While there’s the glamorous “champagne and canapes” side of organizing events, everyone who has planned a gathering of any size knows that the majority of the work is exactly that – work. With a million moving parts to coordinate, it’s easy to forget that events are about community and connection, not just mixing up spreadsheets.
That said, with a little planning and by choosing the right tools, you can eliminate much of the “busy work” that comes with events marketing and logistics. Following our successful “Future of Email Marketing” event in London, we’d like to share some of the tips and tricks that we learnt from coordinating this event from start to finish.
The 3 email marketing stages for events
First of all, the purpose of this post is not to tell you how to run your events marketing. For a great, visual primer on this, I can recommend CoSchedule’s “Everything You Need To Know for the Perfect Marketing Plan“. Instead, we’re going to talk about unifying your attendee data, then using it to add relevance to your email marketing – and drive engagement.
There are 3 stages in which email marketing can enhance your event, being:
- During the event
- After the event
At each stage, there are very specific objectives you’ll wish to fulfill. Let’s go through these objectives, see how email (and a few friendly integrations) can help.
How you market your event, manage registrations and organize data during this phase of the event strategy has far-reaching implications – so it’s worth your while to do the research and get it right. Some of your goals during this phase may be to (with props to CoSchedule):
- Let your audience know about your event
- Get them excited enough to register and tell others
- Keep your audience updated on the event so they feel in the know
- Help your audience remain excited about the event
The great thing is that email can be a massive driver for all these activities – however, when you’re sending invites and reminders to over 6,000 people like we were, it’s likely you’ll get your fair share responses. How do you manage these?
Off the bat, it’s important to choose an events management platform, or use some kind of registration mechanism that syncs with your marketing tools. Having to export your data constantly can be a huge hassle – and prone to error. For example, let’s say you have a list of customers that have opted-in to receive information about your event. You email them an invitation and while most RSVP via a registration site, others email you personally, meaning you have to add or change RSVPs manually. You also need this information current so you can send event reminders (or manage a waitlist)… As you can imagine, it can all get very messy.
This is where integrations can come in very handy. Using Eventbrite and Campaign Monitor, plus Zapier to link the two, you can keep registrant information current between your registration site and email subscriber lists, without having to manually export data. For simpler registration forms, Wufoo is a great choice and features a built-in integration with Campaign Monitor. Soon, you’ll be able to collect RSVPs with GetFeedback and have these responses sync with your subscriber list, too.
By and large, you’ll be likely collecting quite a bit of information on event attendees, beyond what you already had when you started marketing the event. Information like job titles, dietary requirements and more can be used to personalize your email campaigns – and help you plan for a successful event. However, it’s important that this information be kept current across all your apps – and integrations can help you do just that.
During the event
Sending email campaigns during the event, you say? While some people might choose to have a bit of fun “live-emailing” attendees as part of live polls or giveaways, the main reason why you’ll likely want to think about email marketing during the event is when you’re marking off attendees during event check-in, with the goal of sending up personalized campaigns afterwards. If you can sync RSVP information with your email subscriber list, all the better – especially if you’re planning to send follow-up emails very soon after the event concludes.
After the event
It’s easy to wrap up a successful event and feel like your job is over after you help polish off the last plate of petit fours. However, after the event is when email marketing really shines – this is your chance to get testimonials, collect feedback, drive signups and reinforce your brand, months and weeks after the event itself.
Remember how we mentioned marking off who attended the event and who didn’t during the event check-in process? This information is super-useful for making sure that you send the right messages to these groups alike. For example, sending a feedback survey to people who didn’t attend, asking them to rate the speakers is only asking for negative responses, especially if there were external reasons for not making it in, like the event venue being at capacity.
However, once you have attendees and non-attendees organized into two or more neat segments, then you can start collecting feedback and providing follow-up resources to these groups, with the goal of driving action (such as getting product signups) and making reiterating your brand’s message.
Following “The Future of Email Marketing” event, we really benefited from being able to identify survey responses collected by email address. This allowed us to follow up with attendees personally where necessary – and by passing custom field information to GetFeedback (which we used for the surveys), we saved our attendees the effort of having to answer even more information on themselves that was necessary. It’s an integrated approach that can really streamline your feedback collection.
Now, let’s party!
As it turned out, we didn’t have a totally original process here; our friends and Salesforce integration partners Beaufort 12 recommended a similar process of integrating apps to manage their events and email marketing, in the lead up to the holiday party season. Now we’ve shared our process, we’d love to hear from you – what’s your workflow for taking the busy work out of planning and managing events? Let us know in the comments below.