Evite, the electronic invitation company known for its usefulness in helping organize informal social events, logged more than 110,000 business events in 2006, using its software. “More people are doing most of their business online,” notes Eva Ingvarson, web editor and trend expert for the Los Angeles-based firm. “Paper invitations can get lost in the mail or on someone’s desk. There’s also a cost factor. Evite is free.”
Electronic invites are used most commonly for informal business meetings, such as networking events and hash-’em-out confabs, but a growing number of companies are using them in situations that might have required a paper invite a few years ago.
For a more personalized approach at a modest cost, CorpNote, based in Ewing, N.J., offers advertising-free e-cards, with 1,500 choices of designs, all customizable. Any e-card can be turned into an invitation or a survey, or both. The sender knows who opens the card and is notified immediately as RSVPs trickle in. Any survey data can be exported as a spreadsheet for examination. Best of all, CorpNote offers free live support.
Ingvarson and CorpNote.com creative director Michael Miller offer the following tips for creating effective electronic invitations.
* Be clear. The subject line should include the company name, the name of the event and the fact that it’s an invitation, says Miller.
* Don’t be funny. “Avoid humor unless you know your attendees well,” warns Ingvarson.
* Give extra details. Ingvarson suggests including the agenda, whether meals are provided, the times for check-in, the dress code, etc.
* Consider the one-stop-shop. Evite is partnering with Hotels.com to let guests book a recommended hotel online (assuming there’s no room block involved). There’s also a carpooling feature.
* Follow up. Both services can send reminder messages to people who haven’t replied.
* Do a postmortem. Blast a survey after the event, and sweeten the pot with a coupon or small gift certificate for completing it, suggests Miller. -- J.V.