EMAIL WEEK: Ask Dotmailer's Tink Taylor anything

Got questions about email marketing for your events? You’re in luck!

This week we’re focusing on email marketing with dotmailer’s very own Tink Taylor here to answer your questions on all aspects of this most important event marketing tool.

Tink is Founder & President of dotmailer & dotdigital Group PLC . He has 20 years’ experience in digital communications and has introduced digital marketing to companies large and small, and been a leader in the development of digital marketing since its outset in both the UK and the US.

Just post your questions below, and Tink will answer them! Take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to pick up some expert tips to improve your email marketing. Get his thoughts on:

  • Growing your email list & increasing ticket sales :chart_with_upwards_trend:
  • The best ways to use automation tools and data to save you time and improve your content. :hammer_and_wrench:
  • Combining email with SMS and social media messaging :iphone:

Whether you want to get Tink’s advice on any of the above or another challenge you’re facing in your own email marketing, he’ll be here later this week to answer them so - ask away!

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Hi Tink! What makes a strong subject line? Are there any tried and tested subject lines which deliver time and time again?

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Hi Tink.

  1. Similar to @MelissaJane 's Q - re. subject lines, is it best (for a regular monthly event) to keep swapping out the subject lines to make them eye-catching, or does having a standardised formulaic one stand better chance at open rates/engagement?
    (Currently they’re formulaic with event date etc first as I read somewhere that people want key info straight away, and ongoing they expect the same format etc - is this true?)

  2. Is there a rock-solid way of encouraging more signups to mailing lists? We have a free PDF download when people sign up for ours which gets delivered automatically in the final welcome email. With either on-site or social media, is there a nifty way of really increasing mailing lists dramatically?

  3. When sending out mailshots advertising other events we do (free or paid), are there some golden rules to increase action in terms of encouraging the ordering/buying of tickets? We have big ‘order now’ Eventbrite buttons clearly marked within the email. Just wondering if there are any surefire ways of making an event a quick sell-out.

Many thanks!

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Hi Tink, What sort of dynamic content can you include in emails?

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Hi Tink, thanks for doing this!

I was wondering, do you have any data on the impact of combining email marketing with social media ads to the same audience? Does this dual channel approach produce a significant uplift in engagement with the content, and is it incremental to just using the two channels separately (i.e. is there some quantifiable benefit to someone being hit simultaneously by two channels?)


Hi Tink,

A couple of questions:

  • What makes a good subject line?
  • How does sending attachments affect click-through rates and call to action on the first email? e.g. event brochure
  • Would you recommend sending mailers programmed in HTML or as standard email format so they look more personalized?

Many thanks,



Hi Tink,

Would you adopt different email marketing strategies for different types of attendees at a single event?

If so what would you change? Content, frequency, goals, anything else?
And which criteria are relevant to do the segmentation, therefore what information should be collected?



Hi there, Tink!

I market to event promoters directly. As they are marketing experts themselves, they have a developed eye for terms/words to avoid (and hence, ignore). What advice do you have to catch the attention of someone who is already well versed in market-speak?

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Interesting question Sachin!

Hi Tink

With the impending data protection laws coming into play, what are your tips for growing your email list without breaching the new laws?

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Hi Tink,

  1. Apart from creating compelling subject lines and having a great template. What parts of the body content in an email do you consider important to drive registrations?
  2. What’s the ideal frequency of emails for an event series?
  3. How would you recommend targeting your ideal groups without exhausting them with the same event message?


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A question from @Steve_Jones for you Tink: How do I sell out my event with email marketing?

Hi Melissa

That’s a big ‘subject’ in its own right if you can excuse the pun!

There is no right or wrong answer here and there are lots of strong opinions about this topic.

It is true in certain verticals specific types of content can be seen to help, for example in eCommerce, discounts, free shipping, and other promotions have been seen to work well.

