10 Ideas for Better Event Email Marketing

Your attendees are hungry for information and chances are, you are putting out a weekly or monthly newsletter that feeds that need. Because it is not always easy to come up with new content week, after week, after month, after year, I thought I would toss out a few ideas to help.

Some of you may not realize that you have a million and one topics right under your nose, parked somewhere in your computer. All you have to do is look at this information in a new light to repackage and repurpose what you already tell attendees. When you do this, your attendees will see this awesome stuff in a new light as well.

  • Perhaps you announce your speakers by listing them with a picture. OK, that is fine but you have just scratched the surface of what you can do with speaker bios.
  • Maybe you have your sponsors listed in the sidebar of your emails with a link to their website. That is cool, but not really that good for the sponsors because in reality, nobody clicks on that shit anyway….. .Do you?
  • Then there is the dreaded session list. Your schedule comes out and you blast the schedule to everyone and then leave it at that. What? Why would you do that?

Go digging for data 

In all of the above instances, you have just skimmed the surface of this data mine….. when you are mining for data, you want to go full bore strip mining and squeeze every last drop out of information for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is that no two people are alike and therefore do not respond to information in the same way. The dude down the hall may like lists while Becky likes in depth stories. If you are only sending out lists, Becky will never read your emails and may in fact just unsubscribe or worse, filter your emails into a folder never to be seen again.

You can fix this by always changing up the content type and style to keep people on their toes. One week give them a list of speakers, the next, go in depth into one of the speakers bios. Variety is the spice of life they say.

Here are some ideas to freshen up your email communications and draw attendees into what you have to say.

Tell them something new

Whether you know it or not, you always have something new to tell attendees. It may be a new speaker, it may be a new addition to your staff or it may be a new track. There is ALWAYS something that you can dig up that is interesting. I love telling attendees about things that are outside of the event like a new restaurant or where to hold a tweet-up.

Tell them about a speaker

Take a speaker that is not well known and tell your attendees all about them, who they are, what they have accomplished and why you have picked them to be a leader. When people know someone beyond the crappy bio, they are more likely to want to attend their  session. Anything goes from speaker guest posts to Q&A sessions, just be different.

Tell them about a sponsor

Yep, your sponsors are starting to hate you because they are just not getting the return that they did back in the boom boom years. Help them out and show them you care. Feature one or two a month and write something that explains what they do, what they are about and how their sponsorship actually benefits the event and the attendee. Share the wealth, your sponsors are not a cash machine, unless of course they are a company that makes cash machines.

Tip – don’t be a skeeze and charge a sponsor for one of these in-depth pieces, that just reeks of nasty.

Tell them about a session or series of sessions

This is where you can take the little attended session and write it up to get more traction or you can announce a new session. There are a million and one things that you can do. You can also recommend a series of sessions for newbies because newbies like this, they want to be held by the hand. Next time, flip it around and suggest a series of sessions for conference vets.

Tell them about an attendee

This is actually one of my favorite things to do with an email newsletter because you can get to the heart of why people attend and that is better marketing than the Taco Bell dog. Your attendees are a wealth of content from simple testimonials to in depth articles on how your event has helped their business or career. Use this information today because it is worth 10 times its weight in Mexi-Melts.

Give them something cool

Seriously, run a contest for a free attendance or even an iPad. Make it fun. You can also enlist a sponsor to help out by perhaps donating one of their products, a consulting session or whatever voodoo they do.

Ask them a question

Not sure what attendees thought of your last event, that new break out session or that wild evening event? Just ask. They will tell you.

Invite them to something unique

Create an event that is exclusive to people that sign up through the newsletter. This ties into giving them something cool. This also plays on human nature, people like things that only they are a part of… they feel like one of the cool kids and will want to share it with their friends or colleagues who can also be one of the cool kids. Really, is there anything better than being on “the list”.

Point them to something interesting

Your event and your event website is not the be all and end all in the Universe. In fact, your website is barely a rest stop on the way to the back-water swamp of our galaxy (but it is a nice rest stop). You can and should point attendees to other resources besides yourself. This builds loyalty and trust and shows that you are confident….. don’t be a wimp, let the people see other things.


What I have just written is not monumental, it is not some super secret sauce, and it is not something that is difficult. It is simply a new way of looking at something that you are already doing. By trying many different tactics, you will start to see pattern of increased attendee engagement which is the goal of any event marketer because if your attendees are engaged, they are ready to become a butt in a seat and a butt in the seat helps us all keep our jobs.

Image: Heath Brandon


Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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