10 mistakes event marketers are making with their email marketing

Think you're nailing your event email marketing? In our event marketers facebook group, We are Event Masters, a quick quiz revealed a whopping 80% were making at least 2 of these mistakes - EVEN though they're email marketing pros.

Email is your most valuable tool for driving registrations

Pretty much every client and brand we’ve ever worked for, reports that email is their biggest driver of registrations for their events.  It makes sense; if they’re on your list they already know you – perhaps they attended a previous event or they subscribed to a webinar series or for a free download. They’re clearly engaged and active in the space your event serves, so getting them to sign up for this year’s event is a gazillion times easier than ambushing randoms on social media and trying to distil the beauty and perfection of your event in less than 200 characters, with all the other distractions, scrolling and comedy gifs going on.

Yet, surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for email marketing campaigns for event companies to sit with their more junior team members.  Perhaps it’s because it’s seen as the easy conversion, a rinse and repeat effort of building on previous campaigns – just dig out last year’s save the date/new speakers announced/registration is open campaign, and update it with this year’s content.  And that can work to a point. 

But given it’s the engine driving your event registrations, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure you’re really nailing it, not just coasting it?  Here are 10 mistakes we see event marketers making with their email marketing (even the really experienced ones – that are spinning so many plates that they haven’t had a chance to review their email practices in some time)

  1. Dull and repetitive subject lines.

Over a third of emails are opened purely based on the subject line. This is your big chance – don’t screw it up! If you’re looking for subject line inspiration for events, we’ll be sharing a blog with our top 10 tips for subject lines for events,  in our fb group, We are Event Masters, so join here if you haven’t already.  We are Event Masters is dedicated to bringing event marketeers fresh insights, inspiration, ideas, networking, resources and tools for marketing your events effectively

2. Lack of personalization

No-one likes a schmooze-bag, so don’t get all smarmy with it, but using your recipient’s name can be powerful, and if you can personalise and target against other criteria (like buying cycle stage or product interest) so that your message is really relevant to them, that can transform your click-through-rate and therefore your registration numbers

  1. Images (that don’t get downloaded by email clients)

Newsletters with ads and banners look and feel like a sales pitch which instantly turns readers off – plus, most mail clients strip out images.  If you’re relying on a beautiful image and keeping your text short and sweet, you’re basically sending them a blank email – not very compelling.  Nowadays, plain text is your best friend

  1. Sending at the wrong times

Weekends and early mornings are surprisingly favourable send times for our events.  The big mistake is not testing the best times to send for your audience.  Email is brilliant at getting you infront of your visitors, but you still need to stand out from the noise. We’ve had some cracking results, sending emails early doors and at weekends, to catch peeps when they’re more relaxed and curious, as opposed to overwhelmed and multi-tasking.  Try it.

  1. Zero welcome sequence

We’re always flummoxed by how few event companies have anything close to an automated sequence. For most, event marketing starts at a fixed 6 month-out-from-show date, regardless of when their audience joined their lists, how they joined, where they’re at or anything remotely personalised, targeted or compelling!  An automated sequence helps you build a relationship with your potential visitors -which is more important than ever right now because virtual events in particular, demand that trust, like, credibility factor

  1. Too-small text and button sizing

Size 13 is your minimum to help mobile users easily skim through your content without having to pinch-zoom in.  Also, make sure your buttons are big enough and have sufficient spacing around them for sausage-finger-on-the-go-typing. Also, make sure they’re clear enough – contrasting colours work best

  1. No reg abandonment strategy

A bit like automated sequences- the majority of events aren’t using registration-cart abandonment tactics, despite often having the data or capability to do so.  If someone starts your reg process, they’re a hot “potential-visitor” lead.  Don’t lose them, put some tactics in place to at least harvest their email address before they go, so you can later serve them value that gets them begging to join you!

  1. Lengthy forms

Many reg forms ask for more detail than you’d need to buy a house.  Seriously? Do you really need their address?  Do you ever direct-mail them?  Those demographic questions are useful to your sales team, but they just lost you a visitor – and it’s the visitors your sales team are ultimately selling.  So, shorten it. Then shorten it a bit more

  1. No clever tagging and targeting

You’ve reduced your form, stripped out some demographic questions but you want to serve up targeted content, relevant to your visitor groups, and you’ve got less info than before to go on.  Clever email marketing uses tags to get visitors to self-select where they are in the buying cycle, what products they’re interested in etc.  We’ll be sharing how – join We are Event Masters here.

  1. Register is the only subscribe option

Most events will allow you to register at any point in the show cycle.  But if the show is some time away and the form looks lengthy there’s a good chance your audience will pass.  When your event is in the distant future, create a lead magnet and subscribe form aswell, with clearly visible contrasting buttons to attract attention. Serve up some of your best content – free downloads, a previous panel debate session that was red-hot, an eco-system map of suppliers in this sector; resources that save them time, teach them something, incite curiosity.  Make them downloadable/accessible in exchange for a name and email. Nothing more.  These goodies are for the peeps that wouldn’t bother with your long-winded registration forms, but if you give them value and then some more value through your stunning email campaign, you’ll soon win them over to register for your events.

If you’re an eventprof with marketing responsibilities, you’ll love the tips, insights, tools, case studies, sharing and networking that is happening in our facebook group right nowWe are Event Masters.  It’s free to join and full of dynamic event marketers inspiring each other with their top tips and tactics, c'mon over and check it out.

Heidi Williams is an eventprof with 20+ years’ experience in launching and running events.  Frustrated by the challenges of marketing her events and her client’s events and frustrated at the lack of insights, advice, tools and tips specifically targeted at promoting events rather than products or services, she set up We are Event Masters a facebook group dedicated to helping eventprofs with marketing responsibilities stay on top of  their game.  The group shares tips, insights, advice, recommendations and tools around effective event marketing and invites eventprofs and marketing experts to share their wins on how they achieved sold out events.

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