Strategy

Email Marketing for Events: 20 Ideas to Boost Event Attendance and Engagement

Inka WibowoCai Ellis

By Inka & Cai

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Email marketing for events

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As an event organizer or marketer, you know the challenges – and opportunities – that come with creating successful events. During my time working at a marketing agency in London, I got my first glimpse into the world as I helped with organizing workshops, panel discussions, and networking events.

In those roles, I quickly realized the incredible value of email marketing for not only gaining event attendees and keeping them in the loop, but also for nurturing relationships well after the event was over.

Email marketing is an avenue that can offer you a host of benefits, from cost-effective event promotion to a wider reach, and the ability to track and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. Whether you're planning a workshop, a grand conference, a product launch, a charity fundraiser, or any other event under the sun, event email marketing can be a game-changer.

In this article, we'll explore how email marketing can elevate your event marketing strategy, and look at real-world examples to demonstrate its effectiveness for a wide range of events. So, let's dive in!

Why is Event Email Marketing Important?

Email marketing for events offers distinct advantages:

First and foremost, it's highly cost-effective. With minimal expenses compared to traditional marketing methods such as print advertising or direct mail, event email marketing will help you to reach your audience without breaking the bank.

It also provides a wide reach, allowing you to engage a diverse audience (e.g. people who don't use social media), regardless of whether your event is local, global, or online. What’s more, email marketing offers timely communication, ensuring that you can send updates, reminders, and crucial event information in real-time.

And there is personalization, enabling tailored messages that resonate with recipients. You can segment your email list based on various criteria, including demographics, interests, behavior, and more. This segmentation allows you to send the right message to the right people, increasing the relevance of your communications and improving the chances of conversion.

Finally, event email marketing allows for detailed tracking and measurement, offering valuable insights into campaign performance, which can be used to refine strategies for future events.

20 Best Practices to Use Email Marketing for Events

One of the great things about event email marketing is that it can be used at multiple stages of the event management process. It’s versatile enough to let you send newsletters, invitations, confirmations, reminders, and more.

Here are just a few ideas where you could use it, along with some examples of other businesses that are doing event email marketing right:

Event promotion

1. Save-the-Date Emails: Building Anticipation

To create excitement and anticipation for your event, consider sending save-the-date emails. In this initial email, introduce your event and encourage recipients to mark their calendars. Provide essential event details, such as the date, time, and a brief teaser of what's to come.

Make sure to use an enticing subject line. And include a visually appealing event logo or banner to make the message memorable, as Webflow have done in the example below. You could also add a “Add to Calendar” button or link, simplifying the process for recipients. (See more SaaS email marketing examples here.)

webflow event invite

This save the date email from Webflow encourages subscribers to sign up to receive event updates (Source: Really Good Emails)

2. Early Access Emails: Rewarding Loyalty

Show appreciation to your most loyal customers with early access to event registration to reward them for their loyalty. Combine this with a dedicated landing page or registration portal specifically for early access, to make it feel more exclusive.

secret cinema event email

This invitation to Secret Cinema’s Grease event invites subscribers to register for pre-sale access

3. Event Announcement Emails: Providing Comprehensive Information

Once you've piqued subscribers’ interest with the save-the-date, it's time for an event announcement email. Here, you can dive into the specifics, including the event's agenda, featured speakers, and any unique highlights that prospective attendees can expect. Make sure to incorporate visually engaging graphics in this email to showcase the event's appeal, and to include a prominent “Register Now” button or link that makes it easy for recipients to take action.

mailchimp event email

This invite to Mailchimp’s virtual event ticks all the boxes with an appealing design, a link to the agenda, featured speakers, and a prominent ‘Register now’ button

4. Early Bird Registration Emails: Fostering Early Engagement

To incentivize early registration and create a sense of urgency, utilize early bird registration emails. It's best practice to offer early bird tickets with special pricing or exclusive perks to those who sign up ahead of time. You could also include a countdown timer to highlight the limited-time nature of the offer and motivate recipients to secure their spots quickly.

wedding event invite

Wedding planning directory Upstate Indie Weddings promoted its Bridal Experience event with a limited-time offer

