Email – Consistent and Reliable Performance – The Duct Tape of the Digital Marketing Toolkit

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

I know the title of this blog is a little tongue and cheek though I think the analogy holds, no pun intended. I used this analogy at a recent session at EXHIBITORFastTrak in Atlanta, it resonated with attendees and so I want to share it with you in this blog.

Think about it, duct tape is a versatile, consistent performer in addressing so many needs – whether to repair a boat cover, bicycle seat, vacuum hose or whatever else, it is often a solution that does the job well. It even was used to repair the lunar rover during Apollo 17!

The same is true of email. It is a versatile and consistent performer, according to results of a number of CEIR studies. Despite the onslaught of new, digital marketing tactic alternatives, email still serves an important role in the exhibition marketing mix for both organizers and exhibitors. Here are a few examples:

  • In the Digital Playbook, email is found to be a top performer for both organizers and exhibit brand marketers for cost containment and revenue generation. It is the most popular tactic used in exhibition marketing (86% of business-to-business exhibition organizers, 86% of business-to-consumer exhibition organizers and 84% of brand marketers). The popularity and effectiveness of email is documented in earlier CEIR research.
  • The use and effectiveness of email in organizer marketing efforts to drive attendance is noted in the recently released report, Cost to Attract Attendees.
  •  These results make sense, and align with the resources prospective attendees rely on when searching for prospective exhibitions to attend. According to Attracting Attendees, email from different sources – colleagues, organizers and exhibitors – are in the top 10 important information resources relied upon by them.
  • And for young professionals, according to The Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study Report released this past August, email from organizers and vendors is relied on and trusted more than content from social media when hunting for prospective exhibitions to attend. Emails from colleagues is also a more used and trusted resource for this purpose than social media.

Now the consistent performance of email does NOT mean it is wise for brand marketers and exhibition organizers to indiscriminately use this tactic for any and all purposes. Over emailing will fatigue a list, this is a longstanding rule and is just plain common sense. If anything, it speaks to the high importance of using email lists carefully and strategically. Marketing needs to assure that content is valuable to the recipients and that the number of emails is managed carefully, to avoid the spam filter and ‘block sender’ classifications.

Let me close in sharing an example of the strategic use of email that one of the EXHIBITORFastTrak attendees explained. This exhibiting company, in striving to avoid blast emails and at the same time striving to promote their participation at an upcoming exhibition, included an invitation to register to attend the exhibition as a part of the signature at the end of the email. It was a click thru link to the exhibition’s registration site. The email was sent from sales staff as a follow-up to a phone call. Interestingly, the exhibitor was paid by the exhibition organizer for any individuals who registered and attended the exhibition. This email campaign approach was a ‘win-win’ for the exhibitor and exhibition.

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