Last month, we decided to organize an Indie Hackers event and gather up some proven SaaS entrepreneurs to share their stories and give an honest "state of play" overview.
In order to attract people to this event, we've put a strategy in place that generated some pretty good results. The goal of this cold email campaign was to drive as many clicks as possible.
In this article, I'll share our plan on how to promote an event in more detail.
I'll also show you the email copy, subject line, personalized landing page we used in the mix, some extra tricks to get more people to attend your event and reduce the no-show rate.
Our homage to GaryVee's high school party B2B strategy
Around six months ago, one of the most popular entrepreneurs on the planet, Gary Vaynerchuk, talked about a B2B marketing strategy he called "High School Party".
It's nothing revolutionary really. We've seen this before, but the world needed a reminder to this great strategy.
The plan looks something like this:
- Organize an in-person event (meetup, lecture, dinner, a golf competition... whatever is most authentic to you)
- Target people you want to connect with, sign as clients, meet etc
- Craft an invitation and supporting content explaining what's in it for them... don't make it about you and what you want
What's with the "High School Party" name?
Remember how back then, the kid who threw a party when his/her parents were out of town was the most popular kid that night and days after the party... talking to everybody and having a ball.
Well, the same principle applies to B2B marketing and hosting events. Just how the case with that kid was, you'd be trying to hack the game by being "the most popular kid" during the event and drive business outcomes on the back of that popularity.
Before we dig into how you can apply this strategy to grow your business, let's start by analyzing the roadblocks you have to overcome.
Pitfalls to avoid when organizing and promoting events
No matter whether we're talking about meetups, dinners or bigger events, the challenge number one is always to get people to register.
One important note to grab is that sending email blasts to everybody asking them to sign up won't get the job done.
The second problem is the no-show rate (people who registered, but didn't show up). On free events, that number usually spikes to 50%, which is a disappointment punch for any organizer.
Finally, you have to make sure that attendees are able to find and extract value from your event, so they don't yawn, leave early or worse, talk bad things about your event to others.
Now, allow me to walk you through our take on this.
How we got 200+ people to attend our Indie Hackers event
We were so excited about the event. A few days before, we gathered the entire lemlist crew in Paris, so that we can all mingle and network together.
The idea behind the Indie Hackers meetup was to share three successful SaaS stories. Go beyond the surface and talk about both good and bad moments of every project.
People could then ask questions, relate to different kinds of situations and have an honest, no-filter talk with the speakers.
The messaging resonated with the audience and the seats were filled. #GRATEFUL
Here's our thought process behind the event promotion strategy.
Using online communities as our event promotion strategy
Two reasons why this was so.
First, both Guillaume and I invest a lot of time in building our own profiles, being active in various groups and using them for branding and learning.
Bear in mind that we didn't just register to post our link, we were active for a long time already... providing value whenever we could.
Secondly, since this event was in Paris, we targeted only French SaaS and startup groups. In other words, the objective was to promote the event to people who would be interested in the first place.
This is the precise reason why communities are great. They already have your audience, they save you a bunch of time that would otherwise go on research and it's a fantastic way to connect and build genuine relationships with people.
In our case, these were Facebook communities.
Slack communities too... It's not only Facebook, you know.! 😇
Plus, a lot of people picked this up, talked about it and some also shared it on their profiles.
The outcome was a solid number of initial signups and, of course, their names and emails.
You know what that means...
It's time to do some email outreach!
Using email outreach to decrease the no-show rate
At this point, we already knew a few things that made cold email creation more fun:
- A lot of people already registered, so there was no need to sell
- Besides Guillaume, two more speakers were lined up who crushed it in the SaaS world and had a bunch of cool stories to share
- The event was to be held at Station F, in Paris
The important thing to remember is that the goal of the cold email was to drive clicks. That's where dynamic personalization comes in handy.
All we needed to do is to make sure we leveraged the three points from above in our messaging. Make our cold emails fun to read, personalize them and heat up their interest to join us.
We were aiming to reduce the no-show rate to zero. I know, super optimistic! But big things don't come by accident. You have to shoot for the stars.
Even if you miss it by a bit, landing on the Moon is still cool.
Now, our outreach strategy was to send one simple email. No sequences, no follow-ups.
Here's how we were going at it:
- Language should be simple, feel of an event reminder...
- Personalized video thumbnail in the email with their name + logo on it to drive engagement
- Dynamic landing page with a cool video to connect with them in a friendly way + embedded Eventbrite event info
Naturally, everything was done in our beloved lemlist.
This was the email. Below is the translation to English.
Subject line: Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow
When I saw your name on the list for our event tomorrow at Station F, I just had to send you this short video 😍
or click here ...
Meet you tomorrow at 18:00 at Station F (Alan Turing 75013) and don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions ❤️
See you soon,
After they clicked on the image or the link below, people were redirected to a personalized landing page.
Recommended read: How to use cold emails for networking
The brilliant thing about dynamic landing pages is that you can make it about your prospect and basically communicate on a 1-on-1 level.
As you can see in the screenshot below, we added their first name and the company logo to the page... along with a short copy, video and Eventbrite info.
Here’s a quick overview of what we accomplished across different stages of the campaign
- Phase 1 - 278 registered attendees after community promotions
- Phase 2 - 77% engaged with our outreach campaign
- The event - 200+ people showed up
- Networking after the event - we all met a lot of cool people
Will leave you with some images from the event so that you can feel the atmosphere.
After the event, we all moved to a cocktail bar at Felicita and got to know each other in a much more "user-friendlier" atmosphere.
Bottom line is, there's a lot of different events you can organize. It will depend on your game plan.
- Small group of people vs. large auditorium
- Speaking event vs. networking event
- Formal gathering vs informal meetup
The possibilities here are endless. You just have to figure out what you want to do and then connect the dots.