Well done exhibit pro! Your upcoming tradeshow booth space is booked and backwall display designed and finished. Now you can fold your arms behind your head, kick your feet up and let the days tick down till convention day- right? The truth is, only a select few companies have the enterprise-level brand exposure to attend a trade show and receive tons of traffic without engaging in any pre-show marketing. That said, even if your company is so well known and received that crowds of people flock to your exhibit, these companies did not achieve this status by sitting back and coasting on past good will. We know the adverse is usually true: the bigger the brand, the more marketing dollars they spend to stay on top.
So how can you, the little guy stay on top with the resources you have? Most of your lead generation energy should absolutely be focused on your visitors during and after the show. Getting 1 on 1 face time with your prospects and existing clients is still the most valuable way to make a lasting impression. However, in order to mine the “trade show gold” of your lead generation, we recommend utilizing a tried and true low cost approach to reaching the masses: email marketing.
But isn’t email marketing just considered pointless spam nowadays? It is true that an overwhelming majority of your carefully written, proud emails will never be opened, and even fewer will ever be clicked. This reality can be discouraging for many. However, marketing is still a numbers game and email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to inform and motivate action in your customer base.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to use emails to help your trade show presence explode!
Why should Trade Show Exhibitors use eMail?
Every hour an estimated 122 billion emails are sent to over 4.1 billion active email accounts. With such staggering numbers, it is no surprise why so many marketers still turn to email campaigns to generate awareness.
So what should be your goals for email marketing? Usually to create awareness for new products or sales. In some cases emails are used to “remind” someone that their company exists. This usually manifests itself as either a push or pull strategy. When you write a campaign to leverage a more classical advertising approach, readers see a transparent attempt to call attention to your brand in the email; “hey look at us, come see our selection”.
This approach is in contrast to pull marketing done with more guile. Be less forceful and instead try to lend a helping hand and create an association of value with your brand. Most people like to buy from their friends, or a company they have heard a strong recommendation. When neither of those options directly apply, people pay more attention to companies that show they want to genuinely help the reader perform better in their own efforts.
When you create an association with your brand that tries to show “its ok, we don’t mind if you don’t buy with us, we just want to help you be successful” it helps establish trust and confidence in your company before they may ever come to you to purchase a product.
Two stale approaches to avoid in your email campaign
These approaches are polar opposites that both miss the big picture.
1) “I paid my money, let the event organizer send booth traffic my way. Isn’t that what they’re there for?”
An exhibition organizer is tasked with getting relevant attendees into the show so that you have a chance to talk to them. Once someone enters the event center, it is no longer the focus of the event organizer to get those people talking to your booth staff.
If your booth is not setup to appear very inviting to visitors and comfortable enough to host a conversation that can become a sales lead, then don’t blame the organizer! Once those feet are in the door, it is up to your professional, trained booth staff to look for opportunities and present your company’s services in a memorable way.
2) “Come one come all, our booth is number blah blah so be sure to come visit!”
While marketing with a focus on awareness is important and not to be underrated, your goals for pre-show marketing should amount to more than a digital version of a teenager spinning a sign on the nearest intersection.
Try to be clever, and highlight what is unique about your brand’s upcoming trade show exhibition. Are you showcasing a new product or service? Is your attendance purely about generating awareness? Then try to create an actionable campaign that offers a % discount on your products for visiting your booth at the show. If you want to capitalize on this effect more, try offering a small ‘hook’ discount at first that can be claimed through email and a big discount for claiming your promotion at your booth.
Four reasons email continues to be viable
1) Emails are the digital passport
All major social networks require a verified email account. While these can be lesser-checked email accounts usually used to route grey mail, most people use an active personal account for their social networks. Connecting with your visitors through social channels and eventually gaining trust through the content you send has become the new most reliable way to build a relationship with your prospects before they become customers.
2) Email accounts continue to grow!
While breaking through the noise of competing mass email “Spam” continues to be more and more difficult, people are still receptive to great offers that utilize a creative message. Most people become more guarded against impersonal campaigns, but the use of email accounts continues to grow. The number of active email addresses is expected to increase to 5.2 billion.
3) Stay agile, go where your customers are
A few minutes in any Doctor’s office lobby and it isn’t hard to guess why reaching mobile users is important. On average, smartphone users spend 29 minutes per day checking email on their phone. This means that email apps are being used more than any other on the device. This gives you more chances than ever to get your message in front of people when they’re receptive to it.
4) Email is more than measuring open rate and clickthrough
Ever wonder why every company you shop at asks for your email address during purchase? It isn’t hard to miss the digital piles of promotional emails you begin to receive soon afterward. While measuring a user’s open/click interaction through mail tracking scripts is important to understand what parts of your message work best to stimulate interest, today’s top companies are happy just making sure you see the message and see it often. Top of mind marketing as it is known is all about gently reminding people that your company is out there, ready to help meet your needs (and don’t forget these great deals).
