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Email marketing essentials: A guide for event marketers
Email Marketing

Email marketing essentials: A guide for event marketers

Getting the hang of email marketing might feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you're just starting out. The good news is, you don't need a rocket science degree to make email marketing work for you.

Kait Huziak
May 17, 2024

Getting the hang of email marketing might feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you're just starting out. Whether your roster is jam-packed with events throughout the year or you're gearing up for that one big annual show, many event marketers find themselves figuring things out as they go.

The good news is, you don't need a rocket science degree to make email marketing work for you. There are some baseline strategies that can help you build excitement and connect with your fans.

It doesn't matter if you're new to the email marketing game or you’re a seasoned pro looking to refine your approach. This guide pulls back the curtain on email marketing essentials to provide you with actionable steps to ensure your emails hit the right chords, resonate with your subscribers, and set the stage for successful events.

Email marketing 101 for events

Follow these fundamental steps to get started building your own email marketing playbook. They lay the groundwork for creating email marketing campaigns that crack the code on driving more attendees from their inboxes to the front row.

Choose the right email service provider

Choosing the right email service provider (ESP) is like picking the perfect ingredient for a recipe. Similar to how the right ingredient enhances the flavor of a dish, the right ESP can improve the success of your email campaigns. An ESP can help you send emails with more targeted precision, track their performance, and ensure your messages are sent to the right people.

When looking for an ESP that suits your needs, be sure to ask about their features for:

  • Managing contacts and data to gain detailed customer profiles to create more targeted campaigns.
  • Automating campaigns to schedule emails in advance, send personalized messages, and make your job more efficient. 
  • Creating web forms so you can gather data and grow your subscriber list.
  • Measuring campaign performance to help you understand what’s working and what you might need to adjust for future campaigns.
  • Responsive design to ensure your emails are easily readable and visually appealing on different devices.  
  • Connecting with other tools and apps to help simplify your marketing efforts and ensure consistency across platforms.

All of these capabilities are going to play a vital role in your email marketing success.

Build a targeted email list

A targeted email list is your foundation for creating a direct line of communication with your audience, understanding their preferences, and ultimately driving higher attendance and engagement for your events.

Some of the most popular and easiest ways to collect email addresses include:

  • Ticket purchases
  • Presale or VIP access registrations 
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Website pop-ups

By combining a variety of collection tactics, you’ll be able to build a diverse and engaged email list for your events.

Use personalization and segmentation

Before we dive into the details of personalization and segmentation, let's take a step back to understand what these strategies mean:

  • Personalization: When you tailor your content to match someone's specific interests or traits, making it more relevant and interesting for them.
  • Segmentation: It's like putting your customers into different groups based on shared characteristics. This way, you can send specific messages to each group.

When done together, your emails will give off that VIP touch, which boosts the chances of your subscribers actually opening, reading, and acting on them.

What does this look like in practice? Let's say you need to promote a music festival. Personalization might mean using the person's name and talking about their favorite music genre. Segmentation is when you split your email list into groups like "Rock Fans," "EDM Enthusiasts," and "Hip Hop Lovers." So, when you send festival emails, each group gets details about the artists and events they care about most. 

An example of what subscriber information and filters can be used for segmentation and personalization.

Share compelling content

Creating click-worthy content as an event marketer involves capturing the attention and interest of your fans while providing value and building excitement for your events. The key is to keep your emails focused, engaging, and tailored to your audience. 

Whether it's providing details about upcoming events, artist lineups, special offers, or exclusive content, each email should contribute to the overall excitement and success of your event.

Create visually appealing emails

When emails are designed well, they have the ability to grab people's attention, make your message more memorable, and encourage them to explore what you have to offer. Doing this right means creating emails that not only look good, but also get the information across clearly, and match the style and excitement of your event.

Using high-quality visuals, clear and consistent branding, and concise messaging is a good place to start. And since a lot of folks check emails on their phones, you’ll also want to make sure your emails look good on those small screens with responsive web design. 

Comply with regulations

If your subscriber list covers a North American audience, it's crucial to know and follow a few email regulations to keep things legal and above board:

Even though these regulations might sound a bit intense, complying with them mostly means making sure your emails have easy options for unsubscribe links and subscription preferences. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with email regulations and to stay in the loop as they evolve. Ignoring them could mean legal trouble, getting your emails flagged as spam, and hurting your brand’s reputation.

Use automation for timely communication

Email marketing is about staying connected with your fans throughout the entire event journey, from the initial announcement to post-event engagement. Instead of handling everything manually, you can make your event promotions more efficient and organized by using automated email campaigns.

From presale announcements to lineup reveals, post-event surveys, and more, automation means your subscribers get the details they need at just the right moments, without you having to do it all yourself. To send personalized emails that enhance the attendee experience, boost ticket sales, and contribute to the overall success of your events, automation allows you to customize email experiences based on certain factors, such as:

  • Triggers: Start sending emails when your subscribers do certain things, like filling out a form or buying a ticket.
  • Delays/wait times: Put intentional breaks between emails so you're in touch but not overwhelming your fans with messages.
  • Conditional splits: Change the email journey based on what your subscribers do. For example, if you email about a presale, you can send different follow-ups for those who bought tickets and those who didn't.
An example of an automated email path using triggers and delays.

Optimize emails for deliverability

Making sure your emails end up in your subscribers' inboxes involves more than just hitting the send button. Welcome to the world of deliverability. 

In simple terms, email deliverability is all about taking certain measures to make sure the emails you send actually show up in your subscribers' inboxes, instead of disappearing into the void or getting flagged as spam. Good email deliverability means your messages are making it to the people you want to talk to.

Fortunately, a couple of the steps to boost email deliverability overlap with some of what we have already covered. With that in mind, you’ll also want to: 

  • Ensure you’re using your brand’s email address and a sender name that fits your message
  • Avoid spam triggers in your content, such as using excessive all caps, too many exclamation points, or misleading subject lines
  • Regularly clean your email list to remove inactive or unengaged subscribers

Track and analyze performance

Last but not least, don't forget to keep an eye on how well your email campaigns are doing. Regularly tracking important metrics allows you to better understand subscriber behavior, figure out what's working well, and refine your strategy for future events. Here are some key metrics to watch:

  • Open rate: How many people are opening your emails. Traditionally, a 15% to 25% open rate or higher is considered successful. However, a new Apple iOs update prevents this kind of tracking, so take this metric with a grain of salt. 
  • Click-through rate (CTR): The rate at which people are clicking on one or more links in your emails. Try for emails with a 2% to 5% CTR or higher. 
  • Conversion rate: How many of those clicks turn into action, like buying tickets or signing up for presale access. A conversion rate of 1% to 5% or more is great.
  • Bounce rate: The number of emails that don't make it to the inbox. Aim for 2% or lower on your bounce rate.
  • Unsubscribe rate: How many people decide to stop getting your emails. Try to keep your unsubscribe rate below 0.5%.
  • Email list growth rate: How fast your email list is growing. A 1% to 5% list growth is considered healthy.

Now that you’ve got the hang of the core email marketing tactics, you’re ready to take your email efforts to the next level. By consistently applying these strategies in your campaigns, you should notice positive changes over time. To accurately gauge the success of your efforts, be sure to compare your email metrics before and after implementing these strategies. This way, you can see the overall improvement in your email program.

Related: Ultimate email campaign pre-send checklist