Cheat Sheet: E-newsletters

E-newsletters are a popular marketing tool, but can you produce an electronic newsletter that’s not only opened but also welcomed by your attendees and exhibitors? Here are a few pointers to make your e-newsletters more successful.

When to send e-newsletters and how often

There’s not a cut-and-dry formula for when to send an e-newsletter and how often. Evaluate your show’s specific needs.  What is the audience’s “need-to-know” factor? Some shows schedule their e-newsletter distribution schedule around important deadlines — especially for exhibitor e-newsletters. Other shows have a mailing schedule that ramps up as the show approaches — this is especially true for attendee-driven e-newsletters. Many shows begin with a monthly e-newsletter when show registration opens. Then increase to bi-weekly as deadlines for registration and housing approach, and then weekly in the final weeks before the show.

Customize the content

• Don’t send the same material to buyers and exhibitors. They need to know different things. Give them what they need. • The pitches you send to previous attendees or exhibitors should be different from those you send to potential new participants. Prospects need to know the value of the show; return attendees need to know what’s new this time to make it worth coming back. • Change the content after an attendee or exhibitor has registered. Never send a “sign up now” e-mail to someone who has already signed up. It’s a nuisance to them and makes you look inefficient. • Use fresh content in every successive e-newsletter. • Generally, shorter is better. A quick, newsy approach is best, and the content must be useful. Regardless of the audience, people are busy; respect their time. • Use links to send readers to a Web page for registration or to a PDF newsletter with more graphics, rather than trying to embed too many graphics in your e-mail.

What to include for attendees Industry news briefs — What are the big stories in your industry? Try forming a partnership with a trade magazine to obtain meaningful news items.

Product announcements — These can be helpful, but be careful to avoid product announcements that sound like ads. Also, develop a clear policy about which products will be included. It’s often not possible to include them all, and you can create tension with exhibitors if their product is left out.

Tips on show discounts and deals — Are you offering a discount for pre-registration?

Networking opportunities — Networking is one of the primary reasons people attend. Special events — Does your show have any dinners or receptions for invited guests only, such as first-timer events or international attendee receptions?

Destination briefs — What’s available to do after the show?

What to include for exhibitors Updates on attendance such as number of attendees registered or major buyers they can expect to see

Special promotion opportunities such as coupon giveaways, or traffic-building promotions such as bingo cards

Cost-saving tips such as ordering stock carpet, or the best way to package goods to be shipped.

Restaurants nearby where exhibitors can host clients

Get them to open and read it

• Be sure the subject line and sender address are honest and obvious. Use the show name or association name in the subject line. If you’re using an outside distributor, be sure your organization appears as the sender. • Avoid sales-oriented words like “free” or abbreviations such as “adv” that may be red flags to spam filters and blocking programs. Send test messages to determine the spam score your e-mail may receive. • Limit the number of sponsorships and ads in your attendee e-newsletters. Keep sponsorship acknowledgments short and simple. • Ask for reader feedback or survey responses and give readers access to the accumulated data. • Coordinate distribution with all your other communications to be sure your customers are not inundated with promotions.

Measure your success

• Evaluate the number of visitors to your Web site vs. the number of people who sign up for e-newsletters. • Track the number of people who unsubscribe and when. If a high number unsubscribe after only one or two e-newsletters, consider what you promised and may not have delivered. • Count the number of bounces, opens and click-throughs to linked information or Web sites. You can also track “forward” counts if you include a special “forward to a friend” link. • Use other interactive techniques such as surveys and quick feedback or information-request mechanisms. • Time your mailings. A survey found highest delivery rates to be weekdays, in order: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Wednesday. And the best delivery time was between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.


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