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How email marketing can help cure an event marketer’s biggest fear


In the May issue of IAEE’s Newsline Dave Egan asks: “What if you held a show and nobody came?”. That is without doubt, the biggest fear of an event marketer. Wisely relying on the expertise of Wendy Holliday, VP of Attendee Acquisition & Experience with Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, Dave recounts Wendy’s tips:

  • Watch out for the repeat “no-shows” but don’t write them off
  • Help match the registrant’s interests to what you offer with specific suggestions
  • Highlight the show-only deals
  • Promote education and networking opportunities – the top two reasons people attend events
  • Don’t inundate people with multiple offers all at once

Putting this into practice could be easier than you think with the help of email marketing. Let’s translate Wendy’s advice into specific email tactics for event marketers.

1. Dealing with the “no-shows”

The right reporting tools should help you identify people with these tendencies, by filtering contacts who register for your event, but don’t engage with any subsequent emails about it. And if you have more than one event in your portfolio, you can map their behavior across different events to identify potential causes.

Consider these people as simply requiring more nurture: they need a quick and easy explanation of the benefits of attending, and what they’ll miss if they don’t attend. And don’t be afraid to resend an email to non-openers, testing a different send time or subject line. The Economist revealed that 50% of its events revenue is now driven by a new way of working that has their audience engaged with their events long before they happen.

2. Matching interests with offers

With the use of an explicit preference center, or by deducing preferences from the job titles of registrants, you should be able to suggest specific areas of interest. Make it easy for registrants to narrow down a potentially intimidating list of options and choose effectively. Be sure to measure and test to make sure your assumptions are correct.

Internet Retailing used a similar strategy to engage registrants, making their event a success.

3. Highlight show-only deals

If you have deals that are exclusive to the event, create a buzz around them by sharing them on your social channels and in your email campaigns. You can inspire popularity and urgency by using specific numbers related to aspects like total bookings, spots left, or days left to register. There’s nothing like FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to get people to take action.

4. Promote education and networking opportunities

Make sure you shout about them loud and clear, and reinforce their value by including testimonials from previous attendees about how the event improved their professional lives. This will help the registrant identify what’s in it for them. As with the previous tip on preferences, select specific testimonials drawing on what you know about the registrant.  And always test, measure, rinse, and repeat!

5. Plan your marketing communication over time

Finally, use your email marketing tool’s automation functionality to message your registrant across your best interpretation of their lifecycle. There’s no need to inundate them with one or two messages that fit everyone. Let your automation tool do the heavy lifting. It might need a bit more work upfront to design the campaigns and create a strategic program, but the rewards won’t be slow to show. Particularly as the event approaches, and registrations climb.

Drawing from Wendy’s helpful advice and applying these proven email marketing tactics can keep you from waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering: what if nobody shows up?

Let email marketing help you, and have a great event!

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