No matter what kind of industry you are in, trade shows are a significant part of the business.
Trade shows have been in existence for a long time for good reason. They serve as an excellent platform for showcasing your business to a larger audience. In addition, also connect with professionals from the same industry as yours.
However, many trade shows worldwide were canceled due to the pandemic outbreak in 2020. At this time, the trend of hosting virtual trade shows skyrocketed.
As the name suggests, virtual trade shows and exhibitions are online shows hosted on a specialized virtual event platform wherein people from different industries, businesses, cities, and even countries can participate.
Virtual trade shows give exceptional benefits to the companies and people who host and participate in them. In 2022, these trade shows have gone beyond just 2D video conferencing of people giving a product demo, owing to technology innovation. Trade shows now are hosted on a specialized platform that enables businesses to set up interactive expo booths, host discussions with thought leaders, and showcase products and services simultaneously. If you are considering hosting a trade show virtually, here is a complete guide to help you make your event successful.
Evaluate Various Virtual Event Platforms
Before committing to one platform, you must check out all the available options. You must also determine the features you require and what platform will best serve your needs.
The essential features that you must check off of your list include:
Branding – An ideal platform will enable you to seamlessly integrate your brand’s components and design language into the virtual trade show venue.
Networking – An event is not successful unless people engage in conversation and interact with each other. So, as a host, you must choose a platform with networking features like live chats, tier-based chats, profile-based matching, and much more. Such features will make the event more valuable and memorable for the attendees.
Data Insights – After the event, you must have comprehensive data to assess whether the event was a success. The platform worth choosing will provide you with data insights like the number of attendees, average time spent, engagement rates, names of the attendees, and other such metrics. Keeping track of these real-time metrics will make it easier for you to make corrections in your event strategy.
Integrations – The platform must enable easy integration with other software or business solutions that your company might be using. For instance, the platform must enable you to connect your CRM solution to gather and store the data.
Hosting or planning an event, even if it’s virtual, requires extensive planning and strategizing if you want to make it a success.
You must clearly define your expectations and goals for the virtual trade show. After determining and setting goals, you must align your teams with their respective tasks accordingly.
Extensive planning and strategizing will enable you to monitor the event and assess whether things are going as you expected or not.
Make a Marketing Plan
Unless you plan to host an in-house event, you do not need marketing. But, when you plan an event like a trade show or a product demonstration, a well-laid out marketing plan will ensure more people attend your event. Create hype for the event and ensure you have the right strategy to market the event to the right people.
The plan must include a communication and marketing strategy to target multiple channels and various stakeholders in the business or the industry.
For instance, creating a landing page and promoting it is a good way to increase the number of attendees. You can also send email blasts or include the details of the virtual event in your newsletters.
Finally, social media is the ultimate tool to create hype. Ensure that your marketing plan must not overlook the benefits of leveraging it to the utmost.
Use Different Virtual Rooms to Engage Audiences
Getting people to sign up for your event might be easy. But making them stay can be challenging if you do not plan the event well. To ensure that the bounce rate of the event remains low, you must make the event more engaging and entertaining for the audience.
With the right virtual event platform, you will be able to create different virtual rooms for different workshops, sessions, or product demonstrations. Multiple choices will allow attendees to switch to any room they prefer.
Create a Schedule
If your event is planned out for more than a single day, you must create a detailed event schedule and share it with your attendees ahead of time. Ensure that you make the schedule keeping in mind the various time zones of the attendees.
You must include the schedule or at least a link to the schedule in the newsletters, promotional campaign, and landing page so that the attendees can make their plans accordingly. And you can make it easily accessible when attendees tune into the virtual event too – take a look at how the University of Maryland did this for their hybrid board meeting.
It would be best to mention if the event would be recorded and available on-demand after the live event ends. Enabling on-demand availability will ensure that people who missed the event owing to schedule issues can catch up.
Keep an Eye on the Data
The best aspect of virtual trade shows is that you get tools to monitor and evaluate the event’s performance on a live basis.
The platform you choose for your virtual event should therefore enable you to collect data. Some of the essential data include the number of attendees, email addresses, average time spent at the event and at specific sessions, engagement rate, and other such metrics.
It can often be cumbersome to gather data at traditional in-person events. Hence, having an event hosting platform with the right features will make your job easier. If you notice any metric lacking or below your expectations, you can tweak your plans accordingly.
This is the ultimate checklist that you need to cross off to host an effective trade show virtually. Remember, choosing the right virtual platform makes all the difference.