31Events is not just for invites, it can used for reminders too

June 14, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  / 
The calendar is awesome marketing tool that is completely overlooked by most marketing professionals.  We use email, we use landing pages, we use drip campaigns - but no calendar invitations or reminders.
I got an email today from Amazon AWS about their re:Invent 2017 conference. Once I saw it, I thought ... "why don't more companies send calendar invitations and reminders?".  

Announcements like this are good - but how about product launches or maybe even special or flash sales.  Anything timebased could be have a calendar invitation attached.  So, as an example, I created this landing page, put your email in the box, and it will send you a real calendar invitation/reminder.
Just think what you could do with that type of marketing tactic.

#1 Reason Your Webinar Attendance Rate Misses Your Expectations

June 8, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  / 
The industry average for webinar attendance is 40% (+/- 5%). That means for every 10 people who register, only 4 will attend.  And my personal opinion for that low number is this:
YOUR webinar is not on THEIR calendar.

Seems fairly simple to me, the primarily to get people to register (along with up to three reminders) is based upon email. A one way communication – from you to your customer.

Here’s a pretty typical email marketing campaign for webinars:

Step 1 – Initial Email

No rocket science here. Your email list is gold to your business. It is how you communicate with your customers and prospects. It is a tried and true marketing tactic, and no marketing professional in the world will tell you NOT to focus on email marketing (and I won’t either, it is the perfect communications to announce your webinar).

Step 2 – Call To Action

I have looked a hundreds (probably in the thousands) of webinar announcement emails. Every single one will have one and possibly up to three Calls to Action within them. They could be anything from standard text links, to buttons, to graphics – but they all have a CTA.  And in 99% of those cases, the CTA takes you to a registration landing page.

Step 3 – Landing Page and/or Registration Landing Page

Once someone clicks on your CTA, they are taken to your landing page.  These have become standard and provide additional details about the webinar, who will be presenting, date/time, how to attend, and in more cases than I’d like to see, a very detailed registration form (some habits die hard).

Step 4 – Registration

Here’s what I’ve noticed, the bigger the company, the more information they want during the registration process. The savviest marketers have realized (a) I already have your name and email address (b) that is how I track you in my CRM/Sales Automation and (c) email and webinars are cheap – the incremental cost for sending one more email or adding one more “seat” to my webinar is almost zero. Which means, most of smaller companies just ask for your basic information – first name, last name and email address – as a way to track against information they already know about you. 

Step 5 – Confirmation 

This is where things can start diverging. Some companies will just say “Thank You” after registration and send an email; others will forward you to a success page, with “how to attend” instructions; others just take your info and do nothing (yes it happens more often than you think). 

Step 5.a – Add or Save to Calendar

Within that conformation (either email or redirect page), there is usually some way to “Save” the webinar to the calendar. Marketers have never really questioned this activity – believing that if someone has gone through this process, they will actually spend time to “save” their event to their calendar.

Step 6 – Reminder Email(s)

It is an industry best practice to inundate anyone who registered for your event with several emails, at timed intervals – 7 days before, 3 days before, day of, within an hour of – it varies in frequency depending on the marketing process. These email reminders will either be sent to the whole list (all the people who received the initial email) or will be sent to only those who have registered.  If it is the former, there is usually another request (or instructions) on how to save this even to their calendar.

Those six steps are are how most webinars are marketed. There may be variations or other tactics used, but if you take notice of the process, you will see this repeated over and over. And you will also notice, most webinar service companies will outline this process as a “best practice” for marketing your webinar. This process, will help you get approximately 10 people to attend for every 1,000 on your mailing list.

The problem is – after all that activity, you still don’t know if it’s on their calendar.  And if it is on their calendar, what is their intent. Is your event just there, do they have it marked as accepted, declined or tentative. Did the status of that invite change between initial registration and the webinar time itself? You are operating completely blind to their “intent” – you have absolutely no idea. Which is why, you continue to send reminder email after reminder email – because you are under the false belief, that it reminding people helps drive attendance up.

