The majority of event planners think of email invitations as a digital version of a paper and ink invite. While that may be the case for some email invitations out there, it’s shouldn’t be.

The right kind of online invitations are essentially multifaceted marketing machines that ensure your event is positioned in the right light, and consequently, filled with guests who’re excited to be there.

I’m continuously met with gasps of disbelief when I explain the various functionalities of The RSVP Agency’s email invitations. In fact, the majority of corporate event managers aren’t even aware that a sophisticated tool like this exists.

1. Multi-layered communication facilitator.

Essentially a communication and data-gathering tool, email invitations today are a far cry from an image you’ve nabbed off Google and a couple of lines of text. (And if you’re using a template that you’ve downloaded for free, you should hang your head in shame.) For example, our email invitations consist of an email, which contains a link to a web page. This page can be viewed across all platforms – so if one of your guests is using an iPhone, and another is using their desktop computer- both recipients are able to view the complete invitation, without any layout or design formatting faults. In essence, the online invitations that grab your guests’ attention are multi-dimensional experiences.

2. Grow your guest list for you.

Making sure that your event is well attended, hinges (for the most part) on your email invitations. I’ve spoken before about the elements of invitations that facilitate an optimal attendance rate – such as convincing copy and images that aren’t embedded. As well as the creative execution, email invitations have a ‘forward on’ feature. This can bolster your guest list – and the impact of your event – in two ways. Firstly, guests have the option of sending on a personal invitation to an associate or colleague from their own email address. In industries where personal relationships go hand-in-hand with business deals, an invitation that comes from someone you know personally has far more chance of being accepted.

3. Build hype around your event, and your brand as a whole.

Depending on the nature of the event you’re organising, you’ll want to build as much hype around it as possible. If it’s an external event – that is, one that’s open to the public like a conference or expo – making use of social media to galvanise this exposure is crucial.

Professional invitations should incorporate social media icons in the footer of the invite – making it easy for a recipient to connect with your brand on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Importantly, these icons drive traffic back to your website too. People are far more likely to pay attention to a brand that’s been advocated by a peer. Word of mouth marketing is powerful – make sure you’re making use of it.

4. Allow guests to buy and pay for event tickets in a way that’s fast, convenient, and secure.

For large-scale events that are open to the public, having a function built-in to your email invitations that allows guests to buy and then pay for a ticket further facilitates a great attendance rate. ‘Shopping cart abandonment’ – the online shopping phenomenon whereby customers desert their purchase at the last minute – is often due to the fact that the payment process is too laborious. Our ever-shortening attention spans (and as a result, patience), mean that instant gratification – or as near to this as possible – is essential. If your guest can click, buy and pay for a ticket – all from one email – they’re far more likely attend your event.

5. Gather vital information about your guests.

An online invitation can be used as a type of questionnaire. Depending on what you need to know about your guests, you can include fields for information ranging from age and the name of their partner, to detailed data such as flight and accommodation information, dietary preferences, shirt sizes, their preferred drink, car registration and so on. This info is not only pertinent for planning an event that resonates, but for your entire brand offering too.

Furthermore, if you’re inviting someone who’s attended a past event, you’ll be able to pre-populated these form fields and avoid looking unprofessional (and irritating the recipient) by asking for information that they’ve already given to you. ERM™ or Event Relationship Management is the practice of collecting and collating this data in order to create an event and marketing campaign that’s relevant to your guests. (Read more about how our software enables you to do this, here.)

6. Generate reports.

All corporate events need to be measured by a set of metrics. In order to gauge whether an event resulted in ROI, you’ll need to have the relevant data at your disposal. Our email invitations track every single action a guest takes – from whether they’ve received your invitation, opened it, clicked on the link, and RSVP’d. This data is then compiled in the form of a daily report that’s automatically sent. In addition, clients can pull their own reports as and when they wish – making sure that they stay up to date with the RSVP process.

It goes without saying that if your email invitations aren’t able to do all, or even some of the above, it’s high time that you started using a solution that can. Find out more about our email invitations here, give us a call, or drop us a mail.

Image Credit: LogMeIn

The success of your event is only as good as your attendance rate. (We’ve written about the pivotal importance of maximum attendance here and here. In order to facilitate attendance rates that garner ROI, you’ll need a fool-proof plan to ensure that your e-invites are delivered. This may seem like a rudimental task, but as corporates clamp down on their employees’ internet access in order to safeguard against viruses and spam, this is becoming increasingly harder to do.

If you’re struggling to boost delivery rates that are average at best, have a read through our recipe for the successful delivery of e-invites.

Step 1: Never embed an image

The majority of email programs don’t display embedded images, sending the email in question straight to the spam folder. No matter how impressive your corporate branding is, embedding it in your e-invite will only result in an invitation that will never be seen.

Step 2: Get the ratio of copy to images right

Large files are immediately flagged, and more often than not, end up blocked by the server or in a spam folder. While the aesthetics of your e-invites are important (we’ll get to that in a bit), it’s more important to make sure that your email invitation gets past the gatekeepers of corporate intranets. Your copy should convey the essential details of an event, while any images you include should merely enhance the text.

Step 3: Personalise your subject lines

Using a generic subject line in your email invitations won’t encourage your guests to open an email. In fact, this will put them right off – with your invitation ending up in the trash folder. If you want to make sure that your invitations are read, always address your guest by name. Remember that a subject line needs to be as enticing as possible, so make sure you’ve put just as much thought into its creation as you did the e-invite.

Step 4: Make use of a program that certifies your domain name

We use one of the top cloud based, transactional email management companies in the world, called “SendGrid” – which approves our email address as legitimate in order to avoid our invitations being labelled as spam. Reputable event management companies should be using something similar – if you aren’t, we suggest outsourcing your e-invites to a professional event management company to ensure your e-invites are delivered.

Step 5: Make sure your e-invites work across all devices

There’s no use sending someone an e-invite that they’re unable to view. If you design your invitation on a Mac, make sure it’s compatible with a PC. E-invites with the highest delivery rate are viewable across all devices, including PC, Mac, iPhone and Android. Incorporate the use of responsive design – this will ensure that every single guest is able to view your invitation. This is absolutely crucial, so much so that we test emails across 56 platforms.

Step 6: Always use a web-appropriate font

E-invites that make use of an elaborate, custom font won’t be able to be read – so make sure that whichever font you choose is commonly used.  Choosing a universally used font is a safe bet.

Step 7: Use a professional copywriter

Coming up with copy that’s simple yet eloquent sounds easy enough. In reality, this is a difficult task for someone who isn’t a professional wordsmith.  Including copy that’s been written by a skilled writer insures against guests deleting your invitation based on the thinking that they’ve received yet another bulk email. In addition, copy that’s been crafted by an expert will bolster your acceptance rates, and your brand’s reputation to boot.

Step 8:  Send out a test e-invite

Failing to spot glaring spelling mistakes or grammatical errors is incredibly unprofessional. Avoid this faux pas by sending your e-invites on a test run. You’ll also be able to check that your invitation is formatted correctly, and that the display doesn’t get distorted when viewed on an operating system other than yours.

Step 9: Get your timing right

Be smart when it comes to the time you send out your e-invites. Most guests will receive their invitations via their work email– which means that a 5pm delivery time is unlikely to result in an invite that’s read. Optimal sending times differ according to your guests, but a general guideline is to send your e-invites earlier rather than later in the day.

Image Credit: HD Wall Img