#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, 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.

Is it on the Calendar?

December 27, 2016 / Greg Hanchin  / 
The number one excuse for missing anything in business is “it wasn’t on the calendar”. That’s true if it’s an internal meeting of your team or a webinar held for your prospects.

The calendar has become an important tool in managing our time, both personally and professionally.  It’s on every computer, every phone and included in every productivity application ever created.  

Companies such as Franklin Covey have made hundreds of millions of dollars helping us manage our calendars.  A quick search on Google for the term “productivity calendar planners” will produce over 30 million results. We crave a better way to manage our time, to be more productive, and get better results. And in most cases, we come back to the calendar to help us do just that.

My question is, if we know that in managing our own lives, why do we believe anyone else is different? If we manage manage our time through our calendar, isn’t it a logical conclusion to believe our prospects and customers do the same thing? Aren’t their lives just as busy as ours, with dozens of tasks to be completed today, and hundreds during a month?

If the answer to that question is ‘yes’, they why not leverage the calendar (which we all know is being used by them) and get our marketing activities right to the calendar.  A calendar “event” sent to them is the same as that meeting request you sent to your team this morning.  It gets on their calendar, and they can make plans accordingly.

We wrote a Ideabook to help start your idea engine.  It’s really just a matter of thinking a bit differently about how you communicate and how you ask for someone’s time.  We take that very seriously, we don’t believe in calendar spam any more than we believe in email spam.  But we do believe, that even if someone has great intentions to attend your “event”, if it’s not on their calendar, there is a higher possibility of them not attending (as evidenced by webinar attendance rates of 40%).

So, download the Ideabook, flip through the ideas we’ve presented, and see if one or two might spark a thought on how to improve a marketing activity.  Right now, it will only cost a few minutes of your time, but we believe, in the end there are major benefits of using the calendar in our marketing activities.

Time Based Marketing – 7 Ideas to Sky Rocket your marketing results using our Calendar Sever

Introduction to Time Based Marketing using a real Calendar Server as a Marketing Tool
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Hello. As we wrap us this year, I would like to introduce you to our Video Log Idea Book  that we just completed. A big thanks to Arnie for putting all this content together. We both learned a lot from our customers.   At the bottom of this blog is the Video I did.  Enjoy! Greg & Arnie. 

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So we have a minimum of 8 touches throughout the sales funnel to establish a customer transaction with a  current customer, or even more for a new customer.  In addition – we only have 8 seconds to grab a customers attention. We should be using a Calendar Invitation with the CTA to get to the Mobile phone when possible.  The CTA will not get lost in email and the Calendar invite will use the reminder engine that is built in.

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Are you using the Calendar to talk to your customers? Likely not.  We all use Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange for day to day dialogs for business.   But no one is using a Calendar Server to send Calendar Invitations as a marketing department to communicate to customers.  Most are using the Calendar to develop and download and .ICS and put them in the Registration email, or asking them to “Click to Download” the ICS.  This does not work well and never will .  Did you know that when you send a correctly crafted Calendar invitation that it actually “Splits” and goes directly to your customers calendar?  It does.  This is the greatest thing for a marketer.  Your offer, with the correct address and call to action with a possible URL for a coupon or an map –  can go directly to your customers mobile phone. 

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The Landing page shown here is with our magic Box.  The email box is actually the Calendar Invite!  Think of it as a replacement for “Add to Calendar”, which never worked well and you could not track. Give it a try. Simple, easy, and effective.  Direct to your customers calendar. Customer puts email address in it and they get the Calendar invite on their Mobile Phone.  We track track it with our reporting engine. 

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Simple Idea.  Insert the PNG, JPG or Gif as a URL into the Calendar invitation as the CTA.  Get the correct physical address into the Calendar invite. Let the customer put in their email address. They receive a Calendar invite directly to their phone. We track it. You could do this on Your Web site , or integrate into your email campaign with out CTA script.  It does not get lost, and they can retire the coupon at the correct CTA time, since it popped up on their phone with the reminder. 

