we were doing. It was a global event and it was actually post covid. So we have been doing a lot of virtual events. And so we were doing probably one of our first in person events in a long time.

[00:29:52] And we weren’t doing it in the U S market. All of you probably can relate. You spent all of this money on these exorbitant speaker fees and now you got to get people there. Goswam, I’m thinking about you. And so we had designed an email template where we were highlighting and profiling all of our speakers and just really giving the full lineup.

[00:30:14] We had a very short window to get people there. And we were not seeing great engagement with the email. So as Kendra mentioned, open rate is not that reliable anymore. So we were looking at click to open rate and click through rate in particular, and we just saw really quickly that our design team had to just jump in there and completely redesign the email so that we were highlighting the main draw.

[00:30:37] Why are people getting there? I see our 2nd challenge that we learned, which wasn’t necessarily the email metric per se, but there was also some market particular things are going on some. There was sensitivity around the price point to an event. And so that was the other data point. Once we got to registration, we had a high abandonment rate.

[00:30:57] And so we were like, what’s driving this? And so it was the ticket price. And so there was sensitivity around price. So we quickly adopted like abandoned cart. If you think about retail, borrow ideas from other industries. And we quickly implemented an abandoned cart program. And we sent personalized email comms.

[00:31:12] So we segmented that audience, sent it to them. And that’s how we actually improved our sell through rate for our tickets. And then also attendance for the live event.

[00:31:20] Rachel Moore: Wow. Those are great examples. Thank you so much for sharing that. Before we move on to Ghazwan, I did want to come back to you on metrics.

[00:31:28] As we were talking about how we’re using those going forward. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

[00:31:33] Ghazwan Almoazen: Absolutely. I just want to also echo what LaShanda mentioned about the incomplete registrations or the abandoned carts. You can do a lot with those folks. You have to give them something like a push to excite them to continue with their registration.

[00:31:43] If that’s a paid event, maybe offer them an extra discount .If it’s something like holding them back from registering for that event just don’t be afraid to dig deeper into what’s holding them from completing the registration. Maybe the registration experience itself will be simplified and often when we work with the creative team to design our created assets for the email, we don’t think about explaining to them why we’re asking for this way or why would you want to design the email banner that way? Why should the CTA should look like this or on this high or this low? These kind of small details make a lot of difference in converting audiences to events as well.

[00:32:21] Beyond just email metrics like we have all just touched on there is also the metrics about the Web page itself where people are coming from how much time they are spending on the page the bounce rate the conversion. Are they coming to going to other pages or are they just spending too much time on that page not doing any action?

[00:32:40] Would that drop rate be on the payment page? You could adjust the pricing for that event. This kind of nugget helps you put the whole story together about how people convert for your events.

[00:32:50] Rachel Moore: Awesome. Excellent points.

[00:32:51] I know you mentioned doing the forward tactic or talking about the false forward tactic. Could that be seen as misleading, like if somebody does open that email and they see that it’s not actually a forward from somebody they know?

[00:33:04] Ghazwan Almoazen: So let me elaborate a little bit on this tactics. So we send the email built in HTML, then maybe a week after or so, this false forward was going to come from a person from the company, let’s say Diana from DocuSign, she is the lead of customer engagement. She just forwarding this email to the contacts, making sure that, Hey, I just want to make sure that you’ve got this in your inbox.

[00:33:25] You’ve seen it. We have this great event coming up. These are the details. You can see the full version of the HTML of the email below the text only version that she sent to the audience. So it’s really like an actual plain good old false forward email. And definitely this helps with loss of conversion because when people can’t relate to an email getting from someone versus just another marketing email.

[00:33:50] Rachel Moore: Great point.

[00:33:51] What about inline text CTAs? Can you share some ideas or best practices around using inline tech CTAs as well as buttons?

[00:34:00] Kendra Ellis: I tend to use both actually, so I always test out the inline CTA as similar to whatever the main button call to action is within the email. And then I take a look at from an A/B testing standpoint, I see what’s resonating more with my recipients. And that’s how I make a judgment call for the, maybe perhaps even the next email set to send in, in that holistic campaign.

[00:34:23] LaShanda Jackson: I would definitely agree with Kendra on that. We tend to use the CTA button as the primary purpose or like what action are we If we didn’t do anything else, what action are we trying to drive? And we use the button for that. People may not necessarily read the entire email. And so that’s the reason why we prioritize the CTA button.

[00:34:45] But then there may be additional things if somebody’s interested about a topic that we will use inline CTAs.

[00:34:53] Rachel Moore: Excellent. All right. I have a question here. How do we feel AI? We’ll change e marketing in the future. Who wants to go with that one first?

[00:35:02] Ghazwan Almoazen: I can go. It’s already here. It’s already changing. So it’s not in the future. We’ll all be leveraging that, whether it’s like content creation for emails or subject line, or just making sure that we are optimizing our email to the best we could.

[00:35:16] Obviously we’re still going to need to use our brain and good judgment about the content of the email. If it makes sense, because we don’t want to overdo it and overkill, but definitely it helps a lot generate tons of excitement and tons of great call to attention, maybe to the emails that as we build them for sure.

[00:35:33] LaShanda Jackson: Yeah, I would say at Intuit at large, so Mailchimp is a part of Intuit, AI, we’re embracing it. I know that there’s a lot of nervousness around it. What’s going to happen to my role? I would say in terms of our products, what we find is that markers can use it in a more effective way.