5. Speaker or Performer Spotlight Emails: Highlighting Expertise

Speaker or performer spotlight emails can help build credibility and excitement around your event. Dedicate individual emails to showcase your event's key participants, highlighting their credentials and what attendees can gain from their presentations. Include links to any relevant articles, books, or past presentations by the speakers to substantiate their expertise.

salesforce event email invite

Salesforce prominently features its keynote speakers in emails promoting its annual Dreamforce conference (Source: Really Good Emails)

6. Last-Minute Ticket Sales Emails: Capitalizing on FOMO

As your event date draws near, seize the opportunity to boost ticket sales with last-minute emails. Promote remaining available spots and any incentives for immediate registration, using persuasive language that emphasizes the fear of missing out (FOMO) on this exceptional event.

agency summit invite email

Ontraport promotes its virtual Agency Summit with a last-chance email the day before the event

7. Cross-Promotion and Partnership Emails: Expanding Reach

To widen your event's reach and tap into new audiences, consider collaborating with other organizations or sponsors for cross-promotion. Partner emails can introduce your event to their email lists, expanding your reach. You can reciprocate the favor by promoting their events to your audience in return.

8. Abandoned Cart Emails: Recovering Lost Registrations

For events that involve payment or registration, address abandoned carts with reminder emails. Send follow-ups to individuals who initiated the registration process but didn't complete it. Here, you could provide additional incentives or emphasize the value they'll miss out on if they don't complete their registration.

edc final chance email

Insomniac’s EDC Festival uses abandoned cart emails to get would-be attendees to act quickly (Source: Hive.co)

9. Social Media Integration Emails: Boosting Social Engagement

Encourage recipients to engage with your event on social media. Include links to your event's social profiles and provide pre-written social posts for easy sharing. A good idea is to incorporate user-generated content or contest announcements in these emails to spark social interaction.

10. Testimonial and Success Story Emails: Building Credibility

To build trust and encourage registrations, share stories and testimonials from past successful event attendees. Highlight the value and impact of previous events to build social proof by including a direct quote or testimonial from a satisfied attendee, which also helps to add a personal touch to the email.

event testimonial email

Ontraport uses testimonials and a simple email design to encourage registrations to their event

11. Customized Content Emails: Tailoring the Experience

To make event promotions more relevant, send customized content based on subscribers’ interests or past interactions. Personalize the event promotion by tailoring the content to their specific needs. Use email segmentation and dynamic content to ensure the right message reaches the right audience, helping to increase engagement.

pitchfork festival email

This event invitation email for the Pitchfork Music Festival is personalized based on subscribers’ location (Chicago) and musical tastes (Source: Really Good Emails)

To event registrants

12. Post-Registration Confirmation Emails: Getting Attendees Ready

Once a registrant signs up for your event, it's crucial to send a post-registration confirmation email. This email should not only confirm their registration but also help them understand what to expect. Include details about the event agenda, location, parking information, and any pre-event preparations they should consider. Tip: include a digital event guide or a link to an event app to help attendees plan their experience effectively.

theatre event confirmation email

LW Theatres sends ticket purchasers event confirmation emails, with personalized information about the upcoming event times and seating information

13. Reminder Emails: Keeping Attendees Informed

As the event date approaches, don't forget to send reminder emails to your registered attendees. These emails should serve as valuable updates by sharing the upcoming event's schedule, location, and any last-minute adjustments. Again, a “Add to Calendar” button or link will come in handy, making it easy for attendees to sync the event schedule with their personal calendars and set up event notifications.

activecampaign event registration email

ActiveCampaign includes an ‘Add to your diary’ call-to-action as part of their webinar confirmation emails

14. Interactive and Poll Emails: Gathering Attendee Input

To engage your audience and gather valuable insights, use interactive content such as polls or surveys. Encourage recipients to share feedback, preferences, and suggestions related to the event.

Use interactive elements such as clickable buttons, multiple-choice questions, or star ratings to generate interest and make it easy for participants to provide their input. You could also consider offering incentives, like a chance to win event-related prizes, to boost participation.

