Sunday, August 28, 2011

 

Anatomy of a better pre-event email

I'm attending Dreamforce this coming week, and apparently a whole lot of companies know that.

Over the past two weeks, I've received literally dozens of emails from companies targeting Dreamforce attendees. It's been an interesting study in different strategies, objectives and perspectives in engaging an audience before you (potentially) see them live at an event.

It's also helped me hone some specific best practices that could help each of these companies (and yours as well) drive greater response and performance from pre-event emails. Done right, these emails can increase success at the event as well as drive additional revenue opportunities before, during and after.

Here are four things I've specifically noticed and/or would recommend to drive greater performance.

Send email from a person, not a company
I'm much more likely to open an email from a person (whose name is in the "from" line, whose email address shows up there, and who signed the email too) than an email from a company with an "info@" email address. I'm also much more likely to respond directly to an email from a person vs. a company (and would expect a reply from that person too, which hasn't happened consistently either).

Put some news in the subject line
I know you want me to meet with you. But that in the subject line isn't going to get me to engage. I've even seen subject lines in the past week that literally give the dates and location of the event. How is that driving open rates? Instead, use something to entice me. Tease a giveaway, give me a benefit worth stopping by to learn more about. You can't make a subject line communicate everything, and it's main goal is to get the email opened, but start with something that gets my attention and piques my interest.

Get me to pre-register for something
I really like the pre-event emails that allow me to self-select greater interest. They either invite me to a private briefing or to schedule when I'll stop by the booth. The majority of email recipients won't respond to this, but that's not the point. If you can get a handful of attendees committed to stopping by, your booth performance immediately is better than just hoping passers-by are the people you want to meet, and who want to meet you too.

But don't force me to commit
As much as I prefer the pre-registration option above, I also don't want to commit. I have enough meetings planned for this week already, I don't necessarily want or need to schedule something when I can stop by anytime during open show floor hours. I may not want to commit, but that doesn't mean I'm less interested or less qualified.

A different tactic to engage prospects like this could be to simply have them pre-register for a visit without a specific time. Tell prospects you'll have a special gift reserved for them when they come, whenever that is. Then, have that list at the booth so you can fulfill that offer. This tactic gives you a registered list of more interested prospects, gives me (the attendee) more flexibility, but puts you at the top of my "need to visit" priority list for the show floor.



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