Consider the amount of time that goes into planning a successful trade show exhibit. You spend all those hours designing your booth, promoting a theme, and working with the trade show manager to ensure everything is set up to your precise specs. Then during the actual exhibit, your sales team is firing on all cylinders, working those prospects and promoting your brand. But one simple question: are you putting half as much energy into your follow-ups?
If the answer is no, then that initial energy is all for naught. That’s because successful trade show exhibition is as much about lead nurturing as it is the exhibit itself. You don’t even have to wait until the exhibit is over—you can start engaging with prospects during the actual show.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help you design a comprehensive lead-nurturing plan:
Go digital, go paperless
Provide various ways for leads to interact
Engage your leads in real-time
Keep the momentum going
Connect with leads via email
1. Go digital, go paperless
The entire point of lead nurturing is to engage with your prospects during the buying cycle. And in today’s digital world that means getting to them sooner rather than later.
Investing in lead capture software to boost lead generation is necessary for any B2C/B2B operation. It’s also an absolute must for those exhibiting at trade shows. There’s a worrying statistic from Pardot that says 59% of companies are still using paper-based lead forms at trade exhibits. This is a colossal waste of time and effort.
Using lead capture software, you can bring your operation into the 21st century. You can collect contact data from prospects and organize it instantly. A system like this also makes it easy to place leads on drip campaigns and nurture them with useful, relevant content. Not having a time-saving, efficient lead-management system in place only hamstrings your lead-nurturing efforts.
2. Provide various ways for leads to interact
Savvy marketers offer more than one way for the contact to engage during the trade show. Maybe you want to incorporate radio frequency ID tags in name badges. Maybe you’ll want to incentivize participation through gamification and/or augmented reality. Giving the lead more than one way to interact with your brand—and incentivizing them in the process—is going to increase your chances of converting them significantly.
3. Engage your leads in real-time
Not only does this lead capture software make real-time lead engagement possible, but it’s all but mandatory now. Why? Because we live in a landscape where consumers place increasingly more value on the overall experience. How marketers appeal to the desires of these modern consumers has a name: experiential marketing.
This is perfect for trade-shows and exhibitions, precisely because your goal is to deliver attendees a unique, engaging experience. Once you’ve accomplished that then it’s time to see the effects of your pre-planning and effort in real time. Data capture software will utilize real-time reporting to boost sales enablement. It can be used to qualify leads on-site and allow for contextual follow ups. In other words, you can personalize your follow-ups because you’ve captured real-time, specific data about your lead.
3. Keep the momentum going
Now that you have all these great tools harvesting digital data, it’s time to keep that momentum going. Reach out during and immediately after the trade show with all the real-time data you’ve accumulated to ensure your leads don’t lose the interest.
Imagine your data-gathering is so supercharged that you now possess the ability to personalize messages in the form of social media or email that delivers relevant, interesting content to the lead you just encountered. No more post-show waiting for a follow-up that may or may not bear fruit. You can continue the conversation you started digitally, and follow it down the sales funnel until the lead has been converted.
That’s the power of a good event lead and data capture software. It can deliver instantly.
5. Connect with leads via email
There are many crucial follow-up tactics in marketing. Email is certainly one strategy you’ll want to implement. You don’t want to overdo it in the beginning, either. Even a simple “thank you” or “nice to meet you” email can be powerful, and a great way to keep the prospect engaged. A follow-up message that includes additional content is an effective way to keep leads interested.
Maybe you’re wondering when, exactly, to send that follow-up email. The time frame for follow-ups will be different for each lead. That said, waiting ten days is regarded as a good period of time before initiating follow-up contact. Take a look at this short list for more follow-up best practices to help move your leads down the sales funnel.
Above all else, don’t spam your leads at any point after the trade show. This is a cardinal rule that you don’t want to break. Nothing turns a person off quicker than spam. So craft your follow-up emails carefully, and always keep anti-spam laws in mind. These vary from country to country throughout the world, so be aware. To ensure that you’re on the up and up with your prospects, make it easy for them to opt into email communication when they visit your booth.
If you take away one principal from this article, it should be to begin all of your efforts with a lead and data capture software. Having software like this at an event, trade show or exhibition is invaluable. Software like this will complement the efforts of your sales team on the floor, arming them with the heavy duty analytics and data they need to convert all those leads.
Ryan Gould, VP Strategy & Marketing Services, Elevation Marketing
An expert search, social and content marketer, Ryan leads Elevation Marketing's digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands, engaging audiences and managing multi discipline marketing teams, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem solving.