In case you missed it, hosting virtual events is a must-do for your small business. You can raise awareness, generate leads, gain referrals, build relationships, solve problems, learn, and retain customers. But that’s only if people show up—and they’ll only show up if you nail the entire process, starting with your virtual event invitations.
After all, fantastic invitations pump your audience up before they even log on, driving attendance and boosting engagement. And they tell your guests everything they need to know about your event including why it’s important to them.
So, how do you word a virtual invite that gets people excited to join? What elements make it stand out? And what are virtual event experts doing differently?
While there’s no secret recipe to creating online invitations for business events, there are some tips and tricks to success. And we’ve gathered all of our expert insight right here.
9 Tips for Writing Virtual Event Invitations That Boost Attendance
We spoke with six small business leaders and members of the Alignable community to get their professional advice on how to create invitations that get the click and the follow through.
- Al Wagner—CEO and Founder of TruPayroll
- Sue Brooke—relationship marketing expert at Alignable
- Martin Brossman—business coach at Martin Brossman and Associates
- Jane Maulucci—copywriter at The Reactive Voice
- Tracey Lee Davis—marketing consultant at ZingPop Social Media
- Sunil Bhaskaran—thought leader on global business communities
Each of these stand-out experts has significant experience hosting their own virtual events and were thrilled for the opportunity to share their insight with you. They’ve already gone through the trial-and-error process of discovering what it takes to design great invitations that actually work. Now, you don’t have to.
Keep reading to get their nine best tips for creating invitations that boost attendance, including virtual event invitation wording and examples to show you the way.
Rather watch a video? Find out Sue’s top tips in five minutes or less.
Tip 1: Define Your Audience
Before you start designing your virtual event invitation email, “it’s very important that you first determine who your ideal attendee is for your event” says Sue. From there, you can create an event that speaks directly to your attendees in their own language.
“It’s very important that you first determine who your ideal attendee is for your event.”
“For example, if your event is for single business women, you would not use the same language/message that you would if you were speaking to men,” explains Sue.
The key is to do your “strategic work up front,” says Sunil. “Find out the who, what, and why.” In particular, find out why your offer is compelling and who it’s compelling to. In other words, define your audience by…
- Outline your event goal: training, information sharing, networking, etc.
- Then, ask yourself who would get the most value out of your goal
- Create an audience profile with as much information as possible including demographic insight, values, preferred channels, and pain points.
See it in action
Here’s a great virtual event invitation sample from Tracey that speaks to a well-defined audience. It’s clear in the description that the event was designed for local business owners who want to “connect with customers on Google Search and Maps” using Google My Business. You can’t get much more specific than that.
Tip 2: Focus on VALUE!
“Offer value and deliver it!“—Martin Brossman’s most well-known Martin-ism
Why do people attend events? To get something out of them. Without value, there’s no point.
Remember, “People don’t wake up in the morning thinking about whether or not you’re offering an event,” says Tracey. Instead, it’s your responsibility to let folks know why your event is important to them and why they should attend.
The key is to “convey what your attendees will take away from the event—the benefits of attending” in the most obvious way possible, explains Sue.
There should be no questions about what you’re going to do, what you’re going to offer, and what attendees are going to walk away with—knowledge, referrals, clients, contacts, etc. The more specific you can be about the value you offer, the better.
Tip 3: Write and Write Well
Writing an invitation that is interesting, exciting, and explanatory is critical to success. As Jane says, “It’s the words you choose, not the exclamation points” that get the buy-in.
“It’s the words you choose, not the exclamation points.”
Your writing needs to engage your audience from the beginning while, at the same time, telling them exactly what to expect.
But don’t come across as salesy, warns Jane. “No one wants to come to a sales pitch. Instead, keep the invitation high-energy, engaging, and valuable.” And while self-deprecating humor and laughter have their place (and can be highly successful depending on your audience), defining value is the most important thing you can do.
See it in action
Here’s a great example from Martin and Jane. The invite is direct but also friendly. They invite attendees to “bring your coffee, tea, or power drink and join us for a fast-paced hour of meeting new people.” That’s almost everything you need to know in a sentence.
Tip 4: Make it Straightforward and Direct
“People are busy…especially business owners,” says Sue. This means they don’t have time to waste on anything. So don’t write an invitation that takes ten minutes to read or is complicated when it comes to how to sign up to attend. “Keep it very simple,” encourages Sue.
