Email marketing represents a big opportunity to drive event attendance and encourage engagement. As a platform for communication, it remains king across all generations. The recent Association Audience & Member Engagement Study shows that 56% or more of Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and Matures prefer email over any other channel. If you’re getting just ho hum results from your email, you’re missing out. Here are seven proven strategies to improve your email marketing to get attention, drive event attendance, and build lasting engagement.
1. Relevant Messaging
Effective messaging has only one specific trigger and one target per email. Triggers include your products, events, and special offers. Targets are whatever you want your members to do, like register for an event or make a purchase. Choose triggers and targets based on what you know about your audience and where they are in the buying cycle. Avoid blasting your audience with too many offers at once because people will get lost in the clutter and won’t take any action. Mastering triggers and targets drives acquisition, retention, attendance, and engagement.
2. Distinct Brand Voice
Developing a distinct and unique brand voice is essential to effective engagement marketing, in your emails and across all your platforms. Try a conversational, human tone to best reach members. It should be authentic and approachable. From there, neuroscience tell us that stories inspire more than facts. Consider adding curated attendee stories to your engagement marketing mix.
3. Free Resources
A little extra insight goes a long way when it comes to email marketing. We use www.subjectline.com to test the effectiveness of email subject lines before hitting send. We also use World Data’s B2B and B2C Email Marketing Calendar to identify top performing dates as well as the poor performing ones to avoid. For instance, the calendar suggests you should avoid sending promotional emails on Mondays and Fridays, when readership tends to be low.
4. Email Marketing Automation and Email Service Provider (ESP)
The Association Audience & Member Engagement Study shows that 72% of event marketers see email marketing automation as either extremely important or very important. However, many fall short in using automation to its full potential to generate, track, and score leads. Seize this huge opportunity by investing in improved email automation. (We’ll show you how!) Additionally, if you aren’t already using an email service provider—start today. An ESP can help you create, schedule, personalize, and track your campaigns more effectively than your in-house email system. It can also send a larger volume.
5. High-Quality List
Without a high-quality list, even the best marketers will see poor email results. Take a look at the date contacts were added to your list, the size of your list, and the number of opens and clicks. You could be experiencing poor deliverability if your email addresses are very old or if contacts haven’t opened one of your messages in six months or more.
If your list is too small, you might also be falling short of your full potential. To increase your email list, consider purchasing a list from a trusted provider. The best lists, however, are those you create yourself using one of these methods:
- create lookalike audiences within Facebook and target ads to them
- encourage current subscribers to share with friends and colleagues
- offer freebies such as an e-book, whitepaper and webinars on your website in exchange for email addresses
When building your list, keep in mind that it is always easier to engage someone who already knows about you or is interested in what your organization offers. Think about it: It’s easier to sell salad dressing to someone who already eats salad!
Creating smaller, specific lists from your larger database is a proven best practice for more effective marketing. Segmentation allows you to send relevant messages to different audience members depending on their unique situations. You could segment based on any number of factors, but here are a few ideas relevant to event marketers:
- last year’s attendees
- members who have never attended
- lapsed attendees (members who attended in years past but haven’t attended recently)
Once you establish your segments, you should tailor the language of your message to appeal to each segment.
7. Optimal Structure
Images, graphics, and a responsive layout can affect open and click-through rates—which are directly related to member engagement, brand loyalty, and event attendance. It’s a good strategy to start with a white background and a one-column format for your content area. Add compelling images to draw attention, and embed videos for increased engagement. Consider creating a standard masthead for your event to connect the dots among messages. For a more effective call to action, use graphics instead of hyperlinks.
No matter the content, it is absolutely essential that you create an adaptive and responsive email for a range of technology outlets. This will ensure that your message is powerful and professional whether a prospect views it on a desktop, phone, or tablet.
When done well, engagement marketing means connecting in relevant, meaningful, interesting ways with audiences who want to hear from you. If you can pull this off (and you can!) everything changes.* Not only will attendance and membership increase but members will be more engaged. People will put down their phones, they’ll be truly present, they’ll connect meaningfully with like-minded colleagues, and together they’ll dig in to make things happen for your organization. Your email marketing is a key component in driving this deep engagement before and during your event and all year long.
“Engagement Marketing 101 (Redux)”, Marketing Daily, April 18, 2012
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