How to Measure Trade Show Effectiveness

April 12, 2019
Morgan Robbins
Voiced by Amazon Polly

You spent effort, time and money on exhibiting at a trade show, and you think it was a success, but how do you know? It can be hard to determine if the trade show was a justifiable venture and if you should do it again. However, there are some key metrics that you can assess in order to measure trade show effectiveness.

It’s vital that you have a way to discern if exhibiting at a trade show is conducive to your business. The show could unknowingly be a detriment without a definite process in place to evaluate its impact on your sales, leads, and potential customers. Learning how to measure trade show effectiveness to make sure you get a good return on your investment is crucial to your trade show success.

primary goal for trade show business

What Should be the Primary Goal for a Business at a Trade Show?

Of course, you want to exhibit at a trade show to improve sales, and the best course of action to increase sales is to generate more leads. More leads equal more contacts that can be converted into future customers!

There are various strategies to get leads, both before and during the trade show, but regardless of your methods, you should be getting contact information from each qualified attendee that visits your booth. Additionally, you should leave the trade show with contact information and specific data that can help ascertain what worked and what did not work while you were exhibiting.

How Does My Business Measure Results from the Trade Show?

Now onto the meat and potatoes of how to measure trade show effectiveness and maximize your trade show return on investment. There are four important metrics that can significantly assist in determining your success at a show. All four metrics will help you assess how lucrative your trade show exhibit is, and also help you decide which marketing avenues to pursue more.

Direct Website Traffic and Online Organic Searching

Your company website is the best place to start when comes to tracking data for the trade show, and you should start using this data before the trade show even starts.  Make sure your website has a landing page dedicated to your upcoming exhibit at the show. Interested potential customers can enter their contact information ahead of time and note if they plan on attending the trade show.

There are two main advantages to a landing page. The first is that it will allow you to monitor interest beforehand. If there’s a lot of interest, this will tell you that your business is heading in the right direction and confirm that you should be exhibiting at the show. However, the data is still valuable even if the page doesn’t initially get a lot of attention. Either way, you’ll have starting numbers to use and compare with your figures after the trade show so you can quantify how much the show helped your business.

The second benefit is that the landing page can easily be promoted through social media. Advertising with social media is one of the most cost-effective methods available at this time. You can create a theme online, via a hashtag, to use consistently across all social media platforms. This will give the trade show an easily recognizable promotion that you can start posting months before the show. You can monitor engagement online as well, like the contact information on the landing page, by interacting with potential attendees or customers and judging their responsiveness to your content.

The overall goal of the landing page is to generate brand awareness about your business and your products. Once you have the page, you can start measuring the metric by looking at the direct traffic to your website and organic searching for your company website.

how does my business measure trade show results

Direct traffic is figured by the volume of people who directly type your business URL into the web browser to reach your website. Organic traffic is those who search your business name in a search engine and then click on the link to your website. Both types of traffic should improve with a trade show as more potential customers come across your brand and calls-to-action.

Monitor how much traffic you get to your website, and the landing page, before and after you promote for the trade show and before and after the actual trade show. You can calculate the percentage change once you have the sum and judge if there is a significant difference.

The statistics from before and after you promote the trade show will tell you if your methods of advertising help to increase brand awareness. The numbers from traffic and organic search before and after the actual trade show will determine if the trade show itself benefited your business based on the amount of views and clicks.

Social Media Reach Related to Trade Shows

Similarly to direct website traffic and online organic searching,  you want to monitor your social media account information before and after the trade show. Key social media pages include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Take note of how consistently your followers grow across all your social media accounts in the months before the trade show, and before you start advertising for the trade show. After the show, check those numbers again.

You will want to record which social media channels were the most successful in growing followers and attribute what caused those channels, in particular, to be more effective. Did you engage with followers on more page more than others? How were your forms of advertising different from each medium? Which channel already had the most and least followers, and did that make a difference in the growth?

You can use analytical tools with social media to observe the changes and calculate how your reach and followers change over time. There are numerous methods and variables that you can observe in order to gather data on your pages and, from that, your success in reaching current and potential customers.

Once you have identified which channels were the most successful from the trade show, and why they were the most successful, you can invest more time and effort into those channels specifically. Checking analytics and testing strategies on the different media will allow you to get the most out of your time. This will also enable you and your business to become better at prioritizing what should be done for future trade shows and events.

Use Graphs for Visual Representation

There are certain categorical points of data that you can measure directly. All of these data points should be reviewed against all platforms. If you plan on tracking social media data continuously, it may be a good idea to put the data into graphs for the best visual representation.

  • Hashtags: how many times was your trade show-specific hashtag mentioned?
  • Tagging: how many times was your page or business tagged with the ‘@’ sign?
  • Time of day for posts/tweets: which times of day were your posts or tweets most popular?
  • Number of views for posts/tweets: how many views did your trade show posts receive?
  • Number of likes for posts/tweets: how many likes did your trade show posts receive?
  • Number of engagements for posts/tweets: how many times did your follower engage with your posts?
  • Number of posts from followers: how many times did your followers post on your page regarding the trade show or products that would be at the trade show?
  • Increase in followers on social media pages: did your volume followers grow from before the trade show to after the show?

Quantifying this data on spreadsheets will enable you to see if your marketing efforts were productive and which platforms had the biggest response to your advertising. This is especially useful for future trade shows, as you can focus more on platforms that had the best performance.

