Virtual trade shows offer a new and effective way for businesses to:
- Build brand awareness
- Attract leads
- Nurture leads
- Drive sales
Getting the above results, however, requires a virtual trade show marketing plan. Months before your trade show launches, you need to develop a marketing and advertising strategy for your show. That way, you can achieve your goals for exhibitor sign-ups and attendance rates.
Keep reading to learn how to market a virtual trade show this year and next. For even more marketing tips and tricks, check out Revenue Weekly, the trusted digital marketing resource for more than 200,000 marketers!
How to market your virtual trade show like a pro
When it comes to digital marketing vs. trade shows, you might be thinking that trade shows don’t offer as many opportunities to drive impressive results as online strategies. However, trade shows are an excellent way to expand your reach and nurture leads.
Discover how to market your virtual trade show successfully with the following strategies:
Launch an ad campaign with custom intent audiences
Custom intent audiences from Google Ads allow your business to reach users based on select interests. For example, in Google Ads, you can define these interests by entering keywords, URLs, or apps related to your industry, brand, and more.
If you wanted to host a virtual manufacturing trade show, for instance, you could target users by:
- Entering the URLs of specific manufacturing trade show sites
- Using keywords associated with specific manufacturing trade shows, like FABTECH
- Targeting sub-interests within manufacturing, like metal fabricating or welding
This strategy for virtual trade show advertising works well because your business can reach a super-relevant audience. When you have a hyper-targeted ad campaign like that, you can often earn significant returns on your investment in the form of sign-ups for your show. Curious about using Google Ads to advertise your virtual trade show?
Check out these articles:
- How Much Does Google Ads Cost?
- How to Create Custom Audiences in Google Ads
- 4 Steps for Successful Google Ads Campaign Management
Oh, and if you’re looking for help with developing and managing your Google Ads campaign, contact WebFX. We’ve managed more than 650 pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns and can help your business maximize its return on investment (ROI) from Google Ads. Browse our PPC services to learn more!
Connect with industry influencers, news sites, and more
Word-of-mouth is an excellent strategy for virtual trade show marketing.
That’s why outreach is an excellent strategy for promoting a trade show, whether it’s online or offline. With outreach, your business connects with relevant influencers and leaders in your industry to highlight your trade show and showcase its benefits. For example, a news site may release an article that highlights the year’s upcoming trade shows.
In comparison, a social media influencer may post about the upcoming trade show, as well as their attendance experience. Outreach, however, is one of the most challenging marketing strategies for virtual trade shows. That’s because news sites, influencers, and industry leaders get dozens of requests each day.
Your offer needs to stand out and address how sharing your trade show will benefit them and their audience. Otherwise, it’ll get left unread. In most cases, the easiest route to getting cross-promotion is through exhibitors.
For instance, your exhibitors can post about their upcoming attendance on their website and social media profiles. You can then follow up by liking and commenting on the exhibitor’s post, which can provide users another chance to visit your site and sign-up.
Create a drip campaign for email subscribers
Does your business have a list of email subscribers?
- No: Check out our guide on how to build a genuine, high-quality email subscriber list.
- Yes: Keep reading to learn how to get started with this virtual trade show marketing strategy!
Your email subscriber list is beyond valuable, especially when you have an event to promote — like your upcoming trade show. That’s why you should create a dedicated email drip campaign for advertising your virtual trade shows.
Most promotional email drip campaigns follow this pattern:
- Announce your event
- Invite readers to act, like, by reserving a booth or purchasing a ticket
- Highlight the event’s unique value or benefits
- Encourage subscribers that haven’t converted to purchase their ticket or reserve their booth
- Remind attendees and exhibitors about the upcoming event to get them excited
Of course, your drip campaign may follow a different pattern. The goals, however, are the same:
- Educate subscribers
- Keep subscribers up-to-date
- Maintain excitement about the event
- Get subscribers to act
For the best results with marketing your virtual trade show, use these best practices:
- Segment subscribers
No matter your business, you will likely have users with slightly different needs or interests. A virtual manufacturing trade show, for example, could cover dozens of interests and specialties.
