How to Insert Google Calendar, Apple Calendar & Outlook Event Invites Into Your Marketing Emails
Have you ever signed up for a webinar and then completely forgot about it? Or did you receive an email about an upcoming workshop but got busy and forgot to add a reminder to your calendar? Yeah, I guess that’s happened to most of the Type-A’s.
If you’re an email marketer, you’ve been on the other side when half of the registrants for an event you were promoting never showed up. It sucks.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that anymore because we’re going to share a marketing hack with you: How to add Outlook, Apple Calendar, and Google Calendar invitations right to your email in a few easy steps. This way registrants can add the event directly to their calendars and then forget about your event much less often.
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Unless you magically know what type of calendar your audience is using, your best bet is to include all three major calendar invitations in your email and give recipients a choice that works for them. Outlook and Apple Calendar users receive an .ics file, and Google Calendar users use a URL-based custom invitation.
Note: All screenshots and steps were taken on a Mac. However, 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 the Apple Calendar. If you have a PC, you can create it in Outlook. For Google Calendar, you create the URL directly from your calendar application (you need to be signed in to your Google Account to do this) – it doesn’t matter what type of computer you have.
Open the Apple Calendar and click the “+” sign in the lower right corner of the window. A popup will appear. Enter the name of your event in the New Event text box and press Enter on your keyboard. This will create an event on your calendar, but will place the event on the current date and time and leave the rest of the details blank. You will need to change this information to reflect the details of your event (more on this in the next section).
Open the Outlook Calendar and click the New Event icon in the top left. An event popup will open for editing. Just include the title of the event, the time and date, the location, and whether or not you want to set a reminder. Click “More Options” to find the “Invite Attendees” option.
Open Google Calendar in a new browser window. You need to be signed in to your Google account. Click the “Create” button in the top left of the screen. A new events window should open.
Step 2: Establish details for your event
While Outlook, Apple Calendar, and Google Calendar events have slightly different formats, you need the same components for each:
- Event name
- Event description
- URL of the landing page of your event
- Optional event warning
The following are examples of what these details look like in different applications, along with an explanation of the information and format that should be used for each of these components.
The details that you need to include
Make sure the name reflects your actual event name on your website and in your other promotions (this is a no-brainer, but we’re thorough here). You may also want to add your company name at the end so registrants can quickly remember who is hosting the event when they come across it later on their calendar.
Physical address of the event (one line, for example, “123 Business Ave, Springfield, TX”) or the URL of the landing page for an online event.
Enter the start and end date and time of the actual event. Set the timing of the event to your time zonesince you are the one creating the .ics file. The time is automatically changed to match each person’s time zone. For example, if you are creating the events file in Boston for a webinar in San Francisco that starts at 10 a.m. PST, you should enter the start time as 1 p.m. EST.
You can set up notifications so that attendees don’t forget the event between when the invitation was sent and the time of the event. In Outlook you can set a time at which a reminder should be triggered (e.g. one hour before). You can set multiple alerts in Apple Calendar and Google Calendar.
It is important not to overwhelm people with too many warnings as it will result in a negative, intrusive experience. Below is an example of a warning sequence on Apple Calendar that reminds people of your event but is not on your face:
Event landing page URL
Do you have a specific landing page for your event or webinar? Include the URL as it will serve as a refresher for those who may be unclear about the details of the event. Paste it in the URL section of an Apple Calendar invitation, and in the text of your Gmail or Outlook invitations, if you haven’t already included it in the “Location” section.
Here you should include some of the details of the event. This is done 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 include your contact information in this section. That way, people can get in touch if they have any questions.
Step 3: save and submit your event
Once you’ve edited the invitation, you can save it and use it as an attachment in your marketing email.
In Outlook, click your event, choose Edit, then More Options. When you see the pop-up (shown below), enter the emails of the people you want to invite into the “Invite Attendees” text bar. When you’re done, click Send in the top left of the screen to send the invitation to people on your recipient list.
Double-click your Apple Event to open it, then type email in the Invitees text box. When you’re done, click OK. The invitation will be automatically sent to the emails you included in the event details.
Click your event on your Google Calendar, then click Edit Event. Then type emails into the “Add Guests” text box to the right of your event details (next to “Rooms”). When you’re done, choose Save. If you got it right, Google Calendar will display a popup confirming that you want to send the event to guests. Click “Submit” to make sure it gets sent to the emails you specified.
Step 4: Include invitations in your marketing email
The easiest way to email an event for Outlook, Apple, and Gmail is to do it directly from the invitation to the event itself. Each of these email providers gives you the option to enter emails right into the event and include additional text, attachments, etc.
Best of all, the invitation you receive is clean and gives you the option to accept or decline the invitation straight from your email inbox:
However, there are a few workarounds that you can try if you’d rather include the event URL in a marketing email.
From the Gmail Calendar, click Edit to open the event in a new window, then select the More Actions drop-down list. There click on “Publish event”:
In the pop-up screen you will see an HTML code or a link to the event. Just click “Copy” next to the link to copy the link, then open the email you want to send and paste the url.
However, you should make sure that every email recipient is also included in the list of event invites.
Alternatively, if you use Apple Calendar, you need to get a little more creative. Just send the event to bypass the option to send the event to a recipient directly from the event details just to your own email. When you open the invitation, an .ics link will be attached to the email:
Just download the .ics attachment and drag and drop the calendar event into an email to send to recipients.
If you’re using Outlook, you’ll need to open your inbox and choose New Items> Meeting:
Click on “New Meeting” and finally select “Reply with Meeting” in an email yourself:
And that’s it! You’re done. Use these tips to send marketing events to leads, prospects, and customers alike. Take a look at the ultimate guide to event marketing to learn about the types of events you may want to create to attract and delight potential customers.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and completeness.