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So – we think you might think we are crazy.  But tell us what you think in our Disqus thread. The calendar server has a built in specification that is 30 years old.  Its called the IETF, or the Internet Engineering Task Force.  The specification for Calendaring was just updated a few months ago.  Its got lots of cool built in features that as a marketer allow you to talk to a customers mobile calendar application. Drip is an extension of a “temporal” pattern in email. We are advocating you take a look on how it could be used with us, on sending out Calendar invitations.  We bring all of this alive for you with our Calendaring API.  Which you don’t need to understand at all… 

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So multi-event listings or pseudo schedules seem easy but they are hard to make simple.  In this picture Arnie, my marketing friend here @31events put together this diagram to show how we can assemble 3 different calendar invitations with our easy to use “magic box”.  Think of this as a “Add to Calendar Replacement”.  Or Add to Calendar on some Big Mega Steroids. Customer see’s 3 different time slots. They pick one or more. They receive a calendar invite directly to the mobile phone with a BOOTH MAP as a PNG stuffed into a URL.  Your customer get a chance to come by your booth because they have a Booth # , Map  and a CTA to come buy and get a Free tShirt or a Personal One on One demo.  Think about how many times you have asked your sales team – hey send out come emails and tell your customers to come by the BOOTH.  Well now you can develop that offer and get the Calendar invitation right to the customer’s phone! You can send the code out to your sales team and they can put the invite right into their Vcard, to help you help your customers get to your booth. 

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We all use the Count Down Clocks.   Think about combining them with us.  We actually have one running in combination as an integrated Modal with the Countdown Clock at the top and the Calendar invite embedded in a Popup Modal for a website with a built in coupon.  This diagram shows how it could be used on a WebSite.  But there are many more. Give us some feedback on how you would use them.  The first one that does give us feedback gets a $25 Amazon Card!  Just contact us on the Disqus thread or Tweet us directly @31events.

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So in this diagram we are advocating you try using our embed script for CTA in your Email Marketing program.  We can send a calendar invite when the customer clicks the Call to action button in the Email Template.  Its simple and we track it. The great part is that we don’t require you do anything different.  Just give us a test run in your email campaign testing.  We believe you are going to see better results. 

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Well believe it or not was our original invention.  We built a calendaring web service to send direct invitations to our customer base. Since they knew us, they responded better and they just accepted it onto the calendar for the event.  If they they were not sure, the event was still on their calendar in a grayed out position. When the event came closer – sometimes they accepted , or sometimes they denied it.  But we were communicating with them – all through the calendar.  Early on – PRIOR to the mobile phone it was working well.  Over the past 10 years it is working well since all people have their phones and have a calendar on them – and the events do not get lost in email.  Uses cases include OPT in lists of customers that prefer direct calendar invites.  Another big idea is  SUBSCRIPTION customers that order on a regular basis, where by sending calendar invites with information and offers would be welcomed for extra discounts in CTA or coupons in the calendar. The ideas are endless! Thanks for listening to the first 7 Ideas from Arnie and Greg @ 31events. Here to the next 100! Again if you have ideas on how to use them or want to do some GUEST BLOGGING with us. Please reach out @31events on Twitter or within the DisQus Thread.

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See our Video Blog on the Seven Krazy Ideas on using our Calendar Service for your Marketing promotions

Get the Ideabook, just click the button the button below for the PDF version.

Let me see a raise of hands, how many of you ….

December 8, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

…use Email as a marketing tool?  My estimate is that 100% of all marketing professionals use email in their campaigns. Based upon some numbers, from 2015, the email market is huge … 

Like 8 trillion emails a year huge. Like 200B mobile phones huge. Like multi-hundred-millions-in revenue for companies such Mailchimp, ConstantContact, SendGrid huge.

Now, let me ask you another question – and please show those hands again – how many of you have gone to the effort of crafting DRIP campaigns?  (and if you don’t know what a drip campaign is, then you don’t really do them, so please take down your hand).

