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« February 2009 | Main | April 2009 »

Stop Losing Emails Subscribers to Double Opt-in

Email_opt_in_event_marketing

I’m a firm believer in using opt-in verification (double opt-in) whenever you collect email addresses online. Opt-in verification requires an email subscriber to click on a unique verification link that is emailed to them immediately after sign up. Your email list might not grow as large or as quickly if you require people to verify their subscription. But, requiring a double opt-in creates lists that are of higher quality and more responsive. Double Opt-in also significantly reduces your chances of being blacklisted as an email spammer, increases email deliverability, and makes your email databases more portable. You can significantly reduce your double opt-ins losses by having a well though out verification process.Below is a brief outline of my verification process. Feel free to integrate the ideas into your own list building efforts.

A Well Thought Out Thank You Page
Most services allow you the ability to redirect email subscribers to a thank you page after they submit their information. A well crafted post submission thank you page is your best chance at reducing the number of people you're losing to double opt-in verification. Be sure to be very direct in telling people what they need to do on the thank you page (e.g. - go check your email right now and click on the verification link). Make the instructions bold and as visually loud as possible.

Here is some of the text I use on my thank you page for this site:

IMPORTANT . . .

I can't send you any information until you verify your sign up. This is done to protect your privacy.

What you need to do, right now:
Please check your email and click on the confirmation link. (It's that simple.) More detailed instructions can be found below.

(Shameless self-promotion)
You can sign up to my list and see how the complete process works.

Before implementing a robust verification process, I was losing 25% of total email subscribers, across numerous web sites, to the double opt-in verification.  Recently I setup a simple one page event web site with the sole purpose of collecting email addresses. The web site included a thank you page with very direct instructions. In 12 days 486 people subscribed to the VIP email list for the event. By using a well thought out post opt-in thank you page I was able to reduce the loss of subscribers from 25% to 15%.

Having a dedicated email list is one of the single greatest marketing resources any event organizer or planner can possess. Unlike other forms of marketing for your event, lists allow you to directly interactive with your specific target market. People aren’t going to subscriber to your event email list unless they’re somewhat interested in your event. Be sure you have a well thought out email collection process in place before you start trying to collect email addresses.

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Satisfaction Guaranteed Events

Event_satisfaction_guarantee Does your event come with a satisfaction or money back guarantee? Whenever I ask event producers the previous question they get agitated and uncomfortable.  The usual response to the guarantee question is “We’d be crazy to offer a money back guarantee, everyone would ask for their money back.” Here is a follow up question . . . "Are you not willing to stand behind the quality of your event?"  A satisfaction guarantee is already built in to your event if an attendee purchased a ticket with a credit card. The consumer has the right to challenge any charges on their credit card. If a consumer feels like your event didn’t deliver on their expectations they can call the credit card company and dispute the charge. If the consumer can prove their case you need to return their money, plus a charge back fee.

People Always Ask for Their Money Back
No event has a 100.0% satisfaction rate. Even if you have a stellar event, there are people who will dispute the charges on their credit card.  Last year, I managed online ticket sales for a large event.  Over 7,000 tickets were purchased online for the event.  Of the over 7,000 tickets purchased less than 6 people called the credit card company to dispute the charges.  If people can already ask for their money back, why not just offer a guarantee?

Event Organizers Already Offering Guarantees
Guarantees are a great way to decrease someone's objections to making a purchase. I know numerous event organizers who offer a money back guarantee on their seminars, workshops, and events.  The money back guarantee is on events that cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. In one case an event organizer offered a "money back guarantee, plus we pay your travel expenses" on their event. There were 3 people who asked for their money back. Yet with the guarantee in place the same event organizer managed to increase their event revenue by over 50% from year to year.

Yes, there are people who have asked for their money back. But savvy event organizers still insist on having a satisfaction guarantee. Why?  It makes selling any event significantly easier.  As a consumer, would you be more or less inclined to purchase a ticket for an event of interest if it was backed up with a believable guarantee?

