Need to Demonstrate—and Increase—Trade Show ROI? Prioritize Clean Data

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Trade shows are one of the most difficult events for presenting a tangible ROI, as potential customers are stopping in and out of booths throughout the day and, often, you could see hundreds of them from 9 to 5. In addition, trade shows have a high upfront cost, with expenses for travel, marketing materials, booth fees, personnel, and more to recoup.

But with the increasing use of powerful data management tools and a focus on data quality, businesses are now able to generate numbers that demonstrate real value around trade show participation. They can also leverage those data management tools to profitably extend relationships with customers and prospects from the event far beyond the initial booth visit.

With the appropriate third-party data quality tools in hand, a plan for collecting and maximizing data, and an accurate CRM database, businesses are able to position themselves to collect leads that are not just robust but actionable. The result of this accurate data collection is ROI that is provable and trade show follow-up that is successful.

Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish the same.

Best Practices Before the Trade Show

Before attending the trade show, it’s vital that marketers and their business counterparts have a unified view of the ideal potential customer for their product or service. This should have been established far before attending the trade show, but should be reaffirmed before acquiring leads at the event. For example, if you’re attending a senior living trade show, are you looking to engage with participants who are above age 50 and may be planning for the future, or is a more ideal target younger family members or professionals that are caregivers to that audience?

Do you have a list of trade show attendees or exhibitors you will reach out to pre-show to increase engagement at the show? Will you be giving any presentations during the event or offering demos that you need to market to draw attendance?

If you are reaching out to leads and customers in your CRM database, use the information you’ve collected, such as demographics, to identify the most appropriate targets. And whether you’re using an existing database or one you’ve procured, ensure the accuracy of its data with data cleansing tools that remove duplicates, standardize fields, and validate contact information to maximize the ROI of your pre-show campaign.

Validating the emails in any database is essential for pre-show, at-show, and post-show communications. Our customer surveys show more than 15 percent of the emails in marketing lists are invalid, and the value of an email across all industries is reported to be at least $10 per email. In this scenario, where the spend for a trade show is so high, an email’s value may be worth even more. Use a proven email verification solution to validate emails before you hit send.

Collecting Accurate Data During the Trade Show

A key tip for at-show capture of data for proper post-show follow-up is to know the data you want your team to collect. For example, if your plan is to send follow-up campaigns targeted by industry, you’ll need the people working the booth or collecting data at a presentation to be asking for industry information.

Another key tip is to use the technology available to you. Often at trade shows, attendees will be given a wristband or badge that you can simply scan using an iPad and collect contact information during a booth visit, presentation, or demo. When available, I strongly recommend taking advantage of that opportunity, as it’s the fastest, easiest, and most accurate method for collecting attendee data. 

Additionally, it’s a method of data capture that gives you the most control. Whether the information is collected via scan or inputted by the attendee or your team, you can use a real-time email verification API on the tablet to ensure the accuracy of the emails being entered. This will help prevent typos and bad data from entering your database and streamline post-show communications.

A third key tip is to recognize that the saying “less is more” doesn’t apply to trade show data collection. Collecting as much data, preferably verified, as possible is the best way to set yourself up for follow-up success. You can always apply high-quality data cleansing tools to fix the data later.

If you focused on data quality and strong management of data collection in your marketing and execution plan for the trade show, then you’ll have minimal work to do when you get back. This means marketing and sales efforts can be focused on landing those leads instead of figuring out how to contact them.

Improving Trade Show ROI Following the Trade Show

After collecting, cleansing, and importing as much verified data on each lead as possible, coupled with personalized information gleaned during trade show encounters, the next step is to use this information in your CRM to create personalized pitches.

Create a campaign message around what you know about each specific lead. Perhaps start with a statistic about their industry that is also relevant to your product and build from there. And don’t forget: Do this swiftly, while you’re still top of mind!

Should you find yourself facing incomplete or inaccurate data, there are third-party data quality tools that will work with your CRM to do the following:

  • Allow for mass imports of accounts, contacts, and leads into your CRM database simultaneously.
  • Prevent duplicates during import by comparing imported data against existing accounts, contacts, and leads.
  • Easily update existing records with trade show data and insert any new records.
  • Easily add trade show attendees to appropriate campaigns and create tasks during import.

Evaluating the Success of Trade Shows and Other Events

It’s difficult to determine the benefits of participating in a particular trade show or event if the lack of ROI is actually due to poor data capture and data quality, rather than your organization’s choice to participate. And it’s further complicated if you don’t have accurate data you can track that ties the number of customers you may receive in the weeks and months following the show to the appropriate first encounter.

At the end of the day, your ability to evaluate the benefits of trade show participation and provide accurate reporting of campaign success (using costs per lead or other ROI metrics) starts with, is enabled by, and ends with clean data.

Mike Means is the vice president of strategic partnerships at Validity, a global leader in data quality with leading offerings such as BriteVerify for email verification. He has advanced knowledge of email deliverability and email acquisition through forms and POS systems with 17 years of conference experience focused on capturing qualified leads.

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