Alright so you’ve just forked out hundreds (thousands) for that weekend market, gift fair or expo. You made some decent sales, but you also managed to add a whole heap of people to your email list. Yay!

“But what now?” I hear you asking. “What should I do with all those emails to turn them into paying customers?”

Well this post is all about turning that initial email into a great first impression (and, eventually, a paying customer). But first, a little story.

The dating analogy

Remember back to the last time someone asked you out in person (does that still happen?). You made a connection, said yes to a date and waited for the follow-up. You were intrigued, and perhaps a little excited.

But then the follow up comes and it’s a vague mention of going out for drinks at some uncertain point in the future.

Or you don’t get a follow-up for three weeks.

Or you don’t get a follow up at all, except six months later you get a text at 1am that says “u up?”

Now I’m not suggesting that you’re going to booty text your potential customers. But I do see businesses make similar mistakes when it comes to following up after live events:

  • Sending their general monthly newsletter (no context)
  • Sending a sales email with no intro (too forward)
  • Not emailing at all for months (where’d you go?)

When someone signs up to your email list, they’re giving you permission to enter a sacred space – their inbox. They’ve told you they’re interested in hearing from you and taking the relationship further. So don’t waste that opportunity.

How to make an awesome second impression

First, you want to separate the people who joined this event from the rest of your list, so you can send them a custom email. I suggest gathering the emails onto a second list, rather than having them automatically go onto your main list.

If you’re using Mailchimp, create a new list and upload your emails there (or use the app to collect emails directly). Once you’ve sent out your welcome email, merge that whole list with your main list. As an optional (but recommended) step, you can also create a segment to track everyone who signed up via certain events, so you can see which ones were your best in terms of sales.

Other email programs will offer similar segmenting through Tags or Groups. Just search for a How To on your specific email provider (or drop me a message and I might be able to help you out).

Once you’ve done that, create a Template for your Campaign, so you can use it over-and-over for future events.

About the follow-up email template

Your Follow-up or Welcome Email is the first opportunity to reestablish the connection you made at the live event. Remember, the people at the event probably walked past hundreds of other stalls and may have signed up to a dozen lists besides yours on the day. So you want to remind them who you are and what you do. Here’s the general layout for your email.

  • Welcome them to your list and remind them how they signed up
  • Announce the winner if you had a competition
  • Tell them more about your business
  • Give them an offer
  • Tell them what’s next

Welcome them to your list

Remember, they may have signed up to a dozen other lists on the same day so make it clear when, how and why they signed up to your list.

You should also announce the winner of your competition if that’s how you were getting people to sign up – don’t leave people wondering if they’ve won or not. And if your prize is valued at over $500 the winner must be announced publicly in either print (newspaper) or on your website/social media. Just announce the first name, last initial for privacy reasons.

Tell them about your brand

Okay so once you’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to reestablish that connection you had when they visited your stall. Tell them a more about your business, what you sell and what makes you different. Keep this to a paragraph or so and link out to your About page if they want to read more.

Give them an offer

I’m not a fan of discounting for discounts sake, but I think it’s important to reward people who’ve taken the step of joining your email list. After all, they’ve given you something (their email) so it makes sense to reward them.

You could offer a % or $ discount, free shipping or a bonus with purchase. It doesn’t have to cost your much, as long as it has a high perceived value and isn’t something you offer just anyone.

Tell them what’s next

Give a bit of info about what they can expect now they’re on your list. Do you send out a weekly post with inspiring ideas or DIYs? Share behind-the-scenes? Give your list first access to new products and discounts? Give them a reason to stick around.

Follow up email template


Thanks for entering the competition to win a [prize that you offered] at the [event you were at].

Congratulations to [First name of winner]. We’ve touched base with you separately to arrange your [what the prize is]. If the prize is unclaimed by [date], we’ll draw a new winner and email them by [date].

We had such a great time at the [event]. If we didn’t get a chance to chat in person, here are a few details about us.

We’re [business name] and we [what you sell/do]. We love… etc. [a bit from your About page]

Unfortunately there could only be one winner. But to say thanks for joining up, we’d like to offer you [a discount or bonus] if you purchase in the next three months.

Now you’re on our list you can expect [what you send to your list].

Thanks again,

[Your name]

Be prepared for unsubscribes

No matter how awesome your email is or how great your offer, people are going to unsubscribe, particularly if you ran a competition to get sign ups – some people are serial compers who aren’t actually interested in the businesses they sign up for. But don’t let the unsubscribers get you down. Just remember that you really only want people on your list who are genuinely interested in what you do. And for those who do stick around, make sure you send them your best content.

Action steps

Whether you have an upcoming live event or not, spend an hour or two today getting your Follow-up Email Template set up so you’re ready to go.

Aaand, remember to sign up for my free Facebook group

It’s called Biztopia and it’s just for ecommerce brands to connect, learn and get tips on how to grow. Click here to join the free, private Facebook group (did I mention it’s free?).