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Reach out in Advance
The time to engage attendees in a virtual event is not when it opens; it’s well in advance. Successful exhibitors have a strategy to let the market know that they are exhibiting at the event, tease potential attendees about what they will experience if they come to the booth and give people reasons to meet while the show is live. Successful exhibitors use every promotional tool at their disposal including social media, email marketing and press announcements.
Here are some ways exhibitors can engage with the audience before the event even starts.
Leverage social media
Ask your marketing team to augment the social media strategy by promoting your participation in the event on all platforms that the event audience frequents (such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram). Make sure to use the right hashtags that identify the event as well as your company.
Discover the power of video
Give people a reason to notice you in “micro-moments” by creating a series of short, engaging videos that promote your participation in the event. Then, find ways to socialize those videos everywhere to keep people interested in your story and exhibit.
Run email campaigns
Use the list of leads from past events or your prospect list for pre-event email campaigns. Don’t have a list? Engage a freelancer from Upwork or Fiverr to “data scrape” and create one for you. Email outperforms most other marketing strategies and is the promotional workhorse for successful exhibitors.
Tease show specials
Exhibitors that offer show specials, discounts, promotions, samples or giveaways get attendees to pay attention. Make sure to hype your specials in pre-event promotion.
Send out meeting requests
Explore if the event has a meeting request or matchmaking service that allows you to target the audience you want to meet with during the event. If you don’t have access to event matchmaking, then consider a landing page with an embedded online calendar to attract attendees and encourage them to schedule a meeting once the show stages.
Sponsor event outreach
While exhibitors are attempting to reach their audience, the event’s outreach is in high gear. Explore sponsorship opportunities to appear in newsletters, social media promotions or other event-sponsored outreach to take advantage of the event’s promotional engine.
I’ve known exhibitors to be disappointed that they spent lots of time, money, and effort into building their virtual booth, but ended up having little attendee engagement. You don’t have to wait for the event to go live to begin engaging with attendees, and the secret is to begin your outreach strategy early. Leveraging social media, email campaigns, and show specials are all powerful tools to attract attendees to your company before the event even begins. Foster engagement using the outreach tools at your disposal, and don’t overlook the powerful promotional advantages of participating in sponsorship opportunities. Successful exhibitors use every tool at their disposal to make their presence at the show known, and incentivize attendees to visit their booth.