Most companies do a large amount of marketing, prospect nurturing, and ongoing customer engagement by email. The challenge is finding new contacts to add to your list—without violating spam laws.

This is another area where trade show exhibiting can deliver a measurable benefit to your company. Once you have people in your booth and qualified, all it takes is a simple technology interface to add these contacts to your email marketing platform. Four best practices:

1. Use a premium or payoff to attract more attendees. When one of your trade show exhibiting goals is to build your email marketing list, you want to create a booth attract and qualification mechanism that enables you to engage the largest number of qualified attendees possible. One way to do this is to offer an attractive premium in exchange for your visitors' emails.

At Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX) 2019, Merck Animal Health rewarded attendees who added their contact information to Merck's email marketing list with a pair of custom designed pet-lover socks. Available in both a dog print and a cat print, these socks were a big draw—and a big hit. (Exhibit design and fabrication by 3D Exhibits).

At Consumer Electronics Show 2019 (CES), Google collected hundreds of emails by rewarding attendees who shared their emails with a social media-ready image of themselves enjoying the Google Ride experience. (Exhibit design and fabrication by Sparks)


2. When you want to maximize the number of attendees who share their emails, create a largely self-serve interface. If your goal is hundreds of new emails, you will need to collect each attendee's email as quickly as possible—without tying up members of your team with one-to-one engagements. (This tactic is especially useful for companies that want to send image-building communications to everyone in their industry—but only want to engage in deeper conversations with the professionals who actually order their product.)

The solution is to collect emails via a set of kiosks or a counter space with multiple devices situated so that one brand ambassador can help multiple attendees engage (and trouble shoot) at once. Merck used a round counter with two booth ambassadors situated in the middle to facilitate its email collection at VMX.

Google leveraged a row of touch screen monitors mounted to the wall. Attendees scanned their badge to bring up their photo, then entered their email address to receive delivery of their image.


3. Include proper opt-in permissions information. Don't be a spammer! When signing people up to receive email, you need to make sure they understand exactly what they're signing up for (and that you comply with all applicable U.S. and international laws). You may also need to set up a double opt-in. It's best to check with your legal department or have the person who deals with your company's email marketing take the lead here.

4. Have a data transfer plan in place prior to the show. Think through how the data will be transferred from the devices at the show to your company's database. If the data collection is a stand-alone system, your IT department or technology partner may be able to set-up an interface where the data goes directly into your database either in real time, daily or at close of show. Depending on your internal tracking methodology, you may also need to add a tag or category that identifies where the contact was taken.

If your data collection is tied to the attendees' show badges, you'll need to coordinate with the registration company or your trade show technology partner to ensure that the badges will be able to be read—and that the data can be set up in a way that can be flowed into your system without requiring re-keying or re-formatting.


How do you use your exhibit to collect permissions for email marketing?