When was the last time you got an invitation in the mail? It was probably for a wedding, right?
Physical invitations make sense for personal occasions, but when it comes to professional events, most businesses opt for invitation emails—plus, it’s what customers have come to expect. Email invites have many benefits for businesses, including:
You can send invitations to a large list of customers and email subscribers
You don’t have to worry about printing and shipping costs, so it’s cost-effective
You can easily track opens, clicks, and RSVPs and create targeted drip campaigns to help increase attendance
A well-crafted email invitation can hugely impact the success of your event, so it’s important to follow best practices, which we’ll cover in this post. But first, when should you use a digital invitation?
Email invites are well-suited to in-person and virtual events, and unlike physical invitations, these give insight into how your recipients engage with your messages. This helps you pivot your messaging and audience segmentation as needed to reach your attendance goals.
Let’s dive into the best practices for professional event invitation emails.
People want to talk to other people, not faceless businesses. So adding a personal touch, like sending the invitation from a specific person at your business, can make it more open-worthy to the recipient.
You can do this by listing the person’s name as the sender or closing the invitation with a personal signature. For example, the Executive Vice President of Sales and Membership signed this invitation from Gravity Haus.
An invitation should answer questions, not raise them. Teasers and save the dates aside, the full invitation should include all the event details recipients want to know.
How do you know what information to include? Well, if you answer the 5 Ws (and 1 H), you can rest assured you’ve answered the main questions. Let’s take a look at what these are and how Gravity Haus addressed them in the previous example.
Who is the host? Gravity Haus.
What is the event? An open house for prospective members.
When is the event? October 20.
Where will it take place? Gravity Haus in Breckenridge.
Why are you hosting this event? To showcase the benefits of membership.
How will you celebrate this occasion? With drinks, a tour, a one-night stay, and breakfast on the house.
There’s one question that the 5 Ws (and 1 H) don’t answer: “So what?” This gets to the heart of why recipients should care about your event.
Answer this question in the email copy by communicating the unique value proposition of your event. For example, if you’re promoting a corporate conference, reveal the event agenda, highlight prominent sessions, announce exciting guest speakers, and hype happy hours and networking opportunities.
The below email promoting Twilio Signal highlights guest speaker Venus Williams and teases her conversation with Twilio’s Chief Diversity Officer Lybra Clemons on perseverance and equitable policies. This is a unique conversation you likely won’t see at similar events, which helps generate interest for the conference.
Email design is always important, but this is especially true for invitations. A striking visual identity will help your email immediately engage the recipient. On the flip side, if the design is too plain, recipients might not realize this is an event invitation and ignore it, ultimately hurting attendance.
So keep the design clean and use an eye-catching visual, like a photo of the event from a previous year or a custom graphic, to get the recipient excited to attend. If you don’t have the resources to create an email design from scratch, you can use one of our event email templates to get started, then customize it with colors, logos, and other visual elements aligned with your brand.
All Signal emails, like the one below, use the event's signature pink color to reinforce the brand. Additionally, the Signal logo appears in the top-left corner of every email to help recipients immediately recognize it’s an event-related message.
The call to action (CTA) is another element you’ll often see in lists of email best practices because it’s crucial to driving conversions. Once you generate buzz for your event with the graphics and copy, the CTA leads recipients to the right page to purchase a ticket or register—the ultimate goal.
Most emails in your event campaign (except for teasers or save the dates) should have a prominent, compelling CTA that helps seal the deal. Follow CTA best practices, including strategic placement and contrasting colors, to ensure it captures recipients' attention.
The Signal emails have bold, pink CTAs that stand out as you scan the email. Additionally, this email uses creative CTA copy like “Level Up”and “Get Your Free Ticket”to entice recipients to click.
Recipients need a few nudges before they register or RSVP. This is why businesses typically set up drip campaigns composed of 3–6 emails leading up to the event.
Here’s an example of what an event drip campaign can look like:
Teaser or save the date (optional): Generate curiosity and anticipation before you send the full invitation.
First invitation: Announce your event and get recipients excited to attend by addressing the 5 Ws (and 1 H) we discussed earlier. Depending on the size of the event, location, time of year, and other factors, you may want to send this 1–3 months in advance.
Follow-up emails: Reveal details like guest speakers, notable sessions, performances, and other highlights of your upcoming event gradually. Also, remind recipients how much time they have left to purchase tickets or take advantage of early-bird pricing.
Final reminder: Give recipients who haven’t converted a last chance to register or purchase tickets.
Post-event follow-up: Thank attendees for participating (more on this below).
As you set up your drip campaign, segment your audience to avoid bombarding those already registered with additional promotions. For example, as recipients RSVP or purchase tickets, remove them from the recipient list for reminder emails. Meanwhile, continue to send reminders to those who haven’t converted.
Email is an important channel to market your event—it’s a direct way to invite your existing customers and subscribers and offer them insider perks. But to reach a wider audience and capture potential new customers, you should also promote your event on other channels like social media.
Organic social media posts allow you to reach your followers and network, who are likely to be interested in the event. And with social media ads, you can target audiences beyond your followers, like people in your region or look-alike audiences with similar interests as your subscribers.
There’s still work to do after the event ends, including closing the loop with attendees with a follow-up email. This is where you say, “Thanks for joining us,” but more importantly, it helps further engage attendees.
Here are some examples of what you can do:
Share links to watch recorded sessions
Invite recipients to view event photos on your social media profiles
Ask them to tag you in their photos
Request a review
Promote your next event and offer a discount on tickets
But what about the recipients who didn’t attend? Engage them, too, with a “We missed you” email that gives them a chance to watch on-demand content or sign up for an upcoming event.