Drip email campaigns are crafted, the are (were) born from a requirement to create “touches”, which is the holy grail of marketing and demand generation.  We (as marketers) are forced to think how to create demand from the 8 or less seconds we have with any single consumer of our product.  That bull rider and you  have the same problem – stay on the beast for 8 seconds or lose.  At least when we lose, no bones are broken, but careers are built on that 8 seconds – yours, mine, and that brilliant 13 year old trying to become a Youtube sensation.

Now, since I know you use email in your marketing campaigns. And some of you have jumped into drip marketing to create multiple touches, the next question is this (and it’s a big one, and yes, show me your hands if you do this)…

How many of you use the Calendar as a way to “hook” that attention deprived prospect or customer?  Now be honest here, and having a “save to calendar” or doing calendar sync doesn’t count.  Because here’s the difference:

One Event is all your customers can think about at a time.  Which means that ONE event is the key to success.  And since your customers are like every other customer out there in the world, you have 8 seconds and ONE CLICK to get it right.  I would guess, almost 100% are wasting that one click sending one more email (or a series of emails) or spamming their calendar with 100s of events (not the one they are interested in).  And you still don’t know if they have it on their calendar!!

Here’s the difference … 31Events is all about getting that ONE Event, on your customer’s calendar, in ONE click.  And once it’s there, you can talk to them based upon that single action.

If they accepted, you can reward them.  If they declined, you can ask why.  If it’s just sitting there doing nothing, ask them to do something, and provide an incentive to do it.  What you can’t do, once you have that information, is ignore it.  

But, while you’re stuck in the world of Email Marketing, worried about open rates and click through rates and all the other interesting little data points of email, you will start losing market share to someone else, that came out of nowhere, that is actually getting their marketing campaigns on someone’s calendar, and talking to them like human beings, instead of screaming at them through mass emailing bullhorns from your prominently positioned soapbox  –  because you have no clue about their intent with your event.

That’s the punch line – I’d love to chat more about it.  We have spent years, perfecting a solution that jumps beyond the “manufactured” touches of email, and starts marketing to the only real non-renewable resource, TIME.  

Pop Up Calendar Invite Modals

December 3, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 
screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-8-13-31-pmNote 2018 Update  – This was an orginal post of of our 1st version of software that is no longer available.  I thought I would leave the post as a reminder and a small Easter egg for Arnie and I on some of the first requirements.  As we continue to build and experiment with Calendar Modals for the Mobile phone, we stumble upon some good mockups around trying to get responsive design to work across desktop and mobile. In this case we believe this one is going to work well.  We have standardized on BANNER, CALENDAR INFO, INVITE EMAIL BOX, CALENDAR MESSAGE, COUPON, SHOW MORE , SHOW LESS as a standardized Template for our script generator.  We have over 20 modals running today for Web Iframe Embed.

Click to Calendar: Countdown Clock Example

November 26, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

We created an example (using standard tools like WordPress and little Javascript) to create a direct to calendar invite with a countdown clock.  How it was built, and what it does is described further down, just realize, this is doable today …

1) create the event in 31Events
2) copy & paste the code
3) your site visitors (however you drive traffic to that landing page) are presented with a single input box and button
4) fill in their email address, and they get a CALENDAR INVITATION 

Simple. Your Event, Their Calendar, One Click.

31Events: how we built the page

the build

31Events Embed: 
simple input box with submit button, we provide the iframe code, copy from your 31Events admin page and paste within any HTML web page

Page:
WordPress: within our theme, we have a page template specifically for demo example pages, it has not footer or header (you can use any page template within your site)
WP Plugin – Elementor: I personally can’t say enough about Elementor, it is pure drag-n-drop and simple to use.
Background & Animation – Coverr.co: the background video was available through another great free design resource, check them out to find all sorts of free video backgrounds
Countdown Clock: to create the count-down clock, I had to use a little HTML, CSS and Javascript magic – but I found it by a really quick search, and embedded it as HTML on the webpage.