New Leads and Opportunities for Sale

As mentioned above, this is the biggest determining factor to decide how fruitful the trade show was to your business. The objective for your marketing efforts is to bring as many potential customers to the tradeshow and thereby expand your database of leads. Therefore, it is imperative that you have a way to measure the number of leads generated.

The easiest way to do this is to use marketing software that has analytic tools. The tools to track data can be found in programs like Hubspot, Pardot by Salesforce, Arctic PinPoint, ONTRAPORT, or Infusionsoft. The software should allow you to identify when customers are added and which are new to your system.

The software can also be used with your landing page to observe the page’s performance based on the total number of new leads that are submitted. The analytic tools can help to identify what content and advertising campaigns attract and convert the most leads, and which leads actually decide to attend trade shows.

As with social media, there are multiple metrics for measuring what strategies were moneymaking and which were unprofitable. Here are some key data points that should be monitored and evaluated:

  • Track the URL: the landing page must be able to differentiate between leads that come from the trade show versus other advertising avenues that are in place
  • New leads: the landing page also must monitor the volume of new leads that have come to the site
  • Conversion rate: track the visitor-to-lead conversion rate from the landing page
  • Track different sources: you will be promoting the trade show on many different websites, such as social media pages. You will want to determine which leads are coming from which sites and if the leads are NOT coming from social media. Some leads may originate from direct traffic, referrals, or other avenues. Each unique source should be examined and added to your metrics.

New Customers

Leads generated are paramount to your business, but the most essential aspect of having a new lead is converting them into a new customer. Your company is at the trade show to drive more business, so you want the trade show to result in new customers. The life cycle, or sales cycle, of event registrants, will help determine the total sum of new customers.

The life/sales cycle of registrants means overseeing the evolution of registrants who then turn into customers. This is done by implementing closed-loop marketing. First, create a list of people who originally came to your landing page and filled out a form. Then track how many of those form-fillers ended up buying a product or service from your business. This statistic is a key component in figuring out your trade show’s ROI or return on investment.

Once you have the number of people that were converted from a lead at the trade show to a paying customer, you can then measure the revenue that those customers generated. This statistic can be the overall factor in gauging the success of your trade show exhibit, and if it’s worth doing again in the future.

You can compare this statistic to other promotional campaigns that your business ran, and see if the value of the trade show does well compared to other revenue-generating methods. You may want to consider attending future trade shows if the value is high, or just stick with the one trade show if the value is relative to your current profit. Either way, you’ll have a clear cut total that will quantify your trade show marketing efforts.

how to bring leads to your landing page

How to Bring Leads to Your Landing Page

You want to attract as many leads to your landing page as possible before the trade show. Social media will greatly influence how much attention the landing page gets and there are several ways you can promote the page.

  • Blogging: it is a good idea to have a blog section on your company website. You can post the blog articles to your social media and link them back to the landing page. You will get more interest to your site if you provide content that already appeals to the viewer and provides value to a topic they want more information about.
  • Video: You can create a simple video invitation to viewers using an employee who will attend the show. There’s a greater chance that if the viewer does attend the trade show, they will recognize the employee and stop to talk to them. As with the blog articles, the video should be shared across all social media platforms.
  • Email: If you have the capability to use email marketing, do it. An email campaign specifically targeted to your desired audience can only help you in your goal to bring interested parties to the landing page. Be sure to create emails that offer valuable content, similar to the blog articles, so that readers open the email. The email should also provide a link directly to the landing page.
  • Paid advertisements: This isn’t a requirement for advertising on social media, but it does help. A paid social campaign can target specific followers or users that you want to do business with. Some of those users may already be attending the trade show but may not know your business will be in attendance until they see the advertisement.

measuring trade show effectiveness

Now You Know: 4 Key Metrics to Measuring Trade Show Effectiveness

You now have the pieces of the puzzle to put together and analyze the metrics used to drive your data-based research. There are several strategies that can be employed to measure trade show effectiveness but there are two that are the most prominent indicators.

You must monitor the number of people that are converted from leads to a paying customer, and then you must be able to measure the revenue that those paying customers generate. Those two figures will be the most advantageous when it comes time to decide if the trade show was worthwhile.

Also, keep in the mind that sometimes it is better to judge the long-term results rather than the initial investment. The trade show will cost you more time and money in the beginning but you could reap the benefits from it months down the road. This is especially true if you are able to convert a lead into a long-term customer who makes repeated purchases.  

The 4 key metrics will allow you to quantify which marketing techniques were the most successful and which should be used again the future. You can then expand on those efforts for future trade shows when you conclude the best tactics for your business.

Need Help Shipping to Your Trade Show?

You have enough on your mind about exhibiting at a trade show without worrying about trade show shipping. R+L Global Logistics has the transportation part covered from start to finish. We know how much work you’ve put into exhibiting, and we want to make sure your show is a complete success. Our trade show logistics services include:

  • Domestic and international shipping
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  • Truckload and less than truckload (LTL) shipping
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  • 24/7 live support

Our knowledgeable employees have an average of 14 years of event and convention expertise and know the most efficient ways to get in and out of any location. Your shipment is always a priority to us no matter which coverage you choose: truckload, less than truckload, warehousing, storage, tracking, or any of the other services we offer. Contact us through chat, email, or a phone call at 866-415-8986 so we can start handling your trade show shipping needs.

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