This is a guest post from River Cartie from Constant Contact.

In the time that passes between your event’s invitation and the event itself, momentum gets lost, initial excitement can fade, and people forget. That’s why building and maintaining excitement is key to a successful event. Let’s take a look at how an email communication plan can help.

How to build excitement for an event

Building upon the excitement generated by an event announcement takes work, but with a bit of time and some forethought, you can get everyone excited about your event — without having to scramble while you focus on the behind-the-scenes work. The key is email marketing. 

When it comes to building excitement for an event, you want to be consistent and timely. Which means it’s best to create your email campaigns in advance and schedule them based upon three things:

  1. When the event is taking place.
  2. When announcements are being sent out.
  3. How much information you have to share, and how much time you have between numbers one and two.

As you probably already know, as soon as you have a date set for your event, you want to send out an announcement email. Once your announcement email is created, it’s time to create (and schedule) a series of email campaigns to build excitement.

Pro Tip:  For more information on announcement emails, check out Constant Contact’s 1-2-3 Guide to Announcement Emails blog post.

Setting up email campaigns follows the same principle as setting up an automated series. The difference is that you set exact dates and times that you want the email campaigns to go out rather than having a series of emails triggered by an action. If you have a set time and date for the event, you need to have set times and dates for the email campaigns that go with it.

Pro Tip:  If you have an open event, schedule social media posts to coincide with your email campaigns. By using Constant Contact’s Social Share option, you can schedule Constant Contact to post on your social media pages daily, weekly, or once a month. It’s up to you!

What email campaigns need to be set up in advance?

For every event, we suggest that you schedule a minimum of four email campaigns. Here’s a list of what should be created and scheduled in advance of sending out your announcement email. To keep things simple, we suggest that they’re created in this order:

  1. An invitation to register/buy tickets
  2. A set of excitement building email campaigns
  3. Two reminder email campaigns
  4. A thank you email campaign

How you proceed depends on one of two things:

  1. Is your event a closed, invitation-only event with limited seating? (e.g. a sit down dinner or show.)
  2. Is your event an open event, where people wander around? Do you have less contacts than you have room for? (e.g. an open air festival)

The nature of your event dictates what to include in your email campaigns. 

When building excitement, you’ll want to schedule a different campaign for each month in between the announcement and the event itself. The exception is the reminder emails, which should be sent out both one week and two days prior to the event.

If you don’t have several months between the announcement and the event, then draft just a few email campaigns and schedule them closer together. Make sure they’re timed consistently and that you don’t flood your recipients’ inboxes with too many messages. Balance is key.

What’s the difference between an announcement and an invitation? 

An announcement is a kind of save-the-date. It tells people an event is coming, that they should keep an eye out for an invitation, and gives them a chance to express their interest. An invitation, on the other hand, has a clear call to action (buy tickets, reserve seats, sign up to volunteer, etc.).

Because an announcement email initiates interest and excitement, you may want to send it to all of your contacts, but then send the invitations to a smaller, more targeted list. In this instance, the contacts that you send the announcement to would be on one list, and the contacts that get invitations (and the rest of the group of email campaigns) would be on another list. To make it easier, you can use click segmentation to build a list of people who clicked on an “interested” link, or button in your announcement email. 

How to write email campaigns to build excitement for an event

It may seem a bit daunting to think about creating several email campaigns at once. But it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems. Today’s audience is skim-happy. They don’t want a lot of details all at once. They like to take in their information in small bites. So, think of it this way — event email campaigns should be small bites of information meant to tantalize and entertain.Thinking this way should make it easier because you only need to include the most important information, and only the most pertinent images.

To ensure you know exactly what to include in your event email marketing campaigns, as well as an idea of how to include it, we’re going to break it down for you.

Pro Tip: Use this marketing calendar to help you schedule and create these campaigns as soon as you send out your announcement.

  1. An invitation email is where you can get more specific than the announcement. Give your readers just enough information that they’ll want to register, but not enough to give everything away. An invitation email should be a kind of teaser. It should do three things:
    1. Pique your readers’ interest. 
    2. Increase their excitement about the event.
    3. Make them want to take action (register/buy tickets).

Here’s an example of an invitation: 

  1. A set of excitement building campaigns. This is a set of email campaigns that give more details about the upcoming event. 

Whether it’s an article about the caterer, complete with mouth-watering images of some of the dishes that will be served, or a video of the headlining band at their last gig, each email should have one singularly focused detail. How many you send depends upon how much time is between the date you sent out invitations and the date the event takes place. If your event is nearly a full calendar year away, we recommend keeping it to one email campaign per month. If it’s coming up in two months, think about sending a campaign every two weeks.

Here’s an example of a detail-focused campaign for an exclusive sit down dinner:

What’s next? 

  1. Two event reminders need to be sent before the event. One should be sent out one week before the event, and the second should be sent out a couple of days before the event takes place.

Reminders are your last chance to build excitement for the event, so don’t just send a basic note. Make your reminder emails work for you. If there’s information about the event that you haven’t shared yet, you can either share that in the first reminder, or let your readers know that there’s more happening at the event than you could fit in your previous emails. Make them wonder what else there is. If your previous emails were good, this “leave them wondering” tactic will make them want to run to your event immediately.

The second reminder should share your excitement that the event is only a few days away. It should also let readers know of any last minute details and if they can get tickets at the door/gate.

  1. A thank you email is key for building excitement around your event, even though it goes out after the event has taken place. It’s a great way to reinforce any messages you hoped to get across with your event and funnel attendee excitement into other  desirable actions (like joining your email list, following you on social media, etc.).

While most people think that thank you messages should only go out to those who registered and attended, this isn’t exactly easy to do when you’ve had an open air festival where people can get tickets at the gate.

In that case, send a thank you to everyone that registered via Eventbrite, as well as anyone who attended the event and signed up for your newsletter. Though your thank you email will go to some people who registered but didn’t attend, you’ll create a sense of “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) and get them eager to attend your next event.

After the series is over

Whether this is an event that you plan on doing every year, or it’s one in a series of events, make sure you send out an email campaign to all of your contacts after it’s over. Showing highlights of the event lets those who didn’t attend know what they missed, piquing their interest for the next time around.

Get started sending expert emails 

In the end, creating, building, and maintaining excitement for an event is about sending your audience tantalizing tidbits about your event on a timely and consistent basis. Nervous? Don’t be. You’ve got this, and you’ve got us. Get started with Constant Contact’s online marketing platform and start generating ongoing excitement for your next event.

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