The money and time you invest in a trade show is a significant investment. One of the pain points for many of our customers is finding a seamless and workable way of gathering the leads from the show, so they can effectively follow them up. For some, it’s also a challenge to know how to effectively follow up.
Here’s our essential guide to collecting leads at your next exhibition or trade show.
1) SET YOUR QUALIFICATION CRITERIA
Hold up! Before you even start to think about how to collect a lead, think about ‘what is a lead?’. A traditional way of lead capture is to gather business cards, usually people will surrender their card as entry into a prize draw to win something. This creates volume but not quality. Quality is what converts. So, think about what qualifies as a lead and what you need to know, for example:
- The basics: name, company, job title, email & telephone (and don’t forget GDPR – get their consent).
- Categories of interest: If you have a lot of products or services you may wish to list these into categories, which can be ‘ticked’ as to what’s of interest.
- Commentary: there’s nothing like making sure you note the conversation or specific interest that the customer has. This will become really useful when you follow the lead up. And as much as you’d like to think you’ll remember – there will be too many for you to remember everything!
- Budget and timescale: if this is a relevant criteria for lead qualification – then ask and take note! For example, as an exhibitions company we will typically ask a customer when they’re exhibiting and what their budget is.
2) USE TECHNOLOGY
There are various ways you can utilise technologies at your next exhibition:
- Handheld devices: firstly make sure you have a device that is mobile and portable and easy-to-use. This might be a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. If there are a number of you on the stand, you’ll need more than one.
- Lead capture apps: if you’re going for a hand-held device then there are plenty of good apps to use, most of which are relatively low cost. Leadr and Onspotsocial are really good lead capture apps, which cost around £20 per month. These apps tend to connect with your CRM.
- Integrated app for your marketing automation system: if you use HubSpot then there’s a really great app that integrates and syncs directly into Hubspot called atEvent For the larger marketing automation systems, you will find that there are recommended apps that will connect in the same way. If you have MA software, this is a highly recommended way to capture your leads. It is so efficient because the integration removes any laborious form-filling or uploads and creates a really slick follow-up programme. If you wanted to, you could automate an email the very same day!
- Show scanners: many trade shows now offer a scanning device and app. This can help you save time and money but do your research first. If it’s a basic ‘scan of the badge’ then this is the modern version of business card collecting – you’ll end up with a load of unqualified data and no intelligence.
3) GOOD OLD FASHIONED FORMS
When technology fails… Always make sure you have a backup of paper forms. Make sure they’re in the format that the app is in so that you can at least save time by following a format when it comes to the data upload.
Now you’ve collected your leads, you need to follow up…
FOLLOW UP ON TIME!
You have no more than 72 hours before your lead goes cold… in fact, we recommend your lead follow-up starts the very next day. Whilst you’re fresh in their mind and before they get back into their day job – remind them about their experience with you.
Some of our customers have had success by sending a communication the very same day. If you can, get the leads back to the office that day and the team can start working on them. This is really important if your show is four days or more because by the time the show is over, your leads from day one will be cold.
Just the simple things like sending a photo of you and the team at the stand, on the day, will help them connect and remind them of your meeting, which goes a long way to gauging a response and strengthening your lead.
Marketing automation is a very effective tool for event lead-follow up. From gathering the data (check out our tips on data gather above) to marketing to the leads, we give marketing automation a big thumbs up. Once your lead is stored into a marketing automation system, your drip marketing can begin.
Starting with a ‘it was great to see you at the show’ and followed with content and added-value material – keep your lead warm and reinforce the message.
USE MULTIPLE CHANNELS
As much as we love marketing automation, you need to mix up your out-bound channel when it comes to follow-up. We find email and telephone are a nice combination. Follow up your email send(s) with a phone call.
Use the insight gathered from the day (e.g. interested in) so that you can relate to the customer and to help you achieve your goal of an appointment or sale. Some companies get really creative when it comes to channel mix and even send something in the post – like a gift – to a qualified event lead. But this will still need a telephone call to maximise the return!
Last of all, don’t forget to measure your leads so you can monitor the success of your event. This will help you to plan better and more efficiently in the future, generating a better ROI each time.