The Basics of Exhibitor Email Marketing

Exhibitors want to connect with attendees before the event; however, there are very few options out there that are truly effective at increasing booth traffic for your exhibitors.  Exhibitor email marketing has proven to be effective for the shows we work with, and until something better comes along, seems to be the only viable tool available to exhibitors.
In the five years we’ve been working with events to provide exhibitor email marketing programs, we’ve learned a ton.  Here are the most important things to consider if you are thinking about giving exhibitors this opportunity.

You can add a lot of revenue to your bottom line with an exhibitor email program.

  1. Don’t let your exhibitors see the attendee list. Send the email for them.
  2. Get permission from your attendees at registration. Allow them to “opt-in” for pre-show emails from exhibitors to save you from getting complaints after the show.
  3. Send targeted emails. Allow exhibitors to send to specific groups of attendees based on the info you collect at registration. (This reduces the number of emails your attendees receive and gives them relevant information.)
  4. Schedule exhibitor emails so you are not sending more than two per day.
  5. Allow attendees to opt-out of the exhibitor emails with an unsubscribe link.

Running a pre-show email marketing program for your exhibitors has obvious benefits.  It will generate additional revenue for the event, allow your exhibitors to attract qualified buyers to their booths, and increase attendee engagement, however you need to consider your attendees and make sure they are onboard before you include them in any email program.

Ask Permission before Sending Pre-show Exhibitor Emails to your Attendees
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Your exhibitors want to connect with the attendees before the event to boost traffic at their booths.  After working with hundreds of events, we know that pre-show email marketing is an effective tool to do this; however, some of your attendees might not feel the same way.  Some of them don’t want to receive emails from your exhibitors.  This is the number one concern that we hear from show organizers.  They don’t want to anger their attendees by sending them too many emails.

We have a very simple solution to this problem, like any other email program, you need to get the attendee’s permission before sending them emails.

Permission Based Emails

At registration, the show organizer simply includes a check box to allow attendees to opt-in or opt-out of the Exhibitor/Sponsor Email Program.  We advise them to also include a short statement that says:

“Would you like to receive informative emails from our Exhibitors and Sponsors before the event?  We won’t share your email address with these companies; instead we will send the emails for them.   You can expect to receive one email per day over the course of the 3 weeks leading up to the event and you will be able to “unsubscribe” at any time by clicking a link at the bottom of any of the exhibitor emails.”

This allows your attendees to choose, lets them know that their email addresses are safe, and gives them an idea of how many emails they will receive.

Sessions to See at IAEE’s Expo! Expo! 2017

We are excited about exhibiting at IAEE’s Expo! Expo!. We will be in booth #1520. Expo! Expo! is the trade show industry’s premier event. It will be held at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio, TX , November 28-30, 2017.
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We recommend attending the following sessions to hear discussions of programs that may enhance the experience and ROI for exhibitors and attendees:

  • Beyond Post Analytics: A Social Media Strategy for Engagement and Connection
  • CEIR Research Sneak Peek & Luncheon – 2017 Senior Marketing Executives/CMO Study
  • Sponsorship 2020: Sell More, Push Boundaries, Deliver on ROI!
  • Spark! Session: Busy by Design: 10 Ways To Be More Productive and Less Stressed

Event Technologies will be featuring our Attendee/Exhibitor connection product line of eShowMail, eShowMail Invitation and eShowMail Charity. In addition, we will be discussing new enhancements to our lead retrieval product, eShowLeads.

eShowMail – The Safe Alternative to Traditional Attendee List Rental Solutions
eShowMail Invitation – Exhibitor Email Invitation Program
eShowMail Charity – Raise Money for Your Favorite Charity
eShowLeads – Lead Retrieval with or without a Barcode

We look forward to meeting you there.

What’s wrong with your Planning Sessions?

You and your team spent a full day at an “offsite” planning session last month. There were a lot of great ideas and there was a feeling of camaraderie as you departed. Now, a month later, you are beginning to see that nothing has really changed. So what went wrong and why is nothing you thought was agreed upon getting done?Corporate Meetings

  1. Lack of Agreement

    You can do a lot of analysis but the simple truth in most cases is there was actually no agreement. How can that be true? You all raised your hands. Unfortunately agreement or “buy-in” is rarely achieved easily and usually results in confrontation not camaraderie as long held positions of some or even most of the group must be abandoned. To gain agreement to any idea each and every party must have exactly the same understanding of the idea as everyone else on the team. Interpreting a raised hand or an affirmative response as agreement will only lead to disappointment on everyone’s part. Failing to get 100% agreement or total buy-in as some would say, make most planning sessions nothing more than expensive “group understanding” opportunities. It helps you understand your team better but little else is really accomplished.

