Email Case Study: How to Sell Out an Event

Several months ago, Ben Isaacson, executive director of the Association for Interactive Marketing (AIM), called. He wanted Jeffrey (my partner and brother) and me to moderate pre-conference workshops at AIM’s event. Jeffrey and I thought for a moment and responded in unison, “We’ll be there.”

Shortly after we got on board, AIM lined up strong speakers: DMA head H. Robert Wientzen; Andrea Weiss, Delia’s president; Robert Friedman of AOL Worldwide Interactive Marketing and TV; and our friend, author Roy H. Williams. So, why I am telling you all this? Is this a commercial for a great event next week? No, but…

The DMA Seminar Center, which holds about 100 people, was the location planned for the workshops. Until the email campaign, that is. Well-planned event promotion not only sold out the original venue but also forced AIM to book bigger digs.

The Campaign

On April 10, AIM sent a rich media email to its list. I’ve said it before: The most powerful way to increase your conversion rate is by mailing to people who have bought from you before. Immediately after that mailing, AIM was looking for that bigger space. I asked Adrienne Gaboury, AIM’s director of marketing and business development, to tell me more about that mailing.

“Sorry, DMA policy is not to release exact numbers. But I can tell you the strategy we used to sell out,” replied Adrienne, just itching to reveal the numbers she’s so proud of.

AIM and its parent, the DMA, planned a multichannel campaign. It started with three direct mail pieces, followed by ads with media partners (including WordBiz, MarketingSherpa, and local association newsletters such as the New York New Media Association). Promotions on its site and at other AIM events followed. “Then, we started emailing to our lists. First, a text-only email and a mention in our newsletters; ultimately a rich media email prepared by Bigfoot Interactive,” explained Adrienne.

So I asked fellow ClickZ columnist and Bigfoot CEO Al DiGuido how his company went about creating the rich media message for AIM.

“We looked at AIM’s content and some of their concepts for the email and tried to figure out how we could spotlight the unique content being presented at the conference in an engaging way,” said Al. “We decided since AIM has a strong list of professional marketers, a rich media email with animation and audio would work well with their audience. At the end of the day, that email might not win any awards, but it did its job.”

What We Can Learn

  • Selling out an event is not about sending out an email; it’s about planning a solid, integrated campaign.
  • Find your audience where they are. A multichannel approach is smart marketing.

  • Plan the best event you can to create real value: great content, great speakers, real knowledge (and have a backup plan for selling out!).

  • Al says it best: When planning your email, “know your list and send pertinent and relevant communications.”

  • Don’t make any of the 12 most common mistakes of email marketing.

Other successful seminars do the same. ClickZ’s Email Strategies Conference this month is selling out fast. Hope to see you there!

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