3 Steps to Elevate Your Virtual Event Email Marketing Strategy

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Online events are the new normal. As we head into 2021 and prepare to spend more time in the virtual sphere, it’s important to reflect on what messaging you need to get out to your communities. Why should people stick around for another few months (or even years) of virtual content – especially when we are all itching to reconnect in person someday?

Nowadays, any and all content can be consumed at the tip of one’s fingers. Whether via digital ads, social media, or email, it’s important for us as marketers to make another year of virtual events appear inviting, relevant, and valuable. Don’t let your messaging get lost in the abyss of members’ inboxes. Here are three easy steps for how you can elevate your email marketing strategy as you prepare to promote virtual events in 2021.

1. Target messages according to your members’ interests.

One of Innovatis’ clients specializes in regional annual conferences, which came with the challenge of navigating how to host “local” events in a global online world. Regional networking benefits aside, we needed ways to highlight why each event was important for the user community at large in efforts to get people in the virtual doors.

Introducing: interest group targeted marketing! When members sign up to be a part of this client’s tech user group, they fill out a profile that specifies which products they use. We in turn pulled that profile information to create interest-based target groups. We sent event email invites to those lists highlighting event sessions related to their interests. This messaging benefited both event registration numbers and user experience, since members were emailed about the content they were interested in.

For example, if your event is offering professional development sessions, send an email to your members interested in career content. Pro tip: make sure your email copy is about your target groups’ common interest not just generic to the event as a whole. Call out the specific benefits your members will receive. For our client, this strategy caused email open rates to jump from 13-15% to 25-30% – with target group sizes at 8K-10K recipients.

2. Revisit your loyal members.

Virtual events are accessible to everyone in your community, regardless of where they are in the world. If your client has a global reach, this can be used to your advantage as you promote online conferences via email. Consider the following: Who has attended your events in the past? What areas have never had a local event? Use this information to your advantage as you invite members to virtual conferences.

We have found success in sending targeted invites to past attendees. If your loyal members have attended an event in-person previously, personally invite them to your virtual event. Emails to past attendees may reach a smaller target group, but, in our experience, achieve up to a 55% open rate.

This strategy also works for inviting your community to revisit content. If you have a speaker who was at one event and is now presenting on a new topic later in the year, take advantage of knowing your previous attendees’ interests! It’s a nice personal touch to invite your members to reengage with the content you know they enjoy.

3. Organize your content clearly and creatively.

In a world where everything is one scroll away from disappearing, make sure your email content is digestible. Virtual events allow conferences to have large agendas, but promoting a diverse line-up of content has its difficulties. Email marketers have to answer: What’s exciting to members? Why should they take the time to log in and attend?

Our clients have found great success in a “three reasons” message format. To follow this template, pick three of your event’s biggest, buzziest benefits and highlight them accordingly. It’s as simple as stating, “Here are three reasons this is an event you can’t miss…” and list benefits from there.

Additionally, keep the member front of mind when writing emails. Think of yourself as a member if it helps you speak to the things that matter most when reading an email. Creating strong headings, adding images, and buttons allows recipient to skim emails and still understand your message. Pro tip: try mixing up subject lines to see what gets the best open rates—products or events session titles work well!

Don’t let your virtual event invites become just another sales email. Through targeted send lists and creative messaging, you can set your clients up for success as everyone continues to host conferences in an online world.

Emily Minarik

Emily Minarik is a Senior Marketing Associate at Innovatis Group. Her primary goal is to spite everyone who said her English Writing degree wouldn't be useful by creating unique, innovative content for clients. (Fun fact: Emily reads 75-100 books per year, adores crafts, and spends her free time with her cat.)