Trade shows can be an effective way for manufacturers to connect with prospects and strengthen existing customer relationships. They can also be expensive. Necessary costs like booth space, exhibit design and construction, travel, lodging, etc., conservatively puts trade show budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars. Return on investment is paramount.
Sending pre-trade show emails one to two months in advance is a popular way to capitalize on the captive audience of trade show attendees, but have you considered how much more engagement — and ROI — could be generated by expanding the strategy to encompass the entire event?
The following 6 steps — complete with trade show email marketing examples — will guide you in creating the most effective email marketing campaign for fueling trade show engagement:
Identify your target audience
Send pre-trade show emails
Send in-trade show emails
Send post-trade show emails
Follow the rules
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Before drafting your first email, make sure you fully understand the demographic of the target audience that you want to reach. The best way to do this is by developing buyer personas of your typical customers and segmenting your database based on which of your personas is likely to attend this trade show.
By knowing their motivations, challenges, obstacles, buying habits and more, you can better determine the best subject lines, calls-to-action, and promotions to use when sending emails. Having this information prior to creating a trade show email marketing campaign will amplify engagement with higher quality leads at every touch point.
2. Send Pre-Trade Show Emails
This pre-trade show email is a valuable tool in generating hype around your appearance and drawing the most relevant attendees to your booth. The emails sent during this period help set the pace for the rest of the campaign. They also compel business buyers to make trade show attendance a priority by delivering offers, resources, or promotions that generate pre-event buzz around your brand or company.
Don’t aim your pre-trade show emails exclusively at prospects. Touching base with current customers reinforces that you're invested in keeping them informed and building their trust. A timely message from you may persuade them to attend the trade show if they're on the fence, and a visit to your booth may open the door for an upsell/cross-sell.
Whether communicating with prospects or current customers, your team may well be overlooking a valuable promotional opportunity. Add show information to email signatures and link it to a landing page:
It’s just one more way of making trade show information accessible, and reserving appointments with your booth staff convenient.
These emails should be dramatically different from those sent before the trade show. Their purpose is to help drive traffic to remind visitors of your company when navigating the floor, and drive traffic your booth as the trade show is happening.
With that in mind, be sure to make the message meaningful and concise. A relevant subject line, a prominent call-to-action, and photos of your booth and its location will help people find you.
Another option for an enticing in-trade show email is to offer special giveaways to attendees who received the email, like a limited-time product sample, a discount, a free evaluation, or other valuable offer. It’s a surefire way to keep the buzz about your booth going, and quickly build even more.
4. Send Post-Trade Show Emails
The period following the trade show is the most time-sensitive, as you want your team to respond in a quick but meaningful way. Sending personalized emails to prospects and existing customers who the team connected with on the trade show floor is a great way to demonstrate that you valued their time and are interested in their needs and concerns.
It's also a good time to send surveys asking visitors about your booth, your staff, your presentation, etc. Their answers give you the opportunity to improve upon the experience:
5. Follow the Rules
When you do send emails, be careful about opt-in restrictions that could lead to a high-abuse rating or causing the hosted site to be shut down.
Make sure that prior to adding prospects onto a subscription list, you've provided them with an opt-in opportunity. Be upfront about it by including a line such as:
“I’d like to send you relevant articles, content, and information you might find useful. If you’d rather not receive these materials, click the unsubscribe button at the end of this email. You’ll be removed from the list immediately.”
To work around the opt-in, you could send trade show attendees a sample newsletter and formally ask them to subscribe. However, it’s important to remain mindful of positioning. If you’re perceived as too aggressive or disingenuous, you may lose any trust the recipient placed in you as well as a second chance for outreach — and potential sale.
6. Be Consistent
In order to be successful in trade show email marketing, you should test different email approaches to learn what resonates with the audience you’re targeting.
Not every email sent is going to be a hit. In fact, you'll likely have a few duds before finding out what works. Don’t be discouraged. Testing emails helps you home in on the conversation your audience wants to have, and ultimately boosts trade show marketing campaign buzz.
Further, email testing gives you a cross-check on mobile optimization — an important consideration given that 53% of people read email on their mobile devices. It’s impractical to test for every possible email service, but focusing on the top five among mobile users — Apple iPhone Mail, Gmail, Apple iPad Mail app, Google Android Mail app, and Outlook — is well worth the time and effort.
When used properly, trade show email marketing can be one of the most effective awareness and engagement-builders in a marketer’s arsenal. Proper planning is key to boosting email marketing’s impact and trade show ROI, especially when you use these 10 Ways to Make Your Email Marketing More Effective. Click the button below for your tip sheet.
Posted by Kelly Wilhelme Kelly Wilhelme currently manages all of Weidert Group's marketing efforts. Through her past experience as an inbound marketing consultant on our client service team and, prior to that in financial services communication, she has a deep understanding of complex businesses and a desire to help them grow. Kelly has a passion for communication strategy, layout and design, as well as writing and content creation.