The zkipster data science team analyzed thousands of invitation-only events powered by our event management software. We found 5 big ideas in the data you can start using in your online invitations right away.
Sending a successful run of invitations is somewhere between an art and a science. There are important aspects that are tricky or even impossible to accurately measure in numbers, like the intuition that goes into matching your RSVP design to fit your event’s aesthetic.
But for today, let’s take a closer look at some important things that can be clearly measured, thanks to the meticulous work of experts on the team combing through data from thousands of events.
This data comes from a multitude of zkipster events and invitation campaigns, across many industries, types of events, and countries around the globe – from intimate parties to massive galas. So no matter what kind of invitation-only events you work on, these tips can give your next set of RSVPs a data-driven boost.
Send your invites earlier in the week for more ‘yes’ responses
Monday through Thursday, to be precise. The weekend showed notably lower average response rates, with Sunday at rock-bottom.
This makes sense from a psychological perspective because of a phenomenon known as decision fatigue – in short, the more decisions someone makes over a length of time, the more the quality of their decision-making deteriorates. Later in a workweek, your recipients have been worn down by more choices, newsletters, and demands of the week.
So if you’re asking someone to make a choice in your invite, try to approach them when they’re mentally fresh and energized.
Keep in mind: The other factors of what’s going on that week. if it’s a Monday holiday, for example, consider delaying your invite until Tuesday when people are more likely to have returned from travel and are mentally ‘reset’.
Trust your gut on how far in advance to send invites
This might surprise you:
Even comparing thousands of events, there was no clear link between how far in advance of an event an invitation was sent, and how successful it was.
So follow your instincts. The particularities of the kind of event, your recipients and what they do, the event duration, and the formality of the event are some of the many factors that play into successfully choosing when your invites should go out.
If you want to follow the majority: More than twice as many invitations are sent in the last week before an event as any other week prior.
But do use the subject line to be personal and describe what kind of event it is
People like to know what they’re getting into, and the subject line is the number one place to start making an impression.
Do: Indicate what kind of event the invitation is for. We found that mentioning the kind of event (e.g. dinner, gala, launch party) often led to significantly increased opening rates.
Don’t: Be needlessly cryptic. One school of thought in email marketing is that short and mysterious subject lines lead to more people opening your email, because they’re curious about what’s inside. But Mailchimp conducted a study on email subject line best practices, and found that descriptive and to the point wins.
Do: Be personal. We also found that letting the recipient know they’re receiving a personal invitation increases the likelihood they open your email. And make sure that the name you have for each guest is correct and free of typos (more on that below) so that when it shows up in their inbox, they see their own (correct!) name on the email.
Don’t: Agonize too much over the length of the subject line. Opinions on this differ strongly, but numbers from zkipster events found that there’s no significant difference in opens or responses tied to the length of the subject line for event invites. But don’t forget: your recipients opening on small mobile screens will probably see less of the subject line, so put the important info first!
To help your emails get delivered, make sure your email domain is verified and database is cleaned
Even before someone sees your punchy subject line and sleek RSVP design, the email needs to reach them first.
There are two pretty straightforward tools at your disposal to maximize your odds. Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t always take advantage of these, so just taking these two simple steps can boost your online invitations past the crowd.
“I think the most important thing to running a successful invitation campaign is clean data,” says David Becker, CEO of zkipster, who has seen the same scenario again and again.
An event team has the perfect invite ready to go, and an expertly curated guest list ready to go. But after clicking send, they see dismal response rates.
Missing names, wrong email addresses, and outdated contact info wreck the effectiveness of the list. The wrong info can even cause other good emails to get stuck in spam filters, if too many ‘bad’ emails were also sent by the same sender (you).
Make sure your guest database is clean, updated, and refreshed regularly.
Second, verify your email domain. In plain language: this is a way of saying “I’m a trustworthy sender” to spam filters and other email defenses, which makes them more likely to let your emails through to your intended recipient.
It’s not a hard process, although you will probably need your IT team to help with a step or two. Zack from the zkipster success team put together a how-to guide on domain verification with everything you need to know.
Even with great invites, about 2 in 3 guests who said ‘yes’ might not show up
Here’s another one you might not expect:
On average, around the globe, across every industry, and every type of event, the show-up rate of people who said ‘yes’ was about 30%.
That means, on average, 2 in 3 people who say yes might disappear before the big day comes. So what should you do?
You can plan for that on both sides of the challenge. First, make sure the invitation and promotion strategy for your event includes multiple touchpoints (social media, email, PR/media, etc.), and uses incremental drips of information and reminders to keep anticipation high and your event top-of-mind even after people fill out the RSVP.
Second, keep this in mind when deciding on the size of the guest list, and each group on the list. Only your own data tells you where the drop-offs happen, and can give you insight into the why, so you can use that to build in buffers where you see a mismatch between RSVPs and attendees. Even more reason to make sure your database is clean and up-to-date! Supreme confidence in good data is one of the pillars for Michael Moore of auction house Christie’s to build accurate and balanced guest lists.
Looking for more advice on successful email campaigns? Check out the 3 questions that can lead you in the right direction.