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In today’s episode, we talk about newsletter marketing and review the analytics that I ran for the 2020 Digital Dust Safety Conference at DustSafetyScience.com. This is part three in the Marketing Your Online Conference Series: the previous episodes were Get Your Sales Sequence Right and How To Market To Your Newsletter.
I wanted to revisit the newsletter marketing strategy used for the conference, go over the analytics from the eight weeks leading up to it, and answer the following questions:
- What attendance volume did we achieve?
- How did we do the analytics capturing?
- How many sales did we generate through the newsletter?
- What were the conversion rates?
- What were the main takeaways?
How many people attended?
The Digital Dust Safety Conference was a four-day event dedicated to industrial safety, specifically fire and explosion protection. We had almost 250 attendees from over 25 countries. There were 20 different industry segments covered, including industrial safety, engineering services, consultants, industrial specialists, equipment providers, facility owners and operators, health and safety team leads, and yes, academic research!
In terms of financial outcome, general admissions for the conference ranged between $175 for the pre-sales tickets to $225 for the early bird and $275 for the normal price tickets. Industry speakers paid $575 and university speakers paid $350 to attend. In general, we realized between $60,000 – $70,000 in revenue from organizing this event.
We had really good scores in Net Promoter, which is a way you can rank how your event, service, or product was seen by the people who use it. We also had a lot of great emails, including somebody who said it was the best conference they had ever attended online or offline in terms of the topics, program, and technical delivery.
How did we capture analytics?
We sold tickets directly through email for the first two or three months. At first, things were looking really great. I sent over 100 emails and we had 50 people purchase tickets. And then, all through December 2019, nobody signed up.
I was really getting worried because it looked like we might end up with more speakers than attendees at the event, so I rewrote the whole marketing plan. We came up with a new sales page in December and launched it in January. It worked: if we hadn’t made these changes, we wouldn’t have enjoyed such a high attendance rate.
In terms of the analytics, we had a separate copy of the sales page for each marketing channel we used. We also tracked how many people converted on each sales page and tried to keep track of where all the sales were coming from. We tracked 122 ticket sales over eight weeks. They came from 2,443 sales page visits, which resulted in 465 order page visits. At the end of the day, 123 of these people ended up registering for the conference.
- 19% of visitors clicked from the sales page to the order page
- 26.5% bought a ticket
At the end of the day, we had a 5% conversion, which was a really great result considering that our original sales page was converting at like 0.1 or 0.2% . Overall conversions ranged between 2% of our lower marketing channels up to 8% for our newsletter marketing channel.
How effectively did email marketing generate sales?
Our email list has around 1,800 people. The sales emails for the conference were sent every Wednesday for over eight weeks. On Fridays, we sent a followup email saying, “Hey, just a reminder not to miss out. Here’s the link again if you want it.” As people bought, they were removed or untagged from the sales email list so we didn’t keep sending sales emails to them, although they still were getting our regular Sunday newsletter emails.
We sent 10 emails in total: one per week for eight weeks, plus one last chance early bird email and one last chance to attend the conference email.
For week one, the subject line was “You asked, we answered.” This concept was from the survey that we ran before we did the newsletter campaign. We took the number one question that most people had, answered it, and then explained how you’d learn even more at the conference. This email generated four direct sales. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that amounts to between $800 and $1,000, depending on the price of the tickets.
The email for week two was titled “Program announced for the 2020 Digital Dust Safety Conference!” It included a PDF or a link to a download with an overview of the 52 presentations and all the great speakers. This email resulted in seven sales, and 170 people downloaded the PDF conference program.
Here’s a tip: include a downloadable PDF of the program early on in the process. People can forward it to their coworkers and colleagues and generate buzz about the event outside of your newsletter system.
Week three’s email title was “Don’t miss the boat…” It covered the ending of the early bird ticket pricing and answered five questions that we were regularly getting from community members, such as “Can I access the material after the live conference?” and “When and where’s the conference?”
That week, we made about 31 sales, which was really exciting. About half came from this email, and half came from a short email that we sent on Friday, saying something like, “Hi (name), just a reminder that the early bird pricing for the Digital Dust Safety Conference is closing at 12 o’clock tonight.”
For week four, the email subject line was, “Dust safety quick tips.” It illustrated the collective knowledge that we have as a community and tied it to what they would learn at the conference. This email made four sales.
The fifth week’s email was the pre-event survey revisited. We took the survey results, showed them to the community, and demonstrated how a program at the event would address all of those concerns. This email made three sales.
In email six, I did something totally different: a story-based email. The subject line was “You don’t even have to wear pants…” I talked about why we’re running a live event, and how your feet aren’t going to be sore from running through airports, and you don’t even have to wear pants if you don’t want to. I took screenshots of what was inside the conference platform and told this whole story of how hard it is to travel for conferences, especially if you’re going international and missing time at work and all these things.
This email made four sales, but it was the most responded-to email. I had maybe a dozen people email me directly and say, “That was an amazing email.” They loved it. I can’t help but think that if we did more of these in our marketing sequence, we might even see more results. It got a pretty high open rate, obviously because the subject line said you don’t even have to wear pants.
In the seventh week, we released an email with the subject line ‘6 reasons to attend DDSC 2020.’ This is a play on words as well because we were announcing the final six keynote speakers. It made three sales.
For the last week, we had an email that basically reiterated: don’t miss out! That email was also focused on questions and objections because the one that initially focused on the objections was the best-performing email. We were able to make an additional 15 sales.
How did the newsletter convert?
We made a total of 74 sales overall from the email newsletters. They sent over 900 people to the conference sales page throughout the eight-week period. 194 of these visitors clicked through to the order page, and then 74 of them purchased tickets. The overall conversion for the people coming in through the newsletter marketing channel was 8.1%.
Some additional stats:
- We had an average of 28.8% open rate through all the emails. It started at about 35% and ended at about 23%.
- The average click to open rate was 14%. It started at 17% for the first emails and ended at 12%.
There are two reasons why the opening and clicking percentages decreased. One is that people were likely getting fatigued from seeing all the conference emails and the other is that the people who bought tickets were being removed from the list.
Newsletter marketing in a nutshell
I want to summarize five key takeaways from this whole process.
- Takeaway number one is that the newsletter was by far our strongest marketing channel, with 37% of the sales page views and 60% of the purchases.
- The second takeaway is that running a survey is critically important. We addressed the objections that they raised in our survey, overcame them, and earned sales.
- The third takeaway is to have checkpoints. You want to have things like early bird pricing and downloadable add-ons to encourage the attendees to buy now.
- Takeaway number four is to send followup emails, especially on the checkpoints. In our case, we had half of our sales from the early bird and half our sales from the last chance email following up.
- Takeaway number five is to consider sending out a PDF of the program. This worked really well for us: we had at least 170 downloads that people could email to others.
If you don’t have a newsletter yet, build one now, before you decide to hold a conference. You have to water the flowers before they grow, or dig the well before you’re thirsty. It’s something you have to be doing and building up as a business asset all along.
If you have any questions about newsletter marketing or GradBlogger, you can reach out to me via email or leave a comment below.
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