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

2016-expo-expo-header_1920x280-1
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

How to Write a Top Performing Trade Show Email

EMAIL-Envelope-Image-2Over the last 3 years, we at Event Technologies have sent over 1.25 million pre and post show emails to trade show attendees on behalf of over 1,000 exhibitors.  We have learned a lot along the way, especially that sending emails to attendees requires a very different strategy from other email marketing efforts (newsletters, emails to prospects, customer relations, etc.).  We did a brief analysis of the top performing emails and the bottom performing emails and here is what we found:

Subject line

The subject line is arguably the most important part of your email.  It will often determine whether or not the recipient opens your email.  You can have the best designed email of all time, but if the recipient doesn’t open it they won’t ever see it.  What we found was pretty basic, but seemingly extremely important.  The emails that mentioned the show name in the subject far outperformed those that did not.

Pre-show:  Of the top 50 performing emails (by open rate), 44 of them mentioned the show name.  Of the bottom 50 performing emails (by open rate), only 16 of them mentioned the show name.  Pre show emails that used the show name in the subject line had an open rate of 24%.  Those that didn’t mention the show name had an open rate of 18%.

Post-show:  Of the top 50 performing emails (by open rate), 40 of them mentioned the show name.  Of the bottom 50 performing emails (by open rate), only 18 of them mentioned the show name.  Pre show emails that used the show name in the subject line had an open rate of 30%.  Those that didn’t mention the show name had an open rate of 26%.

Content

Once the email is opened, we gauge the success of an email by the click through rate.  Emails need a clear call to action and something compelling that will entice the recipient to click through to your site.  Here is an analysis of the top 50 performing emails and what they offered.

Top50Preshow

For pre-show emails, the most successful emails promote an event at the show.  Parties, hosted breakfasts, dinners, and live music.  There is always a clear call to action (Click Here to RSVP to our Event) so it makes sense that these emails perform so well.  Unfortunately, not all companies host large parties at every trade show.  If your company is not hosting any special events, we recommend you promote any new content your company has, a free giveaway in your booth, any seminars and presentations your company is involved in and/or a new product launch.  Make sure to have a clear call to action – Click here to RSVP, click to register, click to download, etc.

Top 50 Post show

Post show emails need to take a different approach.  Because the event is over, exhibitors can’t promote an event.  It’s clear that for post show emails content is king.  eBooks are popular as are whitepapers, case studies and session recaps.  If you don’t have any new content to link to, other ideas that perform well are continuing to promote a giveaway from the show, product launches and showcases, and job  postings.  Again, make sure to have a clear call to action – click to register, click to download, etc.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when constructing a trade show email make sure to mention the show name in the subject line and promote your most enticing offerings with clear calls to actions.  Additionally, mentioning that content in the subject line along with the show name will also help get your message read by the recipients.

If you would like to talk to Kevin Ehlers of Event Technologies regarding email marketing to attendees, you can contact him at kevin@event-techs.com.  To continue to read the Event Technologies Blog, click here: http://www.event-techs.com/blog/

The Tradeshow Attendee’s Attention is Not Won on the Show Floor, it is Mostly Determined Long Before the Show Begins.

Hoping that qualified buyers will randomly walk into your booth is not an effective way to generate leads at a trade show. 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. Different strategies are required to communicate with the two audiences you need to address:

Your Customers and Prospects
If you don’t have a pre-show marketing plan that involves your sales department, then you are missing out on a lot of opportunities. Your trade show manager can’t be expected to be the only ones attracting people to your booth. They need help. You sales people should be working with the marketing department to drive traffic to your booth.
Some of the best conversations you will have at an event are with the people that your sales people are currently talking to. You need to insure those people visit your booth. If they miss your booth, and end up talking to your competition, it could cost you a sale. Here are a couple of ideas to facilitate this.

    1. Encourage your customers and prospects to attend the event and tell them in advance why they need to visit your booth. Sending an email is the simplest way to tell them that you will be exhibiting and it’s a good idea to send two emails:

    a. Drive Traffic to the Show. The first email should be sent 2-3 months before the event with the focus more on getting your customers and prospects to attend the event. Ask the show organizer if they have a program in place to help you with this. Maybe you can talk them into offering a discount to your prospects. At the very least, they can give you a show logo and text that outlines the benefits of the show. If you need a template for this type of email, our company would be happy to send you one.

    b. Drive Traffic to your Booth. The second email should be sent closer to the event and detail what you’re doing at the event. Ideally you want to send this email to the list of registered attendees, but if that’s not available, then send it to your prospect/customer list. We’ve found that emails that talk about something you are doing at the show i.e. Special Events/Parties, Seminars, Product Launches, Free Giveaways get much higher click through rates than those that simply say “come see us in booth #555”.

    2. Encourage your sales people to invite their prospects to the booth. Buy a few $50 gift cards and run a contest to see which sales person can schedule the most appointments during the show (in the booth or off site). Just because a prospect is attending the show doesn’t mean they are going to come by your booth. Making an appointment to meet with them will increase your odds of seeing them at the event and moving the sales process forward.

Your Customers, Prospects and Everyone Who Registered as Attendees
Send an email to the registered attendees. The most effective way to communicate with the people that will be at the show is to send an email to the registered attendee list. When we talk to exhibitors that have used our 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.

The difficulty is getting permission from the show organizer to send to the list. If your show doesn’t already offer this opportunity, let your show contact know that this is something you want to do when you’re signing your contracts for the show. There are companies like ours that will protect the attendee list and provide this service at no cost to the show organizer.

Event Technologies works with show organizers to provide pre and post show email marketing services for their exhibitors. www.event-techs.com

National Grocers Association Case Study

Customer

The National Grocers Association (NGA) is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distrNGA Show Logoibution industry.  NGA’s mission is to ensure independent, community-focused retailers and wholesalers the opportunity to succeed and better serve the consumer through its policies, advocacy, programs and services.

Event Name

The NGA Show had 2,078 attendees and 1,112 exhibiting personnel for a total attendance of 3,190.  The exposition hosted 316 exhibiting companies.

Challenge

The NGA wanted to give their exhibitors an opportunity to communicate with their attendees before and after the event.  They had offered access to the physical mailing address list (without email address) in the past, but many exhibitors were requesting access to the email list.  It was against NGA policy to share the attendee’s email addresses, so NGA was looking for a solution that would protect the attendee’s information.

NGA did not have budget to pay for this program, so the program had to break even or preferably generate revenue.  In addition, many of the NGA exhibitors would require assistance creating their emails, so there had to be an option for exhibitors to submit their content as text and images and have an email created for them.

Solution

Event Technologies created an email program incorporating all of NGA’s requirements.  The program was designed to send two emails per day over the course of 4 weeks.  However, due to an overwhelming number of exhibitors signing up for the program, we opened the schedule to send up to 5 emails per day during the final two weeks.   To keep the program on schedule and ensure exhibitor satisfaction, each exhibitor was assigned to an Event Technologies representative who worked with them to help with the creation of their email content.  About half of the emails were created with the assistance of Event Technologies using a template designed for the show.

Results

36 exhibitors (11%) participated in the email program sending a total of 47 email blasts.  Over 40,000 emails were sent with an open rate over 25%.  NGA wanted to keep the price low for their exhibitors so they opted to only slightly increase the Event Technologies fee.  They were able to generate over $2,000 running the email program.

Client Testimonial

Thank you so much for being so great to work with as we transitioned the NGA Show exhibitors to your email service as opposed to my sharing email addresses with them.  I have only heard positive things.  You were timely, responsive and flexible and I really appreciate it.  I look forward to using Event Technologies in the future and have already recommended you to a couple of associations we partner with! 

– Karen Voorhies, National Grocers Association

Emails / CAN-SPAM / Trade Shows

CAN-SPAM and the Impact on Trade Show Exhibitor Emails

Tradeshow organizers gather attendee email addresses in the SPAM Imagecourse of completing attendee registrations and if they are smart, they require them to OPT-IN or OPT-OUT of receiving emails. So the question is what can be done with these email addresses? Quite simply, the show organizer can send CAN-SPAM compliant emails to the registered attendees regarding the show. In addition, they can send emails on behalf of their exhibitors promoting their activities at the show because the emails are technically coming from the show organizer. These emails can be sent until the attendees OPT-OUT. Organizers start to run into problems when they sell the list to the exhibitors as part of their “exhibitor or sponsorship package” or as an add-on benefit so exhibitors can send their own emails.

Based on our experience with exhibitor emailing, here are some things to consider:

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