When it comes to heightening anticipation and boosting registration for an upcoming event, email marketing can be a powerful tool. But many organizers don’t make effective use of the strategies that could help them connect with the right audience and ensure participation, according to a new report from Eventbrite, the event-technology platform.
The 2017 Event Email Benchmarking Report makes a compelling case: Ninety-one percent of people check their email every day, and 43 percent of all ticket sales can be attributed
to its use — meaning email is a direct conduit for delivering messages about the importance of a conference or other event.
But organizers who regularly use email often fail to look closely at their own data, don’t test different strategies, or alienate recipients with ineffectual techniques, said Sheena Sharma, senior channel marketing manager for Eventbrite, which powered 2.5 million events last year. “Email is one of the biggest ways to reach out to an audience,” Sharma said. “But it’s often something people don’t spend that much time on.”
Eventbrite surveyed more than 340 event organizers in the United States and the United Kingdom; 51 percent were organizers of meetings, conferences, and other professional events. More than anything, the report stresses the importance of data when using email effectively. You should know your open rates (the percentage of recipients who viewed your emails), click-through rates (the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your emails, com-pared to the total number of messages
delivered), and conversion rates (the percentage of recipients who clicked your email link and completed an action, such as registering for a conference), among other metrics. Then, use that information:
Experiment with everything from subject-line wording and frequency of emails to the day of the week they go out. Emails about professional events do better on weekdays, according to the report; Wednesday is the most popular day for sending them. Timing of email communications should be thoughtful and deliberate. “You shouldn’t send three in one week and then none later,” Sharma said. “If you don’t have a regular cadence, you can annoy people.”
MIND YOUR METRICS
Other mis-takes? Getting too focused on some of the efficiency metrics, like open rates or click-through rates, instead of looking at conversions or spending time grow-ing an email list to reach more people. Metrics like unsubscribe rates can also provide clues to success. And you can measure your success with A/B test-ing — using two different subject lines for two different groups of recipients, to see which one performs better.
Email marketing plays a different role when it comes to business events versus, say, musical concerts, Sharma said. Thinking ahead is critical. “You don’t start emailing a month before the conference,” Sharma said. “You should be thinking about a six- to eight-month program” — to give potential attendees time to make travel plans. Your email campaign could include an event recap from the previous year’s meeting, or use content from past events to boost excitement for an upcoming conference. This can be particularly useful if you haven’t decided on speakers or topics yet. Organizers should make sure to send emails with location and date of a convention or meeting well in advance.
Not every email should be about selling tickets or getting immediate registrations, Sharma said. It’s important for your communications to add value. That might mean including short video clips of powerful keynote speeches from past events, or engaging graphics that highlight important statistics from your industry. And you can offer language to help attendees justify the expense of an event. “If a manager is thinking about their training budget and how an event ﬁts in,” Sharma said, “give them language to get approval for it.” › MORE, MORE, MORE The Eventbrite report also contains suggestions for improving the power of your email punch. Adding more links to an email can improve the click-through rate, including a relevant, eye-catching image can make an impression, and offering a customized email frequency schedule can help lower unsubscribe rates. “People are not spending enough time on email marketing,” Sharma said. “It’s an important piece of the suite of digital marketing.”