A (Quick) Guide to Virtual Trade Shows in 2020

Cancelled Conference

If you’re a business owner or manager many of your major physical events, such as trade shows and conferences, have been postponed until further notice.

For those who of us who relied on trade shows as steady sources for qualified leads, where does that leave us and how will we fill that void?

You’ve probably heard that there are several benefits to attending virtual trade shows. However, as they are new territory, you’ll probably want some guidance before jumping in.

In the following guide, we’ll introduce you to the common advantages of virtual trade shows, and what to ask before getting involved. We'll also highlight how to work with your preferred marketing agency and how they can help you develop a well-rounded virtual trade show strategy

Virtual Trade Shows: Key Advantages

Virtual ConferenceCOVID-19 has forced businesses, and clients, to move to a digitally-driven marketplace faster then anyone could have expected. With the increased access, and comfort, with technology virtual trade shows fill the void left by in-person networking events and conferences.

By nature of being online, virtual trade shows are generally less expensive than their physical counterparts. This reduces the cost of materials manufacturing,  transportation, and lodgings expenses.

Virtual trade shows allow you to effectively connect to a global audience. Many platforms offer the capability for large groups to log-in from any part of the globe.

Virtual trade shows allow businesses to easily showcase products and services right from the comfort of home offices. Live product demonstrations and Q&A with visitors, from all over the world, is now done by simply logging in to your booth and chatting in real-time!

Lastly, you can boost your real-time analytics and insights by using engagement metrics provided by your trade show organization and marketing agency. If you are aware of user data, such as who your virtual visitors were and how they engaged with your booth, you can devise tactics and strategies to specific to your audience for your long-term trade show campaign.

General Questions to Ask Before Every Trade Show

Before the start of every trade show, you’ll want to get a lay of the land to know if the opportunity is worth it. Here are some questions to consider:

1. What Is the Expected Turnout?

Based on your lead generation goals, is the projected turnout going to justify the cost of attendance? Further, do you have any expectations for a global turnout? Your platform may be able to accommodate language localization. This tool enables visitors to listen to audio recordings and read text-based information in their native or preferred tongues.

2. Will the Event Be Easy to Access?

Since the event will be virtual, there is a possibility that both you and your visitors will be required to download online plug-ins. Experiment with your user experience (UX) before the event goes live and make sure to know how you will resolve tech support issues (ex. lags, buffering times) in advance.

3. On-Demand or Real-Time?

Will you be both a speaker and presentation attendee? Virtual platforms enable presentations to be conducted live or on-demand (pre-recorded before the day of launch). Semi-live is the option to pre-record your talk but be present to attendee questions as your talk unfolds.

Do you have any speakers you’d like to engage with using live chat features? Be sure to know the ways you can connect with them and your audiences (ex. 1:1 video, text, and audio chat; 1:many video, text, and audio) on the day of the conference.

Gamification4. Are There Features to Personalize Your Booth?

How do you plan to personalize your booth in order to create authentic engagement with your attendees? What are the different types of marketing, or branded items,  you will be expected to provide? Will your trade show platform employ gamification methods? Are you planning to link visitors to your website for more information and engagement opportunities?

5. Are there Sponsorship Opportunities?

If your virtual event offers customization for sponsorship signage consider getting acquainted with what the program offers. Some sponsorship programs offer standard options such as virtual lobby displays and larger booth space. Others virtual trade shows offer opportunities such as video streaming ads, email banners, and gamification badges.

Technology-Specific Concerns

Virtual Trade Show BoothEvery platform will have different capabilities, so here’s a broad overview of what you can expect:

  • Layout - Your virtual booth can either be displayed as a 3-D replica of a physical event or as a 2-D page in a directory-style format. 3-D booths mimic the look and feel of physical trade shows. However, 2-D pages are generally more responsive for use across mobile devices.
  • Chat Features - 1:1 and group chat may be provided on a video, audio, and/or text basis. Depending on your platform, you may be able to network with speakers, booth representatives, booth attendees, or conference attendees using one or several of these methods.
  • Materials - There will be limits to the type and amount of materials you can upload for visitors to grab while they’re online. Find out how much you can upload and what restrictions might exist.
  • Gamification - Gamification is an interesting trade show feature because studies have shown that it boosts engagement among participants. Will your trade show platform provide activities? These can include trivia games, scavenger hunts, badges, or a live leadership scoreboard.
  • Capturing Data - How will lead nurturing be conducted? What information about your booth visitors can be captured by the platform? How will you track and prioritize your most important data? Consider how you and your team will organize operations before, during, and after the event.
  • Webcasting Tools - Various broadcasting tools enable speakers to control how many presenters are on-air simultaneously. These tools coordinate between those speakers and what is being presented. In addition, some platforms allow speakers to present right from their phone as well as from more traditional devices like a laptop or studio.

Working With IQnection

IQnection can help you create the optimal sales-and-marketing experience for your personalized virtual trade show campaign. A custom event will help your brand take advantage of the personalization and engagement opportunities available.

In addition, when you buy event space, your virtual environment may be live and accessible for a period of up to 12 months. This means you will need a marketing program not only for when there are active events but also regarding strategies designed to draw in leads that come in during the interim.

Virtual events are a great place to test your marketing strategies. The engagement data you receive from after the trade show can be used to implement new strategies. This information can also help your next virtual trade show run more more smoothly and effectively.

IQnection can help you with supplemental tactics to capture additional lead data and traffic as well as excites your audience for upcoming events. Before your virtual trade show starts, we can help you create a program that will draw in qualified leads until long after it concludes. We can provide advice regarding set-up, training, and technology. IQnection will work with you to make sure you’re attaining your lead generation goals!

Some Advice to Conclude

Whatever you decide, the fact remains that virtual trade shows are generally less expensive than their physical counterparts. Use this to your advantage by utilizing your online space and available tools to best connect with your markets.

Conducting an in-event survey may be helpful to further establish audience profiles. In addition, make sure to receive analytics and insights from your trade show organization afterwards regarding your booth activities.

Although it may seem gimmicky at first, gamification works! Have some method in-place to boost engagement as audiences sign-in. Explore all the opportunities you’ll receive to connect with your audience, such as live chat, gamification, signage, presentation tools, and booth customization.

For complimentary consulting regarding your next upcoming virtual or hybrid event conference, please reach out to our Co-founder, Bob Campbell at (215) 345-5424 ext. 7211 or contact us here. With over 20 years of digital marketing expertise, we’re happy to be your guide in exploring this new frontier!