Virtual cannabis industry conferences and trade shows don’t offer the in-person networking that physical shows do, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be an effective way for your business to raise brand awareness among highly targeted audiences, build relationships, and increase sales.
For your virtual trade show and conference participation to deliver positive results for your business, you just need to make some adjustments to your marketing strategy. Digital marketing is more important than ever when you’re promoting your business to virtual event attendees, and email marketing should be one of your top priorities.
Email Marketing Before a Virtual Conference
Email marketing needs to start early. This includes warming up your domain creating an email marketing plan (what you’ll send and when) for attendees and non-attendees.
Warm up Your Domain
When you use email marketing to promote your business leading up to an event, it’s highly likely that the number of messages you send and the frequency that you send them will increase. A sudden increase in message volume and frequency (anything that’s not consistent with your previous pattern of sends) can be a spam flag for email service providers (ESPs), which are mailbox providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.
In simplest terms, ESPs like patterns and their algorithms look at your prior sending patterns in order to detect unusual sending activity. A sudden increase in sending volume or frequency is considered unusual activity, and when ESPs spot that unusual activity, they may start sending your messages to the spam folder rather than the inbox.
You don’t want this to happen, because not only will ESPs start sending your virtual conference messages to spam but also, they’ll start sending other messages you send in the future to spam as well. In other words, your sending domain (e.g., mycompany.com) reputation will be damaged, which affects the deliverability of all of your future messages.
To ensure this doesn’t happen and to protect your domain reputation so your messages get to the inbox rather than the spam folder, you should warm up your domain. Through a domain warmup, you slowly increase your sending volume and frequency, so ESPs understand your new sending pattern.
Doing a domain warmup is recommended before you change your sending patterns for events, holidays, and any other time your sending volume or frequency will change significantly.
Learn More: How to Do a Domain Warmup
Connect with Attendees
If your business is an event sponsor, exhibitor, or an employee is a speaker, panelist, or moderator, you may be able to access a list of registered attendees before the event. This list of known attendees should be a key focus for your pre-show email marketing investments.
Send messages that don’t promote your business but rather promote the event and invite attendees to visit your virtual booth (if you’ll have one) or join specific sessions (if one or more of your employees are participating as a panelist, speaker, or moderator), or simply let them know what kind of content you’ll be offering during the conference.
For example, Cannabiz Media could use copy to promote its participation in the virtual MJBizCon 2020 event by saying, “Visit Cannabiz Media during the Products & Services Showcase at MJBizCon on December 2-4, and talk to our team members one-on-one. Don’t miss your chance to learn about reduced pricing through the end of 2020!”
Connect with Cannabis License Holders
If you can’t get a list of cannabis license holder attendees, don’t worry. The Cannabiz Media License Database has the leads for you and an email marketing tool that makes it easy to connect with your target audience before the virtual conference or trade show. You just need to speak to them a bit differently in your messages since you won’t know if they’re attending or not.
For example, if an event is targeted to a specific geographic region, you can quickly find all of the license holders in and near that region – by state, city, county, and zip code – in the License Database. If you only want to connect with people who hold a certain type of license, you can do that too. You can even target people by role, level, license status, and more using the Cannabiz Media License Database.
Email Marketing After a Virtual Conference
As with any event, your marketing efforts should continue when it’s over. Create a plan to keep the conversation going through email marketing after the virtual conference or trade show.
Connect with Attendees
Again, if your business is participating in the event in some way beyond simply attending, ask the event organizer for a list of attendees’ email addresses so you can follow up with them. The attendee list allows you to connect via email marketing on a more personal level because you know they attended the event.
Some event organizers will even provide exhibitors with more data, including which attendees visited their booths, what content they downloaded, what questions they asked, and whether they shared anything about the event via social media. All of this data helps you write the most relevant messages possible after the virtual conference, and relevance is critical to email marketing success.
Even if you can’t get the attendee list for a virtual cannabis industry event, you can connect with attendees when it’s over. You just have to put some work in during the virtual show – just like you would for an in-person event. You need to work the digital floor and chat with other attendees during virtual events. Be sure to exchange contact information and follow-up after the conference as you would at any other event.
Connect with Cannabis License Holders
The Cannabiz Media License Database can be used for post-event email marketing as well as sales outreach. You can easily look up each license holder attendee in the License Database to get more information about them and connect by phone, email, or through social media.
Upload the attendee list, and create email marketing campaigns that provide easy access to the content you provided during the event in case they missed it as well as more useful information to move the conversation and relationship with your business forward.
You can also use the License Database to share the content you offered during the conference with people who didn’t attend the virtual event. Just exclude the list of attendees from the targeted lists you create, and write messages that are helpful and relevant rather than sales-oriented. There is time to sell later, but for post-event email marketing to non-attendees to work, you need to nurture people with useful content that builds brand trust first.
Key Takeaways about Virtual Conferences and How to Promote Your Business with Email Marketing
Email marketing is an essential part of promoting your business before and after virtual cannabis industry conferences and trade shows.
Just make sure you warm up your domain before you start sending campaigns, ask for the attendee list and any other data the event organizer is willing to give you, and use the Cannabiz Media License Database for email marketing and sales outreach to attendees and non-attendees.
Susan Gunelius, Director of Email Marketing Strategy for Cannabiz Media, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her nearly 30-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. She has been working with clients in the cannabis industry since 2015. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business, Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.