How-To Email Series: Email Marketing Tips to Get Applicants Returning

by Asaf Darash,

Our first “how-to email series”, published back in 2014 was so successful, we’re back with round 2. Or level 2. Or, whatever, we’re back! We had some requests for specific types of emails that most organizations, camps, events, and the like, need to integrate into their automated communication system. They not only want to get the most benefit out of their system and past data, they want new ways to tap into old applicants to get them returning! Quality email marketing tips aren’t hard to come by, but they are always pretty general and aren’t always helpful to those needing registration specific help!

Did you know that getting a new client is 5 times more expensive and more work than getting a returning client (they know you, that you will deliver etc…)? So it is pretty understandable why you would want to reach out to previous clients to get them back so that the capacity for a camp, event session, a volunteer session, a program, event, etc gets filled up. But not all marketing emails are born the same. Some will get you a ton of people returning while others will just get deleted the moment they show up in your potential return client inbox. In this post I will give you the rundown on how a great marketing email looks like. This will help you generate more income and increase loyalty with your organization.

Since most organizations know who their audience is, targeting marketing emails to them is pretty simple, especially with a great software that allows you to create certain template emails, search and filter the audience you want, and then simply click “Send”! All personal details can be populated into your marketing email template and you can easily reach out to past clients to get them excited about what you have coming up and hopefully get them to register with you again!

Below, as I’ve done in the past, I look at a good version of a marketing email and then a bad one. This really helps understand what is needed for the most optimal and effective marketing email to past applicants. As always, a great registration software helps make this easy! Don’t worry, I’ll elaborate how below.

Example of a BAD Returning Applicant Marketing Email

bad email

Why is this marketing email bad?

Before I go into more detail about why this email is bad, the top 4 reasons are listed below.

  1. It’s not personalized.

  2. It doesn’t contain any links.

  3. There is no clear call to action.

  4. It doesn’t offers an incentive.

And now to elaborate…

1. The email isn’t personal.

This email isn’t addressed to anybody, it’s to everybody! Notice that it starts with “Hey!”. No name, no reference. This just screams BULK! We get so many emails these days that most people, when they realize they’ve received a bulk email, automatically delete it without even reading to see if it’s something that’s interesting to them. Don’t let this happen! Make the reader feel like you sat down to connect with them directly and make it obvious that you are offering them something in the email that is exciting and interesting. Read more about how to personalize bulk email to clients in this post.

2. There are no links!

Ugh. How annoying to see the words “check out our schedule” or “register now” but have no way of getting there! If you are want your reader to do something with your email (and of course you do because why else are you sending it?), make sure it’s easy to do whatever you’re talking about. Links are important, and a button or graphic to click is even better.

Make sure the links are easy to find just by looking at the email, and if you are on a mobile device (which is where the majority of people open and read emails), make sure the link/Call to Action/button is clearly visible in the body of your email without making the reader scroll to see it and find it.

3. No clear call to action.

We can most likely understand already that the goal of this email is to get a returning family to register again for this summer. But in this email, there is vital information missing that makes it clear what the reader is supposed to glean from this email. Ok cool, there are new sessions this summer. Cool, you remember I was there last year. And interesting, there’s early bird registration. But, that’s it. When does early bird registration start? What does that mean? Are you offering the same session I attended last year? Have prices changed? Where do I register? Can I log back into my account that I used last year? What was my username?

I’m not saying your email has to hit all those points, but you need to have a CLEAR focus to your message. Even the subject line is vague. You can glean that this camp misses this person, which probably means they want them to come back. But that’s where the clarity ends.

Define what you want to achieve from a marketing email and make that the focus of how you word your content.

4. There’s no incentive offered.

There is a hint, a tease, a little mention of early bird registration but that’s about it. Like I said before, not every email needs to offer an incentive, but if part of the marketing goal (as it is here) is to get an applicant to re-register and you want to offer them something in order to get the ball rolling on registration, make this clear and make it a good one!

Example of a Great Returning Applicant Marketing Email

good email

Why is this marketing email great?

Before I go into more detail about why this email is great, the top 4 reasons are listed below.

  1. It’s personalized.

  2. There are tons of great links.

  3. It has a clear call to action.

  4. There is an incentive!

Now to elaborate…

1. The email is directed to the recipient.

Right off the bat, this is where having a great registration software is key to a great re-marketing email campaign. Personalized emails improve click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. (Source) This alone should tell you that people prefer to be talked to directly. The more you can infuse your email with personal details, where appropriate and meaningful, the better. Address the email to them, mention in the body of your email the session they attended last year, of course use their child or children’s name if you can (ex:”We had such a great time with Adam last summer at Lego Camp!”).

Just like during the registration process when conditional logic tailors the process specifically for each user (watch a video of how this works), emails that read as if they are written only for the recipient will mean your email will actually be read first of all, and that they will get to the call to action you’ve presented and hopefully convert (by registering).

At the very least, getting your email read by personalizing it, means you’re getting the word out about your upcoming events and putting it in their mind, even if in that moment they don’t convert.

2. Links!

Mentioning things like your upcoming event, logging into their online account is important in the body of your email. But if you don’t give the reader an easy way to get to these places, they probably aren’t going to close their email, and then open a new tab or enter their mobile browser to look up your schedule or login. If you ask your reader to do something (check out your schedule for instance), make a link so they can easily click and go directly to what you’re talking about.

3. A clear call to action.

The whole point of a marketing email is to get them to act! In the case of this email, you want this former client to re-register for another session. Make it clear what you want them to do and how they can do this. Sign up now! Register today! Whatever language makes sense for your organization and email, use it and make it easy to accomplish (see #2 Links! above).

The call to action should be clear right from the get-go and included somehow in the subject line of your email. Make it obvious in the body of the email what the call to action is (use colors, bold setting, etc) and make it easy to take advantage of. Offer a coupon code they can copy, a link to register, to fill in their details or whatever it is you are wanting them to do.

4. It offers an incentive.

Not all marketing emails targeted to returning clients need to offer an incentive, of course. But when we are talking about using email to get returning applicants back, offering a discount or some sort of loyalty benefit not only gets them hooked and wanting to learn more (i.e. clicking on your link, engaging with your website, or taking the first step to begin the registration process) is a great marketing tool.

The easiest way to decide what kind of incentive to offer is really understanding your applicants and what they’d appreciate most. A certain percent off a deposit or total event cost, a referral benefit, or money off merchandise you sell. I wrote a post that details the types of incentives that are great to offer to applicants, returning or new, so check that out for more ideas.

Conclusion: Use These Email Marketing Tips to Get Applicants Coming Back!

Marketing is hard. I’m always learning something new. Using a registration software makes some of these tasks so much simpler. By having access to past data and the ability to easily connect with past clients, creating an email marketing campaign to target them again and encourage them to become a repeat client is so easy!

The hard part is coming up with the right content that will engage them and get them acting on what you’re selling. I hope this email series is helpful in you achieving this goal by offering up some guidelines on how to craft your emails and what pitfalls to avoid.

Happy writing!


Learn more about Regpack here or contact us for a free demo!

This post originally published on March 30, 2016 and updated July 28, 2016.

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About The Author

Asaf Darash

Asaf has extensive experience as entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.