Canada’s top human resources professionals are recognized annually with the Vision Awards. Ray & Berndtson, Ottawa’s largest executive search firm, in cooperation with Ontario’s Human Resources Professionals Association, established the Vision Awards in 1999. Up until last year, the calls for nominations and the invitations to the award ceremony were sent via direct mail.
For the event’s fifth anniversary, Elizabeth Kiraga, Vision Awards administrator, decided to both brand the event and move promotion online.
Its email campaign was created by Canadian-based e-marketing agency cardcommunications. Some results:
- Significantly reduced event (and stress) cost. The event’s promotion previously involved five mailings to 2,000 individuals.
- Completely sold-out evening. The number of attendees increased more than 33 percent. Four hundred attendees in 2002 swelled to 535 in 2004.
- Tripled database. The database grew from 300 to 900 contacts in just a year.
- Increased number of award nominations. The field of nominees was broadened substantially. (A proactive, monitored nomination committee was key.)
A Short, Sweet Turnkey E-Mail Campaign
The awards ceremony was held last April. Promotion began the previous November (before the holiday rush) with a save-the-date announcement and call for nominations. (There was also one direct mail announcement about the move to email, with a call to action to enroll on the Web site for future updates.)
Starting in January, monthly email messages were sent. Registration peaked in March, a month prior to the event, when the actual nominations were announced.
The email messages were straightforward, with subject lines such as:
- November: Celebrate Excellence in Human Resources — The Vision Awards
- March: Vision Awards — Nominees Announced
- Post event: Relive the 5th Vision Awards (a video of the gala was available online for download)
The average open rate was 57 percent and the average CTR (define) was 12 percent. According to Carolyn Gardner, president of cardcommunications, these figures are well above the industry norm.
Kiraga feels the beauty of this email campaign lies in the fact it can be reused, necessitating only minor copy changes. The campaign is now a virtual turnkey operation. That allows her staff to concentrate on other priorities, such as ticket and sponsorship sales.
E-Mail Offers Further Benefits
E-mail offers organizations in Canada, with its two official languages, even greater savings and flexibility. The award email messages, written in English, linked to a French version that immediately popped over the English version. In the past, all direct mail had to be written, and printed, in both languages.
In addition, email’s easy forwarding capabilities increased the Vision Awards database and the nominations received. Word of the event spread across Canada, beyond the provinces the Vision Awards traditionally serve.
Although nominations must still be submitted by paper ballot (signatures are required for authentication), at least nomination forms can now be downloaded from the Web site. In the past, when nomination forms were lost or incorrect, the awards staff had to field multiple calls and mail new forms.
It seems the only thing the email doesn’t do is announce award winners prior to the ceremony! People who are interested must still attend the gala celebration to find out, or else wait a few days for the post-award recap email.
Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.
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