Using PPC to Promote Tradeshow Presence

Many clients I work with regularly exhibit at tradeshows to promote their products. At these events, marketers have the opportunity to engage in person with decision makers and influencers at prospective companies. To get the most out of tradeshow sponsorships, brands should do everything they can to promote their presence in advance.

PPC comes into play as a method to reach tradeshow attendees before, during and after the event. In this article, I’ll share tactics I’ve found effective for correlating online marketing efforts with on-the-ground sales tactics.

Advance Promotion

The first phase of messaging targets attendees in advance of the conference, letting them know you’ll be attending and linking to an overview of your product or service. A custom landing page for the event could allow people to schedule a time for a demo or a one-on-one conversation with your team.

Here are a three potential routes for targeting attendees in advance:

Customer List Targeting

Do you have a list of prospects who you know are planning to attend the tradeshow? As long as they’ve opted into receiving communication from your brand, you can upload the list as a custom audience in Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Ads, or other platforms to target them specifically.

You can then get in front of these people a few weeks in advance of the conference. Call out the conference in your messaging (“Attending ZZZ Conference? Meet us at our booth!”) and highlight benefit points of your product to get them to schedule a chat with your team.

Company List Targeting

If you don’t have a list of specific individuals, often you can still at least get a list of companies who are attending an event. You can upload this list to LinkedIn and layer with titles, job functions, or seniorities that most likely relate to the attendees. Since this target is a bit more general (and might not guarantee you’re reaching the actual attendees), you might want to offer these people an asset to become familiar with your company, so potential audiences can be warmer when you reach them with further targeting at the event.

Paid Search

Target tradeshow-related keywords in Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising to reach people who are looking for the event. This tactic can keep your brand in front of people who are in process of booking event tickets, finding hotels, or figuring out their schedules. Be sure to target relevant acronyms as well as the full name of the conference.

Promotion During the Tradeshow

When the tradeshow is on, you can switch to pushing your presence to people actually at the event. Include a booth number in your ads, so people know where to find you. Promoting a giveaway could also be a good tactic to bring more foot traffic to your booth (with a potential downside of attracting less serious attendees).

Use geotargeting via the Google Display Network and Facebook Ads to reach people within a close radius of the convention center where the event is hosted. Blanketing targeting within a 1 mile radius is generally very cheap and will ensure people at the event see ads.

Ensure that your creative and messaging takes into account that most people are using mobile devices heavily. For instance, you could include an option to text to set up a demo.

Finally, check for any Twitter hashtags related to the event, and target people using those hashtags via Twitter Ads.

Follow-up Marketing

After the tradeshow wraps up, your campaign shouldn’t end. If you’ve collected a list of contact information from people who came to your booth, you can upload that as a customer list and continue to reach those individuals with asset promotion. Using Facebook and LinkedIn Ads, invite them to download whitepapers or attend webinars related to your business.

In addition, a LinkedIn Sponsored InMail can be an effective followup to encourage further conversation with people who expressed interest in your product. Set the InMail to come from a staff member who was at the booth, and whose face would likely be familiar.

Start Your Tradeshow Strategy

Ready to help your business or clients engage better with customers at tradeshows? Start by identifying key events where you want to promote the brand, look for lists you can target, and develop creative customized to the event.

While direct attribution may be tougher than other types of campaigns (since sales conversations are most likely to occur face-to-face at a tradeshow), you can set up conversion points to track on a conference landing page, as well as for any follow-up assets, while also relying on colloquial data on booth traffic.

As with any digital marketing campaign, the key for tradeshow marketing via PPC is testing! Try various audiences and channels, and see what works for you.

Have you found other tactics that are also successful at tradeshows?  Comment below to share!