There are many opinions on the length of the subject line as in different environments more characters are displayed, for example a desk topic email client will show more than a mobile device. The key is to get the important part of your message at the beginning just in case this gets cut short! Why not try both long and short subject lines to see what works best with your audience. Mix it up a bit to make promotional emails different from newsletters and event info etc.

I’m often asked about the use of recipient names, special characters and things like emoji’s. All of which at times have proven to make your subject line stand out! I caveat this with the fact that these are often fashionable.

Unfortunately spammers send more email and are focused on getting results so ironically they will do more testing than anyone! I’ve seen in recent times the use of the recipient’s name getting great results. Yet if i go back a few years I saw spammers using this often (and initially with great results!) recipients starting to identify these types of subject lines as possible spam so stopped engaging. The spammers stopped using this so this came back into vogue! These things seem to go in cycles. I coined the phrase ‘Spam is in the eye of the beholder’ ie the recipient… ask yourself the question does your subject line look like the spam emails you have received.

Its critical you therefore test your subject lines, tools like dotmailer make this easy. If you want more help why not try tools like: or

One thing is always key… Don’t lie! If your message is not consistent with the subject line you will find recipients disengage. Engagement and ROI are stats much more worthy of focusing on!

For more tips see our cheat sheet:

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Hi Richard

Thanks for your questions… 3 in 1… you are making me work ;o)

Re: should you have a formulaic subject line, hmmm this is a nutty one. I see this often used when scrolling through my inbox. Subject lines like ‘April 2018 Newsletter’…. No mention of the brand even! Ask yourself the question are you really telling your recipients who this is from the what is in your newsletter? Are you really doing your best to entice someone to open and engage in your newsletter?

Ultimately people are busy and month by month, day by day, hour by hour peoples time demands change, perhaps they have a big work deadline or the kids are off sick from school… If you are not given them a reason to really want to engage then they may not come back later.

That is unless you have a massively high engagement rate on your regular monthly event and you really think folks are on the lookout for that email.

I guess the only way here is to test what works for your user base and perhaps break this down into segments of highly engaged and non-openers, where you might experiment with higher impact subject lines to grab attention.

Re: increasing your mailing list. You should where ever possible try to encourage sign ups (with the correct legal permission!). Asking someone for something personal like their email address is always a value exchange… ask yourself the question would you fill out a five page form to collect your reward be it a cheat sheet or discount code etc. Many successful tests show multiple step forms that ask for email up front work well should you need to ask for additional information later. Nothing is more off putting to a user than seeing a massive form to complete.

Here are some more tips to help build your list:

Re: your final question… It sounds like you are on the right course of action. You have a singular and strong call to action, you can make sure this call to action button is on the preview pane and not at the bottom of your email, meaning lots of scrolling (work) for your recipients. Maybe you can use this call to action in the subject line as well… In short make things as easy and obvious as possible.

All kinds of dynamic content can be used in any email. The question i guess is what content and what segments do you have?

The purpose of dynamic content is to deliver a hyper personalized email that is more interesting and relevant to that individual. Perhaps you carried out a survey after a previous event where you asked what topics are you interested in for future events. You could easily use this as part of your next campaign.

I’d also question how many people you have in each segment. If the answer very small, there becomes a time where the tipping point of generating different content against the reward has a cut-off point.

Look at all of your dynamic content versions and ask yourself the question how different are they really. If they are very different with the feeling that they are offering a more one to one experience then you are heading in the right direction.

The data will be different for all users so again the here the message is test. I guess the question here is really an advertising and attribution one. In days gone by a recipient would have seen an advert say on TV, heard it on the radio and then again perhaps seen it on a billboard on the way to work!

The issue we face with digital is every channel would like to claim the last click attribution before purchase. However when we consider ourselves as the consumer we know that various touch points from a brand all add up to make a difference. I would love to say that lots of you will sign up to dotmailer as a direct result of this session, however it is most likely if you do sign up, you will no doubt perhaps see us at a trade show, download a white paper, receive and email, a social media advert or sign up for a trial account.