  2. The World has Changed
    Ever heard the phrase “No plan ever survives contact with the enemy”? Business plans like all others are only as good as the understanding of the environment on which they are based. As your business and the world around you changes everyday so must your plans. To be sustainable, businesses must recognize what parts of their plans are no longer appropriate for the new environment and go into re-planning mode. Planning is not a once-a-year thing, it is an every week thing. Successful business are those that can react to change by implementing a simple test before expending resources: If a task is important to do it should be in the plan. If a task is not in the plan do not spend a penny on it.

Planning sessions should be held when the environment changes and the plans generated must have 100% agreement on the part of all members of the team implementing them. Planning must become part of your culture. Then you can truly “plan your work and work your plan”.

Make Your Sponsors and Exhibitors Feel Appreciated

“I’m a sponsor or an exhibitor, and I feel like an outcast. Sponsors and exhibitors understand the value they bring to conferences but, increasingly they don’t see the value coming back to them. These industry partners want to feel like real partners, however, many times they feel like a wallet.”

I saw this last month in a blog by Amanda Kaiser of Smooth the Path (http://bit.ly/2jntnds). Amanda focuses on helping associations increase recruitment, engagement, and retention through “Qualitative Member Research”. In her blog she summarized the responses across more than three hundred interviews, of mostly very engaged members, that pointed to a handful of typical weak spots in association conferences.

Amanda went on to suggest ways to mitigate this problem of exhibitors feeling unappreciated by identifying “ways for sponsors and exhibitors to work with event organizers to increase value to participants beyond the standard sponsor offerings and exhibitor booth.”

I totally agree with this point – adding value to the exhibitor experience beyond the standard sponsor offerings is required across the entire spectrum of the events industry to keep the exhibitors from “feeling like a wallet”. One area of particular interest to our business is assisting exhibitors in their efforts to effectively communicate with the registered attendees to increase booth traffic. A second idea we are pursuing in conjunction with the organizer is assisting exhibitors in their lead follow-up efforts.

Increasing Booth Traffic

Exhibitors who hope qualified buyers will randomly walk into their booth ultimately wind up disappointed. The truth is that by the time attendees get to the show, most of them have a list of exhibitors they are going to visit during the expo. As an exhibitor, you need to get on that list before the show starts or else you are leaving the success or failure of your lead collection to random chance.

The most effective way to communicate with registered attendees before the show is to send them an email. Handing exhibitors the email addresses of the registered attendees is no longer possible given the spam laws and concerns for privacy on the part of attendees and exhibitors alike. Services like eShowMail and others effectively solve the security problems associated with exhibitor to attendee email communication and deliver value to marketing savvy exhibitors by boosting their ROI.

When we talk to exhibitors that have used our eShowMail service to send emails to attendees, they almost unanimously say that the email they sent before the event made a noticeable difference in the traffic they saw in their booth.

Exhibitor Lead Follow-up

During the entire twenty year period that I have been in the trade show industry, leading publications and observers have discussed the reasons tradeshow leads result in such a low percentage being follow-up by sales. Most accounts put that figure as high as 80% of tradeshow leads are not followed-up.

Even with the advances in booth lead capture technology, which can help booth reps qualify leads on mobile devices, the lack of time often short changes the booth qualification process. The leads collected on the floor consistently suffer from inadequate qualification information and as such are really no more than a list of cold call opportunities. For most companies, their territory reps don’t have the time to call each lead 5 or 6 times, which is often how many attempts it takes to actually get a lead on the phone. As a result, many sales are lost because there is not a system in place to make sure each “hot” lead is contacted after the event.

One solution to this problem is to introduce an additional step in between the trade show booth and the territory rep following up on the lead. That step involves analyzing and prioritizing the booth leads, sending out a post show thank you email, and making the initial attendee phone contact to verify qualification. A 3rd party calling team that can make the 5+ calls necessary to get a lead on the phone can be used to schedule a phone meeting on behalf of the exhibitor’s sales rep, place the lead into the nurturing queue or discard the lead as not a prospect. Obviously current customers or prospects already in the sales “funnel” are excluded from the process.

Conclusion

Creating more sales for your exhibitors is a sure way to guarantee that they will return to your show next year. Helping exhibitors to increase their booth traffic and offering them a solution to help with their post show lead follow-up are two concrete solutions that will improve exhibitor results. That said, the organizer must recognize that regardless of the benefit only a small percentage of the exhibitors will actively participate in each program you offer. Therefore, it is important to offer multiple ideas with different perspectives to appeal to the broadest audience possible.

Sessions to See at IAEE’s Expo! Expo! 2016

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We are excited about exhibiting at IAEE’s Expo! Expo!.  We will be in booth #1018.  Expo! Expo! is the trade show industry’s premier event.  It will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center, December 6-8, 2016.

