The Missing Ingredient in Measuring Trade Show ROI: Tracking Post Show Phone CallsOne of the more polarizing debates in marketing continues to center on the value of trade shows. Should trade show sponsorships be included in your lead gen strategy? How big a part should events play? What are the right shows to sponsor?
For many businesses, the decision to exhibit at a show is often made based on arguments like we’ve always exhibited there or all our competitors will be there. Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget, this logic can be very risky.
Exhibiting at trade shows can be a massive expensive, depending on the number of events you sponsor, the popularity of those shows, and your overall presence. Show preparation can also tie up marketing resources for weeks, even months, leading up to a single event. It can be a significant investment of both money and time, and a tricky one to justify.
It’s true that trade shows can be a good place to develop biz dev partnerships, but setting tangential benefits like these aside, ask yourself: As a lead gen vehicle, are trade show sponsorships worth the investment? How do you know? And more importantly, how can you prove it?
Tracking Revenue from Booth Visitors Is a Good Start
Most marketers employ some variety of the following formula to measure a trade show’s lead gen effectiveness:
- Use various promotional tactics before and during the show to drive booth traffic.
- When leads come to the booth, scan their badges or collect their business cards.
- After the show, tag these leads as originating from the show and either distribute them to sales for follow-up or enter them in a nurturing campaign until they’re sales-ready.
- Track the leads through the sales process to see if they become revenue.
If a trade show generates quality leads that become revenue, that data is a better argument for renewing your sponsorship than “Well, we did it last year.” Conversely, if a show generates few leads and no revenue, that data is an effective defense against blindly renewing your sponsorship year after year.
The Missing Element: Tracking Post-Show Phone Leads
The problem with this formula is that it is incomplete. It only enables you to report on revenue from attendees you scanned or who gave you a card. It doesn’t capture the other leads that call your business after the show because they saw your ad in the conference brochure, or were handed a flyer as they walked by your booth, or attended a presentation you gave.
That’s why marketers serious about measuring trade show ROI also use call tracking software to track post-show phone leads. Call tracking software gives you a unique phone number for each show that you can include in all your materials. When anyone calls that number, you can attribute that lead and any future revenue it generates to the correct show.
Examples of places to include a trackable phone number include:
- Your booth art
- Signs and banners you hang throughout the show
- Collateral you hand out at your booth
- Flyers you pass out on the show floor
- Your giveaways and tchotchkes
- Pre- and post-show postcards the show sends to attendees on your behalf
- Promotional material you pay to include in attendee bags or slip under their hotel room doors
- The description of your company in the conference directory
- Print ads you run in the conference guide
- Your PowerPoint slides used during speaking spots or panel presentations
Including the resulting call tracking data with your other lead gen metrics enables you to more accurately measure ROI for every show you sponsor. Try if for your next event; the results may surprise you.
A Quick Note on Call Tracking for Virtual Trade Shows
If you sponsor virtual trade shows, consider including call tracking numbers in your show collateral. Because virtual show content is electronic, it’s very easy to download and share. People will routinely download dozens of pieces of content from a single vendor to peruse later. It’s also common for them to forward these PDFs to co-workers and colleagues. With call tracking numbers, you will be able to attribute any calls your collateral generates back to the right source.
To learn more about how call tracking can help you prove (and improve) lead gen ROI, download the white paper, “Tracking Phone Leads: The Missing Piece of Marketing Automation.”
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