When it comes to building awareness and driving attendance to your event, e-mails are still one of the best, fastest, cheapest methods. However, most planners struggle with building an e-mail campaign, especially when it comes to two very basic parameters:
- How many e-mails are the “right” number of touches?
- How often should e-mails be sent, and over what length of time?
These questions are summed up by the term “frequency.”
When it comes to e-mail frequency, there is a lot of general marketing wisdom floating around out there – mostly on the Internet. The only problem is that even the top marketers don’t always agree on what constitutes the “right” frequency for e-mail promotions, and there are always exceptions.
So here are the basic rules of frequency for e-mailed event promotions:
- The more optional an event is, the more promotion you should do.
- The more costly the event is to the attendee, the more promotion you should do.
- The higher-level the attendee, the earlier you should begin raising awareness (three months minimum for executive-level attendees).
- The lower the registration numbers, and the closer the event date, the higher the frequency of e-mails should be, preferably with a “time is running out” message. (This author has personally seen registration numbers double and triple in three days after sending this kind of e-mail burst).
- The larger the number of educational sessions and/or activities that will attract attendees, the more numerous the e-mails should be. No more than three key messages per e-mail, and preferably only one or two.
One typical technology customer conference usually has between 3-4 planned e-mails over a two to three month period. Their target audience size is about 300 attendees, and they achieve it, twice a year. Their e-mail frequency is reasonable, allows for delivery of several important value-based messages, and respects potential attendees’ time and inboxes.
They do this because their attendees, for the most part, are already planning on attending, and our company knows that. The e-mails are mostly responsible for communicating date, time and registration information. They deliver awareness, pure and simple, in a convenient format.
A consumer-facing association conference, on the other hand, which draws over 10,000 attendees annually, has as many as one e-mail per week for a 3-4 month period, and one every two weeks for several months prior to that. Many planners are afraid to do what this association does for fear of turning recipients off. However, this conference’s attendance base is growing annually – thanks to an extremely aggressive e-mail campaign.
They recognize what most other consumer marketers are well aware of: For every person who gets frustrated with the frequency and opts out of receiving further e-mails, there are 100 others who are not ready to commit and likely to forget about the conference, unless they are reminded at almost the precise instant that they are ready to buy.
A successful e-mail campaign is, of course, much more than its frequency, but frequency is one of the top three success factors – the other two being content and design.
Getting the frequency correct means you are well on your way to making your numbers.