Using a Marketing Automation Platform for Tradeshows and Events

The face of tradeshows has evolved over the past couple of decades as online marketing has revolutionized the way buying decisions are made. Tradeshows continue to be a huge industry and provide a lot of opportunities for companies to promote their products and services. However, for some, tradeshows are providing diminishing returns. They don’t have to though.

Since 1996 I have done my fair share of tradeshows. I’ve had good success and I’ve also come home a miserable failure. The pain I feel from having very little to show for a ton of effort executing a trade show far outweighs the glory of success. As such, I work hard to ensure failure is mitigated which means success must ensue.

In today’s marketing environment, there are a lot of opportunities to promote tradeshows using online methods. For example, using an Integrated Marketing Platform offers a lot of new and exciting opportunities for marketers and event coordinators responsible for corporate trade show exhibits.

What is an Integrated Marketing Environment?

Integrated Marketing Environment...

Exists when online and offline marketing initiatives are managed from a single platform to maintain consistency and detailed performance is measured for better decision making.
Practically speaking, an Integrated Marketing Environment is an application that let’s trade show marketers manage nearly all online marketing activities associated with tradeshows – from pre-show marketing to on-floor conversion initiatives to post-show follow-up. Half of the power of an Integrated Marketing Platform is the ability to easily create, execute and manage campaigns. The second half is a consolidated tracking and reporting environment to really show you what is working and what is not. Here are some ideas to get you going…

Pre-show Landing Pages

Integrated Marketing platforms make it easy to create landing pages to enable trade show prospects to register for special show pricing, a free widget, a free trade show pass or to book a one-on-one meeting. Landing pages serve as a foundation for pre-show marketing. Through social media, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, and search engine marketing, prospects can learn about the trade show, and what you have to offer and have an option to engage with you.

Preparing a landing page three months before the event and including proper Search Engine Optimization techniques will often rank the landing page high up in the search engines generating more web traffic. Not to worry if you don’t know how to optimize a web page for search engines, an Integrated Marketing platform does all the heavy lifting automagically.

Landing page management

Outreach to Existing Contacts

Reaching out to existing contacts is a great place to start. Email marketing is a great tool when done correctly. Segmenting contacts and personalizing emails can generate interest in your upcoming event.

Email marketing isn’t new and best practices are well documented. With an Integrated Marketing platform, not only are best practices employed, built-in email templates and workflows exist to provide the type and timing of emails to send. All that the marketer needs to do is include their value proposition and call-to-action.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing can be confusing for many companies. Simply saying you should use social media doesn’t exactly explain how to do it. An Integrated Marketing platform provides marketers with a pre-built schedule where they simply need to adjust social posts with specific details. Once configured, the platform pushes out the social posts according to schedule. The other huge benefit is everything is tracked so measuring click-throughs, engagements and conversions are all automatic.

Supporting Sales Reps on the Trade Show Floor

Trade show sales kiosk

Sales staff can easily track specific details about booth visitors using a configurable sales kiosk from an Integrated Marketing platform.

Proper Integrated Marketing platforms bridge the gap between sales and marketing. An example of this is providing trade show staff with one-click customized lead forms that can be accessed from laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices. These lead forms enable the staff working the trade show floor to easily enter booth visitor details including their interests.

Because the portable sales kiosk is tied directly into the Integrated Marketing platform all details are logged and reported on.

Integrated Marketing Platforms have the ability to sync with CRMs such as SalesForce so contact details automatically appear in both systems.

Information Kiosk for Booth Visitors

Similar to the sales kiosk, Integrated Marketing platforms provide kiosks for booth visitors to use to request specific information. Instead of having visitors bag half a dozen printed brochures to only pitch them at the end of the day, the booth kiosks enable visitors to request specific information and have it delivered to them instantly online. The booth visitor gets what they want and everything is logged for easy and automated follow-up.

And lots more…

Above are just a few examples of the many benefits of using an Integrated Marketing platform. Other benefits include pre-built templates to engage with the media sponsors of the trade show, creating and tracking QR codes for printed material, timely follow-up with contacts after the event, and single-source reporting… which brings me to the next topic.

Integrated Marketing Calender

The Problem with Tracking and Reporting

So here is the problem with tracking and reporting trade show performance. People generally don’t do it and that’s because it’s tough. Questions like “What was our cost per contact?”, “How many new introductions did we make?”, or “How many leads did we get?” are common questions that people stumble trying to answer.

Now, let’s say you do track stats. What are you using? Google Analytics? If so, you’re getting some data and the data you’re getting is all anonymous. You may be manually keeping track of other stats or using a multitude of third-party tools. In the end, you may have a bunch of data but how do you bring it all together to make sense of it?

Tracking with an Integrated Marketing Environment

With an Integrated Marketing Environment, everything is tracked in a consistent format. What you get is a macro view of the event performance enabling you to drill into more specific details including specific contact information. Not only does an Integrated Marketing Environment track and report, but it also measures you against your own historical performance. You can see how one trade show faired against a previous trade show.

With an Integrated Marketing platform you can see the performance of your pre-show campaigns, stats from your sales and visitor kiosks, social media efforts, QR codes, and a lot more.

Integrated Marketing Environments do more than report on a bunch of stats, they turn the stats into information to help measure business growth. For example, of all the people who visited your booth requesting more information, how many of them are new contacts? This number can say a lot about whether tradeshows are helping to grow your business.

Trade Show Reporting
Trade Show Marketing Tracking

Summing it All Up

Tradeshows are still a big business. They are expensive and resource-intensive. If your marketing plan includes trade show marketing then give serious consideration to including an Integrated Marketing Platform to get the most from them.