Resources Hub » Blog » 6 Email Marketing Tips for Virtual Association Events

This is a guest post from Fonteva.

Effective email marketing strategies are vital for associations, nonprofits, and businesses alike—especially in a time of uncertainty. Organizations everywhere are trying to stay top-of-mind for consumers, and the amount of digital clutter has only increased. That’s why walking through some top tips (and mistakes to avoid) for event marketing is crucial.

This article will provide a deeper understanding of effective email marketing tactics. You will learn how to:

  1. Personalize your messages.
  2. Leverage intriguing subject lines.
  3. Use graphic elements wisely.
  4. Establish a drip campaign.
  5. Ensure mobile-friendliness.
  6. Conclude with a clear call to action.

As a result of COVID-19, organizations across the globe have shifted to virtual events to maintain engagement levels while social distancing. However, it’s important to recognize that even once things begin to settle down and return to a “new normal,” virtual engagement will continue to be a communication strategy for associations and other organizations.

Whether you’re planning a brand new virtual event for your association, or pivoting an existing event to the virtual realm, spreading the word is crucial for the best turnout. Ready to dig in? Let’s get started.

1. Personalize your messages.

When it comes to crafting an effective marketing email, personalizing your messaging is vital. Consumers, members, and other recipients get so many emails every day that it can be too easy to slip through the cracks. To avoid this, you have to make sure your messages stand out— and personalization is a great way to go.

Here are two ideas you want to implement as you begin drafting your email copy:

  • Address recipients by name. Any effective email starts out with a personalized greeting. “Dear John,” is always going to be a better opening than “Dear member,” or worse, “To whom it may concern.” After all, this is your chance to make a first impression on the reader as they skim over your message and decide whether to engage. From the beginning, it’s important the recipient feels that it is a personal invitation to your event, rather than a blanket, pre-written message. 
  • Segment your audience. Personalization can go farther than just your greeting. Be sure your entire message is customized based on content type and relationship to each recipient. That’s where audience segmentation comes in. For event marketing outreach, you may choose to segment based on whether the recipient is registered already (you can send detailed event information) or not (send a generalized overview and an invitation). Further, you can segment based on a recipient’s previous event history as well.

Each of these tasks, while possible to complete by hand, can be streamlined by using the right email marketing software—thus saving your team time and effort to be used elsewhere. For even better results, be sure your marketing tools and CRM are fully integrated. When you start your engagement off on the right foot, your readers are more likely to respond to your marketing attempts in the way you seek.

2. Leverage intriguing subject lines.

A well-crafted subject line for your email is one of the most important elements in your entire campaign. After all, the subject line is what originally grabs (or loses) the reader’s attention even before opening the email.

If you’re overwhelmed or unsure of where to start, here are some examples of strategic subject lines to market your event:

  • Hurry! Register by midnight for 50% off your ticket price. This subject line expresses a sense of urgency and the fear of missing out which can lead to increased clicks and conversions.
  • Introducing our virtual event series: [Name of series]. This subject line makes it clear that the contents of your email include new information that the reader does not want to miss out on.
  • 7 reasons to attend our annual event. This subject line implies that the body of the email will clearly spell out a string of reasons why the reader should attend the event, which inspires the curiosity to continue reading.
  • 8 out of 10 association members want this one thing. This subject line peaks the reader’s curiosity, encouraging them to open the email and find out more. What exactly do 8 out of 10 members want? If they’re a member too, it will be relevant to them!
  • Warning: Event may cause too much fun. This subject line combines shock-value and humor to grab the recipient’s attention. Of course, the reader will want to know what kind of exciting event necessitates this type of warning.
  • [Recipient’s name], we want to see you at this event. This subject line uses personalization (as described above) to position your marketing email as an individual event invitation.

On the other hand, here are some not-so-great examples:

  • [Name of event] Association Event. Not only is this subject line bland, it gives no information about the event or even why the reader should open the email.
  • [Name of organization] weekly newsletter. If you’re trying to drive registrations for your event, this subject line will do no good. An event marketing email should be independent of any regular newsletters and demonstrate that with a unique subject line.
  • Event on [Date of event]. Stating the date of your event is not enough to convince recipients that they want to attend. What’s happening at your event that will inspire registrations?
  • Register for our event here. This subject line is simply telling the reader to register but fails to tell the reader why they should register (or even open your email in the first place!).