15. Countdown Emails: Building Anticipation

Countdown emails are a fantastic way to generate excitement and remind recipients of the approaching event date. Create a series of these emails that gradually build anticipation. Include exciting event highlights, fun facts, or sneak peeks with each email. A practical tip is to incorporate a visual countdown timer, showing the days, hours, and minutes left until the event to create a sense of urgency.

theatre countdown email

This countdown event email for a theatre show promotes other add-on services that can theatregoers can enjoy

16. Exclusive Offers and Discounts: Encouraging Referrals

To boost event attendance and encourage attendees to invite friends or colleagues, offer exclusive discounts, offers, or perks. These exclusive offers can be shared with registered attendees, creating a sense of exclusivity. You could also implement a referral program, where attendees can earn additional benefits by referring others to the event.

circles event referral email

The Circles Conference encourages attendees to refer their event to friends and sponsors via its referral program (Source: Really Good Emails)

17. VIP or Exclusive Access Emails: Rewarding Premium Registrations

If your event offers VIP or premium ticket options, highlight the perks and exclusive content associated with these registrations. Incentivize higher-level registrations by promoting special access, private sessions, or exclusive event content. Make sure to clearly outline the premium benefits and emphasize how they enhance the overall event experience. You could also consider providing a dedicated point of contact for VIP attendees to ensure a seamless and premium experience.

Post-event emails

18. Thank You and Post-Event Recap Emails: Expressing Gratitude

After your event wraps up, it's the perfect time to start nurturing that relationship for the long term! You can start by showing gratitude to attendees for their participation. Send a thank you email that conveys appreciation for their presence, and provides a comprehensive recap of the event, summarizing key takeaways, highlights, and any memorable moments. Include links to resources, such as presentation slides or recordings, to allow attendees to revisit valuable content.

cssconf thank you event email

This thank you email from the CSS Conferences thanks readers for attending and includes a link to an event recap blog article (Source: Campaign Monitor)

19. Feedback and Survey Emails: Gathering Valuable Insights

Following the event, don't miss the opportunity to gather feedback from your attendees. Send out feedback and survey emails to assess their satisfaction and gain insights for future events. Include questions about their event experience, suggestions for improvements, and any specific aspects they particularly enjoyed. Keep the survey concise and straightforward, making it easy for attendees to provide feedback. You could also include incentives, such as entry into a prize drawing, to boost survey participation.

disco conf event feedback email

Maze invites attendees to their Disco Conf event to share their feedback on the event (Source: Really Good Emails)

20. Follow-up and Nurturing Emails: Sustaining Engagement

The post-event engagement doesn't have to stop once the curtains close. You can continue to nurture your relationship with event attendees through follow-up emails that provide them with valuable content related to the event's theme or industry insights, and update them on upcoming events, webinars, or other relevant activities.

Here, it’s a good idea to segment your email list based on attendee preferences and interests, ensuring that the content you share aligns with their needs. Also make sure to keep a consistent schedule of communication to keep your organization top of mind for future events and engagement opportunities.

activate summit post event email

This post-event email from Activate Summit Europe keeps the event fresh in attendees’ minds with links to watch recordings from the summit (Source: Really Good Emails)

Top 4 Email Marketing Services for Events

You might be wondering: how am I going to handle the (not so insignificant!) challenge of sending all those emails to the right folks? It's a common concern, and that's where choosing the perfect email marketing service can truly be a game-changer for your event email marketing strategy.

While most email marketing platforms offer automation, some really stand out in this department, giving you the power to create seamless workflows for sending a series of event invitations.

Plus, they allow you to finely tune your audience segments. This way, you won't bother contacts who have already registered with additional pre event email invitations, and you'll ensure that confirmation emails are sent exclusively to those who've signed up.

So, after putting the email marketing platforms geared for event promotions through their paces, here are the four gems that I have found stand out from the rest:

1. MailerLite

mailerlite

MailerLite is one of the top-rated email marketing tools on EmailTooltester.com, and is unbeatable when it comes to ease of use. But we also rate it highly for its excellent feature range, which includes attractive email templates, intuitive automations, and a landing page/website builder.