When planning your event, consider offering a money back guarantee.  It’s one of the easiest ways to increase revenue with little risk (provided you have a high quality event). You can mitigate the risk of refunds by properly executing your event. A strong guarantee tells your target market that you firmly stand behind the quality of your event. The whole idea of a event guarantee is much scarier than it seems. As soon as you do it once and see the results, I doubt you’ll have another event without a guarantee.

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Social Media Comments and Your Event

Social_media_event_comments Social Media can be a virtue or a vice for event organizers.  On the positive front, event organizers can interact with their target market like never before.  You can use target market interaction and feedback to build a better event.  On the negative side, social media can be used to leave disparaging comments about your event.  In some cases the comments might not be true or misrepresent your event.  Even worse, negative comments about your event can show up on web sites that you have no editorial control over. If comments appear on a popular web site (a local news agency web site) they will probably get indexed into the search engines. Today people are apt to read something online and take it as fact without checking the facts.

Below you will find some suggestions on dealing with social media comments regarding your event.

Continue reading "Social Media Comments and Your Event" »

Free Qualified Traffic For Your Site

This past Monday one of my clients held a press conference announcing their annual event. My big lesson from the announcement revolved around the importance of referral traffic. Any time another web site links to your web site and sends you traffic, it’s considered referral traffic. Referral traffic doesn't cost you any money to generate. Another nice part about referral traffic is that it’s usually highly qualified traffic. If people are at all curious about your event, they’ll click on the referring link. Below is an easy to implement suggestion to get free referral traffic for your event web site. It works best when done in conjunction with a press conference or press release for your event. Focus on getting referral links from local news outlets.  Local news web sites have higher traffic rates. If you can get national coverage, even better!

Event_referring_site

Compare and Contrast
Here is a quick comparison of the traffic to the web site supporting my client’s event. In 2007, 85 visitors went to the event web site within 24 hours of the announcement. There were few referring links back to the web site in 2007. After the press conference on Monday, 1,238 visitors (1,346 visits) went to the web site within 24 hours.  That’s a 1356% increase in traffic.  84% of the 1,238 visitors came as a result of referring traffic. One of the local news web sites accounted for almost 50% of all the traffic in the first 24 hours. In addition, over 400 people signed up to mailing list supporting the event within 72 hours. The last time we tried to collect email addresses it took 4 months to get 400 people on the mailing list.

The Media Forgets
Just because you include a web address in your media kit or press release doesn’t mean the media will automatically include it with their stories. It’s very easy for a writer on deadline to forget something as simple as your web site address.  Don’t take it personally. Whenever the media covers your event, you want them to include your web address. It’s free publicity that drives qualified traffic to your web site.

What You Can Do
The following suggestion might take 15 minutes to an hour of your time, but it is well worth the investment.  Call up your local media outlets (television, radio, & newspaper).  Concentrate your efforts on news outlets that have dedicated web sites.  When calling, you want to ask for someone at the news desk. Try to find out who might be covering the story on your event.  When you find the right person, kindly request that they include your web address with any stories they’re running. By doing so you’ll drive qualified traffic to your web site.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Your Event Marketing on the Radio

Event_radio_advertising Over the weekend I heard a radio spot for an upcoming local event.  Any time I hear or see something event related my ears and eyes take notice. The first half of the radio spot was what one would expect; “come out to a great family event,” date, time, location, etc. But the second half of the commercial was the really interesting part. All of the information in the second half of commercial was dedicated to information on purchasing tickets.  That didn’t make any sense to me. Why dedicate half a radio commercial solely to ticket information?  There is little use in giving people ticketing information if they haven’t been convinced to attend your event.

Think Web Centric
In my opinion all your advertising should lead to your web site.  Think about the process people use today to find out more information on just about anything. If a person is interested in something, they’ll probably go online to get additional information. Integrate people’s behaviors into your event marketing strategy.  Whatever event advertising you’re running should give good incentive to get people back to your web site.  You can use something as “for more details visit our web site (insert web address).”