Effective Email campaigns start BEFORE the show and CONTINUE nurturing after:
|3 months out
Strategize to create an email campaign focused on supplying complimentary content your contacts can USE!
|2 months out
Start building a buzz for the show- but not sending invites yet! Continue to coax a loyal following for your emails with value-driven content such as eBooks, or informative Blogs.
|1 months out
Begin connecting the trust you’ve built with expectations at the show. Create teasers to promote your latest products or fun “mixer” events you’re hosting after the show.
|2 weeks out
Connect the interest you’ve created in your brand and email campaign with expectations the day of show. Focus on setting up appointments to schedule time aside to meet with your contacts. You might get stood up in some cases, but this creates urgency and establishes legitimate time to talk business.
Remember that email is a branding channel and opportunity to tease upcoming releases. Take the opportunity to call attention to ‘cool stuff’ you’ve done over the last year and all the big things you have coming up in the next twelve months.
Try to identify and segment your customers by distance from the tradeshow event. You can focus your message between nearby contacts that can “stop in” for a meeting versus distant contacts. For those travelling, try to be helpful and offer some tips for finding their way around the venue or city.
“Pull” marketing vs “push” is less about being forceful and more about creating a reason to WANT to click naturally. Rather than yelling “sign up sign up!” you can write about the value you are offering, perhaps an informative demonstration at your booth with giveaways afterward.
Communicate that time slots are limited and filling up fast. While few people want to feel like another face in the crowd to you, even less want to go be the only one there to hear what you have to say.
|1 week out
Time to ‘go for broke’! This is the time to bring attention to your best content and generate a buzz.
|1 day after the show Send a “nice to meet you” message, linked to a contact form to get more concrete information.
|1 week after the show If done right you should have captured some attention – now follow up and build interest with good content driven messaging.
|2-3 weeks after the show Set up “time released” triggered mail campaigns that segment contacts at different stages of interest.
Toot that horn! What is status-quo for your day may be news to others. Take time to discuss what your company does with some flair and gravitas. Use the benefit of emailing sheer numbers to generate a buzz about your brand’s offerings.
While the show is still fresh and your brand meeting at the “top of mind”, this is your chance to find out more qualified information about your contact’s needs and best fitting products.
Using dynamic fields populated from stored information within your contact management system, personalize emails into segments to get the best response. People are most receptive to messaging that appears focused on their own needs.
You may have heard of “drip campaigns”. These leverage automation available in most mailing platforms to route the most fitting email messages to contacts at different stages of interest, or engagement with your previous emails. This effort seeks to funnel people through a gentle marketing cycle until they are ready to buy from you!
Forming Your Irresistible Subject Line
Now that your email marketing strategy is laid out, optimize your subject line to generate the most responses. Some good ideas for how to compose a strong subject line can be found on the web and opinions vary. There are guidelines to consider:
1) Compose then refine
It is possible to have a snappy subject at first, then as you write your email the ideas you add may broaden your focus into too many points. If you write your subject first you have a benchmark to look back at while writing; asking yourself “does this content support my title”. Writing a to-the-point title early on helps you avoid the pitfall of trying to write a subject line later that encompasses all the magical ideas you want to present to the reader.
2) Keep it simple
A theme that holds true across nearly all aspects of marketing and design. It reminds me of a great George Bernard Shaw quote:
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
You may be a talented and creative writer, however if you inject too many witty references or flowery grammar you may alienate your broader audience. The usual rule is to keep your writing style easily readable by an Elementary School student, because the literacy level of the masses.
3) Say it loud say it proud
Naturally, there is a careful line you must walk between reminding the audience of your unique selling points versus shouting the same message over and over like a used car salesman. Repetition and consistency is important since attention spans vary and the interests that prompt action in one person is not necessarily what will motivate another. The key is to focus on your value services and reiterate their benefits in different ways each time.
4) Let’s get personal
Most modern mailing platforms allow you to include a dynamic field that includes a name or company. Presuming you have this information well populated in the contact list your company uses, this remains a good way to improve your chances of getting a recipient to at least look at your email. While this tactic is commonly used these days and is also quickly becoming noise, it remains a stronger strategy than sending a generic email blast that is sure get ignored.
5) A fork in the road
Since case study metrics and creative writing are not always able to help you build the perfect subject line, “hedge your bets” so to speak by utilizing A/B testing. Most mailing platforms allow you to specify at least two different subject lines to try out. You can analyze the open and clickthrough rates of different subject lines sent to a smaller a sample group. If there is a dramatic improvement on one title versus another you know that is the best choice to send to the rest of your contacts!
We hope you have found the guidelines in this article helpful. You now have email marketing strategies in your utility belt that are proven to increase your open and response rates. So get out there and start getting your brand’s message out!
Is your marketing team not actively engaged in newsletters and other pre-tradeshow marketing? Whether your business is big or small, one of the most effective ways to boost the amount of qualified leads visiting your exhibit booth is to get the word out before the big day.
The Monster Displays team can be reached at Sales@MonsterDisplays.com or call (888) 484-3344, we’d love to put our experience to work for you.