MailerLite Pros:

  • Event-specific templates for emails and landing pages, allowing you to capture event registrations easily
  • Website builder included, letting you build an event-specific website
  • Integrations with event planning tools such as Eventbrite, eWebinar and MakePlans
  • Sell digital products, such as event recordings or resources, directly from MailerLite
  • Affordable pricing, starting from $25/month. A free plan is also available

MailerLite Cons:

  • Transactional emails and SMS (e.g. for sending confirmations) are charged as a separate service
  • Stringent approvals process – some industries (e.g. affiliate marketing) are prohibited in their terms of use
  • Missing out on advanced automations and reporting

Best suited for:

Budget-conscious, event marketers and organizers who want an easy-to-manage email marketing tool that comes with a surprising number of extras.

> Read our complete MailerLite review

> Try MailerLite for free

2. GetResponse

getresponse

GetResponse is an email marketing service that strikes a good balance between value for money and breadth of features. One of these features might be particularly appealing to event organizers: a built-in webinar builder. With the ability to create unlimited webinars that host up to 1,000 attendees, this unique feature is not something you’ll find in many other email marketing platforms.

GetResponse Pros:

  • Webinar builder lets you run webinars, as well as manage invites and registrations
  • Build landing pages and even websites, with event-specific templates available
  • Ability to create sales funnels and lead magnet funnels
  • 24/7 chat support
  • Create and monitor Google, Facebook and Instagram ads directly from GetResponse

GetResponse Cons:

  • To access features such as advanced automations, webinars, and transactional emails, you’ll need to purchase the Marketing Automation plan, which starts at $59/month (learn more about GetResponse pricing)
  • No dynamic content features
  • Email eliverability rates can fluctuate, as we’ve seen in our tests

Best suited for:

Event organizers who plan to regularly run webinars, or want to create funnel-based campaigns.

> Read our complete GetResponse review

> Try GetResponse for free

3. ActiveCampaign

activecampaign event automations

If you’re after an email marketing service that can put your event email marketing campaign on autopilot, ActiveCampaign is my top recommendation. With powerful pre-built automations, plus a flexible workflow builder to let you create your own, ActiveCampaign is more than equipped to handle your event’s email promotions – and to continue building relationships long after your event has finished.

ActiveCampaign Pros:

  • Build automated email campaigns based on almost any type of trigger (e.g. email clicks, webpage views, event registrations)
  • Offers CRM (customer relationship management) as an add-on product to let you manage contacts and nurture leads
  • Great for multichannel event marketing – includes landing pages, SMS, and Facebook ads
  • Over 900 integrations with third-party apps, including event management and scheduling apps (e.g. Eventbrite, Cvent, Bizzabo)

ActiveCampaign Cons:

  • Not the cheapest email marketing service, with prices starting from $19/month
  • No free plan available
  • More complicated to learn because of extensive feature range

Best suited for:

Event organizers and marketers who plan to send finely targeted and personalized email campaigns, and want to take advantage of flexible automation features to do this.

> Read our full ActiveCampaign review

> Trial ActiveCampaign for free for 14 days

4. Constant Contact

constant contact

It doesn’t normally make our list of the best email marketing services, mainly because its pricing is a little high for the relatively scant features on offer. But Constant Contact does outshine its competitors in one arena: events. That’s because Constant Contact is one of the few email marketing platforms to allow you to manage event invitations, registrations, and tickets, all from one place.

Constant Contact Pros:

  • Event management features, including ticket sales and registration management
  • Around 200 email templates to choose from
  • Send surveys and polls – great for collecting feedback
  • Good deliverability rates
  • Wide range of integrations (400+)

Constant Contact Cons:

  • Expensive, with prices starting at $50/month for a modest list of 2,500 contacts. Ticket sales also come with their own fees: 5.4% + $0.80 for each ticket sold or transaction conducted.
  • Limited form customization options
  • Automations not as flexible or far-reaching as other providers
  • Although there is a wide range of templates, the designs aren’t very modern

Best suited for:

Event organizers who want an all-in-one email marketing platform for managing their event registrations – and have a little extra cash to splash.