[00:35:52] I believe it’s still in beta, but I know there’s an option for you to actually write your email. So you can use AI to write your email which is amazing. And subject line, all of that using MailChimp. So if somebody has a website or they can actually take a product and say, and give the prompts.

[00:36:10] I would say embrace it because our time is super valuable, but it doesn’t mean do it and then, just send it out. You still have to provide value in the terms of making sure that you’re not sending something out where it’s been copied from something else.

[00:36:26] So it still requires a human, but I would say if it helps you to save time and be more effective, then embrace it and have a better quality of life. Because we know as event marketers, we work 24 7.

[00:36:39] Rachel Moore: Very good.

[00:36:41] Kendra Ellis: I would fully agree with that. And from my standpoint, I think that using AI to enhance what you as event marketers or marketers in general, really use it to enhance your work, not to do your work. My perspective, anyway.

[00:36:57] Rachel Moore: Absolutely. Great tips all around.

[00:37:00] Any tips or advice for email marketing when it comes to higher ed, while they’re not necessarily a B2C in the traditional sense, email marketing to students and potential students for colleges or universities plays a huge role in their engagement and investment registration. Didn’t know if anyone here on our panel, any advice for that particular question.

[00:37:18] LaShanda Jackson: I wouldn’t necessarily say that I spend a lot of time marketing for higher ed, but I do think that there are some of the best practices that you still can take if you think about If you’re trying to boost admissions, perhaps you’re also getting your alumni to provide more donations.

[00:37:33] There’s a number of use cases, but I would say that in terms of a lot of the things that we’re covering today, I think there’s still best practices that you can employ in terms of, making sure that your emails are reaching the intended audience. Making sure that you’re segmenting your list, doing A/B testing just to make sure you know that, to, to send the email that is actually performing, that type of thing.

[00:37:57] I do think that a lot of this is very transferable to your practice.

[00:38:01] Ghazwan Almoazen: One quick thing I would add to that, definitely don’t be afraid to make it with your email educational in a sense that for example, DocuSign University courses, it’s part of Momentum event that we run. So when we promoted those courses, we made sure that we are descriptive of all the sessions that we’re having all the courses, the benefit, the certification and everything that the customers will benefit from attending those classes and courses.

[00:38:26] So it might be a little bit lengthy than usual email, but that’s fine. But this unexpected. In the course of learning about your offering from this educational email that you are sending.

[00:38:38] Kendra Ellis: Just to add to that as someone who has spent some time strategizing for higher education clients, hitting on the primary pain points of students today, whether they be trad students or graduate level students, it’s really hitting on those pain points in terms of how am I going to pay for this? What is the outcome that I’m going to get after achieving this type of education, whether it be trad again or grad school? A lot of times I see the highest engagement when you’re focused on those specific pain points.

[00:39:11] How am I going to pay for it? What’s going to happen after it? How does your program help me along the way? So while I’m in the program, what does that look like? People just really want to have a very clear picture. Education, especially higher education, is very expensive. And with these new FASFA changes that are happening, a lot of students or prospective students don’t know what they’re going to encompass when they go to apply, when they go to enroll.

[00:39:36] And so that decision has become even more important to them in making it. The right decision for them. So alleviating any question on their end is going to help you take them across the finish line to application.

[00:39:51] Rachel Moore: Wow. Great. Great advice. Thank you all for addressing that.

[00:39:54] Can you speak to additional best practices specifically to helping unsubscribe rates, but one last best practice that you would offer each one. LaShanda, I’ll let you go first.

[00:40:03] LaShanda Jackson: Oh, wow. I have unsubscriber in my mind. So I would say just to really focus on personalizing your communications. We talked about segmentation. If there is any data that you’ve collected from your audience, personalizing your communications as Ghazwan mentioned.

[00:40:20] More than just their first name, there’s something they were interested in where people and we forget that sometimes. And so that human element of personalizing it for them, I think, would be very helpful.

[00:40:33] Kendra Ellis: Yes. And just to expand right person, right time, right message.

[00:40:37] Definitely. I’m going to go up and go to more of a macro level with my best practice, your other marketers your sales team, your customer support team. Y’all have to band together on your CRM, your data quality, and doesn’t matter if you’re segmenting your list, if your data quality isn’t there, you’re not going to get those engagement rates because you’re not even going to get through the front door. So really work together as one cohesive team to make sure that your data quality in your CRM database is reliable. Because all of that is going to affect your engagement rates, your data driven story, how you make decisions in future campaigns.

[00:41:14] And so my one best practice tip is work together to make sure that your data quality is there.

[00:41:19] Rachel Moore: Great. Ghazwan, bring us home with yours.

[00:41:22] Ghazwan Almoazen: Absolutely agree with both Kendra and LaShanda. I would add if your content is king, data is the queen. Helps you all the time tell the story and identify what’s happening in the engagement and promotions in general, how people are reacting, all these messages that you are sending them on all these channels.

[00:41:40] And I also want to mention there is this Google conference event that happens yearly, like a two day event where it’s filled with amazing tips for email marketing. Make sure that I attend that every year. It has lots of cutting edge tips and successes and success stories for email marketing. And so definitely make sure that you join that event as well.

[00:41:19] Rachel Moore: Thanks again to Kendra Ellis, LaShanda Jackson, and Ghazwan Almoazen for sharing their expertise with us! And thank you for listening. 

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