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You’ve just come back from another successful—and exhausting—trade show. Congrats! But while you may feel you've earned some well-deserved downtime, resting is the last thing you should be doing.

Despite all those hours poured into planning and prepping for a trade show, oftentimes only a fraction of that effort is dedicated to the follow up. And the longer you wait, the less likely your new contact will remember you; don’t forget all the other companies that were there vying for your prospect’s attention as well. That said, it's time to put an email lead nurturing plan into motion!

Trade Show Lead Collection Tips

Lead nurturing is the term marketers use for engaging with a prospect at any stage in their buyer’s journey by providing relevant educational information and turning their interest in your product or service into a need. To set yourself up for success, here are a few things to focus on when you meet new prospects at the show:

  • Capture leads digitally, if possible. Being able to enter the contact details of your prospects directly into your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system will be a big time saver – and allow you to quickly capture more accurate information. There is nothing worse than sifting through business cards with notes jotted down on the back once you've returned to the office. Invest in a few tablets, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Be sure to note what their concerns or needs are. If your marketing and sales teams are equipped with this knowledge, you'll be able to customize and send more specific content that addresses their pain points and keeps them engaged. A one-size-fits-all email is a surefire way to lose any ground you gained with your leads during the trade show.
  • Identify where they are in your sales process. This step is a critical piece of any successful lead nurturing program. At prospect just beginning the buying process will not necessarily want to read a case study right away. Conversely, a prospect ready to buy will likely find an introductory white paper unhelpful. Sending targeted information at the right time will demonstrate that you took an interest in their needs – and should improve communication going forward.
  • Be social. Use the show's hashtag to showcase your attendance, and be sure to take pictures of your busy booth to post on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. These can also be used later in your email! If you're offering an incentive to those who pay you a visit (ex: promo item, discount, free consult), be sure to promote that on your social channels, too.

Post-Show Email Lead Nurturing Tips

Once the event is over and you’ve made it back to the office, you’re now in great shape to start nurturing your new leads. Your new prospects have been qualified, entered into your CRM and segmented by their stage in your sales cycle. Here are 7 steps you should follow in order to successfully nurture your new leads:

1. Keep the momentum going. Reach out immediately after the show so you don't lose traction with interested prospects. Prepare a few post-show email templates (taking into account different needs and buyer's journey stages) before you go so they're just about ready to launch. Your prospects will be getting bombarded with emails similar to yours from other company reps with whom they met, so it’s important to take a few moments to personalize each one before sending. The last thing you want is your prospects to think they're getting the same generic email as everyone else. Add a photo of your booth or even a photo of the two of you talking to help jog their memory. They’ll appreciate the personal touch!

2. Keep anti-spam laws in mind. Emailing prospects is becoming more difficult with laws in place in different countries (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, the EU’s GDPR, etc.), so be sure you have your bases covered when sending your emails. In light of this, it's a good idea to have prospects opt into email communication while at your booth.

3. Provide options. While you typically want to focus on one call-to-action in a marketing email, a trade show follow-up can be an exception, particularly if it was unclear where your prospect is in the buyer's journey. Include a couple ways to interact with your email—a technical paper, an explainer video, a link to a buyer's guide or demo request—so they're more likely to take the next step (whichever step that might be). If they’re not ready to buy and all you've offered is a demo, there’s no real opportunity for them to engage with you.

4. Vary how you communicate. Email is a reliable vehicle through which to reach out to new contacts, but don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and have a conversation or connect with them on LinkedIn. Be consistent but not overbearing.

5. Create an email workflow. Based on the information you do have about each contact, it's important that you funnel them into a planned set of targeted emails over the next few weeks so your business stays top of mind. Keep refining depending on how the contacts are engaging (or not engaging) with your emails. Every buyer’s journey is different, so you may need to modify your plan along the way.

6. Consult your data. Since you already have your leads inputted into your CRM, you should be able to track their interactions with your emails – opening, clicking, visiting your website, etc. Look for changes in behavior that may indicate they are more sales ready. Are they visiting your website more frequently or downloading a lot of material? Have they checked out a buyer's guide or pricing page? Are they hovering around your case studies? If so, this may be a good opportunity to pick up the phone.

7. Don’t lose hope if a lead goes dark. Conversations with prospects that fizzle out are disappointing, but don’t forget about them. Reaching out to them a few months later, or even the following year to see if they’ll be attending the same show, is a great way to reopen the lines of communication.

The real work of attending a trade show is the post-show follow up. It’s easy to send one email thanking the prospect for visiting your booth and then just leaving it at that, but with the right amount of effort and persistence, you can achieve what you went to the show to do – convert new leads into customers!

Digital Lead Generation for Manufacturers in 2018: An Analysis of Website Effectiveness [Research Study]

About the Author

Lori Dickey | Inbound Marketing Specialist
pmg
Lori Dickey, Inbound Marketing Specialist

Lori Dickey has been an Inbound Marketing Specialist and Project Manager for PMG since 2010. When she’s not figuring out a way to put a new spin on an old concept, she’s writing about marketing numbers, figures and facts – and sighing with relief when the writing is done and the reading has begun!

 Tags: Marketing for Industrial Manufacturing

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