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%.


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.


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.


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  To continue to read the Event Technologies Blog, click here:

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.

National Grocers Association Case Study


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.


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.


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.


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:

Continue reading

Connecting Exhibitors and Attendees – Case Study


The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) is a professional, scientific organization of approximately 10,000 members employed in academia, industry, government, and other research institutes worldwide. AAPS advances the capacity of pharmaceutical scientists to develop products and therapies that improve global health. AAPS CaseStudy Image 1

Event Name

The 2014 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition which had 4,834 attendees and 2,524 exhibiting personnel for a total attendance of 7,358. The exposition hosted 459 exhibiting companies.


AAPS offers an Exhibitor to Attendee Communication Program that enables a small number of the event’s exhibitors to purchase the right to send pre-show and post-show emails to registered attendees. Continue reading

Creating Emails for the Mobile Reader

Mobile Email ImageAccording to the latest US Consumer Device Preference Report from MovableInk, 66% of all email in the US is now opened and read on smartphones or tablets. To break it down more specifically, 49.5% of emails opened were on a smartphone, 33.66% on a desktop, and 16.8% on a tablet.

This presents both a great opportunity as well as a significant problem. First, most mobile devices do not come with built in SPAM checkers thus getting into the attendee’s inbox is a bit easier. On the other hand, with real estate on a smart phone being rather small you must ensure the attendee will see what you intended. Continue reading

Boosting Trade Show Floor Traffic with Email Marketing

Implementing an email marketing program that enables your exhibitors to reach out to the registered attendees to build floor traffic provides added value to both you and the exhibitors. However, the program can be a little more complex than sending out normal email blasts. Here are a few tips from our three years and a million plus emails worth of experience.

email_marketing1. Bad things can happen if you don’t keep your email list confidential. Fortunately the number of shows that “give the list away” is on the decline, primarily because of attendees concerns about data privacy and the newly enacted SPAM laws in the US and Canada requiring the recipients to be able to easily OPT-OUT of the process. No good comes from letting the confidential information about your attendees get into unauthorized hands. Continue reading

QR Coded Trade Show Badges Improve Attendee Data Security

Attendee trade show badges with 2D bar codes containing demographic information and printed with the attendee’s name have been around for a long time but are gradually being replaced by ones with a QR code and a lot less data. Whether planned or by accident the current trend is helping to address a growing concern voiced by trade show attendees – DATA SECURITY!!!
QR Code Lead Retrieval
In 1996, as a founding member of one of the early companies providing third party “lead retrieval” systems to the trade show industry, I viewed the efforts of registration companies to encrypt the attendee badges as attempts to protect their lead retrieval revenue. Why else would they hide data willingly given by attendees from exhibitors who were merely trying to collect better lead data using their own devices rather than those rented from the registration company? Continue reading

Permission-Based Marketing for Trade Shows: Are You Legal?

Event Technologies was recently featured in a podcast on email marketing in the trade show industry including the new CASL – Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation.  With greater concern for the attendee’s privacy and the implementation of stronger Canadian anti-spam laws, there are some permission-based marketing principles you need to put in place, whether you’re an exhibitor or a show organizer.

To listen to the Podcast click here: Continue reading

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. Continue reading