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Keeping Tradeshow E-mail Managable

  |  March 5, 2008   |  Comments

A new product helps conference organizers to boost attendance, satisfy vendors and reduce inbox overload.

Just because a person registers for your tradeshow doesn't mean they'll actually attend. Here's how to boost the odds they will.

Tradeshow and conference marketers are always looking for ways to keep attendees engaged up until the day of the actual show -- and to reduce attrition rates. With scarce resources and even less time, they usually resort to sending update e-mails that are versions of the same messages sent to attract new attendees, such as announcements of new speakers and new presentations.

Registered attendees who already raised their hands and said, "I'm coming," as well as prospects who need to be motivated to register, are two distinct audiences. They should not be treated the same way.

Registered attendees need to be nurtured -- and fed new information that keeps them interested and hooked into their upcoming event experience.

"Countdown to the Show" e-mails from IndustryConnect are filling this void -- the time between event registration and the show -- with weekly e-mails targeted specifically to attendees.

As you'll see, in the "Countdown to the Show" messages for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and Conference and the ConExpo - Con/AGG Exposition, e-newsletters allow attendees to pre-plan and maximize their conference experience prior to the event. Attendees are provided convenient links to view floor plans, locate exhibitors they want to contact, and to send an e-mail in advance to ask questions, set up meetings, explore their hotel and travel options, even look into local attractions and restaurants.

The right mix of such great functionality helps, but where IndustryConnect and their clients are truly innovating is in harvesting powerful exhibitor content and adding it to the editions. Attendees can view exhibitor announcements by the categories they're most interested in. In ConExpo - Con/AGG's case, this includes construction materials, earthmoving machinery, trucks, and engines. Exhibitors can announce new products they're launching, invite attendees to events they're hosting onsite, or highlight drawings and promotions to attract visitors to their booths.

The beauty of these e-newsletters is they're free to most medium and large event producers with 350 exhibitors or more. In fact, the company hosting the tradeshow usually receives a big check at the end of the event based on a percentage of exhibitor revenue. Exhibitors submit and pay for their announcements and press releases in the IndustryConnect online system -- and as such, provide all the content. Event producers review and approve all exhibitor content before it's broadcast, and can add their own messages to attendees about special events, promotions, and deadlines.

The exhibitors are enthusiastic about the opportunity to be in weekly contact with attendees prior to an event. In fact, I heard about IndustryConnect because one of their customers, Chuck Frey of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, contacted me with a glowing review. In an e-mail, Chuck said, "It's a very cool and inexpensive turnkey system -- our exhibitors love it."

This notification service allows new and emerging exhibitors to share the same level playing field with the big boys, though companies with bigger budgets can sponsor either "category sponsorships" that put them ahead of the pack in their industry or "premium sponsorships" that place them at the top of the e-newsletter.

IndustryConnect is also introducing a new online tool that allows host cities to get into the act. "Countdown to the Show" e-mails such as the one for the Kitchen and Bath Show allows local businesses such as restaurants, limousine services, and spas to advertise their offerings to attendees.

Help Alleviate Information Overload

Exhibitors are typically inundated with e-mail from different departments of the tradeshow company, including sponsorship, logistics, and the travel group, as well as from official, and unofficial, contractors of the event.

Another IndustryConnect product, Exhibitor Update e-mails, consolidate all the important messages, from the show team and their contractors such as electrical, security, florists, and lead-generation services, into one official pre-show e-mail. There's an optional online calendar that provides exhibitors with a view of all deadlines from the tradeshow producer and contractors in one place, and even import them as reminders into Outlook to keep everything on track.

Year-Round Momentum

Tradeshow companies typically lapse into "radio silence" after their events are overand must then ramp up promotion efforts all over again prior to the next event.

IndustryConnect offers a way for event organizers to stay in contact with attendees and exhibitors all year long.

Their Official Industry Newsletter technology allows trade shows, trade publications, and associations within an industry to combine databases and online content to produce a year-round industry newsletter. The company's Industry Community Builder takes this concept a step further, by allowing members of the industry to broadcast their own announcements through the system for a fee. New products can be advertised, job listings posted, and surplus goods put up for sale.

As a copywriter who's worked almost daily helping conference and tradeshow producers market to attendees and exhibitors, I immediately recognized the value of the innovations IndustryConnect offers when I saw the first "Countdown to the Show" e-mail their client sent to me. With conference promotion budgets squeezed during this economic downturn, free and easy turnkey solutions like this should take off.

What other kind of turnkey e-mail solutions are you employing these days? Tell Karen how you keep it simple on the B2B e-mail front using the latest technology.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Gedney

Karen Gedney, an award-winning creative director and copywriter, shared her insights as a ClickZ Experts contributor from 2000 through 2009. She was known for her successful track record of achieving high e-mail response rates for Fortune 1000 companies and leading organizations. She died Nov. 16, 2010.

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