7 Ways to Capture More Leads at Your Event

Did you know a whopping 81% of trade show attendees hold buying authority1 ? That's a goldmine for exhibitors! But capitalizing on this opportunity isn't without its challenges.

Firstly, the high competition at trade shows means standing out is crucial but difficult, as numerous exhibitors vie for the same audience's attention. Secondly, the quality of leads varies significantly; not everyone visiting a booth is a genuine prospect, making it essential to effectively identify and qualify the right leads amidst the crowd. 

Then there's the inefficiency of traditional methods of collecting leads at trade shows.

Read on to discover the top seven actionable strategies for capturing high-quality leads and ensuring exhibitor success at your trade show event.

Strategies to Optimize Lead Capture at Trade Shows 

1. Get the Word Out

Ensuring good attendance numbers is the first step toward successful trade show lead capture.

To effectively support exhibitors, provide robust marketing tools to promote participation well before the event kicks off. 

Swapcard_7 Ways to Capture More Leads at Your Event_Promotion

Here are some enhanced strategies to amplify your pre-event communications and ensure a successful turnout:

  • Maximize Social Media Impact: Use a mix of organic posts and paid advertisements to target specific demographics who are most likely to attend and be interested in the exhibitors' offerings. Create event hashtags, encourage sharing, and engage actively with users to keep the buzz going.
  • Feature Exhibitors on Your Event Website: Dedicate a section of your event website to spotlight exhibitors. Include interviews, articles, or videos that highlight their unique offerings and innovations. This not only boosts their visibility but also helps in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to attract more visitors organically.
  • Create Content: Produce engaging content that adds value to potential attendees, such as webinars, blogs, or podcasts featuring topics relevant to the upcoming trade show. This can position the event as a thought leader in the industry, attracting a more engaged audience.
  • Utilize Email Marketing: Segment your email lists to tailor messages that resonate with different audience groups. Detailed information about exhibitor offerings, event highlights, and practical information like travel tips can increase registration rates.
  • Offer Incentives: Provide early bird discounts, exclusive access, or special offers to attendees who register or promote the event early. Contests and giveaways can also generate excitement and encourage higher registration numbers.

Implementing these strategies can significantly enhance event turnout, providing your exhibitors with a larger, more engaged audience to generate leads.

2. Enhanced Lead Capture During Registration

Traditional methods of trade show registration often involve static online forms that can be cumbersome for users and inefficient for organizers. Challenges with these methods include limited engagement from potential attendees due to a passive user experience and a lack of integration with other event features. Such limitations can lead to high dropout rates during registration and poor data collection, ultimately affecting the quality of leads.

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Transitioning to an event app for registration instead offers numerous advantages that can significantly enhance both lead capture and overall event success, including:

  • Interactive Design: Event apps are generally more interactive and visually appealing than traditional lead capture forms. This user-friendly interface enhances attendee satisfaction and reduces dropout rates, making the registration process more enjoyable and engaging.
  • Real-Time Customization and Updates: Event management solutions can adjust registration content and questions based on responses, tailoring the experience to individual attendees. This leads to more accurate information about attendees' interests and needs, facilitating targeted marketing and engagement during the event.
  • Advanced Features: Unlike static lead capture forms, event apps often include advanced features such as schedule builders, networking tools, and immediate confirmation of sessions or meetings. This encourages attendees to engage with the event offerings from the moment of registration, enhancing their overall experience and connection to the event.
  • Improved Data Insights: With an event platform, you get to see all the fine details of how people are registering and what they’re into at your event. This info is key for figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and how you can make your next event even more tailored to your attendees' preferences.
  • On-the-Go Interaction: Event apps allow attendees to interact with event content anytime, anywhere. This convenience boosts registration rates and overall satisfaction, making it easier for attendees to connect and engage with the event on their terms.

Looking for more ways to improve your event registration? Check out this on-demand episode, “Design Event Registration Like an Expert” with Swapcard’s Registration Manager.

3. Engaging Booth Ideas

Conventional booths often stick to familiar setups with plain displays, causing them to blend into the crowd. In such a competitive environment, it's essential for exhibitors to not only draw attention but also engage attendees effectively to convert contacts into leads. 