> Read our full Constant Contact review

> Try Constant Contact for free

Launching Email Marketing Campaigns for Events in 9 Steps

1. Define Your Goals

When it comes to event email marketing, your goals can range from boosting event registrations and event ticket sales to promoting event-related products or services. To measure the effectiveness of your event email marketing efforts, it’s important to clearly define what your specific goals are. Make your goals specific, measurable, and time-bound (SMART). For example, “Increase event registrations by 20% in the next four weeks”.

This will help you understand just how well your email marketing campaigns are delivering, and can also more clearly demonstrate ROI – all of which will be useful for refining your strategy and planning your next email marketing campaign for future events.

2. Pick Your Email Marketing Service

As we’ve seen earlier, there are plenty of email marketing services out there, and some that are better suited to marketing for events.

Choose an email marketing platform that suits your specific needs. One that ticks the main boxes – provides user-friendly email templates, automation capabilities, and detailed analytics – would be a good place to start. Also, be sure to take advantage of free plans and trials to get a hands-on feel for how they work for you.

Tip: We also have a Smart Finder if you need a little extra help choosing the right service for your event email marketing strategy!

3. Build Your List

Of course, none of this will matter if you don’t have an audience to email to! To build your email list – and boost event registrations – the first step is to encourage subscribers to sign up for event updates. Here are a few ideas for doing that:

  • Website Sign-up Forms: Place sign-up forms on your website to capture email addresses from interested visitors.
  • Social Media Promotion: Use your social media platforms to post engaging content about your event and include a call-to-action for users to subscribe to email updates.
  • Networking Events and Conferences: At industry gatherings, offer booth visitors the opportunity to voluntarily share their email addresses in exchange for event updates. Most email marketing services offer mobile apps that can be installed on a tablet, so you can add subscribers in-person.
  • Valuable Event-Related Content: Create compelling lead magnets like blog posts, infographics, videos, or downloadable resources related to your event, that website visitors need to subscribe to in order to access.
  • Referral Programs: Encourage your existing subscribers to refer friends and colleagues to join your email list. Incentivize successful referrals with discounts on event tickets or exclusive content.
  • Online Giveaways and Contests: Organize online giveaways or contests tied to your event. Participants can enter by subscribing to your email list.

Also be sure to include an opt-in checkbox on your event website registration forms. Clearly explain that by registering, attendees are also subscribing to receive event updates and relevant communications in future email campaigns.

In all cases, be transparent about how you will use subscribers' email addresses and what type of content they can expect to receive. Always obtain explicit consent, and make it easy for subscribers to opt out or update their preferences at any time.

4. Understand Your Audience (and Segment Your List)

Take some time to get to know your audience better. Dive into your email lists and really get a feel for who's there. Look at things like their demographics, interests, and how they've interacted with your emails before.

This understanding will help you group them into segments that make sense, like those who've been to your events before, those who might come in the future, and even your potential event attendees sponsors. When you can group your audience like this, it's easier to send them emails that really speak to their interests and needs.

You can also take advantage of any tagging features your email marketing service might offer to automatically categorize contacts when they enter your mailing list (e.g. by adding tags for ‘Newsletter signups’, ‘Trade show signup’ etc). This can make it even easier for you to create targeted email campaigns further down the line.

5. Plan the Sending Schedule

Develop a well-structured sending schedule for your event email marketing. I’ve shared some ideas above, but a basic schedule might include:

  • Initial Announcement: Send a teaser email announcing the event's date, venue, and key highlights.
  • Reminder Emails: Send timely reminders as the event date approaches.
  • Follow-Up Emails: After the event, send thank-you emails, feedback surveys, or special offers for future events.

Once you have this, you can lean on automation to make sure event promotion emails get sent out at the right time and to the right audience. (I talk about that in more detail in step #8!)

6. Create Compelling Content

Offering engaging content is the key to keeping contacts subscribed to your list. While the temptation may be to keep event emails promotional in nature, there’s actually a lot more you can offer to subscribers. Here are a few tips to follow in your next event campaign:

  • Use clear and concise language: Keep your message straightforward and easy to understand.
  • Highlight event benefits: Clearly communicate the value of attending the event and what attendees will gain.
  • Incorporate storytelling: Share anecdotes or success stories related to past events to create an emotional connection with your audience.
  • Include visuals: Use images, videos, or infographics to make your emails visually appealing and convey information effectively.
  • Create a sense of urgency: Encourage action by using phrases like “Limited seats available” or “Early bird discount ends soon.”
  • Provide Value: Make sure your content includes valuable information, such as event specifics, directions, and available accommodations.
  • Remember the subject line: Compelling content is no good if no one opens the email. Make sure your subject line is attractive and intriguing too!

