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6 Minute Read

8 Steps on how to use email effectively when exhibiting

6 Minute Read


Congratulations! You’ve booked your stand

And you think you are about to relax a bit because the face to face is what remains the most effective and powerful way to engage with your customers.


Wrong – your work isn’t nearly finished.

Actually it will never finish until the day you retire! (If you do…)

No marketing avenue operates effectively on its own – and tradeshows are no different. To really get your investment returning, take a look at the following “best practice” tips showing how to use email to launch your ROI through the glass ceiling!

Why should I use email as an exhibitor?

Over 4.6 billion email accounts are active worldwide and over 100 billion email are sent each day!

Yes – they are billions and they are BIG numbers!

With statistics like this how can you afford not to use the still most effective way of communication?

Exhibitors traditionally use one of the two paths below for pre-show marketing:

  1. “We will do nothing – it’s the job of the organiser to drive traffic to my stand”
  2. “We will tell our prospects and customers what stand we are at”

Both of these are not very effective and despite this, they are what the “norm” still do. We want you to be “ab-normal” and get amazing results for your money spent.

An exhibition organiser’s job is to attract people to the event as a whole – similar to a shopping centre getting people through the doors. And once people are inside the doors it’s the retailers job to get them through their own doors.

Shops that don’t promote, and expect the shopping centre to do all the work, aren’t in business for long.

And, when companies email messages like, “Come and visit us in shop F8 on level 2 at Westfield” will annoy people very quickly!

There’s nothing special about having bought a stand at a show so don’t shout about it.

Four reasons why email is your best friend when exhibiting

  • Email addresses are digital passports.
    When you log into Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, how do you do it? With an email address! Without it, you don’t exist on the internet and neither do your customers.
  • Active email account numbers are exploding.
    By 2018, the number of active email accounts is projected to grow to 5.2 billion – that’s an increase of 13% on today’s level.
  • With smartphones email has changed into an agile responsive marketing channel.
    The average smartphone user spends 29 minutes per day checking email on their phone… more than any other app.
  • Email is a lot more than just direct response.
    Companies like Amazon are sending out emails with increasing frequency. They realise that in doing so their brand is top of mind in their customers’ minds. They use email as a branding tool, and realise how it interacts with other channels. It’s more about awareness than open rates and click counts.

Using email before, during and after an exhibition

Email marketing for exhibitors is not complicated rocket science and here’s a helpful timeline of things you should be doing before, during and after a show:

  1. 12 Weeks Before the Expo
    Devise your value based email content plan.
    Remember that email is a branding channel. Make a long list of all of the unique things you’ve done over the last year and all the big things you have planned in the next twelve months.
  2. 8 Weeks Before the Expo 
    Start emailing your customers and prospects with value-led content messages… but not invitations to the show. Build up buzz.
    Segment your customers by geographical region. If they’re in the area of the show, there’s no need to mention the event yet. If they’re a trip away, offer some helpful advice about getting to and from the venue… or about where the best pubs are in the area!
  3. 4 Weeks Before the Expo 
    Promote what you’re doing at the show – new releases, special events, cocktail hours – whatever you’re doing that will stand out.
    You don’t need to tell people to sign up. If you entice them with value-based messaging, they’ll register without any prompting from you.
  4. 2 Weeks Out
    Set up appointments at specific times. The appointments won’t always be kept, but it creates a sense of urgency.
    Make sure that you only offer a few time slots to create a sense of urgency. No one wants to go to an empty restaurant and your exhibition stand is the same.
  5. 1 Week to go…! 
    Save your best content for last and announce it now.
    Even if it’s not “news” make it news. You need to put some “show business” in your presence at the “show” and the email channel gets more eyeshare than anything else.
  6. The day after the show is finished
    Send out a “nice to meet you email,” and link it to a web form asking for more information about them.
    Stand visitors will never be more engaged than just after they’ve met you. Leverage this top-of-mindedness to find out more about their product requirements and purchase intent.
  7. 1 Week After
    Follow up with content-led email. You’ve got their attention but now you need to build solid interest.
    Use your email platform’s dynamic content tool to personalise the content that is sent to them. Make sure it’s relevant to your sales conversations.
  8. 2-3 Weeks after
    Set up trigger-based follow-up campaigns based upon their response to the previous campaign.
    Most email platforms will have a native campaign automation tool. Use this to cover off all of the potential user journeys – opened but no click, clicked, non opens, etc.

From the last step you just keep the leads nurtured using your standard sales processes. Anyone that hasn’t bought or taken action on whatever you were trying to achieve by now, probably just isn’t interested or at the right stage to do so.

And by now the expo is generally far enough away in visitors memories that using “expo data” to get them to purchase isn’t really going to work.

We can tell you though, that by following this 8 step sequence through to completion, your ROI is going to skyrocket!

Try it next time and see!

Exhibition Strategy Session

Measuring email success for your stand

Most email marketers look at open rates and click rates to judge success. However, the messages you send out shouldn’t be judged on those factors if the ultimate goal is to drive relevant traffic to your stand.

The key point is to not view email as an isolated marketing channel. For your objectives, it is an amplification channel. It interacts with all of your other tactics – branding, direct response, social media, offline – to build your brand’s awareness and ultimately drive people to visit you at the show.

An excellent way to get an accurate ROI on email is to include a message on each email that gets put forward clearer and harder as the show approaches but always contains the same CTA.

Whether it is “write my brand is awesome on the info card on our stand and go in a draw to win a free product” or even just a simple trivia game like “tell us who was the Prime Minister in 1990 when you get to our stand and we will give you a $100 voucher to use on our products”.

This will give you a very accurate picture of how many people are actually reading your emails.

What you also need is a robust way to collect data at the show. Badge scanners, iPad forms, whatever (another article coming up for that!) – just make sure you capture an email address for anyone who comes by.

Then, you can determine how strong an amplifier your emails were.

I trust this helps you and please contact us at 1800 288 092 if you need any further info.