Invitations are still 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. A new research study from Eventsforce, however, has found that one of the biggest struggles event planners face around invitations is getting enough people to open their invites, take action and sign up.
So, what are the elements of an invite that compel people to either visit your website or register to your event? And what are the metrics you need to keep in mind when measuring the success of your invitation campaigns?
Research Study: Power of Event Invitations
The Eventsforce ‘Power of Event Invitations’ study was conducted with more than 100 senior event professionals across the US and the UK to investigate the latest trends around event invitations. One of the research survey’s key findings revealed the top challenges of managing invites, including:
1) Not getting enough people to click on Call-to-Action (CTA) links
2) Difficulty in measuring success of invitation campaigns
3) Creating attractive, responsive, HTML invites
4) Deciding the best times for sending out invites
5) Difficulty in using personalisation
The study also investigated the elements of an invite that event planners felt were the most effective in getting results. Top of the list were event highlights (agenda, keynote speakers etc), followed by overall design and layout, and the main copy of the invite. Have a look at this infographic to get a full overview of the findings of the ‘Power of Event Invitations’ study.
8 Ways to Make Event Invitations More Effective
Thanks to advancements in technology, putting together great-looking event invites are no longer something you need to give to a specialist designer. Most event management solutions offer design tools and templates that make the whole process a lot easier for the event planner. But the look and feel of your invite is not the only thing that matters. You have to remember that people make quick conclusions about an event through the invitation and it’s important to make a good impression from the very beginning.
Have a look at the eight key considerations you need to make to get your event invites to work:
1) Save-the-Date Emails
Before we go into the different elements of the invite itself, it’s worth nothing the important role save-the-date emails play in the whole event invitation process. The Eventsforce study found that 57% of event planners use them to create excitement and anticipation around their events. They are a great way of letting people know about your upcoming event and mark it in their calendars prior to the invite.
2) Strong Subject Lines
If you’re using email invitations, then you’ll know the importance of the subject line. With hundreds of other emails fighting for your potential attendee’s limited attention, it’s important to make then stand out to get them opened. Without a doubt, subject lines that are personally addressed, do the best. If you don’t have names handy, then the use of pronounces like ‘we’ and ‘you/your’ also appeal to readers. 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.
3) Event Highlights & Value Proposition
Along with the value proposition of your event (the bit that explains why someone should sign up), details like the keynote speaker, the agenda and venue highlights are seen by 88% of event planners as the most important aspects of an invite that gets them results. Showcase your event’s main selling point and think about that one thing that will grab readers’ attention. Get to the point quickly and always focus on the event’s key message. Make sure that people who get your invite can scan it and quickly understand what the event is about and find out when and where it’s happening. More importantly, they need to know how they can register through prominently displayed CTA buttons that links through to your event’s website or registration page.
Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Sign up to the weekly EventTech Talk newsletter here and get updates on all the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping the events industry today.
4) Simple Design & Layout
Though a beautiful-looking invite isn’t everything, design and layout is seen as one of the most important aspects of a successful invitation campaign by 69% of event planners. Think about the user journey and stick to a design that’s clean and simple. Given that most people will only scan your 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, speakers, agendas, how to register etc). This helps them better 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.
5) Attractive Visuals & Video
It’s important to use strong visuals to get the most out of your event invites. Think about the visual draw of your event that isn’t necessarily the subject matter. Use pictures of your event’s location and venue or your guest speaker. Avoid stock shots or generic images of people speaking at podiums – use images from your past events instead. Video is another option that’s becoming more and more popular – though our research study found that only 8% of event planners are currently using video in their event invites. Just remember that videos can give your attendees a different opportunity to learn more about your event and they also do a good job of conveying the personality of your organisation. They’re also a lot more engaging than text – Forrester Research claims that a minute of video can be equivalent to 1.8 million words!
We touched on this a little earlier when we looked at the importance of email subject lines. Our study found that a majority 73% of event planners personalise the content of their event invitations. The most popular method was the use of personal names in subject lines and the main body of the invite – followed by personalised content for each audience segment. About 22% of respondents also use personalisation based on information they already hold on potential attendees.
Personalising invitations is simple and effective. By tailoring them as much as possible to the invitee, you can really make an impact and increase the chances of them attending. So, 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. And if you’re inviting people who have attended some of your past events, then use the information you have on them to create personalised links within your invite. By clicking on the link, your returning attendees will automatically log into a registration form that is already pre-populated with all their relevant information.
7) 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 to sign up, the sad truth is that there is no magical formula. Enter the importance of A/B testing – the method of comparing two versions of the event invitation against each other to determine which one performs better. The study found that 36% of event planners are already doing this by using different versions of an 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.
8) 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 survey, 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 is between 11-30% and the average click-through-rate is around 10%. Having this information on hand can identify the areas that you can focus on improving in subsequent reminder emails or invitations for your next event.
Email invitations are an incredibly important part of planning and marketing an event. They are a great way of creating interest in your event, driving registrations and getting attendees through the door. 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 making your event a success.
Eventsforce can help organisations create branded, mobile responsive invitations that use personalised links to maximise registrations around events. To find out more, click here or get in touch for a demo or a chat on +44 (0) 207 785 6997.