Check out our full guide if you’re after more tips on how to write a compelling marketing email.

7. Design Visually Appealing Emails

Design emails that align with your event's branding and theme, and help your emails stand out. Make use of attractive graphics, and make sure that your emails are mobile-responsive.

Other event email marketing best practices to follow include keeping your email layout organized and clutter-free, choosing easy-to-read fonts that are large enough for comfortable reading (especially on mobile devices), and using eye-catching buttons to highlight important calls-to-action, such as “Register Now” or “Learn More.”

We have more tips on designing eye-catching emails in this article.

8. Implement Email Automation to Send Your Campaigns

Having an email marketing automation strategy ensures that your audience receives timely and relevant messages, without you having to manually send the emails every time. So be sure to set up automated email sequences for invitation series, event registration confirmations, personalized recommendations, and post-event follow-ups.

activecampaign drip campaign

An example of an event drip campaign built with ActiveCampaign

Many email automation platforms come with prebuilt workflows that allow you to simply swap in the placeholders with your own content and segments, and send event campaigns on autopilot (as in the example in the image above).

One important thing to make sure of, though, is to make sure your automations are being sent to the right subscribers. That means, for example, sending VIP invitations only to your most valued subscribers, and excluding those who have already registered from receiving more invitations. These can be added as filtered steps or segments in your automations.

It’s always a good idea to test automated workflows by inserting yourself and other team members into the email campaigns – that way, you’ll be able to make sure that automated emails are triggered at the right times and sent to the right segments of your audience.

Read more about the benefits of marketing automation here.

9. Monitor, Analyze and Optimize Your Campaigns

Monitoring and analyzing your event email campaigns helps you see what's working, and highlights where you might need a course correction. You get to know your audience better by looking at things like who's opening your emails and clicking through.

If some emails are getting better engagement than others, you can double down on what's great and work on improving what’s not. A/B testing elements like design and copy is a great way to land on the winning formula that appeals most to your audience.

Plus, with this data, you’ll be in a better position to personalize your messages and send them at times that make the most sense for your audience. Every event email marketing campaign is an opportunity to refine your strategy, making your event marketing efforts an ever-evolving success story.

So, keep an eye on those email stats and keep the engagement rolling!

Email Marketing for Events: Conclusion

As we’ve seen, email marketing for events is a cost-effective strategy that can be your ticket to a vast audience, whether your event is local, global, or virtual. From newsletters to invitations, confirmations, reminders, and more, an well though out event email marketing strategy does more than just fill seats; it also helps to nurture relationships that extend far beyond the final curtain call.

Personalization is where it truly shines. With email marketing, you can tailor messages to each recipient, speaking directly to their interests and demographics, and offering real-time communication for updates, reminders, and crucial event details. Segmentation lets you send the right message to the right people, boosting relevance and conversion chances. And don't forget the tracking and measurement – precise insights that refine your strategies for future events.

I hope these insights and ideas have helped to inspire your next event marketing strategy! If you need help picking the right email template or platform, feel free to give our Email Marketing Smart Finder a spin. And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a comment below!

The authors

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Inka Wibowo

Senior Content Manager

Hi, I'm Inka! I spent the earlier part of my career in agency land, helping businesses of all sizes get their email marketing campaigns up and running. Now, at EmailTooltester, I'm using my experience to help businesses like yours find the best email marketing services for your needs.

Cai Ellis

SEO Manager

Hi! My name is Cai, and I've worked in digital marketing for many years. More recently, I've been concentrating on email marketing, through testing tools and writing guides. And I've also picked up a bit of SEO know-how along the way! If you've got questions about these or any related subjects, I'll be happy to help!

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16 Apr 2024 – Smaller updates and corrections

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This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

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