Nine email marketing mistakes not to make

22:27, Aug 02 2010

As a public speaker, I get to observe and sometimes help in marketing the events or conferences I'm involved in. Many are done well. But many are enough to make a savvy or cost-conscious individual weep.

Scenario 1: Again, from scratch

Australian Government department. Five-city speaking engagement that is part of the annual October Business Month. This was the third year the event was conducted. Yet when I asked the organisers about their marketing for the event, they had not kept a record of those attending in previous years. Event marketing had to be done from scratch. To the same people. Yet again.

The website information required people to download a PDF file that was almost 2MB in size (just to find where and when the events were). For those who registered, even though there was a small registration fee, the organisers only kept a record of the individual and their company name.

Scenario 2: Expensive marketing

Another national roadshow. This one was an 11-city tour for a national company, targeting a segment of their market. It was their second that year. The event has been running for several years. All the invitations were done by post or by telephone. Why? Because their main corporate database doesn't have a field for email addresses.


Scenario 3: Most popular and well-attended seminar ever

"May I offer a few suggestions?' I asked my client. We were discussing my speech for their upcoming seminar series for their Allied Medical Health professional clients and prospects. "Of course,' they said and listened as I recommended:

1. Don't put your logo on top of the email. Have it on the right side or on the bottom.

2. Have the subject line read: "your personal invitation".

3. Instead of a lot of waffle up front, simply put Who: What: Where: Why.

4. Follow with the marketing spiel after that.

The seminar series just finished. The topic - Marketing Your Practice In Today's Wired World - was of interest to the attendees, but more importantly, I'm sure the straightforward email helped enormously. They had more than double their normal RSVPs and record-breaking attendance.

What's my point? Why do Scenario 1 and 2 make this grown girl cry? It's the missed opportunities. It's the not planning and not thinking ahead. It's not thinking outside the square. It's not putting yourself in your customers' shoes and trying to make things easy for them. Perhaps it's a syndrome of large organisations where there is employee turnover and specified job descriptions.

What lessons can you learn from these three situations?

1. From day one establish a separate and information-rich database in Excel. Who came, which event, all their contact details, the guests they brought with them.

2. Market to prior attendees first. Send out personalised email invitations to last year's attendees. Ask them to bring colleagues along. Give a clickable link for self-registration.

3. Have all information easily accessible on a website rather than requiring a PDF download. Simply put the information on the website in a table format.

4. Ensure that before you begin you have your web designer set up a simple online database to collect all the information from the registrations and have an email prompt every time someone registers (so you know it's happened).

This would eliminate 99.9 per cent of all the manual labour involved with registration. Download the database daily and voila - no more manual typing in information or cutting and pasting from email.

5. If your company database doesn't have all the fields you require, simply create a report of the target market for the event, export it as a text file (CSV or TAB) and open that up in Excel. There's your new marketing database where you can enter as many new fields as you like.

6. Look for other joint ventures to help market the event where there's synergy, non-competition and a nice, big, juicy database. If you add an incentive, such as commission on registrations, there's even more reason to help you.

7. Instead of emailing your whole database in the hope of getting a few out-of-town registrations, target specific groups. If people receive items that don't interest them, you'll lose them.

8. Don't start the email with a huge spiel about why they should attend. Lay your invitation out plainly - what, when, where, how much, and then go into the whys. This will increase your uptake rather than lower it.

9. Ditch the graphics, especially if you place them on top. Almost everyone has software or web email that doesn't show graphics. Your recipient will see only blank white space with a little red x and the message about their privacy being maintained.

Debbie can be contacted on Facebook, SuccessIS or