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Build your email list and engagement between your recurring events

Do you offer a course or program a few times a year? Are you marketing it between registration periods? If not, maybe you should be. Add this simple idea to your toolkit.


November 2nd, 2021
By Seth Giammanco

Do you have recurring events? Do you offer a course or program a few times a year? If you do, what do you between registration periods? Are you marketing and engaging around these events year round? If not, maybe you should be. This article shares a simple idea and tips that we have used with other small and mighty teams in the social sector.

How do others capture interest in events before they happen?

We have worked with a diverse collection of organizations that have recurring events. They offer professional development, courses, and unique digital programming to name a few. A lot of effort goes into marketing these events once registration opens. But, often when registration closes, marketing efforts quiet down and any engagement stops.

Let's look at what others do.

Ever notice how many products get announced before they are actually available? From web services, to courses, to video game consoles, to cybertrucks. Marketers offer opportunities to sign up to be notified when the product becomes available or to even pre-order it. Even when a product is available but sold out, marketing continues. Calls to action include "Sign up to be notified when tickets for the next show go on sale!".

These practices of continual marketing and engagement are so valuable. If you can't buy or register then you can sign up to be notified when you can do these things. This is a model organizations can follow for their recurring events.

Always market, always engage

We recently worked with our client partner Healthy Materials Lab who offers courses a few times a year. Registration opens about a month or so before the course starts. When registration opens, they reach out in all the ways. They send emails to their list. They post on social. Recently they have explored paid advertising and the use of a Google Ad Grant to reach new audiences.

As course registration closed for a recent cohort, we collaborated to setup an email sign up opportunity. We created a simple landing page in Mailchimp. We updated the course page to link to this landing page and changed some copy. The pitch to visitors was registration for the next session will start soon, sign up to be notified first.

We continued marketing the event. We ran Google Ads through a grant, shared to social, and linked to the event throughout the website.

Over 100 people sign up to be notified before the event registration opened. This led to a notable increase of registrants for this course instance. Most of these people were new connections and new subscribers to the organization which is a huge win.

When it came time to open registration the people who signed up got updated first. This built momentum right out of the gate for the course.

Together, we established a simple and reproducible process. We used the recurring courses to build our email list and increase the opportunity to market and engage interested people in them.

An easy and reproducible process

This video showcases what we set with Healthy Materials Lab for their Online Certification Program: Healthier Materials and Sustainable Building course.

It doesn't have to take a lot of effort to gather emails before registration for an event opens. Your technology and setup may vary, but the following showcases how simple it can be.

What you will need — the ingredients

  • An event detail page on your website
  • An email list management service — We typically use Mailchimp with our client partners
  • An email subscribe form or landing page — We used a Mailchimp powered landing page

Creating the system — the recipe

Here is what we setup and some key details that allow this to be an easy engagement tactic.

  1. Normally your event detail page would include a link to a registration form or page. When registration is closed you will want to have a link to your email sign up form.
  2. When registration opens you would then swap out your link from the email sign up form to your registration form.
  3. You would send an email including your new subscribers to let them know event registration is now open.
  4. When registration closes you will swap out the link from the registration form to your email sign up restarting this cycle.

Marketing for the event is ongoing using Google Ads through a Google Grant, Newsletters, social posts, or whatever channels work best for you.

Mailchimp tip: use a landing page and tag your subscriber

We like to use Mailchimp landing pages for this tactic because they allow you to apply a tag when someone completes the form. We use this tag to send a targeted mailing when registration opens to only the people that signed up to be notified first. This allows us to send a special email to this core group first to honor their interest before sending a generalized communication to all subscribers.

We use a tag that connects the event with a period of time — something like course-fall-21.

After registration closes, we then update our Mailchimp landing page to apply a revised tag for the next session; eg. course-spring-22.

Turning your recurring events into a marketing system

A simple reproducible system to market recurring programming like events is a win. Once a system like the one shared here is setup, you simply reuse it updating links and changing some small details in messaging as you go.

Your recurring offerings become evergreen. There is always something offered to interested people to engage them. If not to register, then to be notified when registration opens. This builds your email list and gives you the opportunity to create initial registration momentum.

All this, with a system that adds very little work to what you are already doing.

Have you done something like this or are curious about trying? Reach out to us on Twitter or contact us through our website. We welcome learning about what has worked for others and collaborating.


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