4 Tips for Maximizing Trade Show Marketing With Digital

Posted on by Jen Spencer

Live event marketing campaigns like trade shows are expensive endeavors. In 2015, U.S. trade shows as an industry generated more than $12.6 billion in revenue.

Moreover, according to Statista, nearly half of the marketers surveyed maintained their trade show budgets from 2016 to 2017, and approximately 29 percent actually increased their budgets. The question that remains is this: With such a significant amount of money being allocated toward trade shows, how can marketers effectively incorporate these events into their more cost-effective digital marketing campaigns to improve their overall ROI?

Here are four tips for a successful transition, from the moment you scan a live lead at a trade show to that lead’s conversion into a sales opportunity:

Prioritize booth leads

Don’t wait until after the trade show to architect your lead routing strategy. Based on your ideal customer profile and marketing persona research, your on-site booth team should be able to flag your most qualified, sales-ready leads immediately. One proven engagement tactic for these leads is to provide a reward for scheduling a demo or sales call, either there on site or the following week back in the office. If that’s not an option, these leads should immediately be assigned to a sales rep so they can be contacted personally.

Immediately follow up with all leads

Within 24 hours of the individual visiting your booth, you should send a short, non-sales-focused email that reminds your lead who you are (remember, he or she likely spoke to hundreds of people that day) and what value you bring. This follow-up email should contain the following:

  • No more than four to five sentences, max. This is not the time to share your mission, vision and values. This is a no-scroll zone.
  • Gratitude. Thank your booth visitors for the time they spent with your team.
  • A photo. Again, since they have been inundated with sales messages, remind these people who you are by including a picture of your team at the booth so they recall how much they liked you.
  • A call-to-action. Give your leads something to do. I recommend either a simple button for them to opt in for a grand prize drawing or an offer of educational value with a free piece of premium content that they will appreciate. Either way, get them to click so you can begin tracking their engagement on your website.

Nurture your trade show leads (uniquely)

It’s very common for marketers to dump a spreadsheet of hundreds of trade show leads into their CRM or their marketing automation platform and treat those event leads like any other. Avoid this mistake by suppressing these trade show leads from your standard nurture sequences and enrolling them in a more personalized, event-specific workflow (at least to start your relationship with them). The benefit of trade show leads is that you know much more about them than you probably realize, and that information can help you support them on their buyer’s journey. For example:

  • They have a budget for professional development. This is a great sign. Professional development is, unfortunately, one of the first line items cut in a company’s budget. If a company is investing in its people, it’s more likely that the company is experiencing financial health.
  • The theme/purpose of the conference has resonated with them. This sounds simple but is easily overlooked. The theme of the conference itself should help guide your future communications with these event leads.
  • Find out what their favorite sessions were at the conference. This will provide further insight into their pain points and will arm your sales team with highly relevant references.

Implement Facebook Custom Audiences to retarget leads

Email is not your only marketing channel to engage trade show leads after the event has passed. With a tool like Facebook’s Custom Audiences, you can import your trade show lead list into Facebook and serve only those individuals with ads that remind them of your value and speak to the pain they are experiencing.

The greatest mistake we make as marketers is investing heavily in pre-event and on-site trade show planning, then too easily washing our hands of the event once it’s over and the leads are in our system. Until those leads are qualified or disqualified, and those qualified leads convert to a sales opportunity, our work is not yet done.

Jen Spencer is vice president of sales and marketing for SmartBug Media

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