And the Solution is very simple …

Send a calendar invitation on the first Click on your CTA.  Follow your tried-and-true process. Keep it alive and well and churning out emails after emails. Just make one of those emails a real, valid, properly formatted, Calendar Invitation.
I’m not going to tell you about the benefits of using the calendar as a marketing tool. Because you either already know there is something broken in the process when you’re marketing through time-based events, or you don’t. What I will tell you, is that SAVE or ADD to calendar doesn’t work, it adds multiple steps for your customers and prospects – and we already know, there is a drop-off each time we ask them to do “one more thing” – sometimes it’s just a few people, sometimes it almost all of them. Stop asking them to do that, and just send a calendar invitation.

Here’s the process …

Step 1 – create the same initial email
Step 2 – CTA is exactly the same – the link is different
Step 3 – Landing Page is exactly the same
Step 4 – Registration is exactly the same
Step 5 – Confirmation is exactly the same
Step 6 – Go ahead and send reminder emails (it’s up to you)

There are few additional activities for you, but instead of “not knowing” if it’s on the calendar, you’ll know. Because you send a calendar invitation to them. And you’ll also know …
1. Who is physically taken action with that calendar invitation, and what action they have taken
2. Who has updated their “intent” for the calendar invitation
3. What action they took, and evaluate attendance

You can do that today, along with being a bit creative with how to interact with those people most likely to attend your webinar.  You will either decide to try something new, or continue down the path of tried and true.  Hell, if you’ve done more than 10 webinars, you already know your own numbers. Maybe you don’t need more people attending your webinars, or don’t care if anyone puts it on their calendars.  For those that believe testing something new is worth a little bit of effort, then just head over to 31Events.com, get your account, add your next webinar, add your landing page link, get the “Link Code” for your email service provider, and see what happens.

Then let me know, I’m pretty easy to reach, would love to hear what happened.  Because my assumption is, it will increase your attendance percentage (it’s help other marketers, including myself).  But I could be completely wrong.

Get your account today, and test it. It will either work or not – but you’ll never know until you try it.

Automating a Calendar Invitation with MailChimp

June 8, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

Adding an automated calendar invitation to a MailChimp email marketing campaign

I’m going to show you how easy it is to add a calendar invitation for your event to your MailChimp email marketing campaign with 31Events. Once you’ve done it three times, you’ll be able to do this in less than 5 minutes. It really is that easy.

Step 1: Create your Invite

Creating an invite for your event, in this case, let’s say a webinar is simple. Just enter the webinar information into the form (at this point, don’t worry about adding invitation enhancements, like graphics), enter at least one email address to test the event, and press SAVE.

Step 2: Publish the Event

On either the Event Details page or the ALL EVENTS page, press the Rocket icon button to Publish your event. This allows us to get the email code for MailChimp. It also allows you to “test” the calendar event prior to including it into your MailChimp email marketing campaign for your webinar.

Step 3: Add your landing page Url

The best practice for webinar email marketing is to forward someone to a page with more information about your webinar, usually a registration page. We will need the URL for that landing page for 31Events.

Your newly created event is now in the Published Events section. Look for the Email Landing Page button icon, press it, and a window will popup. Make sure Option One is selection (our default is Option 2), page in your landing page URL into the second text box (naming it is optional).

Step 4: Copy Email Code

Your newly created event is now in the Published Events section. Look for the Code icon button, press it, and look for the Email tab. The first section is MailChimp, we want to copy the first code block. Just click anywhere within that box and it will copied to your clipboard.

Step 5: Add code as link within MailChimp

The final step is completed within MailChimp. Create your webinar email marketing campaign just like you would normally. The only difference will be, instead of adding your webinar landing page link, you’ll add the link created within 31Events.

At this point, I usually test the email to make sure it does exactly what I expect. In this case, once you click on the CTA, you should be forwarded to the webinar landing page. The difference being, they will also receive an event invitation in their inbox (and land on their calendar also).

That’s it. Those five steps.

When someone clicks your CTA (graphic, link, button) with the 31Events URL they will get a calendar invitation without the need to “save” or “download”. Your customers (and prospective customers) don’t need to do anything else.

now it’s up to you

I guess the big question for you is this … are you willing to give it a try? See if it works for your MailChimp and webinar marketing campaigns?

Register for an account, do a split test and see if it works for you. If it does, you’ll see your attendance go up, if not, then you’re only out a few minutes testing.

