The event industry now looks very different than it did just two years ago. Meetings and interactions are held behind screens, organizers can reach a wider audience, and creative event technology is gaining momentum among companies.
While experts continue to debate the efficacy of virtual trade shows, stakeholders’ objectives remain the same. Exhibitors and sponsors are still aiming to boost brand visibility, client retention, lead generation, and sales. But, when it comes to virtual events, is trade show lead generation effective?
Capturing high-quality leads is still a vital indicator of a successful event for exhibitors at online events like virtual trade shows. The higher the quality of the leads, the more likely they are to convert.
The most commonly suggested, possibly quite effective trade show lead-generation tactics for virtual trade fairs include one-on-one meetings and post-event follow-ups, but trade show lead generation efforts, even in the virtual space, should go beyond that. Here we are going to take a closer look at some of the trade show lead generation practices the experienced – and innovative – Pearl Lemon Leads team have been making use of to great effect since trade shows made the shift from in-person to online affairs.
Build an AI- Powered Virtual Marketplace
At the large virtual trade shows, thousands of products and services are displayed. Often more than might be at a physical trade show as a virtual exhibit hall won’t run out of space in the way a physical location does. This makes getting your offerings noticed is often even harder, than before, and it’s easy to assume trade show lead generation will suffer as a result.
Similar to Amazon, an online marketplace that uses AI-powered matchmaking to link people to relevant products can help a business attract more focused buyers and boost their trade show lead generation efforts more than you might think.
Exhibitors can gather e-referrals that can be fostered into potential leads, such as customers who liked or purchased a certain set of products, by building an environment that fulfills the community’s transactional and distribution demands. This can be expanded to communities at similar events you may be hosting, resulting in trade show lead generation across brands.
‘Build’ a 3D Trade Show Booth
Your brand will stand out to attendees with a virtual 3D booth that is designed to mimic a real, physical show.
To engage participants, you can use pre-recorded videos, presentations, brochures, and interactive elements like live chat and product demos, as well as enough data to collect and track potential trade show leads.
You can make your exhibit available to attendees well before the event begins at larger virtual trade shows, as part of specific exhibitor packages, garnering additional business. If that option isn’t offered for the event you’re ‘attending,’ building and hosting one on your website can still be a great way to generate trade show leads.
Get Active in Pre-Trade Show Community Groups
To raise awareness about their virtual events, increasingly many event organizers are using a community-driven strategy. Participation in community groups prior to the event is heavily encouraged and promoted, and they are developed on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook or on specific event portals.
You can engage the community in a variety of ways, and if your content appeals to a large enough audience, you’ll already have a list of pre-qualified trade show leads before the event even begins.
What kinds of content is likely to be successful for trade show lead generation in these scenarios? Before and during the event, you can add links to website materials such as eBooks, white papers, how-to tutorials, product videos, blog posts, and recordings of the presentations.
Highlighting the “virtual experience of the day,” “most anticipated exhibit,” or uploading short videos to promote presenters and sessions are other effective methods to engage people in these trade show communities. Just ensure that you use a specific and popular event hashtag in all of your postings across all platforms to increase their overall visibility.
Trade Show Lead Generation Via Virtual Sponsorships
Sponsorships are common offerings at physical trade shows, and in most cases they are being made available to exhibitors at virtual trade shows as well.
Data-driven sponsorship at virtual trade exhibitions allows you to track the effectiveness of digital ads, banners, and multimedia, as well as analyze information on engagement.
The business knowledge gleaned from various sponsorship tactics allows you to organize your post-event follow-up and generates highly qualified leads.
Stay on Top of Inbound Leads
Exhibitors can communicate face-to-face with leads who walk by their booths and scan their badges to capture their information at live trade exhibitions, but lead generation in a virtual environment is entirely different. Many exhibitors may still be unfamiliar with and/or fearful of virtual platforms, making inbound leads far simpler to overlook.
According to a recent events industry study, 44 percent of inbound networking requests at virtual trade exhibitions went ignored, while 39 percent went unanswered at virtual trade shows and conferences. That means a lot of potential business is being passed up unnecessarily.
Because networking and interaction capabilities differ by platform, it may be even more challenging for exhibitors to stay on top of inbound messaging and requests if they’re attending events on several platforms.
Sponsors and exhibitors must however streamline their processes to ensure that they are seeing and responding to as many leads as possible. This will entail staying active on the platform after the event has ended, as this is when the majority of incoming messages are delivered to exhibitors.
Is this more of an effort in terms of trade show lead generation than for a physical event? Yes and no. It is far more of a logistical challenge sometimes, but if you head into these virtual trade show events with a solid trade show lead generation plan you can still enjoy as much success from your desk in your office as you would have done had you been standing on a trade show floor.
Get Some Expert Trade Show Lead Generation Help
Trade shows and conferences are an important aspect of many organizations’ marketing efforts, and they primarily focus on lead generation and connecting visitors with exhibitors. Over the last two years, sponsors and exhibitors have struggled with the perceived lack of value provided by virtual alternatives, but we’re still learning what works and what’s not in a digital environment in order to improve.
It certainly appears that lead generation for virtual events should take place over a longer period of time, not simply during the event’s dates. Which is where getting some expert trade show lead generation help and advice can prove very effective.
Teams like the Pearl Lemon Leads team have spent the time since the pandemic began changing everything researching, experimenting, listening and learning to make our trade show lead generation strategies as effective as possible.
The one thing we do know is that even when physical trade shows resume on a regular basis is that the global reach of virtual trade shows, along with the easier logistics and often reduced set up costs, means that virtual trade shows are here to stay. So the fact that we can now offer businesses in any niche extensive experience and proof of success in both realms serves to make our trade show lead generation offerings even stronger.
Need help with trade show lead generation? Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can help you.