A Comprehensive Digital Marketing Guide to Trade Show Success for First Time Exhibitors

Trade shows offer one of the biggest networking and sales opportunities for businesses, whether big or small. These events however, are a large marketing spend and require a well-crafted strategy and tactical plan to make the most of its revenue potential.

Several factors determine the success of a trade show, including the design and appearance of your trade show exhibit booth, products and services that you decide to launch, the literature, promotions, advertising, and integrated marketing strategy.

Throughout the last decade, we’ve seen the emergence of digital marketing and its tremendous capacity to engage consumers. The media company, Magna, forecasted in 2016 that digital advertising sales will reach 40% market share globally, surpassing all offline-based media sales by the end of 2017. According to recent statistics, marketers expect their digital marketing budgets to increase by 15.1% while traditional advertising budgets to decrease by 1.7% by 2019.

A Comprehensive Digital Marketing Guide to Trade Show Success for First Time Exhibitors

Therefore, it’s very important for businesses to recognize the potential of digital marketing and create a solid roadmap to get the maximum ROI. It includes a host of tactics surrounding your business website, content marketing, and social media marketing. In this guide, we’ll help you design and execute a digital marketing strategy that can support each phase of your trade show efforts.

How to Create a Plan

You need to consider the goals of all the phases of a trade show, that is, before, during, and after the event when making a digital marketing strategy.

Before the event, your goal should be to promote your trade show to your target group, including your existing customers to encourage them to visit your exhibit booth. During the event, your main focus should be to collect all the relevant data about the visitors you meet to generate qualified leads. Lastly, your goal after the show should be to build and nurture business relationships with the qualified leads to boost sales.

We’ll discuss the tactics for each phase in detail below. Read on to learn more.

Before the Trade Show

There are several digital marketing tactics that can be used for promoting your show in this phase. Follow these guidelines to increase the number of booth attendees during the event.
before trade show

  • Build an event-specific landing page on your website which represents the official announcement of your participation in the trade show. This page must contain detailed information about –

  • The Show: Mention the name, venue, date and time, description, and a link to the official website of the event/organizer.

  • Your Participation: Include video introductions of your company, products and services that you’ll be launching at the event, and your booth staff. Also, consider adding a link to the floor plan, if possible, highlight your booth location.

  • Activities: Add a teaser about special activities such as seminars, panel discussions, contests, giveaways, etc. that you’ll be conducting at the show.

  • Others: Add all relevant updates on this page as and when available throughout the event. That includes links to published press releases, opt-in forms for event reminders and appointments, etc.

Overall, this landing page should act as the ultimate info hub for your customers, prospects, leads, and other traffic. Monitor the daily sessions to this landing page to measure your key performance indicator (KPI).

  • Prepare your assets such as social media accounts and email subscription lists that you’ll be using to promote your event in all the phases of your trade show marketing. This is to ensure that you’re already equipped with as many ways as possible to maximize your reach before the event starts.

  • Make a list of Twitter accounts including event organizers, exhibitors, sponsors, qualified attendees, etc. and follow them. Participate in various relevant industry conversations to establish yourself as a thought leader to gain a highly engaged audience before the show. To track down relevant conversations and participate in real time, use a social media listening tool. Here’s a guide to live-tweeting your event to make you the lead tweeter of the show. This will help you increase your followers, boost one-on-one engagement, likes, and

  • Announce your participation in all your active social media channels and to your newsletter subscribers. Include your teasers and video introductions in them. Also, set up autoresponders with appropriate content to follow up to your email list and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Read more about how to set up an autoresponder on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This is a more personal approach to invite your existing customers, leads, and prospects to the event. You can also offer special discounts or free product samples to incentivize them.

  • Filter your high-value leads that are a good fit for scheduling an appointment with during the show from your email subscriber and event attendee lists. Import this new list to your email marketing automation software and build an outreach campaign by setting up an automated email sequence.

During the Trade Show

  • Digital content is one of the main facets of digital marketing. Focus on creating the best digital content for your company, products, and services which can also be repurposed for your social media channels, newsletters, website, blogs, etc. Videos increase revenue faster by 49% when used in your digital marketing strategy according to Wordstream.

during the trade show
With some simple tools such as a smartphone or tablet, you can create videos to showcase your booth, product demos, interactions with visitors, testimonials, and various booth activities. Add some appropriate video scripts where applicable (especially when recording a product demo) and edit them in simple video editing software to make them look more polished and professional. If your budget permits, you can also hire professionals to shoot and create trade show videos for you.

  • Train your booth staff to encourage all attendees to interact with you digitally which means, ask them to share about your company, their experience in your trade show exhibit booth on social media along with event hashtags. Also, ask them to like/follow your page on various social media platforms. Note that with more social followers, you can get more exposure to your marketing efforts, not only for the current trade show but for your future shows as well.

In addition to this, you can advertise a particular digital content at your booth that attendees can share on social media to create brand awareness and build brand recognition. You can also create a QR code to make it easier and faster for your attendees to tweet about you.

  • Make use of live streaming with Facebook Live to connect to your followers instantly. Remember that not all your followers can be present at the show but you can make them feel like a part of your event with live videos. You can also grow your audience and follower base through live streaming.

  • Create Facebook ads on your participation and incentives that you’re offering your visitors at the event. Promote them to a predetermined local audience to attract more visitors to your booth while the show is happening. Don’t forget that there are potential customers out there who may not be aware of the show but would like to attend. This is where this tactic is effective in increasing attendance to your booth. Learn more about how to boost a post on Facebook and how it works.

After the Trade Show

  • Publish a comprehensive narrative of your event, including all the important happenings, announcements, speaking sessions, seminars, demonstrations, presentations, contests, giveaways, booth displays, swag, testimonials, etc. on your blog or website. Email the link to your subscriber list and share across your social media platforms. Focus on making it valuable enough so that not only your followers find it interesting enough to share but others also find useful to link to it.

after the trade show
Promote this event on social media to get extra exposure after the show. This tactic will help create a lucrative impression of your showing and build public interest around your brand, increasing the chances of getting more attendance in future shows.

  • Keep the conversations going on your social media exactly the way you did during the event with event hashtags and social handles for at least the next 2-3 weeks. This will boost your chances of attracting a new audience, generating new leads and sales.

  • Perform segmentation to make a list of qualified leads from your event. Use a marketing automation system and set up the workflow correctly to ensure that lead intelligence is captured. It’ll help you identify the problem areas of each lead correctly, have better conversations with them, and offer the right solutions so that they become your customers. Overall, such software will make following up with your leads easier and faster. If you’re using marketing automation for the first time, you can learn more about it here.

Marketers are now considering digital marketing as an integral part of their trade show marketing strategy to maximize return on investment. If you’re planning to participate in a trade show, follow our guide and implement some of these ideas to reach out to a bigger audience effectively and take your trade show success to the next level.