How to Use Digital Marketing to Rock Your Next Trade Show


Trade shows are an incredibly versatile and effective form of marketing. Just look at these statistics:

In 2015, 51% of U.S. trade show attendees from 2001 to 2015 were planning to buy exhibited products or services within 12 months of attending.

In 2013, 81% of potential audience remembered visiting a company’s trade show exhibit in the United States.

In 2013, 52% of a company’s potential trade show audience members with whom meaningful engagement was achieved during a trade show in the United States.

With a well planned and executed digital marketing strategy designed to support your trade show efforts, you can likely jump the above statistics into the hero realm for your company.

About this digital marketing guide for trade shows

This guide was written to help you build and execute a digital marketing strategy that works for you. It is broken down by tactic during each phase of a trade show.

Each tactic given in this guide will include:

  • Assets required to execute this tactic: know what you will need to have before you begin executing each tactic you are adding to your overall marketing plan.
  • Explanation of what the tactic is and why it can help: this will help you decide if you should try this tactic or not. Not all tactics in this guide will be appropriate for every business or trade show.
  • Step by step explanation of how to execute tactic: this is the nuts and bolts of how to execute the tactic, the tools you need, how to set things up, etc.
  • What key performance indicators (KPIs) to pay attention to: know what you are aiming for. This section will tell you how to measure the success of the tactic after you have executed it. This is the most important piece to any marketing plan. If you don’t know whether or not it works, the whole effort is a waste.
  • For further reading: where appropriate we have included links to other articles to provide more in-depth information regarding a certain tactic or execution of a tactic.

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It starts with a plan

There are three distinct phases to a digital marketing strategy for your trade show event: before, during and after the show. Each phase has its own goals:

  • Before the trade show: Your goal should be to promote the show to your current audience, including your customers, to encourage attendance and of course a visit to your booth.
  • During the show: Your goal should be to collect as much data possible about the attendees you meet.
  • After the show: Your goal should be development of relationships with as many of the attendees of the show to generate sales.
What to do before the show

According to a case study performed by Deloitte & Touche, pre-show marketing increased the quality of the audience attracted to the booth by 46%. Also, booth visitors converted to qualified leads increased 50%. So, what should you focus on pre-show?

Remember, your goal is to increase attendance to the trade show event as well as increase booth visitors during the event. That means promoting the show. Promote your participation in the show. Here are a few ideas on how to use digital marketing tactics to do that.

Build a landing page that announces your attendance of the event.

What you need to execute this tactic: a website to host the landing page or landing page design software

Why this tactic: This tactic is your branded announcement that you plan to attend a trade show. It will have all the detailed information regarding both the event and your participation. This page acts as a home base to refer leads, prospects, customers, etc to. It will provide a centralized place to add updates as they become available.

How to execute: At a minimum, you should consider adding the following information to your landing page:

  • The name of the event
  • The location of the event
  • The dates of the event
  • A link to the official website

Also consider linking to the floor plan (bonus points for highlighting where your booth will be).

Video introductions are a great way to add a personal element to the page. Take the opportunity to introduce your company or products as well as the staff that will be at the event.

If you are presenting at the trade show, include the title and description, time, location of your presentation. You can also consider including an opt-in box for attendees to receive a text message to remind them of your presentation.

Link to published press releases about the event or your attendance of the event.

If you have any special activities, events, announcements or even just cool swag you are giving away, be sure to tease about it on your landing page. The idea is to design the page as both a promotion of the trade show itself as well as your participation in it.

Finally, include a form where a visitor can request an appointment with you while at the show.

The serves as a concise page with all the important information about the event and your participation.

Promotion ideas:

  • Distributed press releases (make sure you link to your landing page from the press release)
  • Links to the landing page from other pages of your website
  • Social media announcements (bonus if you schedule follow up posts)
  • An email announcement to your newsletter
  • Cross promotion with other trade show exhibitors where a crossover audience exists

How to know it’s working: The KPI to monitor for this is the number of daily sessions to the page as you promote it leading up to the trade show. Also, if you add in the opt in elements of text messaging or appointments, the number you are getting.