When you make the decision to take the event virtual, bear in mind that your exhibitors may still be apprehensive to make the shift. The primary challenge that you need to address is how they can get the same opportunities for brand awareness and lead generation, without the presence of a conference floor or physical stalls.
Simply having a virtual booth in the form of a digital profile may not satisfy them. So be open to changing the way you’ve typically done things. In fact, think of this as an opportunity to create customized exhibition opportunities to match the unique needs of exhibitors. Talk to your revenue partners early in the virtual event planning process. Ask them about their marketing goals and discuss the ways you can help them meet those goals through the virtual event.
Remember, your exhibitors are equal partners to your event’s success! While you may have communicated the overall virtual event benefits it is also important to specify the exact value that the event’s digital location has to offer and how best they can leverage it. Once they know and understand how they can boost their business, there are higher chances that they will embrace the change, especially when it speaks to their bottom line.
Virtual event platforms like Hubilo offer a bespoke functionality, consisting of a wide array of features, that can enable your exhibitors to meet their goals and generate the desired ROI. Here are specific actions that you can take to leverage event technology to address your exhibitors’ needs:
Give Your Exhibitors Visibility and Brand Exposure
- Marketing and Promotion
Leverage your digital presence to spread brand awareness of your exhibitors in different ways:
- Share their logo and mention their brand on social media, along with the event hashtag, to inform the audience about their presence. Also, re-share posts in which they tag you and your event.
- Include information about them in your email marketing campaign that surrounds the event. Include their logo in your footer or create an entire mail listing of exhibitors that attendees should watch out for.
- For mass visibility, display their logo on your event website landing page and also set up a separate page dedicated to exhibitor names on the website.
- During the event, use push-notifications and SMS to give shout-outs to your exhibitors and remind attendees to visit their virtual stalls. For e.g. send out a notification saying “Have you checked out xyz exhibitor yet? They are offering a 20% discount on their products!” Similarly, mention them at regular intervals during your event, on the Facebook-like event feed.
- Put up their community banners (or make a banner with a collage of logos of your exhibitors) so it is highlighted at the top of your virtual event platform and clearly displayed during the virtual event.
- Inform them that they can sponsor sessions or even allot someone from their team to speak at one of the sessions or discussion panels, for an additional visibility opportunity. In this case, their clickable logo will be displayed on the agenda page and also above the chat window in the sponsored session, which will directly take visitors to their booths. Furthermore, the host or moderator of the session can also give a shoutout to the exhibitor sponsoring the session, just like how it works in an in-person event.
- Provide them an opportunity to enhance their visibility by asking them to sponsor networking lounges and breakout rooms, either for general discussions, workshops and activities planned for the event or for meeting their own networking goals.
- Promote them through gamifications activities held during the event by highlighting their name in the contest(s) they sponsor. Attendees are always enthusiastic about participating in virtual contests and it is unlikely they will miss seeing the name and logo of who sponsored the contest and its prizes. Another interesting way is to integrate their exhibitor booth into a virtual scavenger hunt, where attendees will be motivated to visit their booths and interact with their team members to find answers to certain questions.
- Virtual Booths
In the absence of physical stalls, exhibitors need a dedicated space to showcase themselves. Give them the option to create and manage a highly personalized virtual profile through your virtual event platform.
In their respective booths, exhibitors can add information about themselves in the description box, put up simple banners or autoplay video banners, highlight their contact details (such as contact no., email and address), showcase their products and offerings through videos and images in the form of a carousel, provide their social links, upload brochures and other downloadable content, and even add profiles of team members that visitors can meet and chat with. Along with this, exhibitors can display a custom CTA to provide attendees with an event-specific offer or to drive them to their website or app.
The individual exhibitor booths can then be made accessible through an interactive listing of all vendors on the exhibitor page. However, exhibitors may want to enhance their visibility further. Make sure you are prepared for the same. Let them pick a booth size (small, medium or large) or even grab the featured spot so that not only are their profiles highlighted on the exhibitor page but also in the virtual reception.
Facilitate Their Relationship-Building and Lead Generation Process
- Provide a medium for exhibitors and attendees to interact via the virtual event platform’s networking features. Attendees can drop their e-business cards to display their interest in the exhibitor’s offerings, send chat messages to ask queries or even schedule meetings for targeted 1:1 conversations with a specific team member.
- Similarly, exhibitors can get details of users who visited their booth and view step-by-step actions performed by each one of them, for e.g. xyz ‘viewed profile’, then ‘watched the video’, then ‘checked out the product’. With such detailed insights, they can tailor their messaging to the respective leads.
- The intuitive functionality of a virtual event platform auto-labels each visitor as a hot, warm or cold lead. This means your exhibitors can save a lot of time by only reaching out to the most relevant leads.
- Apart from this you can provide your exhibitors with a premium matchmaking functionality within the platform, via which both the attendees and exhibitors can receive smart recommendations of who they should connect with. From the exhibitor’s end, it will appear on the ‘Potential Leads’ tab, with details of suggested attendees they should reach out to. Similarly, attendees will be shown relevant exhibitor recommendations through the ‘My Matches’ window pane. This will really help to make the conversations more valuable for both parties.
- Another option is to map certain breakout room(s) to your exhibitors’ profiles, by adding their team member as the moderator. What this will do is allow attendees visiting the exhibitor booths to directly access their respective product demos, sponsored workshops/activities or even participate in focused group discussions hosted by them. This is a much quicker alternative to the attendee having to search for a specific exhibitor’s demo via the breakout rooms page.
- Networking lounges are good for open conversations to occur. Just like at an in-person exhibition, attendees can come and grab a seat at a lounge sponsored by the particular exhibitor and engage in creating business connections. In fact, you can manage the lounge capacity, assign different numbers of lounges and even set up the number of meetings each exhibitor can conduct.
Offer Real-Time Analytics
Data analysis is the best way to measure return on investment. Make sure you provide detailed and on the fly analytics so that exhibitors can analyze engagement on their profile during the event and even use it to move leads up the sales funnel during and after the event.
The best part is, using a virtual event platform, each and every action that occurs on the exhibitor profile can be tracked and made available to the exhibitors, such as:
- The number of profile views i.e. total visits to their booth
- Overall profile rating score (given by attendees)
- No. of users currently visiting their profile
- No. of document downloads and who downloaded them
- No. of chats with team members
- No. of meetings scheduled with team members
- No. of lounge meetings
- No. of CTA clicks
- No. of product (image/video) views
- No. of e-business cards dropped
- No. of clicks on social links and which attendees took those actions
This information is updated on a real-time basis and also available for download in the form of a spreadsheet, allowing your exhibitors to easily analyze their ROI.
To Sum Up…
The relationship you have with your exhibitors is changing. With the now-indispensable virtual event platforms that can help your stakeholders participate in a more meaningful manner, you can promise and even deliver significant measurable benefits to your exhibitors.
Although different from an in-person event, you can still help them achieve their sales and marketing goals and get a good ROI online.
But make sure you carefully select your virtual event platform based on the features, functionality and flexibility offered. Because the result you show to your exhibitors can be miles apart, depending on this decision.
Ultimately, you want to show your exhibitors how your virtual event can be an even more valuable investment than ever before.
To know more, download a free copy of our Exhibitor Playbook Part A.