Writing the best email subject lines can be tricky, but it is of utmost importance for your marketing campaign to yield results. Doing some research on businesses and organizations that have seen success in their email marketing is a great way to gather inspiration and emulate effective strategies.

3. Use graphic elements wisely.

Studies show that communications containing visuals see up to 650% higher engagement levels than those solely composed of text. That’s because visual elements are a great way to grab the attention of the reader and they provide a more aesthetically pleasing experience overall.

Email campaigns should use several types of graphic content to take your messages to the next level, including: 

  • Images: Images are a classic example of graphic email content, whether it’s your own photography, stock photos, or clipart. Including pictures is a great way to brighten up your emails and increase engagement rates.
  • Videos: Video elements can be an excellent contribution to email marketing content, especially when you’re promoting events. You might include a video recap of a previous event, or a series of interviews with past attendees sharing their favorite memories and urging members to register.
  • Gifs: As a sort of combination of photo and video, gif content is a new and exciting way to grab the reader’s attention. There are plenty of pre-made gifs you can find online, or use online tools to turn your own short video clips into unique gifs!

However, visual elements can also have negative consequences when used incorrectly, as they can lead to sensory overload and distract the reader from the message in the text. Finding a solid balance between too little and too much graphic content is a great way to optimize your content for engagement.

4. Establish a drip campaign.

A drip campaign is a marketing strategy that utilizes a predetermined cadence of emails to nurture leads and eventually direct recipients toward a desired action. In this case, the action is registering for your upcoming virtual association event! 

These examples of successful email drip campaigns demonstrate the way in which triggered emails can effectively lead to higher levels of recipient engagement. Simply put, the process is as follows:

  1. Your association team comes up with a collection of created emails.
  2. You utilize an email marketing automation tool to schedule emails at particular points in time.
  3. A recipient receives their first email in the campaign.
  4. Depending on whether they opened the first message, they might receive a second email pushing them further down the conversion funnel.
  5. If the user does not open the first, they might receive a follow-up email or the campaign could stop there.
  6. The process continues based on your predetermined email sequence.

Email drip campaigns are a great way to engage with your network without becoming too overbearing to those who are uninterested. Because the campaign takes cues from a user’s own behavior, the strategy allows you to pursue leads that continue to show interest and are the most likely to become registrants.

5. Ensure mobile-friendliness.

Did you know that more than 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices? That means if your association’s materials are not mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to boost your online registrations.

Be sure these two elements are as easy to use on mobile devices as they are on desktop:

  • Emails: Most smartphone users have their email accounts signed in on their mobile devices for ease of use and increased accessibility. As soon as they receive an email notification, they can quickly decide whether to engage or ignore it. If a user opens your marketing email on their cell phone only to find that reading it involves endless scrolling and zooming, they’re likely to click out and never return. Instead, mobile-friendly emails are more likely to be consumed and responded to. Check out our responsive email templates!
  • Registration forms: For your event marketing campaigns, not only should your marketing materials be mobile-friendly, but your registration tools should be too. Using mobile-friendly event registration software allows association members to register and pay on-the-go, rather than waiting until later (which may never come). 

In order to ensure the most conversions, it’s important your campaign is easy to engage with. A member may have the desire to attend, but if the registration process is too difficult, they have a much higher risk of abandoning the process altogether.

6. Conclude with a clear call to action.

There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a marketing email and thinking “so what?” The next steps in a marketing campaign should never be unclear— especially when it comes to event promotion. Because the end goal has a clear deadline (the date of the event or close of registration), it’s more important than ever to include a clear call to action in any email you send.

Large, colorful, and easy-to-read CTA buttons with actionable language are a great way to encourage recipients to take the next step in the registration process. Even if the reader starts to skim the text, the CTA will still be clear and persuasive.

Wrap up

By employing these tips in your next event marketing campaign, you can ensure higher levels of virtual event registration and attendance for your association. When you personalize your messages, grab the recipient’s interest, and design an easily accessible campaign, you’ll create a system of communication that each recipient will actually want to read and take action. 

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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