When you host an event, like a conference, webinar, or workshop, sometimes it’s not the event itself that generates revenue. Ivana Taylor, CEO of Third Force Marketing and Publisher of DIYMarketers, tells us about what’s really important with events: using your email list to engage with attendees and convert them to customers.
Small Business Center: When hosting an event, online or otherwise, why is building a list of email contacts so important?
Ivana Taylor: Having a vital and engaged email list is like having a money machine right on your computer. Turn the crank and money comes out. Each email is a potential customer, and the closer your relationship with that customer, the more loyal they are and the more they will buy.
That said, having an email list before you host an event is like having insurance that a certain number of people will be there. And if your list is large enough, it’s a guaranteed success. But you don’t need to have a large email list if you’re hosting an event. You can leverage the email addresses from your speakers, and sponsors to generate attendees.
What strategies have you used to get more people on an event list?
The best strategy to get people on your list is to start at least three to four months before your event and do what’s called a “sideways” launch. This is a phrase made famous by product launch expert Jeff Walker. The idea of the sideways launch is to teach your target audience elements of what they are going to get at the event in three waves of videos or emails that you send in partnership with your speakers and sponsors. This follows the give-to-get strategy and it also excites people about what the event will offer.
The other opportunity is to allow the people who receive these sideways launch emails and videos to share them with their own networks and via social media.
What is the first thing you send out after an event?
The first thing I would send people after an event is a summary of how great the event was with pictures and teaser videos, and then offer them the opportunity to purchase recordings and content from the event. This way people who couldn’t attend have the opportunity to get the content.
How do you stay in touch long-term?
Hopefully the people who have signed up for the event have also signed up for specific speakers and topics — so now you know exactly what topics they are interested in. The next step for you is to develop an email program that gives them more of what they are interested in. This might include articles, videos, interviews, checklists, templates, etc.
What systems do you recommend for managing these email lists?
If you truly intend to use email as a marketing strategy, you will need to invest in the right email marketing system for your needs. Don’t default to free. Look for systems that give you the ability to create lists based on the recipients’ interests and to send follow-up emails to people based on their interest. Also look for a system that offers a survey capability so you can collect feedback from your attendees after the event.
What mistakes have you seen people who try to use event email lists make?
It’s not hard to make mistakes when it comes to promoting your event using email. There are three common mistakes I’ve seen people make:
The first mistake is writing the emails to the list instead of the person. When you’re sending emails to thousands of people, you know you’re speaking to all of them, but only one person will be reading your email. So write it to one person. Write your message in the second person — that means using “you” throughout the email. Don’t be afraid to get personal.
The second mistake is to blast the same email to the same list again and again. This is supposed to be a conversation: Write your emails as if they were a conversation between you and the potential attendee. Consider teaching them something, then asking a question, starting a conversation with them back and forth.
The third mistake is to only do email. One strategy that is really successful for events is to start a Facebook group so that attendees can talk to each other, ask questions, etc. This also gives you the opportunity to collect feedback from attendees and make your event even better.
How can business owners who have events planned (or may be speaking at an event) use their email contact lists effectively?
The key to using a list effectively is to find out what they want or need and then give it to them. Consider doing a survey well before the event to find out what their challenges are. Then send an email with the results — if respondents provide their Twitter IDs, and give you permission to share their comments and questions, tweet out to them and get into a conversation. Again, don’t just stick to email: Bounce around to other social channels.
Create a Facebook group and invite people to join whether or not they’re going to be at the event. This gives you the opportunity for them to change their mind and for you and the speakers to engage with them. Send a survey after the event and collect testimonials and feedback.
How do you measure the success of an event based on that list?
The most common way to measure is to check your registration rate (conversion rate) from the emails you sent. How many people clicked and completed the registration process? A conversion rate around 2 percent is average.
And how do you measure the ROI of your efforts?
There are two ways to calculate ROI for your email campaigns.
One method is to calculate your basic email ROI in which you measure the basic outcome of your costs, sales, and profits. You would use this method to measure monthly or annual results. First, calculate all of your costs associated with your email campaign (hourly costs, licensing for software, etc). We’ll say it’s $300. Then calculate your total number of sales from the campaign (we’ll say 20). Calculate the average revenue per sale ($40), then calculate the total revenue from your campaign ($800) Lastly, determine your profit margin by subtracting your costs from the sales, which in this case comes to $400. So ROI = (Profit – Cost) / Cost.
In this example it’s $400 – $300) / $300 = .33 so the ROI is 33 percent: For every dollar spent on the email campaign, the company made 33 cents.
But what if you wanted to predict your ROI? That’s a different story, and for that, I’d recommend that you use an email ROI calculator. Here are two I like: Entepreneur’s E-Mail ROI Calculator and the Email ROI Calculator from Email Marketing ROI.
There are five components to measuring your email marketing ROI this way: the number of emails you are sending out, your open rate (the percentage of people who open the email, which your email marketing system should tell you), your click rate (the percentage of people who click on the link you provide), the price of your offer, and the total cost of your campaign.
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