We recommend attending the following sessions to hear discussions of programs that may enhance the experience and ROI for exhibitors and attendees:

Event Technologies will be featuring our Attendee/Exhibitor connection product line of eShowMail, eShowMail Invitation and eShowMail Charity. In addition we will be discussing our leads retrieval product, eShowLeads.

We look forward to meeting you there.

Attendee List Rental 2.0 (eShowMail)

  • Exhibitors have, for years, been given or rented the registered attendee list to send pre and post show marketing emails to increase traffic to their booth and to thank those who visited. Call this Attendee List Rental Version 1.0.
  • However, privacy and SPAM concerns have all but eliminated the practice of giving or renting the attendee list to exhibitors.
  • Enter Attendee List Rental Version 2.0 in the form of eShowMail , a system that enables exhibitors to have their custom email blasts sent without having direct access to the confidential attendee data.

Benefits:

  • Exhibitors get a full service email solution to communicate with registered attendees.
  • Attendees learn what is happening at the show, their contact information is kept confidential, and they have the ability to opt-out of the email program at any time.
  • The Show Organizer gets an email program with no additional cost and no risk to the attendee list.


Important Features:

  1. Attendee Protection. eShowMail protects your attendees. Simply put, the attendee list is never shown to the exhibitor. In addition, attendees can opt-out of the overall email campaign by clicking the “unsubscribe” link that is found at the bottom of every email we send.
  2. No Cost to Show Organizer. eShowMail is free for show organizers to offer to their exhibitors. There are no setup charges.
  3. Revenue Generation. Exhibitors pay to use the service. We charge a flat fee per email blast. The show organizer has the option of generating additional revenue by marking up our price to their exhibitors.
  4. We Do All the Work. Our reps work with each exhibitor to guide them through the process. We don’t require any assistance from show staff other than final approval of emails.
  5. Custom Emails. eShowMail allows exhibitors to use their own custom HTML. If the exhibitor can’t supply their own HTML, we will build an email for them.
  6. Reporting. eShowMail includes a real-time reporting website for both the exhibitors and show organizer. The site shows statistics, but no attendee data such as email address.
  7. Scheduling. You control the # of email blasts that are sent (per day and total). At most shows, we send two blasts per day over the course of 2-6 weeks depending on the number of participating companies. Exhibitor participation has ranged from 10% to 20% depending on the type of show.
  8. Control. eShowMail gives you full control over the content that is being sent out. Before an email is sent out, a proof will be sent to you for final approval.

Raise Money for Charity

Raise Money for your Charity

Almost every association we work with has a charity that they support.  Associations typically will run a fund raising event during the show.  This can range from a party, to a 10K run, to a golf tournament.  The money raised during the event is important.  For events that want to raise additional money and awareness for their charities, we have an idea.give-to-charity

Pre and post show email marketing programs are designed to bring attention to an exhibitor’s booth to drive more traffic and generate more leads.  Integrating the event’s charity with this type of email program can also bring more awareness to the charity while raising additional revenue for a good cause.

It’s a simple idea.  Here are the benefits:

  1. A portion of the revenue from the pre-show exhibitor email marketing program can be donated to the charity.  This is the most obvious benefit, but not necessarily the most impactful.
  2. Probably the biggest benefit is bringing more awareness to the charity by getting the message out to all the attendees with multiple touch points.  Emails sent to attendees from exhibitors can include a small JPG that either asks for donations, or encourages participation in the show’s charity event. For the events we work with, we integrate the charity’s message into all our communications with the exhibitors as well.
  3. And lastly, exhibitors that use the program will be happy to know that a portion of their show marketing dollars are supporting a good cause.

eShowMail System Data Security

Data Security Text with Padlock Icon - Red Button on Black Computer Keyboard.

eShowMail System Data Security

The eShowMail system enables exhibitors to send pre and post show marketing emails to an event’s attendee list while protecting the attendees’ contact information from misuse.  To put it simply, exhibitors never see the attendee list.  Their information is protected within the eShowMail system through encryption and by limiting access to the system.

Data Storage

The only information we require to send an email is the attendee’s email address.  To secure this data within our database, we store the email addresses in a Relational MySQL table in an encrypted form using an algorithm developed using the Java Cryptography Architecture (JCA)[1].  The algorithm is show unique so the same email address will be stored differently for each show.

System Access

Only Event Technologies employees have access to our system.  Customers, exhibitors and attendees are never given access.  In addition, logging into the eShowMail system by Event Technologies’ personnel requires that three (3) variables be entered: (User ID, Password, and Security Code.)  This makes guessing the login orders of magnitude harder than the normal two (2) variables.   If our system is hacked, there is no ability to export information out of our application.

