Gaining Event Momentum

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We’re all familiar with the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Sadly, this is 100% false. An event site can be practically perfect in construction, visually stunning and easy to navigate, BUT if you aren’t promoting and re-promoting, it’s likely you’ll fall short on registration and fundraising goals. To avoid seeing your newest event site lost in the virtual abyss, here are some tips on getting your users’ eyes on the page.

Day 1: The Launch!

You’ve officially gone live with your event site. Taking into account all you’ve learned from the previous year’s event, you’ve made updates, made the site flow better and updated content. You know the site is live, but how would anybody else know? It’s time to implement a Recruitment Email and SMS Campaign!

Recruitment Emails: This should be a series of messages beginning at least 12 weeks prior to the event date. This audience focus should not only be on participants and team captains from the previous year, but at least the past three years. Depending on the cleanliness of your data, and participant retention rate, it can be beneficial to include participants and team captains from the last five years. A functional model would see messages delivering every other week leading up to the event from weeks 12 through 2. Additional messages should go out the week and day prior to the event to capture late registrants.

Recruitment SMS: We recommend a slightly lighter touch on SMS messages. Limiting the messages to once per month in the beginning and increasing to every two weeks closer to the event can assist in keeping opt out rates as low as possible. It’s also worth considering age demographics within your data. Those in the younger category may be more receptive to SMS messaging as well as an increased frequency without an uptick in opt outs. These messages all need to be around 140 characters with a clear, concise call to action. This means telling the recipient what you want them to do and what event it is for in as few words as possible.

Day 30: Start Coaching.

With recruitment messaging built and scheduled, you should be seeing the initial payoff as your targeted audience begins converting into registered participants. Now, ask yourself if the event site you launched a few weeks prior is clear in follow up actions you wish your participants to take. For example: If the default fundraising goal is $100, I may want you to send 10 emails to 10 friends asking for $10. This isn’t always easily or effectively illustrated to event participants.

Coaching Emails: Implementing a Coaching Email Campaign 10 weeks prior to the event can help guide participants to effective fundraising. Through these messages we want to promote customizing personal pages, uploading email contacts to invite individuals to participate as well as donate, and of course, sharing the event on social media sites.

Through the Coaching Emails, these actions can be broken into bite-size suggestions that help participants remain on track to reaching their fundraising goal without feeling overwhelmed. When possible, it’s also a huge benefit to add an incentive. A common practice is to set a minimum fundraising requirement to receive an event t-shirt. Gift cards and physical prizes also add excitement as participants can potentially earn bigger and better prizes as they reach new fundraising levels beyond the suggested goal defined during registration. This is of course dependent upon your budget, but utilizing sponsor and in-kind gifts can help boost your incentive offerings. Sponsor provided incentives can also be an effective way to let your sponsors get a little extra promotion in your emails!

Day 31 and Beyond: Upkeep!

With the above campaigns built and scheduled, you now need to monitor and measure results.

Unresponsive Past Participants: Are participants from the past years not registering after multiple communications? A personal email or phone call can be extremely effective in reactivating stragglers. They can also be fed into an additional, more direct call to action, recruitment messages if it’s not possible for someone within the organization to directly engage. Persistence is key to this group.

Engaged Participants: It’s great to celebrate the wins when participants register and take the actions you’ve requested. However, don’t assume your campaign is perfect. Always keep an eye on your opens, clicks and opt outs. These should remain fairly consistent throughout the campaign. If you are seeing large drops in clickthrough rates or spikes in the number of people opting out, it may mean the content is too repetitive and needs refinement. Always work towards making the content clear, fresh and useful.


Chief Marketing Officer at Adcieo; a software and services company that provides professional marketing services and a suite of constituent management and fundraising tools.

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