But is it really on your calendar?

May 31, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve gotten over 30 webinar related emails. All of these people want me to come to their webinar, some for learning, others to tell me about some new feature — but all with the expressed goal of (1) notifying me about their webinar and (2) getting me to click their CTA.

The process for all are very similar — it’s a tried and true flow:
Step 1: Email Notification
Step 2: Tell me When and Where (for webinar it’s online obviously)
Step 3: Clear call to action — click a link or button
Step 4: Go to some type of landing page
Step 5: Enter my information (some what your whole life story, others just an email)
Step 6: Get another email with webinar details, and in some cases (a little more than half the time), some way to “save” the webinar information to my calendar.

The flow deviates a slightly, but not much. In the end, most market flows include the “save” or “download” to calendar.

My Question for YOU … have you tested it. Do you know if it works? Does it work across all email clients, for a desktop or a phone?

We take for granted that tiny piece of the puzzle has been solved. You email works. Your landing page works. Your registration process works. So why wouldn’t the calendar piece work too?

I’m here to tell you that it’s not solved. I’ve personally tested hundreds of invites, for multiple end clients — and in the majority of cases, that “SAVE” to calendar never saved anything to my calendar. And since I (the webinar invitee), believes it is on my calendar, I don’t give it another thought — until it’s a day after, and I think “I really meant to attend that one, but I never go the reminder”.

There is a different way — and that’s just sending a calendar invitation once someone clicks on your email CTA. One that actually is received as a calendar invitation, no additional action required. It’s just on the calendar.

If you’d like to see that in action, just register for a free account with 31Events and test it for yourself. That’s really the best way to see the difference.

The Perils of WordPress

May 30, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  /  Uncategorized
Sometimes it’s the little things that get you, today – while I was updating the site (because I like to tinker), I did something – and BOOM – my WordPress site went down.

Nothing I did would make it come back up.  Luckily, I had a backup from this morning (how lucky was that) – so I do a restore of and NOTHING.  Really, it still didn’t work.  Something was really messed up, and I had no idea where the problem was.  After twisting this knob, flipping that switch, adding this, deleting that – I finally decided it was time to just re-install.

Basically, it’s the perils of owning a site and doing business on the internet (or via software) – sometimes it just craters and the only thing you can do is burn it down and build it back up. After a few hours of troubleshooting and then re-installing – We’re backup and running.  I lost a few pages, a dozen or so blog posts – but operating and working is better than not.

Follow my advice … keep a real backup of your site and test the reliability of your restore capability.  Your backup is only as good as the ability to actually use it!

New Pricing Set for 31Events

January 13, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  /  Uncategorized

We've made some big changes to 31Events over the past few months, and today marks the day where we move from that "cool little side project" to full blown Product & Service.  

Part of that is putting a price to the service - and for now, we want to make it an easy decision to get started with our simple $10 per month price.

Simple - because, it's purely month-to-month pricing. You want try it out, pay for a month, use it all you want, and if it doesn't help, cancel it before the next billing period.  Easy and simple.

And we believe you get lots of value for that $10, you can ...

 - create unlimited invitations
 - you can get the only opt-in box on the market today that sends a live calendar invitation
 - you can easily copy the generated link code and use it in your email marketing campaigns on MailChimp, ConstantContact or ExactTarget.
 - we give over 20 pre-built modals (widgets) to embed in your website through industry standard iFrame
 - we give you the ability to add a coupon to a calendar invitation (no one does that)
 - we provide you live reporting on who has received, accepted or declined your invitation (you can't get that information with anyone else's Add to Calendar button)
 - and finally, we are building out a library of really cool things you can do once you start using the Calendar as a marketing tool

All in all, $10 is a bargain, you're ROI will be through the roof - with payback with your first event. You'll be amazed at how efficient the calendar is as a marketing tool, with built in drip-marketing capabilities, automatic email + calendar invitation, and just being able to communicate your time-based events in the only place people manage their time - the Calendar.

If you have questions, we're easy to reach.  Just send them along.  We love talking about this stuff.

31Events Builder Bob Series: Calendar Invite Inside a Flip Button

January 9, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

One of the things we are always doing is stretching ourselves, see how create new eye catching designs, using 31Events and industry standards (like HTML, CSS & Javascript) along with tools you use today - like WordPress, Canva, MailChimp, etc.