You Can't Change Their Mind
If I had to redo the radio spot from above, I would have dedicated more time to building curiosity or value about my event to the potential target market. Your event advertising, regardless of how good, is unlikely to change the mind of your target market. I can’t think of any event organizer who has a big enough advertising budget to change the public's mind.  People are predisposed to being interested in your event.  Keep your advertising efforts on those people most likely to attend.

Don't Try to Cram Every Last Detail
Don't overload the listener with details. "Less is More" is applicable to radio advertising. Too many event organizers try to cram every last iota of information into advertising. If listeners take away only one thing from your web site let it be the web address of your event web site.

Here is another article that includes additional advice on radio advertising:

Whatever advertising you’re doing, focus on delivering the value of your event before you ask for the sale. You’ll get a lot more people to your event.

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The Advertising of Your Event

Adverting_Marketing_Event Contrary to popular belief, print advertising fundamentals are still extremely relevant for promoting your event. The fundamentals of effective advertising can be applied beyond just newspapers and magazines.  If you can create an effective print ad, you can do the same for almost any form of online advertising. The same principles for effective advertising apply to video and audio. Unfortunately too many organizations seem to be more concerned with creating works of art instead of advertising that gets people to take action. You can’t afford to have ineffective ads when advertising for your event.

"The King of Madison Avenue"
David Ogilvy is one of my favorite sources for advertising fundamentals.  He’s considered by many a “patron saint” in the advertising industry.  Ironically some of the same people who revere Ogilvy are also the first to abandon his tenants.  Ogilvy believed that the purpose of advertising was to sell, not to entertain. Don’t try to make your advertising look like a work art! Think in terms of good design (not art) and persuasive copy.  Focus on creating advertising for your event that gets people to take action.

Below are a series of articles outlining several of David Ogilvy’s concepts and suggestions for writing effective advertising.   If you follow his tenants you have a good chance at creating advertising that gets people to your event.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Being a World Class Event Promoter (the P.T. Barnum Way)

Barnum_Tom_Thumb Over the last two years this blog has featured a number of posts about P.T. Barnum. The man was an event marketing and promotion genius.  He could take the seemingly odd or simple and turn it into a financial gold mine.  Barnum has been gone for almost 120 years, but his techniques for event promotion and marketing are still applicable today. In the 1800s there was no Internet, radio, or television for advertising.  Barnum’s American Museum actually thrived during a time of Civil War. Regardless of what’s going on in the world people want to escape reality and be entertained. Everything that Barnum accomplished was as a result of ingenuity, printer’s ink, and word of mouth advertising.

Have you ever considered including some of P.T. Barnum’s concepts into your own event marketing and promotion?

Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event. There is at least one good idea waiting for you to use with your event.

Take the time to read through a few posts.


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Monetizing Free Events - There is Money Everywhere

Monetize_free_event There is no such thing as a free event. Events without any type of admission still cost event organizers money to produce.  Organizers almost always need to rent equipment or have a dedicated facility to hold their event. These things cost money. In addition to the previously mentioned costs, there are typically numerous ancillary expenses that cannot be traded out. If the economy is bad, people and businesses are less apt to help out free events and not for profit organizations. With sponsorship dollars becoming much more difficult to come by event organizers need to look at other avenues for funding. As an event organizer you need to focus on other areas of financial opportunity.  Is there some aspect of your event that you can monetize?

