I love barbecues! Who doesn't?! Food, friends, drinking and then more food. I'm not sure why but there seems to be an unwritten rule that states BBQs can start much earlier than having a normal dinner party, which leads to a lot of us drinking alcohol earlier than normal and for a longer period of time….

In my experience, there are always two sittings at a BBQ, the first one is the one where you get to show off your cooking skills and the new rum punch you have proudly put together. The second sitting comes later, this is after your rum punch has disappeared and the 'sensible' friends have left, the neighbors you have invited who you don't talk to an awful lot have become your new BFFs (it's official because you are now Facebook friends), and your uncle, after taking a liking to your punch, decides that he is puckish…again and so chucks another 24 sausages on the BBQ. This part of the BBQ is where the quality of your food deteriorates and new friendships are born.

The next day pictures are uploaded to social media, new friends are tagged and the next event is already being planned. This whole process, if repeated on a weekly basis for a number of weeks over the summer. In this time, you have increased your friendship circle, you now have an extra 20 Christmas cards to write and out of those new friends you have worked out the VIP's you would choose to go for coffee with. If it's that easy to make friends in a social situation we must be able use this approach when it comes to email marketing....

1. Getting the guest list right

The first thing is to look at the guest list. You need to consider the event, is it a family only event? Family and close 'family appropriate' friends event or is it a couples thing? Will your single friend feel like a spare wheel if they are the only singleton? Once you know what type of event you are putting on, the guest list you choose to invite becomes easier.

This is very much like creating an email list from your database. Who are the most relevant recipients? Are you running a sale, an event or are you simply updating people with information? Once you know what you are communicating to people the segmenting of recipients will become easier too.

2. First impressions

When you get an event notification on FB it is all about content, content, content. Is the event photo humorous? Are there any questions left unanswered that will leave the recipient confused? Have you selected the option to allow guests to invite friends? I find the funnier the content the quicker I get a response but then I know my target audience. I also find if I tell my friends what they can expect I get more of a response. If I say there will be copious amounts of red wine and cheese then I know I will get a good response. If I know the day of the event is when a key sporting event is on, I make sure that this will also be on the TV to avoid disappointment.

In relation to building an email, the design and subject line is your first impression, if you use boring or generic email content then people will not engage with you. Make it as unique and relevant as possible and where necessary invite people to refer friends.

Manage the recipient’s expectations, tell them exactly what you are going to be offering and give them reasons to engage with you. If you need the recipient to take an action then give them as many reasons to take that action as possible and make sure you encourage them to follow you on social media!

3. Party prepping 

Now you know your numbers, prep like a pro! Go that extra mile to make your newbies feel welcome. If like me you like your house looking spotless when people come over you will spend days scrubbing cupboards, jet washing patios and polishing cutlery. The more you put into the prep the more impressed your friends will be. On the day of the event make sure you spend time with everyone, if you make an effort with them, the newbies to your group will be put at ease immediately. You don't need to go over the top but make sure they are introduced to everyone and have a drink. Job done.

On the day of your sale/ event you can take a lot of the above into consideration. Make the newbies feel welcome…without neglecting your regulars. If you have managed expectations and targeted the right audience then this part should be a breeze.

4. Follow up

The day after the event, you have a banging headache and lots of funny photos to share on social media. You tag the regulars and the newbies.  The comments start rolling in and talk of the next get together begins. You might send the newbies a private message saying how lovely it was to meet them and you hope to see them soon!

In regards to email marketing you should always follow up after an event in a very similar way. Ask them for feedback and tease them with details of the next big thing.

5. Clean Up

Once the headache wears off the clean up starts. It’s not a nice job but it’s necessary, very much like cleaning up your email database. You need to regularly clean your list to make sure that your chosen email client knows that your list is as engaged as possible.

So the next time you are planning your next email campaign think about this process. The best email campaigns need to be planned and carefully thought about. Your recipient list is key and the messaging is paramount. If you know who you are speaking to you can tailor the message, drive excitement, manage expectations and increase your chances of delivering a seamlessly successful campaign.



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