Data Retention

Any data that is entrusted to us by our clients is kept secure and deleted as soon as it is no longer required.  Show data is typically deleted within 30 days of the close of the event unless otherwise specified.  This includes attached files that have been emailed to us that contain attendee and exhibitor contact information.  These files are typically deleted as soon as information is uploaded.

System Hosting

The Event Technologies system is hosted at GoDaddy in Phoenix, AZ using a managed dedicated server that is backed up nightly.  The system utilizes Rdb Guard as a means of detecting malicious attempts to gain access to the system from non-authorized users.

Results

Event Technologies has been sending emails on behalf of satisfied clients since 2010. We have never experienced a data breach and have never shared customer data with any third party during this period.

[1] We are available to discuss the Class Files used and other general  implementation approaches by phone should the customers’ IT organization require but do not provide that information in writing for security reasons.

Grow your Show by Ensuring that your Current Exhibitors Don’t Leave

trade-show-floorFirst a few statistics on customer retention to set the stage*:

  • The cost to acquire a new customer is 5X more than to keep existing ones
  • 80% of your future revenue will come from existing customers
  • Reducing churn by 5% can increase profits 25 – 125%
  • 70% of customers leave because of poor customer service
  • For every customer who complains there are 26 others who remain silent

Enough said! It looks like putting some of your focus on retaining your current exhibitors will go a long way towards growing your event. Happy exhibitors will talk about your event and encourage their customers to attend. Listed below are a few programs we have seen show organizers implement that increase exhibitor retention. And best of all, you should be able to execute all of them with some management focus and a very limited budget.

1.  Give your Exhibitors an Opportunity to Define their Own Sponsorships: Most of your exhibitors go to multiple events. Some of those shows are bound to have good sponsorship ideas that you haven’t included in your event, yet. If an exhibitor finds a sponsorship at one event to be beneficial, then they are likely to be willing to pay for the opportunity to participate in that sponsorship at your event as well.

2.  Increase Attendance: More attendees mean more interactions between potential buyers and the sellers that are exhibiting at your show. One proven way to do this is to get your exhibitors to invite their prospects to your event. Email is a good tool for this job. There is a “free” way to do this and one where you hire a vendor to help.

  • The “free” way. Create a couple of images that exhibitors can use in the emails they send to their customers to invite them to your show. If you want to go a little further, you can generate some HTML code so they have an easy template to use for these emails.
  • Hiring a Vendor. This is pretty straight forward. Companies like ours offer a service where exhibitors can login, generate emails, and send them to their own lists for free. The show pays for the service. The big benefit of hiring a vendor is they will help your exhibitors and encourage them to send those invitation emails.

3.  Encourage Attendees to Visit More Booths: Create a sponsorship, or host a program that encourages the attendees to visit more booths. Most attendees have a tendency to visit the exhibitors they are currently doing business with, and then if they have time they walk the floor looking for other exhibitors.

  • One idea that some organizers use is to issue punch cards to their attendees with a number of sponsors included on the card.
  • Another variant would be to create multiple versions of the card with all exhibitors and hand them out randomly to attendees. At the end of the show you have a drawing where everyone that has visited all the booths on their card is eligible to win a prize.

4.  Enable your Exhibitors to Contact the Attendees Directly: Attendees are often in a hurry when they are on the show floor. They need to see all the vendors they work with, and then they want to learn about the new products that will help them with their jobs. Allowing your exhibitors to send out a pre-show email blasts will give the attendees more information about what booths they should visit, and connect buyer with sellers on the show floor. A couple thoughts on how to do this:

  • You probably don’t want to give the exhibitors the Excel file with all the attendees contact info.
  • Sending emails on behalf of your exhibitors will allow you to protect the attendee list from misuse. Mail Chimp or Constant Contact are cheap tools that can be used for this. It just requires one of your staff members to manage the process.
  • You can hire a company like ours to do it for you. There are many companies that can manage this process for you. Our model doesn’t cost you anything and can generate revenue for the show.

5.  Offer Exclusive Exhibit Hours: Exhibitors get frustrated when the show floor is empty because all the attendees are at sessions or some other show sponsored event. If you’re not already doing it, think about a way to carve out specific hours where attendees are encouraged to visit the expo hall. If the show isn’t productive for an exhibitor, their first complaint will be that it was your fault for not getting enough buyers to their booth.

The truth is that exhibitors need help when it comes to getting buyers into their booths. Show organizers are in a unique position to help them. By helping your exhibitors to be more successful, it will directly benefit your show. Exhibitors will share their success at your event, which will bring in more exhibitors and attendees.

*Statistics courtesy of http://www.slideshare.net/apptegic/ten-staggering-statistics