Over the past decade, business-to-business (B2B) marketing has undergone a rapid transformation. Gone are the days of making sales by simply showing up to a trade show. B2B buyers now perform more than 2/3 of their decision making research online without speaking to sales. To succeed in this world, organizations need to embrace digital marketing as a fundamental part of how they manage trade shows.
This article offers a breakdown of digital activities that organizations can undertake before, during, and after the trade show to increase the number of leads they interact with and ultimately the number of sales they make.
As soon as you register as an exhibitor, it’s a good idea to update your exhibitor profile. Think of your exhibitor profile as a virtual trade show booth. You can use it to share your value proposition with attendees and to convince them to visit you at the live event.
Exhibitor profiles vary from event to event. Some will only let you state your company name and a brief description; others include the option to add a logo, images, videos, and more. Either way, it’s important to remember that most people are only going to briefly skim a profile before deciding whether to explore your company further, so it’s important to make your profile engaging.
While getting people to view your exhibitor profile is great, you can get far more value from the profile if you’re able to identify WHO is visiting it. That’s where software, like ActiveConversion, comes into play. Since ActiveConversion is partnered with various trade shows across Canada and the USA, they can use their software to identify every attendee that visits your profile. Since they’ve already shown interest, you may want to target these visitors directly (with emails and phone calls) to book an onsite meeting while you’re both at the show.
One of the easiest yet most effective ways to reach the trade show audience is via e-mail. While it’s important not to spam the attendees, it is totally acceptable to send around three or four e-mails over the course of a few months.
We suggest you start sending emails roughly three months before the event. The first e-mail you send is usually a general announcement and invitation to the trade show. This e-mail not only lets you tell attendees that you’re going to be there but also gives you a chance to invite your prospects.
By inviting your prospects to the event, you are creating a unique opportunity to set up a no pressure, face-to-face meeting with them. Even if they don’t attend, inviting them is a great excuse to reach out and begin a conversation. It also shows you are active in the industry which reflects on your organization’s credibility.
Of course, a single e-mail isn’t going to drive much traffic to your booth, exhibitor profile or website (hence why we suggest you send three of four). For your second and third e-mails, we suggest sending them out two months before the event and one month before the event respectively. Ideally, they shouldn’t be exact replicas of the first e-mail you sent because that provides the reader with no real added value and they may start to get annoyed. One way to switch it up is including additional information about your participation at the show. Perhaps you’re speaking at the show? Or giving away a prize? Or providing on-site demonstrations? This is a fantastic time to mention that. If you can’t think of anything specific to the event to add, you can always add some relevant content – such as a blog or case study.
One to two weeks before the event is a good time to send out a final reminder e-mail telling attendees that you will be at the event and encouraging them to visit your booth. This is one of your last chances to market yourself before the actual live event.
E-mails can also be used to book on-site meetings with attendees. If you include an option to book a meeting with one of your representatives in every e-mail, then chances are that you will book far more meetings and increase your overall ROI.
TIP: Want to know who’s worth sending a more personalized e-mail to? Try a tool like MailTrack, Yesware, or one of ActiveCoversion’s email plugins to see who opened and clicked your e-mail.
Many people suffer from the misconception that social media is only for personal use and ineffective as a means of business communication – but that simply isn’t true. There are more than 3 billion people using social networks across the globe, so there is potential to reach at least some interested parties. Even if people don’t end up clicking on your social media post, it will help to keep you top of mind and may be a factor in them clicking on your website or profile on a later date.
A simple approach to timing your pre-show social media is one month before, one week before, and one day before the event. Make sure to include an image, a link to your exhibitor profile, and the event’s hashtag. Along with using the event’s hashtag, you should tag relevant companies to encourage more prospect engagement during the show
You could even follow the trade show’s official hashtag and comment on relevant posts and conversations to increase your visibility.
TIP: Add attendees you’re interested in on social media (particularly LinkedIn). That way, if they see you at the event they’re more likely to recognize you and your company.
MEETING CALENDAR INVITES
For any meetings that you book, it’s beneficial to send out a calendar invite. A calendar invite will serve as an automated reminder on the day of the meeting, making the lead more likely to fit you into their schedule.
After all your pre-show activities, you should hopefully have a couple of meetings scheduled. Don’t forget to send a reminder to the people you’re meeting with the day before or the morning of the meeting. The more places you remind them of the meeting, the fewer chances they have to forget it.
When you’re at the show you can use social media to encourage people to stop by your booth and to promote any giveaways or presentations you are doing. Don’t be afraid to post multiple times during the event. Images of the show, speakers, and your booth are a great option for quick social media posts.
E-MAIL HOT LEADS
During the event, you’re ideally going to get some really hot leads. As soon as you meet these leads, send them a short email so that they have your contact information (business cards often get lost or left in suit pockets). Share useful content with them and express that you enjoyed meeting them. Small gestures like this can go a long way in building rapport with your leads.
FOLLOW UP WITH HOT LEADS
It should be a no-brainer, but we can’t say it enough – don’t leave hot leads waiting. Give them a call, send an e-mail, or set up a meeting as soon as you’re back in your office. They’ll likely be far more receptive to speaking with you while you’re still fresh in their mind.
While hot leads are exciting, it’s important that you follow up with everyone after the event not just your best leads. It usually makes sense to send a personal note to your most qualified leads, but don’t forget to also send out a mass message to everyone else. Remember they will be receiving lots of e-mails from other exhibitors, so you have to give them a good reason to read yours. Ideally, you should aim to send this follow up email out in the week following the event.
TIP: You can draft and schedule your e-mail to automatically go out before the event even happens – that way if you get busy with all the hot leads you won’t forget to reach out to everyone else.
Implementing a few (or all) of these activities will help you to get far more value from trade shows than ever before. Trade shows are still an effective way to interact with potential leads, but with digital marketing, it is much easier to turn those leads into sales.
ActiveConversion & EventWorx have partnered together to create a revolutionary technology that tells you who is interested in your solutions and what specifically they are interested in – so you get 5-10x more leads out of your advertising, digital exhibitor profile, and trade show spend throughout the year. This system provides exhibitors with a marked advantage over their competitors by offering a simple method of capturing and maintaining contact with event leads.
The future of service and supply is a merging of in-person and digital channels as the way we research and communicate for business prospects and leads. Face-to-face communication still holds importance in the world of marketing and sales, but it isn’t enough on its own. By using the right digital channels, your interaction with leads can improve exponentially – which in turn improves the quantity and quality of your leads, as well as making it easier for you to develop meaningful relationships with the attendees.
In today’s world, effectively managing a trade show starts long before the actual event and continues well after it’s over. With ActiveConversion and EventWorx, you can be confident that your finger is on the pulse of every attendee, ensuring you never miss out on a potential lead.
Want to learn more? Visit www.activeconversion.com/trade-show-leads/
About Gail Moch
Gail has a background in marketing and technology that she puts to use as ActiveConversion's marketing manager. She has a passion for innovation and creativity that she applies to all aspects of her life. When she isn't at the office, Gail can be found relaxing with her husband and two dogs.