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How to use email marketing to explode event attendance

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How to use email marketing to explode event attendance

How To Use Email Marketing To Explode Event Attendance

Are you running events? It's a great way to promote your business or nonprofit.


No matter what type of event that you run, you need a cost effective way to get your attendees to come.

The great news is the more often you have events, the easier it will be to get attendees at future events.

​In this guide, we will explore ways to utilize email marketing to get more people to attend your events.

I've hosted dozes of events the past 5 years as part of my partnership with Constant Contact.


I've also hosted several events for Toastmasters. In 2013, when I was Public Relations Director for Toastmasters District 40, I actually promoted and hosted an event that broke a 20 year old attendance record!


So, yeah, I may know a thing or two about this topic. There are 2 keys you need to understand when promoting an event with email marketing.​ Those keys are: relevance of your emails to your audience and frequency of your email promotion.


It doesn't matter if this is a paid gig, nonprofit fundraiser, or ​a free church meet and greet. These rules all apply. Let's examine each one in depth.


​Because there are a lot of lessons to be learned about promoting events with email marketing, this post has been broken down into two seperate parts.


Click here to read about relevance

Click here to read about frequency

Who is your audience


If you are promoting events through email marketing, relevance is incredibly important. If your subscriber doesn't see value in your emails, they will unsubscribe. They will not find out about later events that actually ARE relevant to their interests. Even worse, if it's really irrelevant, they may share a bad word on social media or one of the various review websites.​


There are two types of relevance to be aware of and the solution is the same: segmentation.


Audience Relevance​

The first type of relevance is audience relevance.


For example, say you are running events for the YMCA. Your audience is every member of the YMCA and all potential members. All ages are represented.


Should you tell everybody about every single event?


No, you shouldn't.


Here's the problem.


The senior citizens will tune you out for things that aren't relevant to them.


The teens will tune you out for the senior events.


Pretty soon, both will get annoyed and tune you out for everything.


In other words, only send the senior citizen activity promotion to the senior citizens.


Only send the teen promotion to the teens.


How To Segment Your Email List​


There are a few ways to segment like this.


For example, you can segment by leveraging your attendee list. If they came to the event before, they will come again.


You could also segment your email list through your sign up process. Simply ASK your subscriber what types of events they want to hear about and only tell them about those.



Need help setting this up? Click here to sign up for one of my done for you email marketing and consulting packages.​




Location Relevance

Next, let's look at location relevance.


What is location relevance anyway?


Location relevance is sending event emails where there's a probability of the user being close enough physically to attend the event.


People don't get upset when being invited to an event. People get upset when they are invited to an irrelevant event.


For example, one time one of my LinkedIn connections sent me an email invite to a networking event.


Sounds good, right?


Except the event was that night and in London! 


I'm in Dayton, Ohio.


Needless to say, I was very annoyed, especially after this happened multiple times.


I ended up unsubscribing from this person's email list and blocking the connection on LinkedIn.


Not the response he was after.


However, I've gotten invites to an event in Fiji before and was ok with it. Hey, it's Fiji. I'm going to open the email to see the photos. 

The Fiji invite was for a weeklong retreat with world class speakers. Even though I didn't have the budget for the event at that time, there was a possibility that I would be interested in attending.


That's location relevance in action.


Here's the key. Split up your list. Tag by location. Only invite people who are close enough to reasonably be able to go.


If not, you will have a lot of upset readers.


How To Segment Your List By Location​

There are a few ways to do this.


Like I mentioned above, one way to segment your list by location is to leverage your past attendee list.​ If they attended before, they will most likely attend again.


Just like with audience relevance, you can ask the subscriber during the sign up process what event locations they want to know about.​


You can also segment by location by using phone numbers. Create a field in your Excel spreadsheet for phone numbers and upload the your contact list again. 


Create tags by the area code and only send the relevant events to people in that area code.


It's certainly not perfect because sometimes people will move and keep an old phone number but it's better than no segmentation at all. ​



What About Statewide Events​?

Some things are pretty obvious when you are tagging by location. Some are not.


It's not always obvious how far people are willing to drive for your event.


I've seen this situation quite a bit with my event promotions with Toastmasters and other statewide nonprofit organizations.​


If the event is a free lunch 3000 miles away, the people on the other side of the country probably won't come.


But what about events in nearby cities? You know that some people are willing to drive that hour or two for an event and most people aren't.


I've found that the best way to get around this is to start out the month listing the entire event list for the entire state. In other words, an email with a master calendar.


As each individual event draws closer, send reminder emails to people who are most likely to attend, the people in the city of the event.


When the travelers show up, add them to the list for that particular city. Now, you can market to them more aggressively the next time.


Click here to read part 2 of this post: frequency

Constant Contact partner and LinkedIn expert.

Author of Mr. Leads LinkedIn Bootcamp