Email Marketing

Published on October 24th, 2006 | by Janine Popick


Case Study: Response/RSVP Rates for an Event Invite

VerticalResponse hosted a free local event where the venue held 130 people (30 of whom were VR employees). Our mission? Fill the venue the best we could to be able to project for food and beverage bills (be on the lookout, VR may be coming to your area!). This was a challenge for Alf and Oranuj, the VR marketing team that had to fill the event.


We targeted our email marketing list with the people most likely to come, those in a 25 mile radius. I used Melissa Data to get those zip codes then I sorted by zip code in Excel. I then picked out email addresses with the matching zip codes and Oranuj uploaded the list.

Sent: 219 people
Opens: 125 (nice rate!)
Clicks: 41
RSVPs: 26
RSVP rate: 11.8%


We targeted the people most likely to come but half of those people never opened the email. The other half may have been on the fence. So we waited a week, and mailed all of those people again with a bold RSVP by: Date of 4 days from the mailing. We then widened the list a bit to include more zip codes.

Sent: 435 people
Opens: 200 (keeping it up there!)
Clicks: 82
RSVPs: 50
RSVP rate: 11.4%


only 150

We still didn't have the number of people we wanted (knowing there will always be no-shows, additional show ups and stragglers at the last moment) so Oranuj did a third mailing. This one was a bit different because we re-mailed our customers with a message of urgency,  we told them we only had room for the first 150. We also widened out our target a bit more.

Sent: 518 people
Opens: 218
Clicks: 41
RSVPs: 54
RSVP rate: 10.4%

At this point we had 130 people RSVP'd to the event.


We then had to remind our guests of the party a few days before it happens. So Oranuj sent out a reminder on the Friday before the party with directions to remind everyone about the event on Monday.


All in all a success!

Total RSVPs: 130
Total Show up: 71
Attendees brought guests: 20
Total attendees: 91
Projected: 100…

Close enough, great job to Alf and Oranuj!


  1. Business happens, people are busy – People probably RSVP'd "just in case" they could make it.
  2. Our tests gave us a starting point – We now know for future events that a good rule of thumb for our customers is roughly 11% RSVP rate and 50% show up rate of the RSVPs. This way we have a starting point for future events.
  3. Scaling up is important - As far as mailing list size with each mailing slowly widening the list gives us more control over the the number of attendees.
  4. Urgency works - The urgency part of the message seemed to work, especially when we asked our attendees.

Do you have event invite stories you'd like to share? Chime in we'd love to hear them.

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About the Author

is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse.

One Response to Case Study: Response/RSVP Rates for an Event Invite

  1. John Smythe says:

    If you send repeated mailings to the same list for similar events, you will see RSVP rates decline over time. This is also the case if names are not actively checked off at the door.
    Spend the time to ‘take attendance’. It will help keep those RSVP rates up, will provide valuable attendance data and allows you to detect the ‘core’ people to focus on.

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