An online event, however, presents itself a little differently. Instead of being at virtual trade shows in person, attendees are invited to a virtual 3D platform and have access to the same events they would in real life such as seminars, speeches, and job fairs.
Exhibitor booths are still present, but in a virtual way. Exhibitors can choose how they want the display to look like and can build it within a webpage or use downloadable software with 3D models for the tradeshow.
Consider it an extension of traditional trade shows, where products or services at an exhibitor booth can be easily accessed in lieu of physical events. Examples include online trade and job fairs, all which can be done via a cloud based event platform.
For attendees, the experiences at virtual trade shows are similar to their physical counterparts. Attendees can browse products, understand services via content sharing, chat with exhibitors via video chat, or engage with fellow attendees via chat rooms or message boards. Even after the virtual events have ended, providing adequate customer support will set you apart from the competition.
How to Promote Your Virtual Trade Show?
Like an in-person event, a virtual trade show needs marketing to gather interested attendees. That’s just half the battle won though. More importantly, you need to help your attendees stay throughout the whole event despite it being online.
Lead generation will be key, and drumming up interest in your virtual trade shows requires a team of planners that are ready to integrate strategies and complement each other. Here are some useful tactics to promote your virtual exhibition effectively:
Develop a digital marketing strategy
Before trying to attract people to attend the virtual event, start developing a digital marketing strategy highlighting the “why” of the event. Why should people attend? Why should exhibitors and attendees invest their time and money in it? Why is it better than a physical trade show?
In addition to your base questions like where, when, and what, carefully think about your ‘why’ in order to convince people that a virtual event platform is worth their time. A trade show platform is nothing without interest, and no leads mean no data or contact information that can be utilized further.
Use communication channels to your advantage
In the social media age, there are a ton of online tools at your disposition. Identify all the communication channels and communication software that you could use to promote your virtual event. These range from social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to email tactics, podcast episodes, and even video chat functions.
Not only are these promoting channels for the virtual trade fair or virtual events, but you can also curate partners, sponsors, speakers, and audiences. They can also function as customer support if the need arises.
Engaging with your target audience will boost your event’s visibility online to new potential audiences who are interested in attending virtual trade shows. It also allows for attendees to confirm their interest in real time, and is great for lead generation.
An email blast containing all the necessary information and data about upcoming virtual trade shows should contain a registration form for your lead retrieval. This creates an environment that is ideal for driving awareness and interest, and hopefully, more leads. This will also help your team build an attendee directory that can be used for more content in the future.
Make a video showcasing a preview of the event
Since the trade show will be online after all, you will need that extra push to attract attendees. The video can present the platform you envision using and give potential attendees a sneak peek on the content of the virtual event or the experiences awaiting at virtual trade shows.
A short video showcasing the products and services, a preview of confirmed exhibitor list, and a simple tour of the online venue can go a long way in establishing your virtual trade shows as the place to be.
Benefits of a Virtual Trade Show
You and your participants save money
Organizing an in-person event requires a lot of resources such as location, promotion, travel, and even time. A virtual event can help an event manager to save on most of these since he/she can outsource the developers for the online platform.
Furthermore, attendees save their share of money as well by avoiding travelling and lodging costs. This is an additional incentive for them to attend the virtual event.
Exhibitors have higher exposure
Holding a virtual trade platform also means you have a wider audience reach. Exhibitors will have access to a larger pool of participants for online trade. Additionally, you can decide to have an on-demand function where participants can choose to revisit the virtual booths after paying a small fee once the event has ended. This means that your content will always be available to consult and your brand can grow through long term exposure.
Enhanced data collection
Another advantage of holding the event virtually is that you can better collect data from your participants for a post-event evaluation. You can see what tools your attendees have used, which booths they visited, which brochures they downloaded, and more. This will help you and your team to design your next event better and target the right sponsors.
Data from such virtual events are more accurate compared to a physical conference, as the audience attending needs to have a vested interest in checking out such an event.
By leveraging on virtual trade show platforms, you can control the information and content, generate the leads you want, and generally ensure your team is on top of everything.
Virtual Trade Show Features
There are many ways in which you can customize your virtual trade show. This includes:
Live chat tools
To enhance positive engagement between participants and exhibitors, you can introduce live chatting tools that allow for real time interaction in the virtual space. Maintain a seamless experience for attendees by providing customer support via a chat function at your virtual trade show.
Announcements can reach everyone at once
You can provide real time updates to your attendees on events, prizes, or new booths with notifications and additional information. This will keep your audience interested in all that your virtual trade exhibition has to offer and where to find the exhibitor they are looking for.
On the spot sales
To make purchasing quicker, exhibitors can have their products listed in a virtual shop for interested buyers to take a look and purchase products that have been showcased. This way, you can also reach buyers who wouldn’t have thought about purchasing that item or service in the first place. E commerce and online chat make the shopping process easier.
From the buzz generated, the data generated can also point you towards the content and products or services that tend to do well on the platform. This will help optimize future content for your other shows.
Games and contest
Another way to keep your audience engaged is by organizing games and contests like scavenger hunts which will keep participants searching around the virtual room for prizes. This encourages them to visit more booths and attend conferences. The chat function will also provide an additional platform for attendees to participate. Add in a leaderboard feature, and you will have plenty of interested competitors vying for the top prize.
Once again,important data like names, profiles, email addresses, and more can give you good leads moving forward.
Customize the rooms
Since it’s a 3D environment where customization is at your full disposition, you are free to make or suggest all the changes that you want to make your brand stand out. For example, you can feature exhibitors’ logos in their respective rooms along with your company logo as the representative brand. This will do a service for you and your participants as they can remember who they interacted with, and remember your company as well. You can customize the virtual environment to your liking to impress exhibitors and participants and run a successful event.