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1 Click to get Calendar Invites in Constant Contact, MailChimp, Exact Target

November 26, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 

2018 – Update – I left this post in here.  We are now using AWS and getting ready to release the way we are doing calendar invites under our new “HeadLess Calendar” Interface.  That is using your Calender client on your Mobile Phone or LaptopWe have been working hard on trying to keep this simple. A One Click Call to Action Button.  We are still doing Call to action for Web and Email. 

Here is the workflow with our code in an Email Template for MailChimp, Constant Contact or Exact Target. 

Was it hard to do?

 No- takes about 10 minutes to generate the code for the calendar invite and test.

What do your customers get?– A one click Call to Action button to a webinar, event or promotion. You can include coupons if you want in the Calendar Invite, Address for google maps integration, web conference call information – etc, and use all the great reminders of the native Calendar specification for the Mobile phone to make sure they attend. 

What do you get?–Better signup responses because its on their calendar, better per event tracking and reporting. 

Your Call to Action – Get and account and give it a try. 


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HOW TO: A/B Testing Event Signups

November 21, 2016 / Greg Hanchin  / 

One of the things we do as marketing people is testing – we test our products, our messages, our offers, our designs.  It’s what we do to ensure we are hitting the right points, to the right audience.  Tests are not about good or bad, they are about maximizing our efforts.  Some things work, other don’t – our tests give us the data to back that up.

Live Events (such as webinars, seminars, tradeshows, training, launches, etc.) can be a challenge.  We spend so much time and money on the event itself, along with our messages and campaigns to support them, it’s hard to determine exactly how to test them in the short time we have to promote them.

I have a solution, but it does require a bit of effort on your side to pull it off.  The solution actually makes it easier for your customer or prospect, but more work for us the marketeer.

Register for an account at 31events.com. We’ve made it fairly simple to do register, no credit card needed and no cost use.  And believe me, I understand about learning another tool, to do one more thing – but I believe the effort will be worth it.

Now, once you’re in the system, you’ll need to do a couple things (I suggest working through these next steps a couple times, before you try it on a real event, just to get the hang of how it all works).  And if you get hung up, let me know, and I’ll help get you through the first one.

Step 1: Create New Event

Just like creating a meeting in your calendar app, you’ll need to create an event within 31Events. Every entry box has a purpose, so be ready to fill in the details.  We provide space for a couple extra things which are important, especially as you create you’re A/B test harness.

Step 2: Send Test Calendar Invite

We force you to send out a test, we give you the ability to send your test invite to a max of 25 of people.  I usually just send it to myself, but you may have a larger team which needs to either view or approve the communications associated with the event. Until the test is sent, your event will remain in your workbench – after sending, it will be “live”.

Step 3: Duplicate the Event

Within our system, we allow you to duplicate any live event. It comes in handy if want have a standard template for your event communications, or, like in this case, you want to create an A/B test for various types of communications.

Once duplicate, you will edit the event details in the same way you created them – all details will be editable, but the most important is the Event Name and Event Subject – you will want to change those (much like changing the subject on an email).  Also, you might want to edit the Banner image and Coupon, along with any additional links you want to create within the message body itself.  Anything you want to test, or believe could have an effect, you should change.

Suggestions:

  1. Change the Event Name to something relevant to the test.
  2. Change the Event Subject – test it like a subject for an email campaign
  3. Change Banner Images
  4. Change Coupon Images and/or offers
  5. Change the message body itself, include additional links, wording, anything you’d like

Examples of possible A/B tests to run:

  • Create one event to be sent only to your email list, and one to be used as an embed within your website
  • Create a different event for each social media channel
  • Create a different event for any advertising you plan to use

Here’s the reasoning behind all these tests. At the end of the event, you can get a count of the following:

  • How many people received invitations
  • How many people ACCEPTED the invitation
  • How many people DECLINED the invitation
  • How many people didn’t interact with the invitation, leaving it as TENTATIVE on their calendar

An the last thing you get, is the email address associated with that action, which allows you then run all kinds of analysis against the raw data – or combine with data from other systems (like your CRM or email).

