As a marketer, few things are more frustrating than half the registrants for an event you promoted never show up.
Luckily, you’re about to learn how to send a calendar invitation via Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, or Outlook, so registrants can add the event to their calendar and be less likely to forget about your event.
Get instant access to our free meeting scheduling software. Don’t waste time exchanging emails or setting up calendar invitations.
Unless you magically know what type of calendar your target audience uses, your best bet is to include the top three calendar invitations in your email, giving recipients a choice that works for them.
Outlook and Apple Calendar users will receive an .ics file and Google Calendar users will use a custom URL-based invitation.
Note: All screenshots and steps were taken on a Mac, but if you’re on a PC the process is similar.
Step 1: Create a new event
If you have a Mac, you can create your invitation in Apple Calendar. If you have a PC, you can create it in Outlook.
For Google Calendar, you’ll create the URL directly from your calendar app (you’ll need to be signed in to your Google account to do this). It doesn’t matter what type of computer you have.
Open Apple Calendar and click the “+” sign in the lower right corner of the window. A pop-up window will appear. Enter the name of your event in the “New Event” text box and press Enter/Enter on your keyboard.
This will create an event on your calendar, but it will place the event at the current date and time and leave the rest of the details blank. You will need to edit this information to reflect your event details (more on this in the next section).
open up Outlook Calendarthen click the “New Event” icon in the upper left corner.
An event pop-up will open for editing: simply enter the event title, time and date, location, and whether or not you want to set a reminder. To find the “Invite Participants” option, click “More Options.”
Open Google Calendar in a new browser window. You will need to be signed in to your Google account. Click the “Create” button at the top left of the screen. A new event window should open.
Step 2: Define your event details
Although Outlook, Apple Calendar, and Google Calendar events have slightly different formats, you will still need the same components for each of them:
- Event name
- Description of the event
- Your event landing page URL
- Optional event alert
Below are examples of how these details will look in different applications, as well as clarification of the information and format to use for each of these components.
Details you should include
Make sure the name reflects the actual name of your event on your website and in your other promotions (this is a no-brainer, but we’re being thorough here).
You may also want to include your business name at the end so registrants can quickly remember who is hosting the event when they come across it in their calendar later..
The physical address of the event (one line, for example “123 Business Ave, Springfield, TX”) or the URL of the landing page, in the case of an online event.
Enter the start and end dates and times of the actual event. Adjust the timing of the event to your time zone, because you are the one creating the .ics file. The time will automatically change to match each person’s time zone. For example, if you create the event file in Boston for a webinar in San Francisco that starts at 10:00 AM PST, you would enter the start time as 1:00 PM EST.
You can set up alerts so that attendees don’t forget about the event between the time you sent the invitation and the event time. In Outlook, you can set a time when a reminder triggers (such as an hour before).
In Apple Calendar and Google Calendar, you can set multiple alerts.
It’s important not to overwhelm people with too many alerts, as this creates a negative and intrusive experience. Below is an example of an alert sequence in Apple Calendar that reminds people of your event but is not visible to you:
Event landing page URL
Do you have a specific landing page for your event or webinar? Include its URL, as it serves as a reminder for those who don’t know the details of the event.
Include it in the URL section of an Apple Calendar invitation as well as in the body text of your Gmail or Outlook invitations if you haven’t already included it in the Location section.
Here you need to include an excerpt of the event details. This goes in the “note” section of your Apple Calendar invitation, in the body of your Outlook invitation, or in the “description” text box in Google Calendar.
It is also helpful to provide your contact details in this section. This way people can contact us if they have any questions.
Step 3: Save and send your event
Once you’re ready to edit the invitation, you can save it to use as an attachment in your marketing email.
Click your event in Outlook, select “Edit,” then click “More Options.” Once you see the pop-up window (shown below), enter the emails of the people you want to invite into the “Invite Participants” text bar.
When you’re ready, click “Send” at the top left of the screen to send the invitation to the people in your recipient list.
Double-click your Apple event to open it, then enter emails in the “Guests” text box. When you’re ready, click “OK” and the invitation will automatically be sent to the emails you included in the event details.
Click on your event in your Google Calendar and click “Edit Event.” Then enter the emails in the “Add Guests” text box to the right of your event details (next to “Rooms”). When you’re ready, select “Save.”
If you’ve done it correctly, Google Calendar will show you a pop-up confirming that you want to send the event to guests. Click “Send” to ensure it is sent to the emails you included.
Step 4: Insert invitations into your marketing email
The easiest way to email an event for Outlook, Apple, and Gmail is to do it directly from the event invitation itself.
Each of these email providers gives you the ability to enter emails directly into the event and include additional text, attachments, etc.
Best of all, the invitation you will receive is clear and gives you the option to accept or decline the invitation directly from your email inbox:
However, there are a few workarounds you can try if you prefer to include the event URL in a marketing email.
For Gmail Calendar, click “Edit” to open the event in a new window, then select the “More Actions” drop-down menu. From there, click “Publish event”:
In the pop-up screen, you will see an HTML code or a link to the event. Simply click “Copy” next to the link to copy the link, then open the email you intend to send and paste the URL.
However, you need to make sure that each email recipient has also been included in the event invitation list.
If you use Apple Calendar, you’ll also need to get a little more creative.
To bypass the option to send the event to a recipient directly from the event details, simply send the event only to your own email. When you open the invitation, you will see an .ics link attached to the email:
Simply download the .ics attachment, then drag and drop this calendar event into an email to send it to recipients.
Finally, if you’re using Outlook, you’ll need to open your inbox and select “New Items” > “Meeting”:
Click “New Meeting” and finally, select “Reply with Meeting” in the email itself:
And that’s all! You are ready. Use these tips to send marketing events to prospects, prospects and customers.
Take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Event Marketing to learn more about the types of events you might consider creating to engage and delight potential customers.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.