Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year, Same Old Email ...

With the new year (and, possibly, a new decade – but that’s an argument for another day) upon us, the vestiges of the old are behind us … or are they?

I recently came across an email promotion for the upcoming Event Marketing Summit, and was, honestly, disappointed by the structure and tone of it, especially coming from an organization that provides such useful content as Event Marketer magazine, the Event Marketing Institute and both the online network and LinkedIn group.

In case you missed it, the email reads:

My overall take is that this is just a legacy push email – the type of communication that has given email marketing a bad rep. Given the excitement and opportunities surrounding email today, I’m surprised there wasn’t more forward-thinking communications being utilized to promote an event on Event Marketing.

Looking more closely, there are also some particular facets of the email that bothered me, starting with the Subject Line of "EM Summit ridiculous discount pricing expires in two days; Sign up now to save $400"
  • Maybe it’s me, but when I saw “EM Summit,” my first thought was “Email Summit.” It's not clear which event this is for – simply put, Event Marketing should have been spelled out. Although the “From” line does specify Event Marketing Summit, its incorrectly assuming the recipient would make the connection.
  • “ridiculous”: A $400 discount is not 'ridiculous.' It’s nice – but we’ve all seen many events with this Early Bird discount. Also – 'ridiculous' can have different connotations – certainly the intent is to be positive in this case, but can also be interpreted as silly, absurd, etc.
  • Timing is everything: I get it – savings before the New Year (which, for some reason, is not spelled out in the Subject Line) – but sending an offer with a 2-day actionable turnaround during a holiday when many individuals are not in the office – especially with the deadline-based incentive – is not a recipe for success.
As much as an issue was the body of the email – upon opening it the message is: 
  • Headline/opening sentence: A reaffirmation of the ‘ridiculous’ advanced discount.
  • Second paragraph: A call to action … and another push of the $400 savings.
  • Third paragraph: A third push of that $400 discount. And a reminder that it is only available through December 31.
By the third paragraph, the email is redundant. In other words, there was no message behind the message; it had very little to say. Given the sensitivities around the volume of email in people’s inboxes today, what is again disappointing is that this email was for an event on Event Marketing – with sessions and speakers who will, I would hope, advise attendees not to utilize this types of communication.

Finally, possibly most problematic is that the 'big' (I’ll refrain from calling it ridiculous) discount expires before the event content is available. As noted on the landing page the email drives to, “The program will be announced in January. But by then the lowest rates will be gone!” In short, the push is for registrations before content is detailed.

As much as I am an advocate of good, creative Event Marketing as a key contributor to the success of an event, I know that content is key to driving attendees. Unless targeting an event alumni familiar with the event’s historical quality and content (which this email was not, the recipient was not a prior attendee), going to market with messaging around registering for an event, providing an average discount, and not offering content to justify the registration decision strikes me as … well … ridiculous.

Hoping this email is the symbolic death knell of a challenging year, and let's keep the focus on best practices - and exceptional results - in our 2010 initiatives.

Good luck and Happy New Year!


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