Open Our Emails… PLEASE!!

by Sara Baliti

As event marketers, we know all too well how challenging it is to get an audience to pay attention to emails. Think about the last promotional email you opened. Was it a creative detail that made you stop and pay attention? A clever headline? The sender? A killer offer? Here are four not-so-obvious tips for developing emails that get opened and compel action.

Reference your “Inspiration Mail.” You know those emails that break through the clutter of your inbox and inspire you to open, read, click and maybe even buy? Save them in an “Inspiration Mail” folder and look through it with your attendee acquisition hat on. Think about what worked. Is there cool animation that enticed you to click to learn more? Or maybe it was what wasn’t working that’s inspiring you to go in a different direction. A paragraph of copy you can’t be bothered to read? A design that isn’t mobile friendly? Confusing calls to action? Whether you’re inspired by business or consumer marketing, by hits or by misses, there’s a lot to learn from other marketers when it comes to improving clickthrough rates and increasing conversions.

Remember: There are two “i’s” in creativity. As such, we recommend involving at least one other person in brainstorming email strategies and tactics. Sometimes, bad ideas become good ideas, but you may never get there if you don’t have a sounding board. Making time for creative brainstorming with a colleague can actually cut your email planning time in half. Remember, there are no bad ideas when it comes to brainstorming. Come prepared with your inspiration and your strategic rationale. Make your case and listen to your colleague. When an out-of-the-box idea is brought to the table, ask these questions:

  • Does this approach enhance our message?
  • Is this appropriate for our audience?
  • Will the call to action be clear?

If you can answer “yes” to all three, you have a great rationale for moving forward. Quick tip: When you’re brainstorming email tactics, it’s easy to forget strategy. Often, that leads to thinking of the call to action first, but remember to think of your audience first. Emails work best when they speak to a challenge, need or opportunity in the industry. Then, use the call to action to drive home the benefits of attending your event.


This easy-to-read design and straightforward sell generated a significant increase in clicks for BOMA International.

Edit yourself. Now that you’ve tapped into your creative side, it’s time to edit. When writing emails, ask, “How can I get to my call to action faster?” Let the creative tactics speak for themselves without a big lead-in paragraph. Read your email without the opening paragraph. Does it still make sense? Does it still have the same effect? If so, take it out. Highlighting a featured session? Same rule applies. Since your sessions are relevant to your audience, don’t distract from the importance of the session with jargon-filled marketing copy. Lead your readers in with some relevant industry information to help connect the dots between their needs and the value of the conference. Never underestimate the power of a good statistic—it’s a great way to get your audience engaged without the bulk.

For one mdg client, we tested email length and found that our “shorter” emails (which used less marketing jargon and more industry-related information) saw an average increase of 38% in clickthrough rate over our “longer” marketing-heavy emails. That’s an average of 36 MORE clicks per email when we cut out the fluff.

Leverage the magic of list segmentation. When was the last time you did a deep dive into your database? Do you know which sessions each of your email contacts attended during last year’s event? How about their attendance history or why they even attend your show? All of this information is critical in creating an email strategy that will hit your audience with the right message at the right time and yield the highest interactions—and ultimately conversions. Great list segmentation cuts down on the number of emails that your recipients are getting, provides them with the exact information they need to make the decision to register and increases opens and clickthroughs (major win!).

Take the time to get inspired, be creative, be selective and be targeted with your next email campaign. Not only will your emails get spared the “Mark as Junk” treatment, you’ll create an email that your audience WANTS to open, read and learn more about—and maybe, just MAYBE your email will end up in someone else’s Inspiration Mail folder.

Ready to get your emails into someone else’s Inspiration Mail folder? Contact Kimberly Hardcastle today.