Midwest Meetings

Email Know-How

How to successfully use email marketing to increase event attendance.

The following are select quotes pulled from the original piece.


Brent Turner, executive vice president, strategy and solutions at Opus Agency, a global agency delivering premier experiences, says that from picking a technology platform to developing core strategies, success in any email marketing campaign starts with the basics. First, begin by creating core audience segmentations. “At its simplest, these are the starter lists: Has Attended in Past, Has Not Attended Yet and Has Registered. As the teams advance, these segmentations often get more specific and focused; however, we recommend a maximum of six-to-seven segmentations,” Turner says.

Once the audience segmentations are set, Turner and the Opus Agency team design the email marketing messaging “flights.”

These typically are aligned with the expected event marketing playbook — like ticket price changes and speaker announcements. Event teams may add more flights as programs advance, including flights that align to specific segments.

If your email recipient lists have been built over time or were created through an amalgamation of sources, then you may be sending emails to people who do not remember signing up for communications from your company or for the event being planned. At best, these people may ignore your communications. At worst, they report your messages as spam and unsubscribe.

To combat the potential subscriber confusion, Turner recommends two approaches. First, for any emails from older lists, send a “warm-up” note that helps them connect the dots and remember their connection. Then, on ongoing emails, it is good to include a reminder. These can say something along the lines of “You are receiving this email because you subscribed to our brand in June 2017.”


Many event professionals tend to communicate the “what” when developing an email campaign. They promote the dates, speakers, sessions and location. But as Turner points out, with this focus on features and tactics, planners often miss what’s key to getting someone to take action: benefits and value.

“When you start to design your next campaign, build a message map that begins with clear benefits and a single-minded focus on the value your event is providing,” Turner says.

Also, when picking templates and structuring content, it is best to start “mobile-first.” This pushes teams to quickly hit most of the modern best practices for email marketing. As Turner explains, in a mobile-first approach, planners are more likely to be to the point with both words and visuals. By keeping the copy short and the visuals streamlined, emails are naturally more approachable and digestible — on phones and desktops.

“Explore using ‘social proof ’ to drive persuasion. This includes featuring peers, like testimonials from past events or names of people attending the next event, and connecting your email campaign to social media initiatives through tools like Snoball — a favorite event marketing partner of ours here at Opus Agency,” Turner says.

by Midwest Meetings

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Brent is a member of the executive team for Opus Agency, partner to world-shaping brands.
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