This is data you can’t get (easily) from any other source.  Actually, I don’t believe this type of data is available to you regardless of source, mostly because we are one of the few (potentially the only) company provide INTENT data for events.  Meaning – your attendees have express their “intent” with the calendar invitation, it is either Accepted, Declined or no action is taken and it’s Tentative (just like sending out meeting notices for team meetings).  That little bit of data is invaluable, especially after you have it for a few live events, and can start to recognize patterns.

So, now it’s up to you.  You can do it, but it will be a new tool, with a small learning curve.  It also takes you out of your routine.  Personally, I believe it’s worth the effort.

Register for your account today!

Simple is the hardest thing

November 4, 2016 / Greg Hanchin  / 

I just read a great article by Jason Fried over on Medium about his favorite subject matter, Simplicity. The example was a visual representation of MeetUp.com as simply rows and columns.  Below is the graphic representation:

Meetup.com at it’s core, is a matrix of cities and interests. You know your city, you know what you’re interested in, it’s simply finding the intersection between them.  Truly, a very simple thing.

After reading the article, I thought about some of the giants in of online – and most can be boiled down into very simple ideas:

  • LinkedIn = Online Resume
  • Twitter = Newsticker
  • Facebook = Updates to family and friends
  • Google = Search

Can we decide to get more complicated? Yes and we often do.  But our jobs as Marketers (which I consider a great profession extending beyond “promotions”) is to make it easy and simple for our customers and prospects. 

And easy is pretty damned difficult

At 31Events, we are dedicated to making it drop dead simple for your customers to get your timed-based event onto their calendar.  We believe the calendar is much more personal than email, for a single fact, time is important (their time, your time, my time) – because it’s the one resource we can never replenish.

We are constantly trying to simplify the concept behind 31Events, it’s not easy for us, just like it’s not easy for you or Google or Facebook to simplify who and what they are, but it can be done.  But when you think about us, remember this …

31Events = Your Event on Their Calendar in 1 Click

Our mission is make it as easy as possible for anyone, with a single click, to get your event on their calendar. One step, one action.  It simplifies their lives, not necessarily yours, but it does show a significant amount of respect for your customers and their time. 

Our jobs as marketers is not to make our lives as easy and simple as possible, but to make our customer’s lives simple and easy. We know the registration process, calendar syncing process, saving an iCal or filling out a long registration form – those things make our lives easier as marketers.  Let’s flip that coin and start looking at making it easy on them, not us.

We provide a great service.  You can create your event, test the message and sending process, then have all the website and email codes for communicating with your customers. 

After that, you can actually SEE who has that event on their calendar, and the intent behind it (accepted, declined, tentative) – and then use our skills as communicators to message directly to that intent.

It’s a couple extra steps for us, but so much easier for our customers.  I encourage you try out the service – it’s rock solid, it’s been working for several customers over the past few years, and it really is different.  

Your event is time-based, why not start marketing to the one function everyone has that’s time-based, the Calendar.

Dunkin Donuts in a Calendar Invite?

October 18, 2016 / Arnie McKinnis  / 
Another Example of a Direct Mail piece we received.  It has Multiple dates on the punch card that we are supposed to come in and get a free coffee.  We have missed the last 2 weeks in a row to get the FREE Coffee . It’s not on my Calendar.  If it was I would have been reminded on my mobile phone.  

Just send me the Calendar Invite with the GIF Coupon in a URL in the Calendar.  I can click through it at the counter to scan or show my free coupon for the Coffee, since I will be reminded and alarmed on that date by my Phone. 

In addition – put it on a Splash page on your website about the promotion.  I can just put my email address in the Calendar modal and get the Calendar Invite.  If I “accept” this on to my calendar, we track this on our reporting engine. 

In addition the retailer can start directing me to my local DD,  by just putting the address of the closest DD into the Targeted Calendar Invite knowing that I am a “OPT” in customer. 

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