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ROI from business exhibitions

So you’ve invested (or are considering investing) money and time in promoting your company at a business exhibition but you’re concerned about getting a good return on investment (ROI).

There are so many factors that will influence the ROI you’ll gain but we’re going to focus on just the final of the few factors listed below:

  • Footfall at the exhibition
  • Quality of the people visiting
  • The quality of your stand
  • The quality of your people on the stand
  • Your activities in the run up to the exhibition
  • Your post-exhibition activities
  • Tracking visitors

Tracking visitors

In short, this is about being able to identify companies that visit your website before, during, and after the event you’re exhibiting at.   Specifically, we’re referring to how the A1WebStats system helps you to do that, and what to do with the information.


Tracking visitors before the event

Before the event, your company may be visible in various ways, including:

  • Exhibition organiser promotion materials (e.g. their website and printed media).
  • You actively promoting the fact that you’ll be at the exhibition.
  • You systematically drip feeding your exhibition attendance to those you’re in contact with (for example, within your email signature).

This means that some people may be visiting your website, having seen your company name as being an exhibitor.   If you’re using the A1WebStats system you will be able to identify (where they are identifiable of course) those company names, including what they looked at on your website (page by page).

Armed with that information you could assume that someone from each visiting company is someone who may be going to the exhibition.  All you have to do is look at their website, work out what types of people from that company may be visiting the exhibition, and then attempt to make contact.

If you strike gold then you’ll be able to forward invite that person onto your stand at the exhibition, so that you can have a chat about how you can potentially help them.   Even if you don’t strike gold, you’ll know that someone from that company came to your website, and so you can keep an eye out for visitors from that company (during the exhibition).

If you have created a page on your website that specifically focuses on what you’ll be offering at the upcoming exhibition, then you can track who goes to that page, while giving that person a more interesting experience than purely seeing your normal website.

But what if you can’t identify the company name?   The nature of company name tracking is that it can’t catch everyone (for various reasons).   What would be useful here is if you have a Google remarketing campaign set up so that if people go to a certain page on your website (e.g. the page referring to you being at the exhibition) then your remarketing adverts can follow those people around in the coming days, weeks, and months, encouraging them to come back to your website (or, in the short term, encouraging them to visit your stand at the exhibition).


A gem of an idea

Surprisingly, this is done very little but opens up big opportunities.  Taking a hypothetical exhibition called ‘Manufacturing Expo’, you are going to exhibit there and decide to capitalise on the name of the exhibition within Google Adwords.   Whenever someone searches Google for ‘Manufacturing Expo’, you have an advert appear as follows:

Manufacturing Expo 2014
See our guide to getting the best results
from this well attended exhibition.

When people click on that advert they go to a page on your website, crafted to achieve three things:

  1. Give them what they wanted – a guide to how to get the best out of attending the event.
  2. Tracking their company name (via A1WebStats).
  3. Setting a cookie on them so that you can follow them via Google remarketing, reminding them that you’re going to be at that exhibition.

Taking point 2 above, anyone who clicks through to your website, having searched for the exhibition name, may be an opportunity to identify which company they’re from.   If you know the company name then you have an opportunity to start a dialogue with them, with the ultimate aim to have a conversation while they’re at the exhibition (or better still, convert them to business before the exhibition).

Could it be worth the effort to take those company names (who are visiting your website from your Adwords advert) and build up a list of people within those companies, who you could then contact (phone and/or email)?   You can bet that your competitors (also exhibiting) won’t have had the foresight to line up conversations with potential buyers before they’ve stepped into the exhibition venue.


Tracking visitors during the event

During the exhibition you’ll be busy for 1, 2, or more days.  However, it’s worth setting aside some extra time for opportunities through proactively identifying companies visiting your website during the event.

They may be companies you’ve spoken to before or during the exhibition.  They may be companies that didn’t get as far as your exhibition stand.

If you are able to identify those companies and jump quickly onto them (e.g. via phone calls or emails into those companies), then you can demonstrate your proactivity.

Looking at this another way, if ABC Ltd went to your exhibition stand and the stands of two competitors, and you became aware of the ABC Ltd visit to your website, then your proactivity could be what sets you aside from the two competitors.  Who’s going to be in a better position – you who contacts them quite quickly after their website visit, or the two competitors who have no idea the mutual prospects have visited their website?


Tracking visitors after the event

Most companies will dedicate resources to following up stand visitors after the event.  However, what about those companies who didn’t leave contact details but found reason to go to your website after the event?

Some people will talk to you on your stand but don’t give their details.  Other people attending exhibitions tend to get back to base with a bag full of ‘stuff’ and will often look at websites of companies that they didn’t get round to.  If you didn’t have dialogue with those companies, and can identify them via A1WebStats, then that opens up more dialogue opportunities.

The main focus though, should be on those companies that you did speak to at the event, keeping track of whether they look at your website afterwards, and what they looked at.  Perhaps you do a follow up email, and can track if they’ve opened it and clicked through to your website.  However, you ideally then need A1WebStats to bolt on top of your email system, so that you can see how those people navigated through your website page by page (because that helps influence how you speak to them).


Exhibition ROI summarised

Your view of ROI from exhibiting at an event may be based on the following criteria:

  1. Hot leads from the day(s) (really good conversations at the event).
  2. Warm leads from the day(s) (potential to build in the future).

If you left it at that though, you would get as much ROI as you could do.  How many times have you heard people say “I wouldn’t exhibit there again”?

These are the type of people who say “there were over 4,000 people attending but we only had 2 potentially useful leads out of them”.

Could it be that they didn’t focus on exhibition ROI properly?   They could have made mistakes in many obvious areas (e.g. having a rubbish exhibition stand) but the less obvious area would be the need to be using strong analytics to identify (and act upon) companies visiting the website before, during, and after the event.

If you’re considering exhibiting at an event and would like some free insights into how you can best use A1WebStats to help boost ROI, then we’d be happy to help.





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