Invitations are one of the most important things to get right when planning a successful event. They help set the tone of an event and are often one of the first opportunities to make a good impression with potential attendees. And yet research has found that getting people to open that email, click through and sign up to the event is something most organisers struggle with when it comes to event invitations.
New eBook: The Event Planner’s Guide to Personalisation
So, what are the elements of an invite that compel people to click through and register? And how should you look at when measuring the success of your invitation campaigns?
1) Strong Subject Lines
If you get marketing emails, then you’ll know the importance of a good subject line. With hundreds of other emails fighting for your potential attendee’s limited attention, the subject line of your email invite needs to stand out if you want them to read on. Without a doubt, subject lines that address people personally do the best. If you don’t have names handy, then the use of pronounces like ‘we’ and ‘you/your’ also appeal to readers. Research has also shown that subject lines that feature dates or urgency seem to perform better than those that don’t. And while we don’t encourage the over-use of exclamation marks, a little extra energy in subject lines is known to impact the open rates of email invites.
Related article: Top subject lines for your event email campaigns
2) Event Highlights & Value Proposition
Alongside the main value proposition of your event (why someone should come to your event in the first place), details on keynote speakers, agendas and venue highlights also do well in grabbing your readers’ attention. Showcase your event’s main selling point and use simple language to put across the key take-aways for attendees. Make sure people can scan through your invite and quickly understand what the event is about with details on when and where it’s happening. More importantly, don’t forget to use prominently displayed CTA buttons that link through to your event’s website or registration page.
3) Simple Design & Layout
Thanks to advancements in technology, putting together great-looking event invitations are no longer something you need to give to a specialist designer. Most event management solutions like Eventsforce offer design tools and templates that make the whole process a lot easier. And although a beautiful-looking invite isn’t everything, findings from ‘The Power of Event Invitations’ research study showed that more than 2 in 3 event planners see design and layout as one of the most important aspects of a successful invitation campaign.
Think about your attendee’s journey and stick to a design that’s clean and simple. Given that most people just scan through their emails, it’s always a good idea to break up your invite into several small sections that address different things about your event (speakers, venue and timings, agendas, how to register etc). This makes it easier for them to digest all the different bits of information and get excited about what’s on offer. Also, a lot of people will look at your email invite through mobile devices, so you need to think about how it’s going to look and work on different screens.
4) Attractive Visuals & Video
It’s important to use strong visuals to get the most out of your event invites. Remember the ‘visual’ draw of your event doesn’t necessarily have to be the subject matter itself. You can perhaps use pictures of your event’s location, venue or keynote/celebrity speaker. Try to avoid stock shots or generic images of people speaking at podiums – use images from your past events instead.
Using videos are another very effective option. They give people a different opportunity to learn more about your event and they also do a good job of conveying the personality of your organisation too. And yes, they’re a lot more engaging than text – Forrester Research claims that a minute of video can be equivalent to 1.8 million words!
Related article: Why video is a big deal for marketing your events
Personalising invitations can be simple and effective. By tailoring them as much as possible to the invitee, you massively boost your chances of getting them to click through and register. As well as personalising names in subject lines and salutations, there is an enormous opportunity to personalise the content of your invite based on what your already know about the person. For example, if you know your invitation list is largely made up of corporates and academics, then create two separate versions of the same invite with each one outlining the sessions that would be of interest to them. Remember – both audiences have a vested interest in attending your event but have very different goals and very different ideas on why your event matters.
If you’re inviting people who have attended your events in the past, then use the information you have on them to create personalised registration links within your invite (most event management systems provide this functionality). By clicking on the link, your returning attendee will automatically log into a registration form that is already pre-populated with all their relevant information. This makes them feel more valued and recognised – and can be instrumental in building the long-term relationships you want. Just make sure you’ve got the consent to use their data this way under the new EU GDPR rules.
Related Article: Event marketing under GDPR – consent vs legitimate interests
6) A/B Testing
As great as it would be to find the ‘silver bullet’ that gets people to open up your invites and click through, the sad truth is that there is no magical formula. Which is why A/B testing is so important (the whole method of comparing two versions of the event invitation against each other to determine which one performs better). Create different versions of your event invite to test the effectiveness of different subject lines, body copy, CTA buttons, personalised content, timings and so on. Doing this kind of testing on a regular basis can offer important performance insight that can make or break the success of your invitation campaigns.
Related article: How to avoid your emails being marked as spam
7) Performance Measurement
Knowing how effective your invitations have been in driving registrations for your event is incredibly important. Whether you do A/B testing or not, it is important to look at some key metrics that will help you assess what’s working and what’s not. Look at open rates, click-through rates and actual conversion rates (the number of people that registered as a result of opening your email invite).
Our research, for example, found that Tuesdays and Wednesdays mornings were seen as the best times for sending out invites by a majority of event planners. The survey also found that the average open rate for invites ranged from 11% to 30% and the average click-through-rate was around 10%. Having this information on hand can help you identify the areas you can improve in subsequent reminder emails or invitations for your next event.
Related article: Why is Google Analytics so important for event marketing
Email invitations are incredibly important. They create interest. They promote engagement. And they drive registrations. It is important to note though, what works for one event may not for the other. Don’t forget about A/B testing and always measure the performance of your results. Thinking about all these points when planning your next invite will bring you one step closer to getting it right and delivering a successful event.
Eventsforce can help organisations create branded, personalised and mobile-responsive email invitations that maximise registrations for events. To find out more, click here or get in touch for a demo or a chat.