Lessons From OPIS' SIPAward Winning Event Marketing Campaign

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We probably don't talk enough about email design. But with all the email that people get, it matters. Sometimes, an email can have the best content, but it just may be too gray or paragraph-heavy.

The emails that OPIS sent out as part of their second place-winning 2017 SIPAward entry in Best Conference Marketing look fresh and well-designed. Most offer a discount and use a san-serif font, bullets and links, and just the right amount of color—and each netted conversions.

But the email that got the most conversions (28 out of the 173 attendees) was sent less than a month before the conference, when any special discounts had expired. The subject line and headline were straightforward. What stands out is a different font—a classier but still easy-to-read serif font—five paragraphs that are short and to the point, and a very clean chart listing 26 of the speakers.

The heading reads: "Gain insight and perspective from over 25 outstanding speakers." And then this sentence: "Nowhere else can you access, in person, this many experts and ask them your toughest questions." So it seems that people liked seeing the speakers listed in one place without having to click further. It might have been the last convincing factor.

Here are other lessonsfrom this successful OPIS campaign, led by Marketing Manager Ashlee Bovello:

Provide a link to see who else is coming. OPIS "posted a list of companies attending the event on the website, linked the list in email promotions and named big-time companies from it while reminding prospects of the expansive opportunities to network at this Workshop."

Use your own photos. On the website homepage, OPIS used attractive photos from previous events. They show sessions filled to the brim, attentive attendees, networking, inviting food and a big OPIS logo that subtly tells you they are real photos.

Take personalization further than "Hi Ronn." They included first names within the body copy, a nice touch if not overused. 

Pricing matched a new competitor. Past attendees were given a special and unadvertised discount code which, when entered, combined with existing early bird discounts to bring the cost of the conference to the same amount as the competitor.

Send from a popular and well-respected person. Bovello "leveraged the extremely well-known conference chair, Dolores Santos, including a large photo of her with 'See you in San Francisco' to close out many of the emails."

Use strong graphic elements. OPIS used an attractive purple and green logo for the website, emails and tweets. "To give the sense of a one-on-one conversation (versus an impersonal email blast) and inject personality into emails, [Bovello] mixed a conversational and friendly tone with effective graphic elements."

Don't be afraid to change the name. I just read a survey that concluded that we shouldn't fall back on loyalty too much—value is what it's about. So keeping a name just because people know it may not always be effective. Thus the OPIS LCFS Workshop became the OPIS LCFS & Carbon Markets Workshop—more value.

If you were the first, say so. In the messaging,Bovello "emphasized the Workshop as the industry's foremost event on LCFS and Carbon Markets to assert it as the original and breakthrough event that it is," OPIS wrote in its entry. "After all, its success was the inspiration for the competition to develop their own similar event on these topics."

Keep updating. There's a good news section on the website. I like the idea of adding news items that are fresh and continue to draw attention to the importance of the topic.

People could call! By giving their audience the phone option—"Give us a ring and let the answering conference support team member know your special code"—it just seemed one moreway to say, "We're here for you."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…