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6 min read

The Event Marketing Strategy That Improved Your Trade Show ROI

The Event Marketing Strategy That Improved Your Trade Show ROI

Over the last three weeks we’ve discussed the elements involved in a high conversion event marketing strategy; attracting more qualified leads to your events, converting them to leads, making them fall in love with your product, and finally converting them to customers.

Today we’ll be recapping the most important things we’ve talked about along the way.

The four actions of high conversion event marketing

  1. Attract qualified attendees
  2. Capture, qualify and segment more high quality leads
  3. Engage, inform and persuade attendees to love your product/brand
  4. Convert event leads to customers

High conversion event marketing has four key elements

  • Attractors: Offers or experiences designed to attract the right people to your event space.
  • Identifiers: Data capture tools that collect contact information, segment and qualify leads, and track attendee interests.
  • Enticers: Engaging, entertaining or informative content or experiences that nurture attendees and move them through your event sales funnel.
  • Sell paths: Defined steps to purchase that convert event leads to customers and shorten buying cycles.

Attractors: Making your events irresistible to the right people

Collecting more qualified leads involves attracting the right type of attendees to your event space. That’s where the attractor comes in.

An attractor is an offer or experience designed to attract quality leads to your trade show or event. Examples include: product demos, displays, discounts, free trials, add-ons, free content/courses or training, product-related experiences, complementary gifts.

Attractors are generally higher cost, so to minimize your spend and maximize your return from your events, focus on attracting your target market versus everyone.

Two signs your attractor isn’t working:

1. Lots of people, but not enough qualified leads

Diagnosis: Your attractor’s appeal is too broad (i.e. too many people like it) or not aligned with your target market (i.e. the wrong people like it).

Solution: Focus and target your attractor by keeping in mind buyer persona.

How to attract more qualified leads to your event: – Make your attractor about your product. Sure you can bring an awesome kids’ to your event to target parents; but, if you’re selling insurance, the people at your event are probably less likely to be qualified. Instead look for creative ways to tell the story of your product in an exciting way.

– Offer incentives instead of freebies. Incentives like discounts or training ensure the people at your event booth aren’t simply there to get free stuff. Everyone loves free food, it doesn’t mean they love or will even remember your product.

– Know your buyer personas and make sure everything you do is aligned with them. Think about what motivates and excites them, and use it to do a better job of attracting them.

2. Low traffic to your event space

Diagnosis: Your attractor may not be engaging enough.

Solution: Once you’ve designed your focused attractor, enhance and appeal it by thinking of creative ways to increase consumer engagement and interest to attract even more qualified leads.

How can you do this? Here are three ideas for using experiential marketing to increase event traffic:

  • Appeal to people’s basic needs – but do it intelligently. We talked about the dangers of freebies (like food or drinks) but you can use them to enhance other activities. If your main attractor is a game or creative product demo, increase its appeal by offering treats or giveaways to participants.
  • Get social. Connecting with other people who share similar interests gives people a sense of purpose and happiness. Create a sense of togetherness with your attractor by requiring attendees to engage with each other.
  • Get competitive. Add some extra appeal to your attractors by turning them into competitions. Play on people’s competitive nature by organizing games and competitions at your event that relate to your product/service.

Identifiers: Converting trade show and event attendees to leads

The main action in converting an anonymous event attendee into a lead, is capturing their information, i.e. identifying who they are, what they’re interested in, and how they can be reached after the show.

To collect this information, you can use data capture tools aka identifiers to segment leads and qualify which stage of the sales funnel they’re in.

The two types of identifiers:

1. Conversion points: tools or methods used for directly collecting and managing information from attendees.


  • Basic contact information collection
  • Registration and wavers
  • Lead surveys
  • Product surveys
  • Social media integration

2. Indirect insights: tools or methods used to analyze information based on behaviour, interaction tracking, movement through event booth and conversion with staff.