That’s why it’s critical to segment your audience. When you segment your audience, you send audience members the most relevant content. Someone with a focus on metal fabrication, for instance, will learn how your trade show will cover fabrication vs. welding. While both interests occupy the same area, they have different sub-interests, so segmented emails can offer unique value and better conversion rates.
- A/B test subject lines
With A/B testing, your business can compare two versions of an element, like your subject line and their performance. In email marketing, it’s common to A/B test subject lines because they significantly influence open rates.
If your subject line fails to engage, recipients may never read it. So, as a part of your virtual trade show marketing plan, include A/B testing. If you use an email management tool like MyEmailFX, you can access built-in software for A/B testing subject lines, email content, and more.
Learn more about maximizing the performance of your email drip campaigns with these resources:
- 13 Email Marketing Best Practices for Subject Lines
- 4-Point Email Marketing Checklist
- 5 Best Practices for Email Drip Campaigns
Add a temporary website banner for sign-ups
As your virtual trade show approaches, you’ll want to increase your virtual trade show marketing. For example, adding a banner to the top of your website a month before your trade show can lead to more attendees and maybe even exhibitors. You can use a website banner for a few purposes, including:
- Announcing your trade show
- Allowing users to start the sign-up process, like, by entering their email
- Providing a link to relevant resources, like the date, time, and exhibitors
- Counting down the number of days to the trade show to drive last-minute sign-ups
While you can add a website banner bar to the backend of your site, you can also use tools like:
For the best results with website banners, experiment with their:
- Call to action (CTA)
If you use Google Optimize, which is free, you can easily set up A/B tests to compare different banners’ performance.
With your A/B test results, you can drive more sign-ups for your virtual trade show — and make your virtual trade show marketing campaign a success!
Highlight the upcoming virtual trade show on social media
Social media is another great answer for how to market a virtual trade show. With social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you can keep followers up-to-date about your trade show plans and keep them excited about the upcoming event. Of course, you’ll want to balance your self-promotional posts with educational ones.
Some ideas for how to promote your virtual trade show on social media include:
- Highlighting specific vendors
- Hosting a countdown to launch day
- Offering giveaways and prizes
As you advertise your virtual trade show on social media, watch for comments. People thinking about exhibiting at or attending your trade show probably have questions, and many will ask them on social media. If you want to see these people at your next trade show, take the time to answer their questions and provide resources, so they can make a decision with confidence.
If you need help managing your social media promotions, both organic and paid, WebFX features a stellar team of social media specialists — they’ve helped our clients earn over 7.8 million leads in the past five years. Check out our social media services to learn how they can help! Or, get up-to-speed on mastering social media for business with these resources:
- The Only 7 Social Media Monitoring Tools You’ll Ever Need
- 7+ Ways to Drive Social Media Engagement
- What to Post on Social Media as a Business
5 tips for virtual trade show marketing
Now that you know the basics of how to advertise a virtual trade show, check out these five bonus tips:
- Create a custom landing page for your Google Ads vs. using an existing page
- Run social media ads on networks like LinkedIn to generate interest and sign-ups
- Publish blog posts on exhibitors, industry trends, and more — and share them on social media
- Livestream some unveilings or announcements to grow your online following
- Produce industry-related infographics to drive awareness, traffic, and free promotion
Start advertising your virtual trade show with WebFX
Marketing an event like a virtual trade show requires skill, speed, and resources. For many small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs), virtual trade show marketing requires too much, leaving you worn out and left with a mediocre campaign. At WebFX, we provide you with a complete marketing team that includes:
- Social media specialists
- Web designers
- And more
With our award-winning team of more than 500, your business can take on virtual trade show marketing and succeed.