From the Trenches: Webinar Invite Best Practices
I typically count the spam email messages I get (yes, I’m an email geek at heart). With more webinars taking place as travel budgets get slashed, this week I counted 27 webinar invites in all shapes and sizes. Banners inside trade emails, stand-alone emails to readers of various B-to-B magazines, emails directly from webinar hosts, emails via Facebook, and emails from friends who were asked to support friends' or co-workers' webinars.
Ironically, the webinars I'm being invited to are mainly about how social media is better than email at driving response. (Ha, says the email girl, reading her emails telling her emails aren’t effective anymore.) Have email-driven webinar invites become the spam of the business world?
Maybe I’m just hypersensitive to this because I’m conducting my own webinar on July 23. By the way, you’re all invited to attend.
Or maybe this change in the economy has restricted travel so significantly that webinars are the new way to conduct knowledge sharing. Online marketing for an online conference makes sense. In any event, it seems to me — the consumer on the front line receiving these emails — that we need to create some guidelines for webinar invites. I propose we start with the following:
1. Promote with a sense of order. This means event marketers should plan for online efforts like they do with other products: First generate branding campaigns, then direct marketing efforts, then send stand-alone emails.
2. Personalize the email. An invite for a webinar should help bring a customer closer to the company hosting the webinar.
3. Think out of the box. If the space is getting crowded for these types of promos, seek out new territory. In addition to being professionals, most of us actually have lives. We check the gossip columns, sports scores and movie pages. Wouldn’t it be great to see a timely webinar offer promoted in emails from sites that offer this consumer-oriented information, with a bit of retargeting help, of course?
It's great to see email’s purposes expand. Let's just all make sure we don’t flood the market with this new opportunity.
Jeanniey Mullen is the chief marketing officer for New York-based digital publisher Zinio and its sister company, VIVmag, a digital luxury lifestyle magazine for women. She's also the executive director of the Email Experience Council, an email marketing trade organization. Reach Jeanniey at firstname.lastname@example.org.