Trade shows have historically been some of the most anticipated and grand events (in their on-ground iteration). Major trade shows would attract the eyes of many hundreds if not thousands of attendees, all eager to get to them.
Physical limitations no longer bind trade shows; we can now host them in a completely virtual environment. This gives the unprecedented opportunity for organizers to tap into global audiences and sponsors alike, but the competition is tough.
This is why the profitability of the virtual tradeshow is heavily dependent on what extra efforts and steps have been taken to ensure a more significant ROI, not just for the organizer but also for the other event participants and sponsors.
Let’s explore some ways to take your virtual trade show to the next level and ensure an excellent experience for everyone.
Target marketing positioning
The nature of trade shows is that they often function as an umbrella for various industries; this makes it hard to pinpoint who you are marketing this towards. Therefore, you must define your target category or segment to attract relevant audiences, exhibitors, and sponsors.
Create an all-encompassing branding strategy
When it comes to virtual trade shows, first impressions matter; investing in a strong branding strategy will help you communicate the right message to your target market and leave a lasting impression on attendees. You can start with the event’s name, which is often a clear indicator of what it’s all about. This means having a well-designed website, and social media presence accurately represents who you are as an organization.
Don’t forget the little details
From the moment someone registers for your virtual trade show, they should feel like they’re part of something special. Send them a confirmation email with all the relevant information, and include links to your social media channels so they can start spreading the word. Take advantage of virtual features like chat rooms and Q&A sessions during the event to keep attendees engaged. Finally, follow up with a thank you email after the event and include a survey so you can get feedback on what went well and what needs improvement.
Create shared value for customers and participants
Before beginning to plan the event, you must decide your goals and targets for the tradeshow. Is it lead generation? Brand advocacy? or Sales breakpoints?
After the goals are decided, you need to develop a strategy that will ensure achieving these goals. Your strategy should focus on how you can create shared value for both your customers and participants. Some ways to do this include providing an educational virtual experience, developing a unique virtual platform, or creating an interactive virtual space. All these will help ensure that your tradeshow successfully engages customers and participants.
Have a Multi-faceted marketing plan
Your virtual trade show will only be as successful as your marketing plan. The best events are nothing if no one knows about them. You need to ensure that you get the word out through as many channels as possible. This means utilizing email marketing, social media, PR events, sponsored content, and ad campaigns.
One way to ensure a great turnout for your virtual tradeshow is to incentivize attendance. Offer attendees a discount on products or services if they register for the event ahead of time. This will not only ensure that people show up, but it will also help you get an idea of how many people to expect.
Make it interactive:
The beauty of virtual trade shows is that they offer endless possibilities for creating an engaging environment. You are not limited by space or budget, so get creative! Think about adding interactive elements like polls, quizzes, or chatbots. The more interactive your tradeshow is, the more likely people will remember it.
Content is still king
Content matters, even in a virtual trade show. Great content will be the difference between someone skipping your booth and someone stopping to check out what you have to offer. So how do you make sure your content is up to snuff?
While a content strategy is fundamental, it is better to set some ground rules on what you are going for.
Set the types of content
If you want people to attend your virtual trade show, you need to have excellent content. This means having exciting and engaging presentations, interactive elements, and high-quality visuals, e.g. e-brochures, e-books, support articles, video content, and so on. Create content that gives a reason for the attendees to consume it.
Don’t repurpose content
Your content for a remote audience should not mirror what you’d present at an in-person tradeshow. Remember that your attendees are joining the event virtually, so account for this by being more flexible with your approach.
You also want the content to act as a channel to get more people invested in what you are offering; putting a call to action on all your content to take them back to whatever you are promoting is quite integral.
The Virtual tradeshow must be mobile-friendly
One of the significant advantages of virtual trade shows is that people can attend the event through conventional means like PCs and laptops. However, a larger portion of the population now uses mobile devices like tablets and smartphones as their primary means of accessing the internet.
This is why ensuring that your virtual event is mobile-friendly is critical. If it’s not, you risk losing a large portion of your potential attendees. Make sure all your content is accessible on mobile devices, and consider creating a dedicated mobile app for your event.
Ensure eCommerce facility
As the world increasingly does business online, it’s more important than ever to have an eCommerce presence. And virtual trade shows are no exception. By ensuring that your virtual trade show has an eCommerce platform, you can make it easy for attendees to browse and purchase products or services from exhibitors. This can be a great way to generate revenue and create a more engaging virtual trade show experience.
You can also use this as an opportunity to upsell visitors on items they may not have considered purchasing otherwise. Ensure your virtual event provider has the appropriate eCommerce features and supports different currency types.
Think about the user experience
The user experience is always essential, but it’s imperative in a virtual setting. Make sure your virtual tradeshow is easy to navigate and that all the features are intuitive and straightforward. If there are any areas where attendees might get stuck, ensure there’s someone on hand to help them. Creating a great user experience will ensure attendees have a positive experience and are more likely to return next year.
Announcements and notifications
Announcements help to keep virtual trade show participants updated on the latest happenings at the event. You can ensure that everyone is aware of changes or new additions to the schedule through announcements.
This is also a great way to announce changes or updates that might come up last minute. Having a central place for announcements can ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what’s happening.
In addition to announcements, you’ll also want to have a robust system for notifications set up. Even exhibitors can notify attendees about promotions and offer to increase footfall at their booth. Select a virtual event platform that gives exhibitors the capability to do this. A mobile app can send notifications via email, text message, or push notification.
Utilize the platform’s networking features
A virtual trade show is perfect for networking with potential customers and business partners worldwide. Be sure to take advantage of the platform’s networking features. While the standard text-based chat is a common feature of virtual platforms, there are some other ways you can facilitate greater engagement.
For example, The event platform you select should be able to let exhibitors go through the registrations and attendee lists to schedule direct appointments with the prospects. This is a great way to enable your exhibitors to get more conversions.
Analytics and engagement
Did you notice some attendees engaging with many facets of the event? Keeping them in the loop with follow-up messaging or special event offers can help you get some conversions. This is only possible if a hybrid event platform such as Sarcon has advanced real-time analytics to give you the scoop on who those attendees are. These valuable insights can improve and finetune your approach moving forward.
But analytics and engagement aren’t just important for the virtual trade show itself; they’re also crucial for post-show follow-up. By tracking which leads were most engaged, you can prioritize your outreach and ensure that your hottest prospects get the attention they deserve.
Perform adequate dry-runs
Ensuring the event goes without a hitch is crucial for mid to large-scale virtual trade shows. According to Markletic Event Research, 38% of marketers face technical problems when hosting virtual events. Therefore, if you’re the one hosting, make sure to go over the virtual space with a fine-tooth comb.
This goes for exhibitors and sponsors too. They should be comfortable enough with their virtual booth that they can direct attendees without any issues. If an attendee has questions, they should be able to answer them confidently and without having to check with someone else.
Plan for the unexpected by doing a virtual walkthrough of the entire event beforehand. By doing adequate dry runs, you can avoid any virtual trade show disasters and ensure everyone has a great time.
This is the final step to ensure your virtual trade show goes on without issues and is fully equipped to be a significant success.
Virtual iterations of trade shows need a different approach to ensure you bring forth a great user experience. But with the help of virtual event platforms such as Sarcon, the process becomes vastly more accessible and comprehensive to accommodate all kinds of individual requirements.