You’re preparing to host a virtual event (such as a webcast)—deciding on the topic, lining up your speakers, preparing your content, and practicing your delivery—when you realize that you haven’t even considered one of the most crucial aspects of an event: the email invite. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into this exact scenario during the past three years of running SendGrid’s webcast program.
In the midst of managing all the event details, you may feel like you have bigger fish to fry than to focus on one measly email—I mean, it’s all riding on you to make sure this event is a great experience for attendees! But your email invite is one of the main ways (if not the only way) to get people to attend your event. And I think we can all agree this is mission-critical to hosting a successful event.
Your invite strategy
If you’re feeling rushed for time, it’s logical to want to jump straight into writing your email invite…but don’t do it. Take a step back and start with a quick strategy session to ensure your invites are an appropriate start to your customer’s event experience. This shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes! Here is what you should cover in this session:
#1. Decide who should be on your invite list
Ask yourself, “Who will benefit most from attending this event?” Here at SendGrid, we serve both marketers and developers with our webcast content, so we create a custom list for every webcast. Your recipients will appreciate you keeping unnecessary mail out of their inbox and your engagement metrics/deliverability will likely benefit from a targeted approach—win, win!
#2. Determine the number of email invites to send and when you’ll send
By deciding on how many email invites you’ll send ahead of time, you’ll have a better idea of how to arrange your content depending on where each email falls in the series. You can also put custom parameters in place so that certain invites will only be sent to certain recipients based on their past engagement. For example, a second invite could only be sent to recipients who opened the original invite, but didn’t click to register. This is a good approach (and one we follow here at SendGrid) because you’re only sending your second invite to those who showed interest in your event in the first place.
Next, decide how far in advance you should start sending invitations.
We’ve experienced higher registration rates by starting to send our webcast invites just one week in advance.
My theory is that this a) gives recipients enough time to sign up in advance, but less time for a conflict to arise, and b) the event isn’t too far away that they wait to respond and ultimately forget to.
We also tested a day-of invite for our most recent webcast and the results blew us out of the water! The day-of invite garnered more registrants than our follow-up invite that was sent a few days prior. I had always assumed that people would already be busy and that it was too last minute, but it goes to show you the importance of testing instead of assuming.
#3. Consider an on-demand offering
Oftentimes, people can’t make it to the live event. Whether it’s a meeting conflict or a timezone issue, offering a recording or content from the event allows you to capture more attendees that you would have otherwise missed. We send a follow-up email with a recording of our webcast to all registrants, so we encourage people to register even if they can’t make it to the live event.
Note: This may not work for every event program. For example, if your main success metric is live attendees, an on-demand offering could work against you! Be sure to keep your event success metrics in mind when crafting new approaches to your invite. At SendGrid we track and give equal weight to both live and on-demand attendees.
#4. Decide on your email format
Do you have a specific event invite email template or does it constantly change? By testing different email templates and formats for your content, you could see a drastic uptick in registrants by trying a fresh approach. Do you always send an HTML email or have you considered trying a plain text invite?
Consider sending plain text emails because these emails often look like a personal, 1:1 email. Just make sure that recipients can respond to your invite (our Inbound Parse Webhook is useful here!) and that you’re monitoring those responses. This is a great opportunity to give a personal touch to your program. We try to keep it simple and clear when promoting events at SendGrid. Check out one of our recent email invite examples above.
A final thing to keep in mind while pulling together your invite strategy is that though there are email best practices you should always follow (only send your mail to people who have opted-in, allow recipients to respond, etc.), each email program is unique to you as a sender. Your email list is a special mix of recipients, so you’ll find the most success by testing new strategies and paying close attention to your metrics—they’re your window into your recipients’ inboxes!
For even more on crafting emails, check out our Anatomy Of A Marketing Email webcast.