Let’s Talk about Pre-Show Marketing: Email (Part Two)


In our previous post, we learned that email is currently the preferred means of pre-show and promotional marketing in the b-to-b realm, or so a number of studies indicate. We also admitted that most of us delete a lot of the email in that category. This time, we are going to look at

  • Why do we delete b-to-b promotional emails?
  • How can we get our targets to open the pre-show email we send?

Why do we delete b-to-b promotional emails?

There’s an awfully good chance if you’re reading this, you’re a marketer. You are most likely always evaluating the efforts of other marketers. When you get an email with a subject line like, “Please visit the NewCo exhibit at XYZ show,” you probably think, “Yeah, right,” and hit delete. A subject line that reads, “Discover how NewCo’s widget can help you automate your expense reporting,” well, maybe that’s worth a read. In the body of the email, you learn that there will be demonstrations of the widget at the XYZ show, and the possibility of attending the show and visiting the NewCo exhibit becomes, at the very least, a possibility.

Important: One of the most critical challenges for marketers today is crafting compelling email subject lines that motivate people to read more and take action.

Next is the length of the email. Let’s have a show of hands: how many of you determine whether or not to read an email by how much copy you see? Very few people have the time or inclination to comb through copy to learn What’s In It For Me (WIIFM). Marketing is not closing the sale; marketing is about motivating the customer to move beyond the message, to learn more, to make contact, to act.

And speaking of WIIFM, if there is no call to action that communicates a benefit, why bother? “Please visit NewCo’s exhibit at XYZ show.” Why? Too many marketers forget their goal should be to forge relationships that lead to an action, not to leave readers wondering why they should care.

How can we get our targets to open the pre-show email we send?

We have partially answered that question above:

  • Compose a subject line that piques the recipients’ curiosity enough that they want to read more.
  • Edit your copy until your message is crisp, succinct, and more about the reader than the sender.
  • Create a call-to-action (CTA) that includes a benefit. For example, benefit #1: you get to see a demo of the widget. Great. But what else? Benefit #2: as a thank-you for attending the demo, the target will receive something of value. Or NewCo will contribute to a charity in the target’s name. Or the prospect will have the opportunity to sit with a salesperson over a cup of gourmet hot chocolate. What will work for your market? You are making connections with companies, true, but first and foremost, you are making connections with human beings. Never forget that.
  • Test your email to ensure that it is mobile friendly. A large percentage of email is viewed on mobile devices. Don’t let the fact that your email doesn’t display well on a phone or a tablet get in the way of your intended results. Fix the display.
  • Create a compelling “snippet”–that’s the text your recipients see when the email first appears in their inboxes.
  • Test your email. Then test it again. Read it out loud. Test it again. Make sure any graphics you use load quickly.
  • Identify what will make your email stand out from inbox clutter and from other exhibitors’ emails. And no, emojis aren’t the answer.
  • Finally, segment your emails. Your CRM should allow you to do this. If not, you need to upgrade your CRM. In our workbook, Creative Bravery for Your Face-to-Face Marketing Program (see below to get your copy), we explain how to plan for different categories of exhibit visitor. Customize your email by job title—or by whatever makes sense. One size does not fit all. Send the appropriate email to specific targets. Focus on their challenges in your email, and tell them how your widget not only provides a solution but makes their lives better.

In spite of the fact that all the studies say email is the most effective method for promotional marketing, if your targets don’t open your email, it isn’t effective at all.

Personalization is the key to effective pre-show marketing. To learn how to segment your targets and plan appropriate experiences, download our free workbook, Creative Bravery for Your Face-to-Face Marketing Program. Are you a healthcare marketer? We have a special workbook for you that takes into account the challenges you face. Download Creative Bravery: Face-to-Face Marketing Strategies for the Healthcare Industry.

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