Article first published May 2012, updated April 2019
We often get asked about the best way to share calendar events via email so subscribers can book them in and create alerts in desktop and web calendars like iCal, Outlook, or Google Calendar.
Digital Calendars: How to Send Calendar Invites and Never Miss an Event
With the variety of apps available comes confusion as to what the best way is to go about sharing an event. Do you link to a file? A .vcs? How about Google Calendar?
Sharing an .ics file is not always as easy as you think
Exporting from iCalFirst up, it’s easy to mix up vCalendar’s .vcs with iCalendar’s .ics files. The iCalendar file format has largely superseded vCalendar and is supported across pretty much all the major calendar apps. So this is what we recommend you use. It’s also pretty easy to export events from calendar apps like iCal (pictured) and Outlook.
The issue then lies with hosting your .ics file on a server.
Only servers that support the WebDAV protocol play nicely with the sharing of calendar files. If you’re in doubt, ask your tech team.
If your server doesn’t support WebDAV, all you will see is the raw text innards of the .ics file when you try to load it. Even when hosted on a server without WebDAV support, you can use the URL in your campaign and prompt your subscribers to “Download linked file…” or “Save As…” to grab the .ics from their email client, but this seems a little messy.
After reading about these file format and server config peculiarities, you’re probably getting an idea as to why Google Calendar is so popular.
Google Calendar for the win… But not for everyone
What’s much easier is using Google’s “Event Publisher Guide” to create standalone events that can be added to a Google Calendar in the browser.
The downside is that not everyone has a Google Calendar account, so also serving an .ics is somewhat of a necessary evil. It’s also why web-based scheduling and event apps are so common.
The bottom line when it comes to sharing and adding individual calendar events via email is that you need to provide at least two options (in our case, both an .ics hosted on server that supports WebDAV and a Google Calendar event).
How do I create a link to a calendar invite?
Although iCal can be complicated if your hosting server is being finicky, it is good to know how to create a calendar link and how they can be shared with others via email.
Google Calendar is the same way. Here’s how to send a calendar invite with both iCal and Google Calendar:
iCal Calendar Event Link
First, go into your iCal account and double click on the day of your event to create a new event.
After you’re done putting in all your event details, there is a space for you to “add invitees.”
Here, you will be able to insert your invitees.
If your invitees have an iCal account set up, you will be able to see their availability and information they put into their account. The request will then go straight into their iCal app.
If your invitees don’t have an iCal account, the event will go through as an email request.
To mail the event link to the attendees that don’t come up on iCal, simply right-click on the event and click “Mail Event.”
The event will then come up in your email as a link attachment.
Viola, iCal link sent!
Feel free to visit iCal’s support website to get more tips on how to send calendar invites and utilize all the helpful effects of iCal.
Google Calendar Event Link
Google Calendar is similar to iCal: Go in, make an event, add in your details, share with your invitees, and an email will be sent to them.
Except, instead of hitting invitees being automatically on the event detail pop up, you have to click “More Options” to insert invitee information.
Your interface will look a little different after you select the “more options” button. You’ll be taken to another screen where you can input in all your information, including your invitee information.
From here, guests will get an email invite if they have Google Calendar or not. Even if they don’t use Google Calendar, they will be able to input the event into whatever platform they choose based on the email invite.
Inviting groups with an email link
If you’re trying to add more than one person to your event, that’s okay too.
Follow these same steps and, instead of adding one person, add two, three, or twelve.
Most digital calendar platforms follow this format of adding information, invitees, and then sending them the appropriate event information. For example, if you use Outlook calendar and you’re questioning how to add the event to a shared outlook calendar, it’s a similar format: Click, insert, add invitees, send.
Now that you know how digital calendars work and how to create links to send in emails, you can integrate them with your email campaigns with us here at Campaign Monitor.
Go ahead and make “forward to a friend” pages, place calendar widgets in your email campaigns with our builder template features, and connect your calendar apps to your Campaign Monitor accounts so you never miss an event even when it comes via email.