Well, this weekend, I was playing around with Codepen.io and found the coolest button ever - you mouse over and it flips down.  I thought, it would be the coolest thing to use it to popup one of our opt-in calendar modals. Check it out below ... 

I also decided to do a version that is a bit more mobile friendly over at JSFiddle.net ... here's the link.  

And finally, click on the screen cap below for a landing page view (without all the distractions around it).  

Feel free to grab the code, or fork it and create your own version.  We love to see new designs, so if you do something really cool, put the link in the comments so we can check it out!

New User Guide

January 8, 2017 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

Startups are tough, anyone that has done it, knows how it's the details and little things that seem to take the longest to get done.  One of the things Greg and I have had on our "to do" list for a while, is creating a real User Guide for 31Events.  It's one of those "requirements" things, because we can't walk everyone through the interface, and with anything new, it's really easy to give up.

So, I just wanted to put quick post, letting you know we have our first version of the User Guide up, along with Quick Start guide.

Check it out, and give us your feedback.  Also, check out Greg's posts on using 31Events and MailChimp (ConstantContact or ExactTarget).  Email is a very important part of your marketing - why no look at integrating direct calendar invitations.

How to integrate Calendar Invitations into Mail Chimp Email Templates

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So if you think about the shear amount of “ADD to CALENDAR” for ICS downloads that are used for WEBINARS daily its staggering. Its also very inefficient. They get lost and they often don’t work.   We send a DIRECT Calendar INVITE to your customers EMAIL address inside your Mail Chimp Template.  Your customer receives a “correctly crafted” calendar invite like a good old fashion Google or Outlook Corporate invitation to a meeting. Its simple and you can insert a COUPON as a URL inside the Calendar invitation to promote attendance.  The key is that the Calendar invite goes straight to their Mobile Calendar. Since they are responding to  the “Click here to get the Calendar Invitation” CTA button – they will have a higher chance of showing up to your event.  In addition you will be able to track all customer Calendar Invite  “ACCEPTS” from the Calendar clients –  just like a corporate marketing event in your own 31 events reporting interface.  If you change anything in the invite after its sent – you do not need to send another EMAIL, since its a correctly crafted Calendar invite – and the customers Calendar Client receives an update directly to their Mobile Calendar from our API. 

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If your using Mail Chimp, give us a try.  When you create your EVENT, you can use our CODE Generator to get the Code to insert into your Mail Chimp Template.  Its easy and it takes about 15 minutes.  In addition you will get rich detailed information in our reporting engine as seen below.  We guarantee you will get better turn outs to your events since the Calendar Invite splits and goes DIRECTLY to your customers Calendar CLIENT.  Regardless if they ACCEPT the event or not onto their Calendar – the INVITE will show up for the CORRECT TIME and DATE.  This will INCREASE your chances of your customer showing up to your event..  If they ACCPET the EVENT onto their Calendar – we track this in our reporting engine , just like a corporate calendaring server and they will receive all the reminders that are built into their calendaring clients. 

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See this short 3 minute Video on how to Insert the Code into your Mail Chimp Template using the 31events code generator for MailChimp Call to Action buttons:

Using WordPress for sending Calendar Invitations to your Product Launch



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The importance of getting calendar invitations to your customers to remind them to take action on our mobile phone is showing up as a best practice and we see this with large brands like Nintendo in this product launch with the Add to Calendar button.  In this screen shot of Nintendo Switch the product management team is attempting to get on the customers’s calendar by using the Add to Calendar button.  At 31events we have a better solution this.  How would it work in this case for a product launch using our technology?  The answer :  You would create the product launch calendar invitation in 31events , test the calendar invitation and then generate the Calendar Invite Box code with our generator and then insert the code into your WordPress page.  Total time needed – about 15 minutes.  In addition, if you wanted – you could add a special coupon as a URL inside the calendar event to help promote the attendance.  The greatest benefit of this is that you gather all those people’s email address’s along the way that have sent themselves an calendar invitation and can track them like a real B2B invite in our calendar server reporting engine. If you have any questions – please reach out to us on our DRIFT account on our site.  

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See our quick Video here: