It’s getting harder for small businesses to make a success with their marketing strategy.
Worldwide, digital advertising spends are expected to increase by a whopping 17.4% to £446.10 billion over the coming year. You’re not alone if you’re pitching a marketing budget increase to your boss.
But why do we need to spend more cash? The answer is simple: consumer preferences are changing. The people you’re targeting with your marketing campaigns are becoming fussier with the brands they follow, engage with, and more importantly, buy from.
These days, consumers want personal connections. (Even more so than customer satisfaction.)
In a so-called “relationship era”, where salespeople who focus on relationship-building over hard selling, you’ll need to build a connection with the people you want to convert.
That’s why tradeshows are great; you’re meeting these people face-to-face.
Combining your existing tradeshow strategy with email marketing is even better.
Why Combine Email Marketing and Tradeshows?
Over a quarter of SMEs in the U.S. exhibited at a tradeshow in 2016. That’s not surprising; tradeshows build those all-important personal connections which lead to increased trust.
Want to learn something cool?
Tradeshow revenue in the U.S. in 2016 was £9.79 billion. Whilst that might not sound like a lot of cash compared to the latest eCommerce figures, email marketing can help to boost the number of sales you make from these events and claim a larger slice of that cash.
Think about it: you can’t build personal connections if you’re not communicating with people.
That’s possible (and expected) if you’re attending a tradeshow. But what happens before or after the event, where you’re looking to invite people and nurture the relationships you’ve built?
That, my friend, is where email marketing comes in.
How to Harness the Power of Tradeshows and Email Marketing to Make More Sales
So, are you convinced to cross-over your tradeshow and email marketing strategy to build the personal connections you’ll need to make more sales?
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Collect Information on Potential Visitors
Let’s start at the very beginning of your tradeshow preparation: Collecting a list of targets who you’d love to meet at the event. Whether it’s potential customers or industry friends, this list is gold dust and helps to plan the flow of your day.
Email marketing is the perfect way to do this. Shooting an email to invite them is a fantastic idea, but without sounding like Captain Obvious, that’s impossible if you don’t have their email address.
You’ll need to collect information on potential tradeshow visitors to make this possible.
The easiest way to collect email addresses of people who might attend your event? Create an eBook on a popular topic in your industry, and pack it to the brim with value. You’re able to collect people who’re involved in the industry’s email addresses by gating the eBook itself asking people to hand over their email address before gaining access.
HubSpot use eBooks to gain extra information on their customers. Just take a look at this eBook, titled “A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media”, that’s free to access in return for an email address:
Should HubSpot ever attend a social media tradeshow, the people who’ve downloaded this eBook are a perfect fit. Why? Because they’re already expressed interest in the topic.
Writing a 1,500-word eBook that’s full of value can take time—I understand that. But trust me when I say this: It’s worth it.
Along with collecting information on people you’d like to build those personal connections with, you’re giving them something in return. A free eBook that includes practical advice is rare, and helps to build trust through proving your knowledge a proven factor in sales.
When using this lead generation tactic to collect email addresses, there’s one critical thing you’ll need to remember: Always make sure you’re welcomed to do so. Emailing people without their consent goes against GDPR regulations, and see a hefty fine land on your business.
2. Test the Waters
You’ve got a steady stream of email addresses coming in, thanks to your lead generation strategy. What happens next?
You test the waters and determine how likely the people on your email list are to attend a tradeshow.
You’ll need to gather key information through a series of emails to make this possible. That might include:
- Mentioning the event in one of your standard emails and tracking who clicks the link.
- Monitoring who’s opening emails on a similar topic to your tradeshow.
- Looking at the location of your subscribers and segmenting people within a 200-mile radius of the tradeshow.
- Asking them outright if they’d be open to meeting you.
Email providers—such as ConvertKit—can gather this information automatically through their visual automations feature. Simply set up an automation (like “tag link clicks with ‘interested in tradeshow’”) and let them do the work.
It’s really as simple as that!
3. Send Personalized Invitations via Email
Now you’ve got a list of uber-relevant people who might be interested in attending your tradeshow, it’s time to invite them. But, this tip isn’t as simple as shooting a quick email that says “Here’s a link to our tradeshow. Come see us!”.
You’ll need to put time and effort into personalizing your email invitations if you want people to turn up. And it goes beyond addressing the person by their name.
Personalized emails, which include:
- Why you’d love to meet them
- Details from previous conversations you’ve had
- References to previous purchases or engagement
…are more targeted, and make the person you’re emailing feel more connected to you, which is why 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.
Use this event email introduction to experience these benefits yourself, changing the capitalized sections to suit your business:
“Hey, NAME! I noticed you downloaded our FREE EBOOK ON B2B MARKETING. How did you find it? Have you seen any results from using it?
While I’m here, I’d love to personally invite you to a tradeshow we’re attending called B2B MARKETING TRADESHOW.”
Take inspiration from this example of an event email invitation from Zoomtopia:
Although they’re not as personalized as our template, it still mentions they’re “a valued Zoom user” which is a much better attempt at targeting an email than simply addressing the person by name.
4. Arrange One-on-One Discussions
If people reply to your email, don’t expect them to turn up on their own accord; arrange to meet them in-person at the event.
These one-on-one discussions strengthen your personal connections. Why? Because you’re chatting back-and-forth naturally, rather than through a series of generic emails.
Then, when you finally get the chance to meet them, you’ve got the opportunity to reference personal details you’ve shared, whether that’s asking how their vacation went, or whether they’re still looking into using your product or service as a solution to their pain point.
Remember: In today’s world, strong relationships trump a traditional sales pitch.
Did a handful of people you invited fail to respond to your email? Send another information to push your message to the top of their inbox again, and offer an incentive for people to attend. That could be:
- A discount on entry to the tradeshow
- A free product when they attend
45% of attendees visit only one exhibition per year. Give them a reason to make it yours!
5. Collect More Emails from Your Stand
If you’ve followed this process, your daily schedule when attending a tradeshow could consist of 10+ arrangements to chat with people you’ve invited through email.
But in order to chat to them, they need to know how to find you.
Use display boards, signs and microphones to make your brand seen (and heard!) in a busy tradeshow. That way, people can’t miss you.
However, we’ve got a word of warning: Don’t fall into the trap of only connecting with people you’ve previously invited. You should meet-up with these people, but don’t let it make-up the bulk of your day. You’re there to sell and meet new people, remember!
Make an effort to chat to people who pass by, even if you didn’t invite them. Be your fun and friendly self, give your pitch, and ask for the email addresses of people who express their interest.
You can target these people (through email marketing) later.
6. Follow-Up After the Tradeshow
Did you know that 19% of tradeshow attendees don’t have buying authority? Not everyone you chat to is able to make a purchase on-the-spot.
That’s why the majority of tradeshow sales are in the follow-up.
There are three types of follow-up emails you should send after a tradeshow, including:
- People got invited and attended: Mention how much you loved meeting them, and how you’d like to stay in touch. Ask them what their favourite part of the event was.
- People who got invited but didn’t attend: Include how you’re sad to have missed them, and feedback on why they didn’t attend.
- People you met at the tradeshow: Reference something from your conversation, and ask if they’d be interested in learning more about the product or service you’re selling.
Collecting this type of feedback, from both people who did and didn’t attend gives you valuable insights for your text tradeshow email campaign.
Realize that a chunk of people didn’t visit because the cost was too high? Try and attend more tradeshows with a cheaper entry fee.
Learn that 60% of people you met handed over their email address because you delivered a great sales pitch beforehand? Replicate this next time.
Remember: learning and adapting based on customer feedback is the key to any marketing campaign.
Tradeshow and emails are no different.
Final Thoughts on Tradeshow and Email Marketing
Are you ready to hit the “launch” button on your new email marketing campaign?
There’s one important thing to remember: don’t be overpowering.
Sending too many emails within a short period can clog your audience’s inboxes and unsubscribing from your mailing list, never to return again.
It can take a while to juggle the emails and analyse the best time to send them, but don’t give up! We’re confident you’ll see an influx of new visitors to your tradeshow in no time.