B2B Marketing Blog

Ten terrible email marketing habits event marketers adopt

Ten-terrible-email-marketing-habits-event-marketers-adoptIf you read this blog, you know my view on how event marketers use and abuse email marketing, and I’m afraid to say it hasn’t altered just yet. If anything, I realise that there are several fundamental forgotten points that I just had to make. If you’re a B2B event industry insider, and you use email as your main marketing channel please listen up, because your approach so far is not good, not because I say so, just because click-through rates in our event industry are appalling!

Email marketing click through rates in the events industry range from 0.5% to 1.5%


Here are some of my bugbears:

1. Overloading that first email with TMI (too much information)

Yes, even though it’s your big announcement email, and you want to cram every possible detail into it, this can just be way too much information. Besides, if you’ve told me (the email recipient) all I need to know within the first communication, where can you possibly go with the next one? Better to bide your time, and give yourself a fighting chance of converting those as yet unsure prospects.

2. Sending subject lines with so little care

We’ve all heard the advice of “tell don’t sell”, which is a great place to start. But have you actually made your subject line sound appealing? You don’t need to go overboard, but if I think from one opening gambit that your email or event could help to solve a problem of mine then you’ll definitely have my attention.

3. Boring me with irrelevant details

An email is not a sales letter, and they don’t require lengthy introductions or painting-the-scene before you sell the event. As a time-poor professional, they just want to know that what’s delivered inside will be of value, and relevant to their day-to-day challenges, pain-points and how they will be solved.

So leave all the specifics and lengthy convincing for the landing page on your website.

4. Taking no time to review your metrics

In my experience, event companies rarely take a minute to compare their open rates and click through rates to industry benchmarks, or even their own previous performance. Big mistake. If you never bother to evaluate these numbers, how can you know if you’re improving (which you should be doing incrementally year on year, or email on email)? Start small with this, and get hold of a recent and relevant benchmarking report, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. We review them constantly here if you are lazy.

5. Sending without segmenting – yes they can tell!

You might think that sending a generic “Dear Colleague” “Dear friend,” “Dear industry professional”, vague email containing some non-specific industry information is a way of appealing to everyone in your database, without having to tailor copy to several groups. Nope! In fact it means your email will appeal to almost nobody as it won’t tap into a prospect’s individual needs and hopes of what they’d achieve or receive from attending your conference.

6. Emailing too much

Once event companies have a date in the diary for a conference, they can’t seem to stop sending – typically around 10-16 emails per event. This is almost always too many emails. Event companies shouldn’t be so reliant on this channel, and if they are leveraging social media, SEO and exposure through media partners they won’t need to be. My rule of thumb is unless you’re sending something new or of some value to your database, don’t send anything at all.

7. Emailing too little or not at all before an event is launched

I know, I know, this might sound contradictory. But what I mean here is remaining silent for most of the year and then leaping into action three months prior to your conference. Why not email your opted-in prospects as part of a 365-day marketing campaign, with value-adding content and updates so that when the time comes for you to promote a conference it doesn’t appear that you only reach out when you want something?

8. Piling on the pressure when you need to fill seats

Haven’t you woken up to the fact that “last chance”, “don’t miss” and “limited places remaining” only serve to annoy rather than appeal? Your prospects don’t want to feel pressured into attending your conference, just understood and appreciated. These terms rarely achieve the desired result of generating more delegates, and can just signal that your registration drive isn’t going too well.

9. Offering too many options in the form of calls-to-action (CTAs)

If you want your prospects to sign up, then direct them to a registration page via your emails. If you would like recipients to simply go to a landing page with more information, then send them there. CTAs should be eye-catching and/or exceptionally clear, so cluttering your email with too many of them makes no sense at all.

10. Showing stress levels with typos and silly errors

The run-up to a B2B event is an undoubtedly demanding and sometimes difficult time. But this doesn’t excuse not bothering to proofread your emails before pressing send. The content reflects heavily on your professionalism and even that of your conference – so don’t give prospects a reason to switch off so soon. Make your email content shine, and engage from the get-go.


If event marketers and especially event leaders insist on upholding their attachment to email marketing, they must surely improve at it. It is the most effective way of reaching your database – but if, and only if, it’s done with expertise, attention and care. If it’s not optimised, event companies run the risk of their databases disengaging, and then having to resort to adding new data year on year. So just take the time to review your strategy, improve it, stick to it, and most importantly measure it. You’ll be amazed by what can be achieved with a little hard work.

 Are you making old school marketing mistakes that are killing your email? 

Image credit: Mike Willis

Topics: Direct Marketing Email Marketing Event Marketing Conference Marketing