In the end, all events must strive to attract as many of their target attendees as possible.
Even after we’ve booked the best venue, the best virtual event platform, the best speakers/talents, and other important elements, and so on, all those efforts will go to waste if you can’t get enough attendees to attend your event.
In short, marketing your event is very important, and yet marketing a hybrid event can translate into double the challenge.
In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about how to market a hybrid event by creating an impressive event invitation email, and by the end of this guide’ you’d have learned about:
- Best practices in marketing your hybrid event
- Effective email marketing strategies you can use to attract both in-person and virtual attendees
- How to craft the most impressive hybrid event invitation
- How to use your email invitation to convert both virtual and in-person attendees
And more actionable marketing tips you can use to market your hybrid event.
Without further ado, let us begin right away.
Hybrid Event Marketing: Principles and Best Practices
Marketing a hybrid event can be more challenging than in-person or virtual-only events, but here are some key principles to follow:
1.Define your goals as early as possible
What is the purpose of hosting this hybrid event in the first place? Why not make it an in-person event or a virtual event instead?
How will it benefit your business?
The better you understand the purpose and goals of this event, the easier it will be to develop your marketing strategy.
Follow the SMART goals principle when identifying your hybrid event goals, and your goals should be:
- Specific: as clear as possible with a narrow enough focus. Your team members and stakeholders should clearly understand the goals without any misunderstanding.
- Measurable: you should be able to measure your event’s performance against this objective by monitoring specific metrics and assigning KPIs.
- Attainable: the objective(s) must be realistic and achievable, or else you may hurt your and your team’s morale.
- Relevant: the event’s goals must align well with your organization’s goals and objectives as a whole.
- Time-bound: you must be able to assign a timeline to the objectives. In event planning, this shouldn’t be an issue since the D-day of the event will be the goal’s deadline.
Here are some goal examples for hybrid events:
- Reaching new audiences from a new demographic group.
- Increasing social media engagement by 10% before, during, and after the event
- Selling 100 products during the event (for product launch)
- Increasing the number of registration by 10% from past events
- Generating 20% more opportunities for sponsors and partners
2. Identify (both) your target attendees
In a hybrid event, you are targeting at least two different types of attendees: those who will attend your event in-person and those who will only attend your event virtually (online).
You may or may not have similar demographics for both types of attendees, and in some cases, they may be very different.
Depending on your event goals, as discussed above, identify the ideal attendees that will help you achieve the defined goals. Nevertheless, remember that the better you understand your target attendees are, the better you’ll be able to craft a comprehensive marketing strategy to effectively attract and convert them.
3. Emphasize the hybrid format in your marketing materials
Your hybrid format should be the event’s main selling point and should be at the center of your marketing campaigns.
Make sure to communicate that your event is hybrid throughout all your event marketing efforts while highlighting the unique benefits your attendees will get from both the virtual and in-person aspects of the event.
The aim here is to give prospective attendees the flexibility in more options that can potentially be effective in converting prospective attendees.
For example, there may be prospective attendees who are not yet comfortable about attending an event in a physical venue for health and safety reasons, and they may opt to join the event virtually instead if they noticed the option to do so in your marketing materials.
To maximize this, it’s important to make sure registration is easy and flexible. Provide the option to easily switch between in-person and virtual tickets, as long as there’s still space available.
4. Setting different expectations for both types of attendees
While you should market your hybrid event as a single, unified experience and should aim to deliver the same (at least similar) level of experiences for both your virtual and in-person attendees, it’s technically impossible to offer the exact same things to both attendees.
So, it’s important to set their expectations as early as possible while also considering their unique needs and preferences. Reflect this by creating unique marketing content and campaigns to target each type of attendee.
For example, in-person attendees may be more interested in face-to-face networking opportunities and interactions. On the other hand, your virtual attendees may be more concerned about convenience and cost. Identify their needs and anticipate their different expectations so you can craft your marketing campaign accordingly.
Email Marketing: Effective Hybrid Event Invitation
Email marketing remains one of the most effective marketing channels you can use to increase awareness of your event and reach your target audience.
While there are many different methods you can use to leverage email marketing in promoting your event, the most basic and most important technique is to send event invitations. In fact, more than 40% of surveyed event planners have admitted that event invitation emails are the most effective event promotion channel at the moment.
However, although an email invitation may seem pretty simple, in practice, it can be very difficult to do it right.
With that being said, while different events may require their own unique approaches, all successful event email invitations should include the following elements:
1. Target Audience
Promotional emails, not only event invitations, are only effective when they are sent to the right people, the right target audience.
Without a targeted email list, your event invitation campaign is simply doomed to fail and may cost you money instead of contributing to your profitability.
