Right now, there's only one option if you don't want to get left behind in the events industry: going virtual. The future of events is tech-centric, and virtual platforms are here to stay whether they like it or not. The problem is many exhibitors are currently struggling to generate leads at virtual events.

The Exhibitor Checklist

1. Pimp your booth

Your booth is your biggest asset. In some virtual platforms, such as Swapcard, you can fully customize your space. Incorporate your branding, colors, and visual identity to create an immersive experience for all your visitors. Just look at how boring a virtual booth with no branding looks:

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And how much more attractive a customized booth looks:

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Next up: add video & visuals to your booth. Nothing grabs a visitor's attention like a video that automatically plays on your booth, like a live-streamed or pre-recorded demo video of your product or service.

Speaking of services & products, make sure you upload them onto your virtual booth with clear details such as price, size (if relevant), type, descriptions and pictures or videos. Highlight any discount codes, vouchers or free trials - a great way to get potential leads to test out your product!

Finally, one of the most important parts of your booth is a big button to encourage visitors to chat with you and your team's availability for meetings. This will lead to video calls, which give visitors the authentic and personal feeling of an in-person sale, and is more likely to get them to invest in your product.

2. Don't play hard to get

The game has changed. You no longer have a physical booth, giving out freebies to people walking past. In a virtual world, you can and should reach out first.

With a platform like Swapcard, you can add your sales team to your booth and assign team members meetings. That means your team can talk to multiple leads at once, increasing your chances of converting them.

Swapcard also uses artificial intelligence to filter leads for you, saving you time and helping you meet the right people. The more active you are on the platform, connecting with leads and searching for interested visitors, the more accurate the AI becomes.

There aren't enough words to describe how much easier it is to find leads at virtual events than physical ones, so just take a look at this image:

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Not only do you see AI-recommended matches, but you can also directly target leads that are online at the same time you are, increasing your chances of getting an immediate response AND you can search for anyone you want using advanced filters. Exhibitors, remember: you have little to no filtering systems at physical events, so this is real added value. You can go straight to the top, targeting leads with decision-making or purchasing power. You can search within distinct regions or industries. Imagine the time you'll save by only talking to the right people!

Top tip: Most virtual event platforms open before to the event, so start filtering leads and reaching out before your event starts. This will save you time during the event days and give you a headstart in your networking. You can also advertise on social media leading up to the event. This draws in your community, increases the potential lead pool and gets you great visibility.

3. Invest in visibility. You'll see the ROI

You no longer have an advantage or disadvantage based on the size and location of your booth. That ship has sailed! All exhibitors are on a level playing field at a virtual event, so what separates those that get the most leads from those that go unnoticed? Visibility. It's all about having your logo seen in as many strategic places as possible. See the banner ad on the right-hand side of the event below? It immediately grabs your attention.

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Sponsored emails, push notifications, banner ads on the platform and sponsored sessions or contests are a great way to power up your attendee reach. Most of the time, these are add-on options that cost extra, but it's worth it. Especially when you see the data behind it...

4. Data, data, data

Data collection is one of the TOP advantages of a virtual event. Here's why:

  • You can measure data in real time. Ask the event organizer to teach you how to use the platform to do this. With Swapcard, it's pretty straightforward.
  • Stats can help you guide your investments. You can use the data to make on-the-fly decisions about your booth design or marketing decisions - something you're unlikely to be able to do at a physical event.
  • Export your leads list at any time, as many times as you like. You can start importing them into your company database before the event is even over.
  • Target the right people. At a physical event, it's difficult to know who you should talk to. By the time you're close enough to see someone's job title on their badge, it's too late - you've got to engage in conversation, costing you valuable time if the person isn't a lead. At a virtual event, everyone has already gone through a filtering process right from the start. You can go directly to people with purchasing power, target people in your region or speak directly to management. No more wasting time trying to find the right person!

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5. Make friends in group chats

Many people believe there is zero chance of serendipitous meetings at a virtual event. We beg to differ. Swapcard’s live discussion feature is a hit with audience members during sessions. There has even been a high rate of chance meetings that turned into valuable leads at various virtual events over the past few months! Attendees enjoy chatting about the current session, so send a team member to the chat and have them interact with attendees. However, be careful to take a soft approach, as going too heavy on the promotion in a live chat can be off-putting to attendees.

It is possible to boost exhibitor ROI at a virtual event. The right tools and the right attitude mean everything. It's still a relatively new way of doing things, but with the way the COVID-19 crisis is currently going, the industry has no choice but to embrace new ways of working and learn how to move forward together.

Written by Mia Masson, Copywriter
Published 20 Nov, 2020
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