The invitation is the beginning of your event. It doesn’t matter how well you have planned the rest of your offline meeting if no one shows up because of a poorly planned invitation.

All companies have got some kind of offsite offline meetings and interactions with their customers at some point. It may be a lecture for a small number of important delegates, a housewarming party in the new office or in a booth at an exhibition. Today, you rarely send out printed invitations—but even if you do, they should be included in an inbound workflow.

How hard can it be to send out an invitation? Not hard at all. That’s not the tricky part. The tricky part is to get anyone acting on your invitation and attending your event. To get their interest and attract them enough to choose your event before something else that they think is equally fun, interesting or important. Like in all other media channels an invitation, via email or post, to an event must fight for its right to get through.

To be honest, you don’t just invite customers to an event for fun and to be nice. A party or event is an investment of both time and money and you always hope for some ROI. This means that you must take the invitation as seriously as the content and logistics of the event itself. It’s always about attracting the right people. Cynical, I know, but true! At the same time, an attendee also has an agenda. They won’t waste their time on something that they don’t think will give them anything in return. The difference is that their reason may not be the same as you wish. They may feel that a free lunch is great and worth the trip and that’s all, whereas you hope for them to buy something from you in the end. The hard part is for both to have almost the same common reason for them to come.

So, where to start? As with every other marketing project you need a plan, a purpose and a well-defined persona—or in some cases, a few different personas. Whom should you invite and why? And what should you serve them?

When it comes to the actual invitation and the workflow around it, it’s important to attract the invitees in a way that they easily understand why they should come – what’s in it for them. They don’t just want to know that you will show them something new that you are selling, they want to know how it benefits them.

The invitation

The invitation is the beginning of your event, so make sure that it’s clear to the reader in both images and brand. Also have in mind that invitations are not all about text. Consider ways to communicate your message with minimal use of text and more use of images and graphics. As long as you make sure that the email matches the event and that it maintains credibility and professionalism.

What is common for all invitations is that the purpose is to drive an action – help the reader to understand the action as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is with a clear and simple design, a brief message and to give them multiple chances to find a CTA or link that leads to the registration to your event. To get the reader to register, it is also good to clearly tell them what they will get – once again, why they should invest their time in this particular event.

It is also important to try new ways of getting the reader’s attention. Try not to get stuck in the same style and clone an old invitation each time.

A video could be a good way to engage your reader and invite them to click on the call-to-action, though it can be hard to come up with a suitable idea. It could be a short “Hello” from your key speaker or if this event has been held before – show a recap video from last time to let them know what they may expect from this year’s event. To keep the video relevant for the invitation it must be related to your event in some way.

Your invitation should include this:

  • A subject line for the email to attract the invitee to the event.
  • A title for the event to give the invitee a quick idea of what it is all about.
  • The date and time are clearly visible for the invitee to easily know if they can attend at all.
  • What the attendees will learn or gain by attending the event for the invitee to get to know what is in it for her/him.
  • Introduction to you, your company, or the speaker—whatever is relevant for your target group—for the invitee to get a little bit more information.
  • How to register for the event for the invitee to complete the first step towards attending your offline event.

And one last thing: remember to follow up on your invitation and event! Before the event you need to send a friendly reminder to those who have still not yet replied and a reminder to those who are attending, so that they won’t forget to turn up. And after the event it is always nice to send out a ‘thank you’ to those who attended.

And if you are planning to invite a keynote speaker to a seminar about onlinification and digitalisation, we have summarised the most relevant questions to ask before booking the keynote speaker.

Good luck! 

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Elisabet Isacchi

She is more or less a 'jack of all trades'. Apart from coordinating the office, colleagues and projects she assists our Art Directors with design jobs and adds a lot of content into Episerver and Hubspot. Has been at Zooma since 2006.
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