Setting up a branded booth or sponsoring elements at industry events is a creative and fun way to add high-value leads to your sales funnel.
But that’s only if you’re able to get those leads to visit your booth — and then make it delightful for them to give you their information in a format that you can use after the event is over.
Let’s talk about the variety of reasons live events are one of the best methods for capturing qualified business leads, a few tricks to make sure the best leads don’t pass your booth by, and what you can do to seamlessly collect their information when they do stop to engage.
Why Should I Try to Capture Event Leads?
Wondering why events in particular are a great place to connect with potential customers? There are plenty of interesting reasons.
Most Attendees Will Be Related to Your Industry
Who do you expect to attend Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) every year? A bunch of developers. And the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES)? Electronics industry vendors, buyers, and media.
Events that are industry-specific tend to attract droves of people who work in that industry. And if you’re in the industry, too, most of the people you connect with should either be able to use your product/service or know someone who can. These leads are automatically more qualified than visitors who stumble onto your website and more engaged than anyone you’d reach out to via cold email.
Events Help Kindle Brand Awareness
Sponsoring promotional materials, signage, and sessions as well as setting up your own booth gives you a chance to get your brand in front of everyone at an event. Especially for smaller brands, this is a powerful way to spread awareness among qualified leads and quickly build the credibility you need to win consumer trust.
Live Interactions Grow Brand Affinity
Affinity is “a spontaneous or natural liking” that you’re more likely to ignite in leads by engaging with them one-on-one.
When you have a booth at a trade show, it creates a space where consumers can truly get to know your business, everything it has to offer, the people who bring it to life, and whether or not you have what they need to fill a void in their personal life or at their workplace. This opportunity to enjoy a personal connection helps leads develop an affinity for your brand. Even if you don’t necessarily get their information at the event, the positive associations consumers have will keep you top of mind and may even generate word-of-mouth recommendations, which over 80% of Americans say makes them more likely to buy a specific product or service.
Consumers Can Try Then Buy at Events
Do you like to try before you buy whenever you can? If so, the rise of services like Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe and Warby Parker’s Home Try-On show that you’re not alone in that preference. The cool thing about events is that they give your potential customers the chance to do the same exact thing when it comes to your offerings.
4 Tactics for Getting Leads to Your Trade Show Booth
Now that you know what makes event-generated leads a special breed and why you want to make sure to engage with them — here are some ways to get them to your booth so you can.
1. Set Up an Eye-Catching Display
The single best way to make sure event attendees visit your booth is to set it up in a way that stops them in their tracks as they’re passing by.
What can you do to show off how your product or service works in real-time? If it’s a new video game controller, you could set up a television and bring extra team members to make sure you always have someone showing off your product.
How can you get passersby to engage if they have no idea who you are? To build on the previous example, maybe you could design your booth to look like a living room with comfy seating where leads can sit down and use your product!
But don’t worry, you don’t have to have a physical product to attract attention from potential customers. Cool tech gadgets always draw a crowd. Think of ways to show off your offering using an interactive screen, an augmented reality app visitors can quickly download at your booth, or even virtual reality goggles that immerse leads in the world of your brand.
2. Host or Sponsor Something Interesting
While booths are a great home base when your business attends an event, you can also get creative with sponsoring or hosting interesting elements or sessions to get your name out there.
Pay to get your branding on an electronics charging station or a sound-proof booth where attendees can take calls or spend a few minutes decompressing from the day. Or if you have someone on your team with a special skill — maybe a painting pro — work with the people putting on the event to see if you can host a painting-themed happy hour. If the event you’re attending has speaking sessions, it’s not a bad idea to have an industry expert from your team host a session to show off your brand’s expertise.
When you create memorable value or entertainment for event attendees, you’re more likely to see them showing up at your booth to engage further and see what else you have to offer.
3. Stir up Some Friendly Competition
Considering there’s a whole cable network dedicated to game shows, it’s no surprise that humans are naturally hardwired to crave competition. Adding a competitive element to learning or training sessions has been shown to increase motivation, engagement, information absorption, productivity, and even happiness.
Tap into the thrill people get from rivalry by creating friendly competitions at your booth with quizzes, trivia, scavenger hunts, a spinnable picker wheel, etc. Use a leaderboard to make the competition more visible and engaging. To modernize your competitive activities, you can host them on technology equipped with some kind of event application.
4. Use Your Booth to Host Demonstrations
The majority of consumers agree that live events are the best way to get to know a product/service and the brand offering it — better even than digital and televised means.
Make it easy for leads to use, understand, and above all see the value in your offering by hosting demonstrations at your booth. Remember, event attendees are likely in your target audience, and as we mentioned earlier they likely want to try before they buy. Demos are the best way to deliver the experience your audience is seeking, helping you turn them into leads — or at least word-of-mouth marketers for your brand.
3 of the Most Effective Event Lead Capture Tools
Let’s talk about some of the lead retrieval tools you can put in place to capture and process information from all the leads you’re going to attract to your booth.
