With restrictions on how many people can be gathered in the same room and the impossibility of having mass events, there has been a huge uptick in demand for virtual trade shows.
But what is a virtual trade show? It’s basically an online environment that allows exhibitors and visitors to connect and interact at virtual trade show booths. Exhibitors host a webinar or webcast at their trade show booth to share their regular sales pitch with an online audience that has registered for that event.
Here are 8 tips to make an excellent virtual trade show:
1. Design your trade show for your demographic target
Know and optimize the virtual trade show and booth experience for the devices and browsers your target uses to attend the event. You can pull all of this information ahead of time-based on who you will be targeting for registrations so be sure to take the extra step and optimize the experience for their technology.
If you can provide an excellent online experience for your attendees, they are more likely to trust what you have to say and it will be easier to convert them into customers.
2. Include more enticing CTAs
81% of trade show attendees have buying authority. Use your resource section to include the next steps people can take to purchase, get a discount, or learn more about your product or service.
You can also include both visual and verbal reminders for people to check the resource section and follow your CTAs. The more relevant and enticing you can make your CTAs, the more likely people are to take that action.
3. Integrate engagement and networking opportunities
Typically at in-person trade shows you’ll run into old friends, get to strike up conversations with strangers, and there’s a certain buzz to the atmosphere.
In virtual events, people aren’t in the same physical space so you need to build opportunities that allow people to virtually chat, share stories and network. These interactions add significant value to your attendees and can be achieved through:
- Enabling audience chat
- Hosting live Q&As
- Building breakout rooms for your audience
- Using a mix of media to engage everyone in your audience and make your event more accessible
4. Rehearse and make improvements
The best way to know whether your event will be a success is to rehearse and then watch that rehearsal. Allow yourself to have the full experience as an audience member. If you notice you’re getting bored, become disengaged, or confused at any part of the event, look for ways to fix it.
A few ways to add more excitement to your event could include:
- Mixing your media to include more images or videos to help keep your presentation entertaining.
- Adjusting the pacing of your slides so you are clicking through more slides with less information on them. Increasing the speed of slides will help keep peoples’ attention and prevent drop-off.
- Editing your script or switching speakers more frequently to break up any lengthy monologues that might have been in the original draft.
5. Work on the speaker introductions
Don’t just read from somebody’s LinkedIn profile, have a chat with them before you script their introduction and make it align with their personality. Let the audience know exactly what’s in it for them and why they should sit around to listen to this person. Moreover, if you can start on a high note, people will be more open to the rest.
6. Host an educational session
Put together an educational session during the event that offers true value to the audience. Instead of treating this time as a veiled sales pitch, stand out by showing how much you know about your industry.
Give takeaways that establish you as an industry expert. This value will lead attendees to want to learn more about how your products or services are changing the game.
Besides, this kind of session is a great time to also show off your team. As they speak in knowledgeable and engaging ways, attendees will be excited to follow up with them about your content. Therefore, these conversations can bring them to your booth and open up the door to turn them into leads.
7. Keep your event environment consistent
If your virtual trade show includes lots of events and breakout sessions, it can be tempting to use different designs, formatting and even templates for different events to keep things interesting. However, making too many changes can negatively impact the user experience, so you need to proceed with caution here.
If you need to use multiple templates within a single trade show, you can improve the UX (user experience) by categorizing how you use each template and maintaining that structure. For example, you could have three types of templates within your event that are optimized for their purpose:
- Live and Simulive sessions with a Q&A template
- Breakout round table discussions template
- Private sales meetings room template
Be sure to keep key elements like sign-in buttons, audio buttons, and CTA language consistent throughout your entire event regardless of template so it is easier for users to navigate.
8. Get creative
Just because you aren’t in person doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. For instance, you can consider snail-mailing your leads small branded giveaways. You can even offer a larger “chance to win” giveaway, as an extra incentive to engage with you.
On the other hand, you can also get creative when it comes to showing yourself and your “background” to the attendees. Watchity allows you to customize your live video connecting cameras and smartphones, sharing your screen or webcam, adding lower-thirds, overlays, brand logos and pre-recorded videos. This way, you can create great-looking webinars and other virtual activities with an amazing brand image that makes you have a more professional look and stand out from the rest.
In conclusion, connecting to attendees beyond the screen takes being thoughtful and innovative. Set yourself apart in this new digital world by creatively calling back to the familiar, and stepping up to the challenges of being together-but-apart.