Trade show organizers play a pivotal role in facilitating exhibitors to set up innovative booths that convert contacts into leads effectively. Through collaboration and support, you can inspire exhibitors to break away from conventional setups and create engaging displays that stand out in the crowd.

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4. Virtual Booths and Marketplaces

Being pressed for time is a given at large trade show events. This time constraint often results in attendees missing out on potentially valuable interactions, leading to fewer opportunities for exhibitors to capture quality leads and establish meaningful business connections.

Virtual booths and marketplaces allow attendees to discover exhibitors before and after the event days.

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Pre-event, attendees can use virtual booths to preview exhibitor offerings, which helps them decide which exhibitors to visit first onsite. They can bookmark their favorite exhibitors, creating a personalized list to streamline their experience. In turn, exhibitors receive a report of interested attendees, allowing them to prioritize and tailor their onsite meetings effectively.

Even after the event ends, the action continues online with virtual booths and marketplaces. This extended accessibility allows exhibitors to capture more and better-qualified leads as attendees revisit their offerings at their own pace, deepening their interest and engagement. By tapping into detailed platform analytics, exhibitors can follow up with leads in a way that feels more personal and directly addresses their interests, ensuring communications after the event really resonate.

You can help your exhibitors get the most out of virtual booths and marketplaces for better trade show lead capture by:

  • Offering an easy-to-use event platform that enables virtual booth and marketplace setup
  • Providing onsite and online tech support for quick resolutions to any queries or technical issues
  • Promoting virtual booths (not just physical ones) to boost their visibility and attract more attendees
  • Choosing an event platform provider that supports interactive features like live chat and video demos on virtual booths 

By enhancing and supporting virtual booth and marketplace capabilities, you help your exhibitors capture leads more effectively and extend the reach of their trade show beyond the physical venue.

5. Focus on Networking

As trade show organizers, understanding how to facilitate networking opportunities effectively can transform an ordinary event into a powerful lead-generation platform for exhibitors.

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Pre-Event Networking Initiatives

Trade show lead capture begins long before the actual event. Set the stage by organizing pre-event mixers, networking events, or happy hours. These less formal gatherings allow attendees and exhibitors to interact in a more relaxed and social setting. By breaking the ice early, exhibitors can have more meaningful engagements during the main event.

Event Platform with AI Matchmaking

Choosing an event platform that integrates AI matchmaking technology is another strategy to enhance networking. This technology can analyze attendee profiles, including their interests, industry sectors, and networking goals to match attendees, products, and exhibitors in just a few clicks. Exhibitors benefit from meeting attendees who have a higher potential of becoming quality leads, as these attendees are already pre-selected based on aligned interests.

Facilitating Onsite Networking Zones 

Meaningful connections don’t just happen - they are made. Set up dedicated networking zones during the event to increase the number and quality of leads captured by exhibitors at trade show events. These zones provide a prime spot for attendees to take a break, chat, and engage more deeply with exhibitors in a relaxed environment. By strategically placing these zones near high-traffic areas or between popular exhibits, you can enhance the visibility of exhibitors and make it more convenient for attendees to start conversations. 

Interactive Sessions and Roundtables

Organizers can also schedule interactive sessions or roundtable discussions on hot topics within the industry. These sessions should involve exhibitors as speakers or participants, giving them a platform to showcase their expertise. Attendees drawn to these sessions are likely to be highly engaged professionals who are serious about the topics discussed, so you can support exhibitors by sending a list of these attendees.

Post-Event Networking Follow-Up

Networking should continue after the event. Organizers can encourage exhibitors to follow up with the contacts collected. Providing exhibitors with tools to easily collect and manage contact information during the event can streamline this process. Additionally, organizing post-event webinars or discussion forums can provide exhibitors with further opportunities to solidify relationships with potential leads.

6. Modern Lead Capture Tools

Lead capture scans (also known as badge scans) are the second biggest source of leads generated by exhibitors2. As a result, the lead capture tool you select for your trade show event can make or break it. Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages of modern lead capture tools, and the role organizers can play in facilitating their effective use.

Streamlined Data Capture

Modern lead capture tools allow exhibitors to collect attendee information quickly and efficiently. Using only their mobile event app, exhibitors can scan attendee badges, instantly capturing key details such as name, organization, and contact information. 