1. Robust CRM with Customizable Forms
Most sales, marketing, and business leaders are no strangers to customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. And they’re a critical tool to have at your event booth to quickly add visitor information straight to your lead database.
However, many professionals are only familiar with the off-the-shelf variety. Sure, these CRM solutions have a ton of features, but they also have the high price tags and maintenance requirements to go with them.
But there is a CRM option that’s available for an affordable price, completely maintained by the vendor instead of by you, and customizable so you can add the exact features and branding you want to see. Glide is a no-code software platform where you can build mobile apps and web pages to create things like a custom CRM — as well as a custom database app, employee directory, bug tracker, inventory management tool, and tons more.
No-code is just what it sounds like. Glide’s drag-and-drop capabilities and a user-friendly editing screen let you easily control your app’s functionality and feel. And it’s all powered by plugging into your data sources. No need for expensive design and development resources.
If you wanted to build a custom CRM after an event to handle all the leads you already gathered, you could use Glide to build a CRM from scratch, starting with nothing but your spreadsheet. Learn more about that process here.
But since we’re talking about having your CMR ready to go to help you capture leads during an event, we recommend starting with one of Glide’s existing templates.
Start by choosing whether you want to work with a Glide Pages (responsive, but attuned to desktop use) or Glide Apps (built for mobile-first use) template.
Next, create a free Glide account to preview and copy (or purchase) your favorite template.
Once you're in the builder, you can make nearly endless customizations!
For example, in this copy of the Company CRM template for Glide Pages, we clicked the “Add Contact” button to open up the lead capture form. You can see that the form fields are completely editable so you can make sure you are gathering exactly the information you need from leads. Every edit you make is saved automatically and will display in real-time as you’re using the builder.
Use the hexagonal icon at the top of the builder to open up all the settings that will allow you to beautifully style your CMR to maximize brand awareness. Here you can also do things like define who on your team is allowed to make changes to your new app. This will allow you and select team members to iterate on the fly — ensuring your CRM and forms are optimized for different events and even different booths or sessions at the same event!
Finally, hit the publish button to roll out and start using your CRM app in just seconds.
Take a moment now to explore Glide’s templates — and create your free account — to see how a no-code, fully-featured CRM with customizable forms can be an invaluable lead capture tool the next time your business attends an event.
2. Quiz or Survey Platforms
Quizzes and surveys capitalize on that tendency we mentioned earlier for humans to gravitate toward competition. With a quiz or survey tool, your booth visitors can truly engage with and learn about your brand instead of just handing over a business card, grabbing some swag, and walking off.
Quizzes can have fun personality-based questions that uncover “Which Office Character Are You?” Or, you can attract consumers who like to learn new things with quiz topics like “Are You Prepared for This New Industry Change?” All they have to do to get their results at the end of the quiz is share their contact info!
Surveys similarly tap into people’s desire to show off what they know and be a part of something bigger. Have booth visitors fill out surveys, including their contact info of course, for a chance to be featured in a report you’ll be putting together after the event. Be sure to follow up with any leads whose answers you use — it’s a great opportunity to build lasting relationships!
To get started, some quiz and survey platforms to check out include LeadQuizzes and Survey Anyplace.
3. Badge or Business Card Scanners
Business card scanning apps or devices typically use something called optical character recognition (OCR) technology to “read” the information on a business card. Some tools simply save this information while others integrate it into a database.
Badges scanners work a little differently. These are also app- or device-based, but they scan barcodes or QR codes on attendee event badges. While it depends on how the badges have been set up, scanning them will usually lead you to (and save) a profile where you can see all the contact info an attendee has chosen to share.
The downfall of this lead retrieval technique is that you’re depending on attendees to create cards and profiles that share their true and complete contact information. And in this day and age when live events are providing more privacy options for attendees, you might not be able to access this information at all if an attendee has chosen to make it unavailable.
So while this is certainly a quick and mostly effective lead capture method, just keep in mind that it isn’t as engaging as the others we mentioned and it might not create as accurate or as warm of leads.
To see badge and business card scanners in action, check out iCapture and CamCard.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Slack on the Follow-Up
One last thing we couldn’t help but mention before we go — all of your lead capture methods are for naught if you don’t execute the follow-up well!
The best thing you can do to make the most of the leads you’ve captured is to mount a personalized, actionable, and fast follow-up campaign after the event. Avoid generic phone calls, don’t bother sending emails that don’t have clear actions recipients can take next, and try to start your outreach efforts no more than a week after the event has ended.
This of course means you need to carefully consider the information you’re collecting from leads in the first place to make sure you have what you need to create the unique post-event campaigns that turn leads into customers.
Simplify Event Lead Capture in a Few Clicks
You already have enough going on when it comes to getting ready to attend an event. Glide makes capturing event leads mercifully simple.
Visit Glide Apps, click Sign Up, and set up your account. No credit card required. Just like that, you’ll be ready to build and publish a custom CRM platform in minutes without creating a single design file or line of code.