Conferences, workshops, product launches, webinars, networking hours -- they're essential. They help you get in front of your target audience and have some much-needed face time.
The problem with events is that between the initial announcement of the date and time and the actual day of, people forget all about it and end up making some other commitment. Of course, there are proactive people that always make sure to put it in their calendar -- but how do you make sure that everyone else shows up?
Insert a Google calendar invite right in your next email!
These calendar invites are really just long custom URLs that you can hyperlink in the body of your marketing emails. When someone clicks on the link or button for the invite (we'd recommend a CTA such as "Save this to my calendar"), a new browser window opens up with the invite right in their Google calendar. All they have to do is click "Save" and your event will be blocked off in their personal calendar.
It only takes a few minutes and can help boost event attendance, so why wouldn't you use it?
Here's a quick tutorial -- bookmark it for the next time you send out an email about an upcoming event.
How to Insert Google Calendar Invites Into Your Emails
There are four components you'll need to create your custom URL for: the name of the event, the start and end dates and times, the location, and the description of the event. In the sample invite below, I've highlighted the components in order of when they appear in your custom URL:
1) Title of Event
The first part of the URL will be the title of your event. This is the text that appears in the calendar view. You'll want to make sure it accurately describes the event. For example, instead of "Webinar Placeholder," we'd use something specific such as "Webinar: Inbound Marketing 101 With HubSpot." That way people remember what the event is at a glance.
Now, let's start building your calendar invite URL. The first part of the URL is generic and is used for any custom Google calendar invite:
Now, you'll need to add the title of the event. In order to do this, you'll need to start with &text= and then the name of th event. You need to use plus sign "+" to create a space in between each word. If you have a comma, place the plus sign after it, for example, Event, Part 1 would need to be Event,+Part+1.
Here's what it looks like all together:
The next component you have to create is the part of the URL that denotes the start and end dates and times of your event.
The date should follow the following format: YYYYMMDD
Time should be in GMT military time; Google calendar will convert it to the proper time zone for each person viewing the calendar invite. So even if you are in Boston and hosting a workshop at 1 p.m. EST, you need to enter the time in GMT. Your start and end times should be in the following format (where S = seconds, you can leave this as 00): HHMMSS
There are a few other characters you need to add in order to denote which date and time is the start and end of the event.
Add the letter T between the date and time.
Add the letter Z at the end of the time.
Use a / in between the start and end dates and times.
Here's what it'll look like when added to your invite URL:
The description is a reminder of what's in the event. Use it to remind people of the benefits of attending, and what they'll learn or gain by going. Also include any information people need to get to your event, such as a login URL for a webinar or a link to a map of your conference venue.
To create the description section of your Google calendar invite, you'll need to use these characters:
To create a space, use a +
To create a line break, use %0A
To add a double line break, use %0A+%0A
Write out your description the way you want it to appear in the calendar. Then, replace each space with a plus sign, and add in your line breaks. For example, if I wanted to create the following description:
First line content
Second section after double line break -bullet point 1 -point 2
Here is what it would look like in the URL:
4) Location of Event
You're almost done! The last part of your Google Calendar event URL is the "Where" section. This can either be a physical address or, in the case of a webinar, a link to the correct landing page.
If it's a physical address, you'll need to use + to create spaces in between each word. So 45 Maple Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02141 would become 45+Maple+Avenue,+Cambridge,+MA+02141
If it's a URL, you don't need to worry about spaces.
Add your location to the URL:
Always Test Your URL
You were probably going to do this already, careful marketer that you are. But just in case, I wanted to remind you to make sure you test your URL -- the last thing you want to do is send out an invite with a typo, wrong information, or worse, a broken link.
Just copy and paste the URL into a new browser address bar, hit "enter", and your calendar invite should appear (assuming you're logged into your Google cal). Check each component to make sure that the information is correct. Remember that the start and end date and time will have changed from GMT to reflect the time zone you're in.
And that's it! Using a Google calendar invite in your marketing emails and newsletters lets you cut down on the number of reminder emails you have to send out (which can get annoying, especially for those folks who were planning on attending and don't want six reminders clogging up their inbox) and boost attendance rates. What's not to love?
Do you use calendar invites in your marketing emails? Have they increased attendance rates for your events? Leave us a comment below!
Originally published May 26, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017