A mountain of research already proved that trade shows are an effective way of marketing your B2B products or services. In this article you'll learn why and how to improve your website so that it generates high-quality trade show leads.
- Why do trade shows exist? Because 92% of trade show attendees say they are looking for new products.
- That's why nearly 40% of B2B marketers’ budgets in 2011 were spent on trade shows.
- Why is that? Because B2B marketers say trade shows are among the best channels for generating large numbers of high-quality leads.
- The high quality comes from the fact that 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority.
- All of this is great, but here's the catch: trade shows have the highest cost per lead.
- To get the most out of trade shows, exhibitors say that brand awareness, lead generation, and relationship building are their top 3 goals.
The Trade Show Conundrum
Because B2B trade shows come with a high price tag, exhibitors do everything in their power to get as many high-quality leads as possible. Your goals are probably the same.
Companies exhibit at trade shows to get high exposure. But it's impossible to talk personally to everyone there who might be interested in your products and services. There will be hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people attending the trade show and walking past your booth. The solution is to combine your trade show marketing with additional tools to market and sell to all those people who saw you, but did not talk to you.
Another thing is that you will be able to talk to a fraction of those people, but not everyone will be ready to buy now. 92% of people visit trade shows to learn about new products and services for the first time. Many B2B products and services require weeks, months or even years to be sold. The solution is to use additional sales and marketing tools to stay in touch with everyone who might buy in the future.
Some of the people you'll talk to at the trade show will be ready to buy soon. But if only B2B sales were as easy as talking to one person! Most B2B sales transactions require approval from several people. This means that the decision maker you spoke to at the trade show cannot make the decision alone. She could be the CEO, but she won't give your product a go unless she gets approval from the head of IT, the VP of marketing, and the head of HR first. The solution is to have answers for all those people ready.
Your Website Is a Tool that Plays a Huge Role in Generating Leads
Your website is as capable as any salesperson on your payroll. Although not physically present at the trade show, it's an important member of your sales staff.
Unlike people physically present at the booth, your website does not stop selling when the trade show lights go off. On the contrary: when your salespeople are sleeping in the hotel, your website is busy 'talking' to those trade show attendees who visited your website after talking to your 'real' salespeople.
For a couple of brief seconds, those people will be alone with your website. There will be no one there to answer their questions. If you've prepared your online presence well, those visitors will warm up to you. If not, you'll lose most of them.
That's most unfortunate, given that 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority. Imagine those people looking at your website now:
Is your website under construction or technically inaccessible? Imagine inviting customers to visit you at your trade show booth. When they arrive, there's only an empty booth - nobody from your company showed up. Yes, it's exactly like that.
Is your website badly designed? Imagine all your salespeople dressing up inappropriately, e.g. showing up at the booth only in their underwear. Yes, it's exactly like that.
Does your website lack essential content? Imagine customers asking questions at the booth, and your salespeople refusing to answer half of them. Yes, it's exactly like that.
Does your website lack sales features for capturing leads? Imagine your employees being incapable of asking trade show attendees for permission to contact them later. Yes, it's exactly like that.
Does your website lack the tools to measure marketing effectiveness? Imagine returning from a trade show and not having the faintest idea about how to calculate whether it was worth exhibiting there or not.
Yes, it's exactly like that: you could be giving all your attention to the trade show and completely neglecting the tool that can help you close deals while you sleep.
What to Improve on Your Website For Maximum Lead Generation Capability
Your website is an extension of everything you've done, are doing, and will do related to your trade show event.
Before you go to a trade show, there are 3 areas of your website that need attention, reviewing, and improvement: content, sales features, and marketing features.
Before You Dive Into Changes... You Must Get Website Analytics
Our own original research from 2015 showed that up to 46% of serious B2B companies lacked any website analytics.
Without a website analytics software, such as Google Analytics, you'll never be able to know for sure which half of your advertising budget is a complete waste of money (to use a popular quote).
The solution is to .
Essential Content Pieces of a B2B Website
Trade show attendees will come to your website looking for:
Product pages (if you're product company)
Service pages (if you're service provider)
Solution pages (if you're offering solutions)
Ways to stay in touch with you
More info about your company
Who your customers are
Proof that you're reliable and low risk
Proof that you will be there for them after they purchase from you
Fresh articles and news
Answers to their questions
For example, make sure that the support page on your website answers these questions:
- What are the ways to get support?
- What is the typical response time to client inquiries?
- What are the terms and conditions for support?
- What are your working hours?
Website content gets more complicated, of course:
- prospects who are and are not yet ready to buy need different types of content such as white papers, case studies, blog posts, testimonials, and so on;
- decision makers from different departments (e.g. IT, HR, marketing, sales...) require that your website uses words they understand, which means that the way that your B2B website communicates must cater to many different audiences;
- different people prefer different content formats (articles, slideshows, videos, images, ebooks…) and your website must anticipate the needs of them all.