Offering a Premium Event Experience
Here is an idea.  If you have a free event, can you charge people for a premium experience?  People are willing to pay money at free events if you can deliver extra value.  Things like reserve seating or a VIP experience are just some of the things you can offer as premiums.  Some patrons are willing to pay you money if it means not having to wait in line for 45 minutes. Look at ideas that are of minimal cost to you as an event organizer, yet generate maximum revenue.  You would be surprised what patrons are willing to pay for a premium experience. It’s important that you offer a premium that your event patron finds valuable. There is often a discrepancy of perceived value between patrons and event organizers. You can overcome the “What’s a premium” hurdle by asking or testing offers with your event patrons.  Keep the focus on what patrons find appealing, not what you think they might find appealing. Something as simple as an email survey to your target demographic can give you answers to the premium experience question.

Monetizing Your Event Afterward
A less desirable place to monetize your event is after the event takes place. The disadvantage is what you can’t put money into your coffers before your event occurs. Patrons typically look for nostalgia items after an event takes place.  Do you have anything that people might be interested in purchasing after you event? The easiest way to generate revenue, post event, is from a dedicated event web site. Make nostalgic items available for purchase online.  Just remember to focus on your patron’s desire.

As an event organizer of a free event (or any event) you need to think of additional ways to monetize your event. People will pay, regardless of the economic conditions, for a premium experience. A little brain power can go far in generating extra revenue for your event.

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Recession = Opportunities For Your Event

Are you as an event organizer making the most of the economic downturn?  It isn’t all doom and gloom in the world. There are events and industries that are actually thriving in spite of current economic conditions. Check out some of the random press clippings pulled from the last few days.

Recession_economy_events I’m not going to deny that people are struggling. But it’s important to remember that people still want to do things.  Go take a look at your local shopping mall during any given weekend.  There might not be as many people shopping, but people are still shopping.  Opportunities are all over the place for smart and savvy event organizers. One huge opportunity that you can take advantage of is discounted advertising rates. 

Discounted Event Advertising
Advertising outlets are so desperate to get advertisers they are offering advertising at a discount. Everyone is discounting their services: television, print, radio, online, etc. It’s far less expensive to buy advertising to promote your event. Even with discounted advertising, focus on negotiating your advertising packages even lower. You should never pay rate card for advertising.  A trusted media buyer told me that 80% of online advertising goes unsold. Be vigilant in how you negotiate your advertising agreements. Never say yes to the initial price you're quoted.

Less Advertisers
Advertising advantages go beyond discounted rates. The current economic state has also prompts many businesses to reduce advertising efforts.  It’s a psychological effect. Business owners think “other businesses are spending less, we should follow suit.” As a result you have less advertising competing for the consumer’s attention. Make sure you don’t follow the rest of the flock. A down economy is an excellent time to gain market share on the competition. Take advantage of less clutter in the market place to position your event with the public.

If you’re thinking of holding an event, the current economy offers you certain advantages. People still want to be entertained, have fun, and learn new things. It’s up to you to provide them something unique and of high perceived value.

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Exquisitely Describing Your Event

The words you use to describe your event can make a world of difference in how many people show up to your event.  For all the technology we have at our fingertips words are still your most powerful marketing tool.  When you describe your event, especially in your marketing, make your event description extraordinary.  It doesn’t matter if you’re using traditional media (television, print, radio) or new media. You want the person reading or seeing your advertisements to automatically think, “I want to do that!”


As a quick example, which of the following would more likely peak your interest to attend the event captured in the video above?

“Come see our amazing fireworks and laser light show.”

- OR -

"Witness a thrilling nighttime kaleidoscope as the sky erupts with over 1,100 pyrotechnic bursts and the extraordinary Earth Globe floats across the lagoon, revealing wonders of the seven continents on its curved LED screens — the first ever of their kind. Revel in rousing original music as lasers turn the very sky into a work of art."

Both descriptions are for the same event. The longer description comes from the Disney Corporation. It's for their Reflections of Earth fireworks and laser light show at EPCOT.

You're description can be as long as you want. (Provided you hold your readers attention.) The marketing of your event needs to rival the quality of your event.  Most event organizers create great events that nobody attends. Make sure you’re not making the same mistake. If you have something really great to share with people, don’t under hype your event.

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