In this social media age, we can easily build an email list consisting of all kinds of people from all around the world. However, if you are going to host your event in LA, and it is a strictly in-person event (you won’t make it available virtual), sending your email invitations to people from Japan in your email list is obviously going to be ineffective and potentially counterproductive.
It’s very important to identify who your target audience is with event invitations and each promotional email you send.
There are various email marketing tools that offer robust targeting features, and you should leverage these features to ensure a higher open rate, click-through rate, and response rate while also preventing unsubscriptions.
2. Detailed information about the event.
Remember that the purpose of your event invitation is to build awareness about the event with the hope that they’ll be attracted to attend.
So, it’s crucial to make sure you are including all the information potential attendees may need without making it too cluttered. In practice, however, finding the sweet spot can be quite difficult.
Make sure the email invitation outlines what the attendees can expect to see and experience at the event and what values they’ll get from attending. Anticipate the questions prospective attendees may have and try to include the answers to these questions.
3. Unique value proposition
This is arguably the most important element of an email invitation.
What makes your event unique compared to the competitors’? Your event invitation should include a short but concise statement that explains your event’s unique values and why the recipient of the email should attend the event.
Your event invitation should clearly inform the potential benefits of attending your event, with the purpose of attracting recipients to register and actually attend the event.
4. Event details
Include the high-level details of the event: venue (location), type of event, date/time, platform (for virtual/hybrid events), and so on. The purpose of this is to help recipients quickly identify whether they are going to be able to attend the event. If they are going to be able to make it, it may increase the likelihood of them registering or clicking RSVP.
If you are hosting an in-person event, you may also want to include relevant information like parking details, public transport information, and dress code.
On the other hand, if it’s a virtual or hybrid event, you should include URLs, log-in details, access codes, and other relevant details invitees may need to actually attend your event.
5. Social proof
Your event invitation must also communicate that you are a trustworthy event organizer and your event is worth their time.
Naturally, your email invitation’s recipients may have hesitations about attending: they may be worried that your event isn’t worth their money and/or time, and if you are a relatively new event organizer, prospective attendees may also doubt that you can deliver the promises you’ve made throughout the event’s promotion.
To minimize this issue, a good approach is to include social proofs within the email: mentions and recommendations from popular influencers in your niche, testimonials of previous attendees, data from past events, and so on.
Include the necessary information that may help reassure recipients that the event will be worth their money and time.
6. Call-To-Action (CTA)
Now that you’ve included all the information your prospective attendees may need, the next step is to include an optimized call-to-action (CTA) to encourage them to take the next step: register for your event.
You may include a link to your online event registration platform. If you get them to commit to your event via registration or ticket purchase (even if the event is free), they are more likely to show up.
Create a comprehensive email invitation campaign
An event invitation email is typically the first email in a sequence of email promotions when promoting a hybrid event. To be effective, the event invitation email should be followed with:
- A follow-up email (i.e., to be sent one week after the initial invitation email.) The main purpose of this follow-up email is to remind recipients about the event, which can help in cases when a prospective partner was interested in registering but forgot to do so after receiving the invitation email. You can also include changes in information (i.e., if you’ve made changes to the event’s agenda), and in some situations, you may also use this chance to apologize if you’ve made a mistake in the first email.
- Another email just before the event (i.e., one week before the event). The purpose of this “last-minute” email is to create a sense of urgency and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to encourage recipients who haven’t registered to finally register before the deadline.
- A thank you email, should be sent to registrants after successful registrations and after the event (you can also include a post-event survey.) Expressing gratitude and appreciation can go a long way and may help in turning attendees into loyal customers.
- Sending a recap of the event to those who missed the event. This can help in encouraging recipients to join your next events in the future.
Maximizing open rate: how to make your event invitation attractive
1. Optimized subject line
Whether your subject line is attractive or not will dramatically affect the email’s open rate: your subject line should be immediately catchy and should communicate that your event is worthy.
Here are some actionable tips on how:
- Personalization is key. Emails that looked like they were automatically written by software won’t be read, and everyone now expects a personalized experience. Using the recipient’s first name on the subject line is a start, but you should try to identify the recipient’s behaviors, preferences, and needs and communicate how you can be a solution for them in the subject line.
- The faster and better you can grab the recipient’s attention emotionally, the better. Here are some tips you can use:
- Make the invitation feels exclusive. For example, mention that there’re only limited spots or the offer is only available for a limited time.
- Include an attractive, huge announcement on the offer. For example, announce a famous headliner or keynote speaker.
- You can ask questions related to the event that may pique the recipient’s interest.
- Provoke actions and include a prominent CTA that is attractive and hard to miss.