BTW, if you're exhibiting at an international trade show, does your website speak English?
Also, is your website adapted for comfortable reading on mobile devices? People will be checking you out on their phones and tablets while still at the trade show.
Sales Features of an Effective B2B Website
When trade show attendees visit your website for the first time, you're continuing the fragile new relationship you started with that person. After the trade show is over, you'll want to nurture that relationship and in order to do that, you need to convert as many website visitors to registered users.
Most of those visitors are still not ready to buy from you, so make sure you have these sales features in place to be able to continue the conversation whenever it suits you:
- a way to subscribe to your email newsletter quickly and easily
- links to your social profiles (some people prefer not to enter into an email-based relationship with you just yet, but they might choose to enter into a casual relationship by following you on LinkedIn, for example)
- something useful to download or subscribe to in exchange for an email address and more contact information: an ebook, a how-to email course, a wholesale price list, a webinar
- a demo / trial registration: if this applies to you, you'll want people ready to buy soon to be able to try your products out without talking to a salesperson first
- a registration for an event in the physical world: if you're e.g. organizing a seminar, invite people to attend.
For example, an email newsletter is perfect for capturing leads. At the trade show you’ve met people who are interested in doing business with you now or in the future. Don’t let those people forget about you. While their memory of you is still fresh, you should give them the option to subscribe to your newsletter. This way you can remind them about your products and services regularly.
Make sure there's enough free, no-registration-required features and content for people who are still not educated enough about the problems your products are solving, or for people who are still not sure your solution is ideal for them:
- white papers explaining problems and your way of solving them
- company brochure
- educational articles on your blog
- product catalogs
- apps, such as calculators
- enough case studies with real stories about how your services and products solved particular problems
- evaluation charts and comparison tables
Bonus Idea: Publish All Your Trade Show Marketing Materials Online
You’ve probably developed a printed leaflet, a PowerPoint presentation, a printed product catalog or something else that you have been handing out to those interested at the trade show.
Don’t let those materials die after the trade show. Large amounts of information valuable to your prospects are contained in those materials and you should publish them on your website. Some people prefer digital materials to carrying around a ton of papers for hours.
Also, if you went to the trade show to promote certain products, don't forget to highlight those products on the homepage during and after the trade show.
Advanced Idea: a Dedicated Website Page for the Trade Show
Ideally, you're reading this article at least 1 month before your trade show starts, which means there's enough time to implement this super-advanced idea (which, luckily, does not mean it's super-complicated to build):
Imagine having one dedicated page on your website with a carefully selected content you absolutely want trade show attendees to see.
It could be a page built with the needs of your future customers in mind:
- all your trade show materials are there, readily available to download
- the products / services you've been promoting at the trade show are there
- a way for your customers to contact your employees, who were at the booth, via all possible channels such as email, Twitter, Linkedin
- trade-show-specific media files such as videos of you talking at the trade show, presentations, news, highlights, cool pictures taken with customers
Super-Advanced Idea: Combine Digital Advertising With Your Trade Show Activities
You can use an advanced form of advertising on Google and Facebook, the so-called remarketing, to amplify the power of your trade show marketing and sales activities.
service consists of setting up a special advertising campaign which shows your ads to prospects who visited your website after the trade show.
After the trade show is over and trade show attendees visit your website, a cookie will be placed on their computer. This will enable the campaign and they will start seeing your targeted ads everywhere: on Facebook, and on many other websites which show Google ads.
After your website visitors have been influenced by your ads for a period of time, the following will happen:
- certain prospects will click your ads and contact you on their own
- other prospects will respond positively to your emails and phone calls because your ads made them remember you and trust you
This will lead to closing more deals faster.
Download the Trade Show Remarketing service brochure (PDF, 934 KB, 15 pages).
Recommended Next Steps
Trade show attendees that saw you at the trade show and visited your booth will be visiting your website when the trade show is over. There are two things you can do to influence those prospects and profit from the trade show even more:
- will improve your website and increase its lead generation capabilities before you go to the trade show
- the service will target prospects from the trade show that visited your website and are already interested in your products / services
Even if you believe there's not enough time to do anything, and even if you're too busy to assist, we can help. We've done it before.
For example, two weeks before our client ITD Systems flew from Europe to Atlanta, USA to exhibit at a trade show, our team managed to create the following from scratch:
- a company brochure rich with original content
- a beautiful, interactive presentation
- an email newsletter subscription on the website
- uploading all trade show materials to the website
- updating the website with new projects
Please read the ITD Systems case study to see the materials we produced and to learn how we were able to do that on such a short notice.
Contact us if you need help with: