Alright, you’ve just spent hundreds for a stand at a weekend market, fair or expo. You made a lots of sales, (yay!). Plus a heap of people added themselves to your email list. Double yay!

“But what now?” I hear you asking. “What should I do to turn those people 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 the sacred space that is 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. You can do this by creating a segment with your new subscribers. There are two ways to do this:

Gathering emails via an app or online

If you’ll be gathering emails directly via an online form or the app, create a new list (call it the name of the event or something similar). Then gather emails using MailChimp’s handy app (available for iOS and Android).

After the event, you’ll want to merge that new list with your existing lists (to avoid double ups). From the Lists view page, select the box of the list you want to merge, select the down arrow menu on the right-hand side, then hit Combine Lists. Select your main list from the drop-down and hit Save.

(Note there is a way to add people directly to your main list and segment them based on where they added from. I’ll tackle this in an upcoming post).

Gathering emails via a paper form or Excel

If you’ll be gathering emails via a paper form or Excel file, you can upload them directly to your main list after the event.

Head to your list in MailChimp and select Create a Segment. On the next screen you’ll see a link that says, “Need to a CSV or paste in emails?”. Give your segment a name (I find it handy to include the event name so you can track the success of specific events). Then upload your .csv file and hit Save Segment.

How to add a segment in MailChimp for follow up email template

Other email programs will offer similar segmenting through Tags or Groups. Just search for a How To on your specific email provider.

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 and when they signed up
  • Announce the winner if you ran a competition for sign-ups
  • Tell them a little more about your brand
  • 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 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

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 discount’s 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 you 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

Below is a bit of a basic template you can modify when you email your list. You can set everything up before you hit the event so you’re ready to send your welcome email first thing the day after your event.


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 – especially if you ran a competition for sign ups. 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.

What’s next?

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.

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