💡 Opt for a lead capture tool that offers offline capabilities to ensure that no lead is missed, even in areas with poor internet connectivity.

Immediate Lead Qualification

Another significant advantage is the ability to qualify leads on the spot. Exhibitors can use the data captured to assess a lead's potential immediately. By tagging leads or adding notes during the interaction, exhibitors can categorize and prioritize follow-up actions. This instant qualification helps focus efforts on high-potential prospects, increasing the efficiency of post-event follow-up.

Effortless Lead Management

With lead capture tools, exhibitors can easily manage and export collected data. This seamless integration into their CRM systems allows for streamlined communication and nurturing processes post-event. The data becomes a valuable asset for developing targeted marketing strategies and personalized follow-up campaigns.

Swapcard Lead Capture is the all-in-one tool that allows exhibitors to easily capture, qualify, and manage leads.

7.  Sponsorship Packages

Sponsorship packages are proven strategies for exhibitors to boost their visibility and attract more leads. Here are some effective sponsorship options you can provide at your event:

Sponsored Content

Offer exhibitors opportunities to sponsor seminars, workshops, or panel discussions. This not only positions them as thought leaders in their industry but also puts them directly in front of a highly engaged audience. The key here is to help exhibitors align their sponsored content with their business objectives, so they speak directly to their target market.

Branded Physical and Virtual Spaces

Develop options for exhibitors to sponsor physical spaces like lounges, registration areas, or even Wi-Fi networks. Similarly, in virtual settings, offer branded waiting rooms or networking spaces. This continuous exposure grabs attendee attention, increasing traffic and engagement both onsite and online, which significantly enhances the chances of capturing qualified leads.

Highlighted Listings and Advertisements

All event materials, whether digital or print, provide exhibitors with the option to have highlighted listings. This could include premium placement in the event app, special mentions in the event guide, or featured spots in pre-event communications. Such visibility ensures that exhibitors stand out from the crowd, making it easier for attendees to recognize and remember their brand.

Exclusive Access and Networking Opportunities

Create exclusive networking events or VIP access areas that are only available through sponsorship. This not only adds a layer of exclusivity but also attracts high-quality leads who are more likely to engage in meaningful business discussions. Supporting exhibitors with facilitated introductions during these events can further enhance the value of their sponsorship investment.

As a trade show organizer, your role is to ensure that these sponsorship opportunities are not only available but also well-integrated into the event experience. Your main role is to support exhibitors in choosing the right package based on their specific goals, budget, and event format.

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How GITEX at the Dubai World Trade Centre leveraged AI-driven matchmaking and efficient scanning technology to set up 4508 meetings

GITEX at the Dubai World Trade Centre leveraged Swapcard to enhance attendee and exhibitor experiences, drawing in excess of 100,000 participants. Utilizing Swapcard's AI-driven matchmaking and efficient scanning technology, participants from two concurrent events successfully set up 4,508 meetings, enabling exhibitors to significantly broaden their contact base.

“The biggest challenge is probably to make sure that the exhibitors leave the event happy, which means leads. Before, we didn't have an on-time live lead capture activity, and this year we solved that with Swapcard partnership." Firat Aktas, Marketing Director, Brand Innovation & Communication at Dubai World Trade Centre

Ultimately, lead generation success at your event depends on strategic innovation and effective implementation. By employing these strategies, you boost not just the quality and volume of leads for exhibitors but also the overall appeal and effectiveness of your event, attracting more participants and ensuring its future success.

Discover how Swapcard can help maximize lead generation for your sponsors and exhibitors.



1 Trade Show Labs, 150+ Trade Show Stats That Reveal All (2024)

2 Swapcard, Hybrid & Inperson events (2023)

Blessing Lola A.
Blessing Lola A.

Blessing Lola is a multilingual content marketer with a passion for the art of storytelling. For her, stories are the bridge connecting a brand with its audience, and she takes pleasure in using them to inspire, educate, and drive growth. When she isn’t crafting killer content for global brands, you’re likely to find her pondering the gender of an inanimate object in a random German supermarket. Die Nutella or Der Nutella? Das ist the question.

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