- If appropriate, keep the subject line fun. You can, for example, include puns/jokes or emojis.
Ultimately, an effective event invitation is one that is sent to the right person and at the right time. Timing is very important to ensure effectiveness, and this is where having an event management solution that is also capable of automating your email campaigns can significantly help.
3. Use a professional email address
You’d want to establish yourself as a credible and trustworthy event organizer, so it’s important to use a professional-looking email address, preferably with your own domain name. Avoid using free email options (i.e., free Gmail account).
It’s also worth noting that having your own domain name on the email also makes it easier for customers to look up your company and your website, so they can find more information about the event.
Chances are, your prospective attendees wouldn’t want to attend an event organized by someone they didn’t recognize. So, make sure to use a professional email address and make sure the links to your website’s URL and social media handles are easily found.
4. Attractive introduction
After a recipient has clicked and opened an email, you still need to keep them engaged with a catchy introduction, or else they will easily abandon the email.
Be friendly, fun, but straight to the point. “We’d love to see you at our event” or “We’d love for you to join us” are some examples you can use in your event invitation’s introduction.
Be creative, and make sure your introduction fits your event’s theme and overall brand message.
5. Concise but complete information
Recipients should easily find at least information surrounding the time/date, venue location, and duration of the event:
- Be clear about the event’s exact time and date. Inform about the time zone, and use the appropriate time zone format that your target audience is familiar with.
- If applicable, you can include the agenda of your event. Or else at least inform a summary of the agenda and the duration of the event.
- Inform physical address of the event and telephone number. Embed Google Maps if possible.
- Include public transportation information and parking availability.
- If applicable, add a link the recipients can use to chat with your customer support.
Your invitation’s design does matter. The more attractive the invitation is, aesthetics-wise, the more likely you’ll be successful in persuading recipients to register. Here are a few tips:
- While you should aim to have your own identity, following the current email design trends will help. Stay up to date with the current trends to show your prospective attendees that you are a relevant event organizer.
- Maintain a consistent brand identity. By staying consistent with your brand, you’ll effectively build trust and credibility and can help your brand stay top of mind of your target audience.
- It’s best to prioritize authentic visual assets (i.e., a photo you’ve taken yourself) instead of stock assets. Yes, you can include stock icons and illustrations here and there, but spending the extra time and money to create your own assets will help in the long run. Authenticity is key.
- Depending on your event’s theme, use appropriate colors and design elements to create a proper tone. Again, consistency is important to maintain professionalism and credibility.
- Make sure your email’s content is mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive. If recipients can’t easily view your email’s content on their mobile devices, they’ll abandon it. Also, if you include a registration form or any other forms within the email, make sure the fields aren’t too small and don’t include too many fields. Make sure the call-to-action (CTA) buttons are easily clickable on mobile devices.
- Make sure all images and content are displayed correctly on all popular browsers, devices, and email clients. Test on as many devices and software solutions as possible.
- Make sure the email loads fast. If the content is not optimized and your email loads in more than 3 seconds on standard connectivity, most likely, the recipient will bounce from it.
- Take accessibility into account. Make sure your fonts are big enough, and all the visuals are distinguishable for those with visual impairments. Try to reduce eye strain by ensuring your content has enough contrast (i.e., offer a dark mode version.)
7. Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
To be effective, your event invitation should communicate why your event is worth attending, and this is why UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is a crucial element of your email invitation.
Your UVPs should communicate:
- Why should your target attendees attend the event?
- What makes your event unique from your competitors’?
- What benefits are your attendees going to gain from attending your event?
The better you understand your target attendees (both in-person and virtual attendees), the better you’ll be able to define your UVPs and communicate them.
Center your email’s content around unique benefits and features that they can get from attending your event.
Take your time to do proper market research and competitive analysis. Check out your competitors’ events and identify what makes them unique. Find out how you can beat them and communicate your own unique propositions throughout your email invitation.
Wrapping Up: Additional Tips and Best Practices
The email’s content, and especially how effective it is in communicating information surrounding the event and the event’s value, remain the most important factors determining the event invitation’s effectiveness in attracting clients. However, there are other things you can optimize to improve the invitation’s effectiveness:
- In general, the less text you use, the better you can engage recipients. Use images, infographics, animated gifs, and even videos to communicate your message.
- Make sure the CTAs are clear and give them multiple chances to click on the buttons. A typical approach is to include multiple buttons that link to one destination.
- Leave them wanting for more. Include only the required information and keep it engaging.
- If you’ve hosted previous events, you can include a recap video of previous events to attract prospective attendees.
- Be concise with your content so you don’t avoid the recipients.