Driving Attendee Engagement: How Email Marketing Can Help

Mar 5, 2019

Your organization prepared for the perfect event, invited the right guests, and helped everyone have a great time and learn more about your cause. You planned for the event challenges you were expecting and avoided any setbacks. But before you and your team can call your event a success, you have one more consideration to make: how are you planning to stay connected with your attendees?

The best events are those that help your organization form strong and lasting relationships with your supporters. To do so, you’ll need to follow up with your attendees. Email marketing is an effective means of reaching them—pretty much everyone checks their email regularly—and can help your organization share information on your most recent projects and encourage donation.

In this guide, we’ll cover a few of the most effective strategies you can use to connect with your event attendees via email. In each of your email communications, you’ll be able to reach out to your attendees, address their interests, alert them to giving opportunities, and thank them for their support. Let’s begin with the necessary first step: reaching out to your attendees after the conclusion of your event.

Step 1: Reach out to your attendees using the information stored in your CRM.

If you want to make the most of email marketing, you need to ensure that all of your event attendees are on your email list. Anyone who attended one of your events has already demonstrated their interest in your organization and the work that you do! Because each of these individuals has the potential to form a lasting partnership with your organization, make sure that you’re reaching out to everyone by making effective use of the information in your CRM.

When your organization selects event management software, it’s likely that one of the first aspects you consider is the system’s ability to register your attendees and store their information in your CRM. This makes it easy to find and contact them in the future.

While many of the software solutions your organization is considering will be able to transfer registrants’ data to your CRM, most of them will first need to be integrated with your CRM. However, your busy team doesn’t have to spend their time on this integration if you select an event management platform that is native to your CRM.

Your organization’s operations are a team effort. The member of your organization focused on event registration may not be the same individual in charge of email marketing. If your event management software is separate from your CRM and no one has manually transferred the data, this can slow down your email follow-up strategy.

A native event management platform is a tech solution that can solve this issue. Because both of those team members can access the data in your CRM, they’ll have the information they need as soon as your attendees enter it. You’ll be able to send your follow-up emails as soon as the event is over!

If your event was a success and your attendance numbers were high, it’s likely that you’ve collected a substantial amount of registrant information in your CRM. While all of these attendees share an interest in your organization, they have different reasons for supporting you. Effective email marketing addresses different groups of donors’ reasons for getting involved with your organization.

Step 2: Segment your email marketing list to address your supporters’ individual interests

While it’s easy to see how your team saves time when registrants’ information is automatically transferred to your CRM, your organization may find itself with overwhelming amounts of attendee data after a successful event. You know that reaching out to all of these guests is important to building relationships with them, but how can you ensure that your email communication approaches each one of them in the most effective manner?

The answer is to segment the donors in your database before you reach out to them. This way, you can create groups and then craft emails that address the concerns or interests of each group. Looking for a starting place when it comes to categorizing your attendees? Consider:

  • Demographic information. Your supporters’ ages, their occupations and workplaces, their genders and marital statuses, and a variety of additional demographic information influences their relationship to your cause and potentially their capacity to give to your organization. Demographic data is a commonly used and often effective starting place for segmentation.
  • Community and location. In-person events are often connected to your organization’s work within a specific community. If your attendees are locals, emphasize your commitment to their community or hometown in your email. If you’re reaching out to visitors who attended your event, consider the ways in which your work in one community could affect or expand to theirs in the future.
  • History of involvement with your organization and cause. Especially if you’re using a native event management software solution, you’ll easily recognize who among your most recent attendees are regulars at your event. Clearly, these individuals are invested in your cause! In your email, thank them for their continued support and provide them with additional opportunities to donate or otherwise get involved in your work.

When your emails address the different concerns, interests, and histories of different groups of attendees within your database, your email recipients are far more likely to respond positively to your organization and continue their involvement with your cause.

If you want to augment the information already stored in your CRM so that you can segment your database even further and send more tailored emails, consider conducting prospect research on your attendees. Your team can do this on your own, with the help of specialized software, or hire a prospect research consultant for more guidance. Donorly’s guide to donor research provides more information on the types of data that prospect research can return to boost your communication efforts.

Once your emails are drafted and customized to the needs and interests of each group of attendees, don’t forget one of the most important components before you hit send! Whatever their reasons for supporting your organization may be, they’re all potential future donors. Ensure that your email alerts them to additional giving opportunities so that they can continue their involvement with your organization and help you complete more good work.

Step 3: Use email marketing to alert your attendees to more ways in which they can contribute

As you finalize the emails to send to your attendees, it’s important to consider the purposes you have in sending them. Recognizing them for coming to your event is foremost, but you’re also encouraging them to keep supporting you. Your attendees are more likely to donate in the future when your email provides them with multiple, easy ways of doing so.

While it’s always helpful to gain new donors, your organization may be looking for more than monetary contributions depending upon the stage of growth you’re in and the projects you’re planning. If you’re looking for volunteers, include that information in your email. This is especially true for the email you send to the segment of donors who have been involved in your cause or with your organization for a long period of time.

For all recipients of your email, it’s important to give plenty of donation options so that more of your attendees can find the giving method that works best for them. Consider including:

  • A giving button that links to your online donation page. Attendees who enjoyed your event and receive your email soon after it ends will likely be motivated to give. Provide them with this quick and easy giving option that they can return to whenever they feel inspired to donate.
  • Mobile giving information. Many of your email’s recipients will open it on their phone. A mobile-responsive online donation page is essential, and mobile-specific donation methods such as text-to-give are convenient before, during, and after events.
  • Links to your social media accounts. While they’re not necessarily direct routes to donation, links to your social media accounts encourage your email recipients to keep your organization in mind whenever they use their favorite platforms. Seeing your posts, especially when they’re engaging and representative of your organization’s good work, can motivate them to donate in the future.
  • Matching gift program information. Corporate matching gifts are some of the most valuable yet underutilized sources of revenue for nonprofits. If your donors are eligible for their employers’ matching gift programs, they can double or otherwise increase their gift at no extra cost to themselves. However, it’s easy for your email recipients to forget about this opportunity. You may wish to include a reminder for your donors to check their eligibility or submit their matching gift request, especially if they work for a top matching gift company.

Whether you’re introducing your attendees to your online and mobile giving locations, encouraging them to stay in touch with your organization, or helping them give more by alerting them to matching gift opportunities, use your email to illustrate to all of your attendees that your work depends on their continued support.

While it’s essential to provide your attendees with as much information as possible on additional ways in which they can get involved in your organization, never lose sight of the central message of the email: thanking them for their participation in your event! Thanking your donors is a central component of building a strong donor journey that will motivate them to stay involved with your organization.

The right email doesn’t have to be long, and it shouldn’t be complex. What it should do is recognize your attendees for their commitment to your cause and organization, address their reasons for supporting you, and motivate them to develop their relationship with your nonprofit.

Build on your attendees’ demonstrated interest in your organization with an email that acknowledges the important work they’ve already done. You’ll also want to provide them with plenty of opportunities to get involved again. Your organization will build lasting relationships that help ensure continued support for your future projects.

Jake Fabbri
Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.