Best Practices for Writing Event Follow-Up Emails

Written by Becky Kuperhand, Sales Hacker

If you send an event follow up email, but no one is around to read it, does it even make a sound? No, not really.

Imagine returning to your office from a business trip across country after an exhausting 3-day conference. Tired, hopefully inspired and motivated, but always playing catch up from being gone.

You sit at your desk with 100+ new business cards to look through, notes on actions you wanted to take when you returned and hundreds of emails to sift through.

What are the chances that you are going to notice email number 268 with the subject line “following up”?

Event Follow Up Emails… Yeah, They’re Kind of a Big Deal

Here’s 9 key tips for success with your event follow up emails:

  1. Clearly define why you are following up.
  2. Understand your lead’s mindset.
  3. Timing is Everything… and Relative.
  4. Be personable.
  5. Be personal.
  6. Show people that you actually care.
  7. Keep it simple.
  8. Keep it direct.
  9. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

Your event follow-up email is one of the most important components of your organization’s event sales strategy. According to the Event Marketing 2018: Benchmarks and Trends report, most marketers believe that events comprise the most effective channel for achieving business goals. If you can’t make your event email break through the noise, then that channel is crippled.

As the Director of Business Development at Bizzabo, I have a vested interest in getting emails opened, read and responded to. I’ve written thousands of follow-up emails throughout my career. Not all of them amounted to celebrations, but after many years of experimentation and observation, I started to pick up on several best practices that are essential to how I and the rest of the sales team here at Bizzabo write event follow-up emails.

The average person receives 120 emails a day, says a study by Radicati. If your email is going to be seen, it has to stand out. Whether you are casually attending an event or are exhibiting at one, here’s what you need to keep mind:

1) Clearly Define Why You Are Following Up

Key to getting your emails opened is having a clear sense of purpose.

Before you even get to the event, you should have a solid understanding of why you’re going. Is it to:

  • Increase brand awareness?
  • Generate pipeline?
  • Generate leads?
  • Close deals?
  • Expand your network?
  • Grab as much free swag as you can?

Once you’re at the event, you should constantly remind yourself of why you came, what you want and how you get it.

Events, even the best ones, can be overwhelming. Venues can be so large that you get lost. Finding the people you want to meet with could feel impossible. Hundreds of vendors, dozens of handshakes and business cards that you hopefully won’t lose. You need to have a goal so that you work towards achieving it.

Not only is your intention important prior and during an event—but even more so as you follow up post-event.

There’s a world of difference between event networking and event lead generation. If you are attempting to expand your network, it may be best to just reach out over LinkedIn. If you’re aiming to close a business deal, then your mode (and strategy) for communication will be wildly different.

Is it “hey I want to follow-up” or is it “remember when we spoke about this seamless alignment between what you’re looking for and what my organization has to offer?”

2) Understand Your Lead’s Mindset

All leads are not entered into the CRM equally. Each comes with a unique context and disparate goals.

At Bizzabo, we want to make sure that the relationships we create with people are very specific to them. I might speak with 100 people at an event, but if I know that a handful of them could benefit from what we have to offer and vice versa, I’m going to strongly focus on those leads and continue building those relationships.

It’s really about understanding the mutual benefit, and while each organization might define mutual benefit differently, that is crucial in putting together the best follow up email, phone call and process.

With that in mind, there are a number of a questions you should quickly ask yourself about each lead you encounter:

  • Why are they attending the event?
  • What is their role at the event? (exhibitor, attendee, sponsor, etc.)
  • What is their industry?
  • What is their job function within their company?

Understanding who your lead is will inform how you approach them in your follow-up emails. It’s important for cold email outreach, but even more important for your post event follow up strategy.

Take proper notes after each meeting you have. If you only have the time to put a quick thought to paper, use their business card. The more you remember from your conversation, and the more you can help them remember in your follow up—the more powerful the approach. Which brings us to our next point…

3) Timing is Everything… and Also Relative

Timing is such a critical part of sales. Yogi Berra said one of my favorite quotes that I relate to often:

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.”

Unfortunately, there is no clear time to send the perfect email, but there are many ways to get close.

In many situations, it may be best to reach-out within 24 hours, in some cases within 48 hours. But the hour (and even the day) at which you are going to reach them is relative.

Instead, leverage the information that you have about your lead to determine when is best to reach out.