I would try and understand what the overlap is of your email and social data. How engaged are they on each channel as well may determine what messages you send and what the call to actions maybe.

It’s easier to understand this when looking at what targets you need to achieve and how you are going to calculate the attribution.

Traditional attribution modelling is either Too simple… last click! Guess what… search wins hands down every time with this. If you only did search, your company would soon suffer. So we know last click attribution is not useful. Other models are too complicated, normally set up by some data boffin, too complex for us to use on daily basis.

So let’s look Customer Value Analysis. Traditional attribution models work from sales made. Let’s work back from the total sales we want to achieve instead.


In this example we look at the stats of those who purchased via email, those who purchased via Facebook only & those that interacted with both!


• Average Value - Db size / Total Revenue

• Average purchaser value – Total Revenue / Number of purchasers

This tells us how much to spend

• To acquire a new customer (Ave value) per channel

• To turn a prospect into a purchaser (difference between Ave Value & Ave Purchaser Value) per channel

Benefit: You can do this per channel. If you have a revenue target, you now know how many email addresses & FB fans to acquire.

You know your existing run rate, therefore the revenue / attendee gap…. You have Actionable metrics to use to hit your target.

Thanks Max… I addressed subject line in an earlier question.

I would not recommend sending attachments. The reason being is that the receivers do not like them… they can often get your emails filtered out completely. Imagine if email systems let spammers do this all the time, they would send attachments with Malware hoping you would open them and infect your machine!

Therefore I would recommend that if you have a nice brochure that you put a link with a strong call to action to open it. This way you can also measure the levels of interest (clicks) and engagement in this content.

There are occasions we let our users send attachments. We do this when this is a legal requirement such as sending a policy document. This also comes at a cost, consider the bandwidth required to send a high resolution brochure to tens of thousands if not millions of recipients.

Re: Sending HTML v Standard email. I wouldn’t recommend sending emails from our personal system, a bulk BCC from Outlook for example. Sending high volumes of email is an art, there are many things that an email tool like dotmailer do to ‘package’ up the email as it is sent so it’s authenticated by the receivers (Gmail, Hotmail etc) as a legitimate sender. This is a big topic in its own right!

There is no reason to not test using your ESP to send high glossy HTML templates against HTML emails that look like plain text, or even just the plain text email (not there will be no open tracking if you do this). I’ve seen several examples where a more text based email / invite might have more of an appeal.

You can still use your ESP in this situation to add personalisation, for example ‘To’ name, or even the ‘account manager’ as the from address as well as other dynamic elements.

Thanks Theophile… A great question and in short the answer is yes!

Understanding the engagement levels of your list here is critical as is using automation. You will know if someone always attends or is very unengaged. You can use this to your benefit.

I often find folks are worried about sending too many emails, whilst email marketing actually has a ‘stop button’ i.e the unsubscribe! Test the tolerance of this to the segments in your lists based on historic engagement levels.

You will find the more personalised and relevant you can make the emails the more often you can send. When you start thinking about sending more you naturally shy away from the one size fits all email and focus on your segments and content far more.

Of course any automation system will also detect once someone has engaged and put them into a different line of communication, for example sign-ups will be sent more info on the event, directions, dietary requirements and so on.

The data you collect will depend on the nature of your events. Remember to ask only for relevant information, firstly as asking for too much or data they you may not need or use is off putting to the consumer but also carries legal consequences.

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Hi Sachin that’s an interesting question. I my opinion I think every recipient experienced or not will view things differently. The most important thing here is that the event its self is of interest and is relevant to them and you have told them in a timely professional manor.

I’m sure some will say ‘I’ve seen this before’ to the same email others will say ‘ that was professionally executed’. Others might feel your approach and language ‘was unique and quirky’ when some might feel the content was ‘inappropriate’

The obvious answer is test, but the bottom line should be have you segmented your list to ensure the event is relevant!

I would suggest taking a look at our Cheat Sheet called ‘Don’t be a copy wronger’ this has been one of our most popular cheat sheets ever!