In fact, “the less, the better,” explains Sunil. Get to the point as quickly as possible. So, what does this look like in action?
- Use the title to give pertinent information such as the date of the event, purpose, and value.
- Use the details to explain:
- Event type
- Special features
- Guest type
- Include a single link to learn more, add the event to their calendar, sign up, etc.
See it in action
Here’s a virtual meeting invitation sample of a “simple, easy, and concise” invite sent out by Sunil. It uses as few words as possible to tell potential attendees everything they need to know.
Tip 5: Personalize Your Virtual Event Invitations
Customers and your peers are far more likely to work with businesses that they have a personal connection to. They’re also much more likely to attend events that are personalized to them.
Personalization can mean a wide variety of things from delivering the invite personally (over the phone, in person, or by name in email) to personalizing the format and goal to creating a custom invitation.
In particular, it’s important for small business owners to individually invite people. “Mass emails are easy, but they’re highly impersonal,” explains Martin. “To humanize your invite, call people up. Say, ‘I’d like you to be there.’” If you do that, Martin says you could easily double the people who show up.
Tip 6: Make it Visually Appealing with an Image or Video
But the written word isn’t all you need. “People also need visual stimuli,” says Al. An invitation that is attention grabbing is 100% critical. And for Al, “more often than not, that means including a picture that grabs someone’s eye.”
This could be a humorous photo, a screenshot example of an event in session, or a professionally designed header. It’s up to you.
As for videos, they also have their place, especially if you’re charging for your event. A well-designed video is a great way to get across your value, show an example of your event in action, and get people excited to attend. However, Sue recommends keeping them short, “less than one minute.”
See it in action
Here’s a great example of a video from Sue Brooke. It’s basically a sizzle reel, highlighting Sue at her events, to show why they’re so great.
Tip 7: Send Out Your Virtual Event Invitations Often and Everywhere
For Tracey, who’s already done 37 events so far this year, it’s about creating a process for sending out her event invites. Here’s what she does.
“I create the event on Eventbrite. Then, I add it to my Facebook page, put it on my website, and post on Alignable. I also share the event in the various groups I am in on Facebook, as well as all of my social channels (and I do this many times—not just once). Finally, I send out my events to my email list twice a month.”
Sunil does something similar via email campaigns. He plans a “promotional calendar at least two to three months in advance.” Then, he sends out his email invitations “at least one month in advance of the big day, then three weeks out, one week out, day before, morning-of, and an hour before.”
And don’t be afraid to “use lots of avenues to get the invitation out: social media, email, phone calls, and in-person invites,” says Martin.
Tip 8: Don’t Be Afraid to Charge a Fee
Free isn’t always best. In fact. According to Jane, “even charging $10 can help people show up and get more out of the event.”
Think of it as a buy-in that encourages more serious people to attend. The key is to make sure that “the value is worth the money,” says Jane. Be very specific about what value you’re offering attendees, so they know why it’s worth their money.
For example, it makes sense to charge for an event focused on training or sharing highly specialized information. However, charging for a networking event that is competing with similar free events, “would likely kill the event,” warns Al. It really depends on the event.
As for how to charge correctly, Sue recommends a funnel. “First host a free webinar, then sell a low-cost event or course for less than $100. Then, after that event, you can sell something closer to $500—or much higher—as a signature service or product.”
Tip 9: Take Advantage of Online Tools and Websites
You don’t have to create an event invitation without any help. There are many online tools and websites that can help you create a great invite. Many even offer a hosting platform at the same time!
- “The new feature in Alignable is perfect,” says Al.
- “As for templates, Canva.com has beautiful templates for flyers, social media, etc.” says Sue.
- “One of the best ways that I have found to get my events in front of my network is to create an event on Facebook and then invite all of my appropriate connections to the event,” says Tracey.
- “I use Eventbrite for creating my events,” says Tracey. “From there they go to Facebook, Alignable, and my website.”
See it in action
Here’s an example of how Al uses Alignable to create a compelling invitation in a pre-designed, easy-to-use format. There’s a top image, information about the date and time of the event, a description, and a link to attend—everything you need.
More Ideas for a Successful Virtual Event
And there you have it—our experts’ top nine tips for creating compelling virtual event invitations that will draw in attendees like bees to honey.
It might take you a little bit of trial-and-error to find the exact formula that works for you, but you can get there, we have no doubt. It’s all about giving your audience what they want.
How do you invite someone to a virtual event? What online event invitation tips do you have? Let us know in the comments!