A sales manager, for instance, may be likely to check their inbox at all hours of the day, so sending them a very early morning email might be ideal. A marketing copywriter might adhere to a time-boxing schedule where they check their email at specific hours. The same might be true with product and operations members.

While figuring out the ideal time may be difficult, figuring out the wrong time isn’t hard.

Many people check their inboxes:

1) Early in the morning

2) After lunch, but you probably don’t want to end up in that bulk.

My favorite times to email is mid-serious business hours when you are probably one of the freshest emails in their inbox.

Just don’t forget that different people will operate on different schedules—there is no one size fits all. The more you pay attention to that, the more appreciative they will be.

I met someone at a large conference who was flying from Vegas to go to someone’s wedding for the first five days after the event. I assume that a tremendous amount of people emailed her a lot during that time.

Instead, I emailed her after I knew she would be back, and my first question was: “How was the wedding?”

Yes, that deal closed.

4) Be Personable

This one’s quick, but shouldn’t be overlooked.

On the event floor there are a number of ways to make yourself stand-out. Any effort you make to be personable, to listen, to remember what they say and to truly connect will pay dividends.

5) Be Personal

Not be confused with being personable, being personal is all about demonstrating how you listened. Remember all of those notes you took during your meetings? Your post-event email is where they will shine.

Personalize both the subject line and the body of your emails to demonstrate that they are worth more than just a blanket email blast.

In fact, a study conducted by Campaign Monitor found that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than emails with generic subject lines.

Depending on the leads in question, you may want to reach out to them individually or send personalized emails at scale.

6) Show People That You Actually Care

The fact of the matter is that people probably won’t remember your name or your company name after the event. However, what they will remember is how your conversation went, and how your product offering made them feel.

If you had a great conversation with someone at an event, remind them of that feeling. Remind them of what they really liked when you spoke to them.

For instance:

“Remember how excited you were about our engagement analytics? You mentioned that the dashboard could make it so much easier for you to measure your attendees’ event experience, speakers etc? I’d love to speak with you more about that.”

In reminding people why they care, you show that you care.

7) Keep It Simple

According to a study done by Informz, emails with subject lines less than 10 characters had open rates of nearly 50%. Don’t be overwhelming in the first email. Remind them about who you are, where you met, and why you matter to them.

Also, don’t expect to get a response from your initial email. Getting a response doesn’t mean much. You will often get your first reply from a lead after your first additional follow-up.

8) Keep It Direct

When I’m making a call and the person I’m speaking to asks if this is a sales call, I say “It could be” if it’s a qualifying call, and I say “Yes!” if it is. There’s no reason to hide what I am doing. I am in sales. I am selling a product that I believe in to people who I believe would benefit from it.

People appreciate when salespeople are direct, honest, but most importantly authentic. Ergo, I believe that it should be the same with a subject line. Let them know what they’re about to open. If you’ve kept it simple and personable, and if your lead is a good fit for your product offering, then a statement of intent shouldn’t deter them.

When it comes to the body of the email, tell them that you’d like to speak further and then propose specific times. Give them a clear call-to-action. Make it easier for them to learn more.

9) Don’t Be Afraid to Pick Up The Phone

It’s very common in today’s sales climate that no matter how wonderfully you’ve crafted your email, no matter how long you’ve labored over the strategy of delivery—your lead just might not reply. They might not even open it.

Maybe they instinctively deleted it. Maybe they forgot about it. Maybe it never even made it to their inbox.

This is my ultimate advice to anyone who ever touches the sales world. The phone is and always will be your most powerful tool. Use it.

Even if the prospect turns out to be a wrong fit, or the timing is off, or they don’t have decision making power—speaking to them and recreating the connection is a top priority. Be resourceful and use all of the tools in your belt.

Key Takeaways

Following any event, you and the people you have met are bound to be incredibly busy, difficult to reach and possibly overwhelmed with follow-up. Finding a way to break through the noise is a must.

  • Go to every event with a goal in mind and allow that goal to guide your follow-up process.
  • Know your leads and understand their goals.
  • Pay attention to everything said during your meetings at an event and use the knowledge gained for your personalized follow-up.
  • Keep your emails simple and direct. If you still don’t get an answer, pick up the phone!

Your event follow-up is so much more than just an opportunity to get an email opened—it’s an opportunity to make a sound, create a relationship and follow through with your starting goal in mind.