To share the registration list with your exhibitors or not to share…that is the question!

At the IAEE Expo! Expo! tradeshow last week (December 9-11, 2014), we spoke with tradeshow eShowMail Movieorganizers that struggle with the question of whether or not to allow their exhibitors to send emails to their attendees using the show’s registration list.  Some have had terrible things happen with their attendee list, including one organizer, from a big show, that found out that one of their exhibitors was reselling the list.  This is not uncommon.

Offering access to the registration list helps selected exhibitors drive booth traffic, increases exhibitor ROI and thus retention rates.  However, how do you reconcile providing this service when you have exhibitors that commonly SPAM the list or betray your trust by sharing or selling the list to non exhibitors.

If you’re going to allow your exhibitors this privilege, you need to be aware of the problems that can arise from the way that you provide the service.  Here is our analysis of the pros and cons.

Sell the Attendee Email List on a One-Time Use License

This is the easiest and most profitable solution.  Exhibitors purchase the list and are sent an excel file with the contacts name, company and email address.  The exhibitor agrees, on the honor system, to only send one email to the list and to not use the list for any other purposes.   Each exhibitor creates their own email message and sends it at the time of their choosing.

PROS

  • Requires very little work by show organizer.
  • Email messages are created, tested, and sent by exhibitor.
  • Overuse of list can be monitored using “seeded” email addresses. (Email account setup by show management to monitor list usage.)
  • Profit to show = “list price” times # of exhibitors buying the list.

CONS

  • Exhibitors are most likely in violation of CAN-SPAM laws.
  • “Seeded” email addresses are easily removed.
  • List can be used by exhibitors more than once.
  • Attendees are unable to “opt-out” of all further pre-show marketing emails.  If they opt-out of emails from one exhibitor, they will still receive emails for other exhibitors that purchased the list.
  • Attendee list can be sold / given to competing shows or list brokers.
  • No control over when emails are sent can result in angry attendees.
  • Show management has no oversight of email content.
  • No overall reporting for show management.

Manage Exhibitor Emailing in House

Shows with extra manpower and access to a robust email system can handle this process in-house.  The premise is fairly simple on the surface.  Exhibitors purchase the email blast service from the show, submit their content, and the show sends it on their behalf.

PROS

  • Email list is controlled by show management.
  • Attendees are able to opt-out of future exhibitor marketing by clicking on a centralized unsubscribe link.
  • Email content can be monitored.
  • SPAM law compliance is controlled by show organizer.
  • Number and timing of email blast sent is easily controlled.
  • Software that can send email blasts is easily found online (e.g. Constant Contact).
  • Profit to show = “list price” times # of exhibitors buying the service minus staffing and email costs.

CONS

  • Time consuming for show management to import, test, and make proofs/corrections.
  • Tracking down exhibitors to obtain email content and get approvals takes more time.
  • Emails are all sent in the few weeks leading up to the event, and this is crunch-time for most event organizers.
  • Show organizer needs to have staff that knows HTML and the idiosyncrasies of HTML in emails.
  • Reporting of exhibitor results presents a problem for show management.  Without a way for exhibitor to login and see real-time reporting, results must be sent to exhibitors manually.
  •  If the same system is used for show emailing, unsubscribing from the exhibitor marketing campaign will also remove attendee from the shows overall email list (this may be desired).

Use a 3rd Party Provider that Specializes in Exhibitor Email Marketing

Hiring a 3rd party provider combines all the pros and removes the cons.  A service provider will work with exhibitors to create email content, test emails, create proofs, and manage the whole process. In most cases, there is no upfront cost to the show organizer, the service is paid for by sharing the revenue generated from exhibitors using the service.

PROS

  • Almost no work is required by show management.
  • Cost of the service is covered by exhibitors.
  • Email list is controlled (exhibitor never sees the email list).
  • Attendees are able to opt-out of future exhibitor marketing by clicking on a centralized unsubscribe link.
  • Email content is monitored.  Show management has final approval on all emails.
  • Emails are tested against multiple email clients for appearance and SPAM filter aversion
  • Exhibitors and show management can access reporting on a real-time password protected web site.
  • SPAM law compliance is controlled and monitored.
  • Number and timing of email blast sent is easily controlled.
  • Profit to show = “list price” times # of exhibitors buying the service minus 3rd party fees.

We speak to show organizers every day about this issue.  The rule seems to  be that any show that has enough extra staff to handle this process will do it in-house.  For the events with limited staff, most of them sell the excel file to the exhibitors and hope they won’t have something bad happen.  The ones that have had something bad happen, or are scared that something bad will happen, either stop providing the service our hire a 3rd party to manage the process for them.

This entry was posted in Email Abuse, Email Marketing, Exhibitor Retention on by .

About Chris

Chris Tremblay, President of Event Technologies, is a graduate of Santa Clara University with over 15 years of executive sales and marketing experience in the trade show industry. He was NewLead’s first salesman in 1997 and was a major contributor to the firm’s early success. He founded Event Technologies in 2002 and focused on supporting the lead retrieval needs of large exhibitors. He has expanded the company’s offerings to include; post show leads processing (RRP), FulfillLit, eShowLeads and most recently eShowMail, a turnkey emailing service that enables exhibitors to reach attendees while protecting the registration list from abuse.

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