Using e-mail to promote conferences and events

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E-mail is one of the most popular ways for b-to-b marketers to publicize conferences or other events they’re hosting or attending. But to make sure customers and prospects learn about relevant events, marketers should gather user profile data on a regular basis and use it to target e-mail messages appropriately, said Tara Lamberson, VP-marketing at MindComet, an Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based interactive agency.

“It’s all about relevancy,” Lamberson said. “The more targeted your e-mails, the better chance you have of attracting [recipients’] interest in your upcoming event.”

Here are some tips she offered to make the most of your event-oriented e-mail campaigns.

1) Make sure the right people get invited to events they’d care about. If you already have established groups of people who come to conferences, e-mail is a great way to retain those attendees and give them information about upcoming seminars or conferences, Lamberson said.

If you’re just beginning to gather subscriber data, use surveys to determine what kinds of events customers and prospects would be interested in. Tapping advanced relationship marketing and behavioral targeting also can provide intuitive recommendations for relevancy, she said.

In addition, marketers are moving away from sending long newsletters listing upcoming events for the month or quarter, Lamberson said. “Marketers assumed the user would scroll through and pick the one that’s relevant for them,” she said. “The trend now is to send a targeted communication that has only two events instead of 10 to a customer who might be more likely to check them out.”

2) Timing matters. Marketers that send messaging out too far in advance run the risk of participants forgetting about the event. But if there’s too short a window, there’s a strong likelihood the e-mail recipient won’t attend, Lamberson said.

If the event is offline and participants need to book travel or seek budgetary approval, Lamberson recommended sending an initial notice between six months and 90 days in advance. For online events, messaging 90 days in advance gives interested recipients enough time to put it on their calendar, she said.

Sending out reminders as the event nears is important, too. Some companies ask people who sign up when and how they’d like to receive reminders—for instance, more e-mails or a text messagemeaning texting via cell phones?.

“If a user can tell you when and how to remind them, they are more likely to attend; and they might even refer colleagues because they’re satisfied with their experience,” she said.

3) Keep event announcements concise. A short e-mail is critical, Lamberson said. The top of the message should contain a brief sentence or two describing the event. Then, use a bullet format to tell e-mail recipients why they should attend, she suggested. Add a link to another site for more detailed information, and always have a call to action in every e-mail so recipients can sign up immediately if they want to, she said.

4) Don’t focus exclusively on the acquisition end of the event. Most marketers focus all their energy—and budget—on drawing people to their company’s events. However, there’s also great value in connecting with attendees via e-mail once the conference is over, Lamberson said. She suggested sending attendees from a recent event an e-mail with a link to an online survey to provide feedback. “It’s a great way to capture quantitative data, get testimonials and find out if this kind of event is still relevant for them going forward,” she said.

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