  • RFID tracking and access control
  • Interaction, movement and facial recognition technology
  • Location-based mobile technology tracking
  • Social media tracking

Seven tips for optimizing event lead capture and converting leads

  • Layer conversion points. Instead of having one long lead survey that takes over 4 minutes to complete, start with a simple survey that collects only the most important information you need, from everyone at your booth. As people move through your event and express additional interest, use a second layer of conversion points to collect more in depth information.
  • Make your conversion points gate keepers for your attractors. Before attendees participate in your attractors have them fill out a simple lead survey.
  • Look for ways to identify hot leads fast. Add a question to your survey early on that gauges attendee interest in your product. Some lead capture systems use tricks like trigger questions that change the colour of an attendee’s tablet screen when they are identified as a hot lead. This lets event staff immediately recognize hot leads from the crowd.
  • Ensure your identifiers are aligned with your target market.
  • Use dynamic lead capture surveys (skip logic and question and answer piping) to make sure your surveys are optimized for attendees based on their answers and interest. Move uninterested leads through your surveys faster, and give more time to qualified leads who are interested in your product.
  • Look for ways to track the same attendees across each conversion point so they don’t have to fill in the same information over again.
  • Empower sales staff by equipping them with tools to record notes and add to lead profiles as they engage with attendees.

Enticers: Moving Event Leads Through the Sales Funnel

Now that you have a lot of qualified leads in front of you, you must engage them in order to move them through the sales funnel. Use enticers – engaging, entertaining and informative content – to persuade attendees to fall in love with your product/service and improve the number of warm and hot leads you convert.

Examples Enticers can include:

  • Posters
  • Videos
  • Signage
  • Pamphlets
  • Demos
  • Interactions

Four tips for creating high performing enticers

  • Don’t forget the middle of the funnel. Most event booths have top of the funnel high engagement attractors, and bottom of the funnel product information and brochures, but the middle of the funnel is where you’ll be able to have the largest impact on your attendees. Middle of the funnel content and experiences could includes videos or tutorials, educational content, guides, product-related games etc. that demonstrate the value of your specific product and brand to people who are interested in your product category.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at what your digital marketing team is creating online and find ways to repurpose it at your event.
  • Be CURVE-y: The best content is: compelling, unique, relevant/relatable, visual and emotional content.
  • Place enticers strategically. Engage attendees where they’re not used to being engaged: on the outskirts of your event space to attract people in, or where people wait in lines at your event. Take advantage of attendee down time to give them great information about why they should love your product.

Sell paths: Convert event leads to sales

The key to converting more leads to sales is having clear, simple and efficient next steps that leads must take in order to complete a purchase. These steps are known as your sell path and are designed to make the buying process as effortless and seamless as possible for attendees.

Five tips for designing a deal-closing sell path

Make attendees feel like they’ve already won

Since not all purchases can be made on site, try and give your attendees a taste of what they want to purchase. If they can’t leave with their new purchase in hand, give them the next best thing.

Tips: – Offer a free trial that your attendee can get started with on site. – Offer a discount or add-on that represents your brand that gets attendees excited about their purchase. – If your product requires set up or customization, look for ways to get the process started right away.

Minimize that number of steps attendees must take to finalize their purchase

The likelihood of completing a purchase decreases when the process feels long or complicated.

Tip: If attendees have to purchase your product online, immediately email interested buyers a smart-phone friendly link to make their purchase or offer onsite devices they can use

Outline clear next steps

Tip: If attendees have to visit a dealership or another location to make their final purchase, equip sales staff with the technology to tell interested buyers the most convenient location for them to do so.

Reiterate the value of your product to avoid buyer’s remorse

Tips: – Train your event staff to use phrases that reaffirm attendees are making the right choice. I.e. “this is one of our most popular products” or “our buyers like you love this because …” – Send a post-event email follow-up that shares case studies or other proof of a product’s popularity.

Send (or automate) follow up emails as soon as you can

Tips: – Don’t let your attendees lose interest, or find another product. Leverage marketing automation and integrations with your CRM to follow up with attendees as soon after the show as possible. – Include a recap of any steps the individual has already taken, offer support on completing next steps, and include product benefits, past client results or case studies.


Each of these four key elements work together to get you more qualified leads at your trade show or event and convert them to sales. Designing each element requires focus on buyer persona and ease for attendee experience. Aiming for high conversion event marketing will help better your ROI as this marketing strategy educates your event attendees on your product/service, adds value to it and nurtures/converts more leads to sales.

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