To get the most out of an industry trade show or expo, you have to do more than show up on the convention center floor.

Chalk it up to digital technologies that have transformed customer experiences to interactive adventures — and changed the way businesses approach traditional event marketing and sales.

Engage Those Customers

People want to feel that they are really experiencing your business as well as its products and services. So think of trade shows as expressions of your engagement with your customers.

But like many marketing choices these days, there are a lot of potential tactics that can overwhelm marketers, especially those with limited time or money.

With that in mind, commit to making the most of an expo or trade show by finding ways to organize event media and appearances to extend your digital customer experience offline.

You want customers feel a minimal difference between the experience at the expo and what happens online after the event is over.

The Roles of Social and Analytics

Your event images should tell a narrative of a product or service. They should explain the benefits, features, and how customer problems are solved.

Here are a few ideas on deploying social media and analytics to develop a supporting narrative of event media and images.

Use Google's Customer Journey Tool to benchmark how media messages should be organized.

The order in which you present media can spark ideas about how and when certain messages should be delivered. Maybe email is better than social media for initial announcements. Using the Google Customer Journey Tool with analytics can help show what medium consistently attracts potential customers.

Create remarketing ads that encourage attendance.

Remarketing ad campaigns before an event are a great way to remind people to complete a registration or to at least put the event on their calendars. The ads appear after an interested person reviews a landing page and then leaves before starting a registration. The reminder leads to better attendance.

AdWords and Bing offer remarketing campaigns that trigger when potential attendees are conducting searches online. Twitter and Facebook also offer remarketing campaign features.

Create a Pinterest board to organize images and YouTube videos.

Pinterest boards offer an organized showcase for images, infographics, and PDFs on a given subject. Thus a collection of event related media could be share themes associated with a product or service. YouTube videos can also be inserted into boards.

A Pinterest board can be shared as an embeddable widget in other web properties. For example, a water skis manufacturer attending a recreational equipment trade show can build natural interest with images with comments and emphasis on water skis and drawing attendees.

Audit tag all of your links.

Use a URL builder to tag links back to your site — labeling campaigns makes identifying shared posts easier. Managers will have more to compare against social media channels and see how activity on those platforms lead back to the website.

Learning Opportunities

Use Periscope, Meerkat or Facebook Live to connect before the show.

Informal talks related to the event serve as a precursor for an appearance, building interest in stopping by the booth. Or...

Talk after the show.

If a preshow chat is impossible to schedule, then host a one-on-one chat after the trade show or expo to generate additional engagement. This can be done as short presentations or demos with screensharing platforms, such as Skype, GoToMeeting and AnyMeeting.

Consider Reddit chats.

Reddit chats can also be another forum to communicate to followers. The chats can be particularly useful for questions and answers about products and services. Ford used Reddit so its chief product engineer for the F-series pickup can answer customer questions. The supporting event team can create a subreddit on any topic or join one listed in or

Consider a Twitter chat.

Twitter chats are like an online town hall where groups of professionals can ask and answer questions about a subject. Hosting a series of twitter chats on the same day and time every week can build and attract an audience who can then be better aware of your presence.

Create a social media traffic dashboard.

Many analytic solutions can display traffic influence from the social media platforms. The reports reveal if number of visits, average time on site, and pages per visits can confirm interest during the campaigns. Set goals in the analytics solution to make the influence of a channel clearer and rank the channels that are seeing results.

Journal activities associated with the events.

Doing so can reveal if event-related appearances created sustainable traffic, indicating that attendance did influence more research on the website and thus the business.

To do this, access Google Analytics. Within the solution, a timeline of annotation notes can be created to highlight visitor trends influenced from the event, indicating if the event was worth reinvestment of time, money, and resources.

To add an annotation in a given report, navigate to the view column in the analytics admin section. Select the annotation manager, and then click the new annotation box to enter the description and the date it occurred.

The annotation notes will appear on the report timeline as a clickable element on the date. Then start an analysis of a data range with a start date containing an annotated note to note if any significant changes in metrics occurred.

Title image in the public domain

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