Manufacturer’s Complete Guide to Email Marketing for Trade Shows

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Various members of your manufacturing company’s team have spent countless hours preparing for, travelling to, and exhibiting at the most important trade shows in your industry.

There are so many aspects of a trade show that need to be accounted for, it’s not uncommon to drop the ball on email. But, when leveraged properly, email can be one of the most important ways to increase your trade show ROI, and obtain valuable new opportunities for your business.

We’ve put together this guide to explore every aspect of trade show email marketing, and hopefully help to make the process less time consuming for your team.

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Pre-Trade Show Emails

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the best ways to drive booth attendance at a trade show is by leveraging the industry professionals in your email database. However, fleshing out an optimized strategy for email ahead of the show is easier said than done.

This section focuses on who you should be sending these emails to, what the goal and purpose is of sending each, and some templates to optimize each email send.

Who Should You Be Sending Pre-Trade Show Email Blasts To?

Email blasts to promote attendance at the trade show are not a one-size-fits-all strategy. The key to truly being successful with pre-trade show emails is to have a combination of multiple types of emails, being sent to multiple, targeted lists.

We’ll touch on this a little more while walking through the optimized templates, but an example of targeted lists to leverage for email marketing prior to a trade show include:

  • Your whole list.Once before the trade show, announce to your entire database that you will be attending. Though it is true that the likelihood that your entire list is attending the trade show in question is slim, it helps to boost your company’s authority in the industry by showing your team is always active, learning, and teaching whenever possible.
  • Attendees from last year’s show. Make sure when you’re adding contacts to your database when returning from a show that you are aptly tagging them based on the show that they were acquired at. This ensures that your future email marketing efforts are targeted, and can help keep your company top of mind for last year’s leads. It also helps you always send emails that are relevant, rather than sending all of your promotional emails to the whole list.
  • Targeted prospects in that industry. If the trade show that you’re going to is only relevant to a segment of your prospects in a specific market that you serve, make a list of relevant contacts that you would like to see there. For example, if your company manufactures components that are used in automotive applications and you are going to an automotive trade show, create a list of contacts in the automotive industry -- excluding those in other industries that you serve such as aircraft or railway.
  • Current customers. This is most effectively done when the list of customers is segmented based on the region that the trade show will be taking place in. Sending a personalized email that lets customers know they can take advantage of some face time with your team and explore new product offerings at your booth can be a great upsell opportunity.

When Should You Begin Sending Pre-Trade Show Emails?

pre-trade show emails

In general, we like to say that 3 months before the trade show is a good time to send the initial announcement email.

Of course, this is just a general rule of thumb. If your company has an exclusive discount that you’re offering for show registration, it might make sense to send the email alerting your database of that prior to 3 months to allow for ample travel planning.

It’s important to analyze your trade show email marketing strategy holistically, taking into account the goals of each email sent and the total number of touch points you would like to have with the contacts you are sending to while you’re fleshing out the timeline for the email cadence.

4 Pre-Trade Show Email Samples  

It’s easy to let email fall through the cracks while your team is busy prepping other elements of the trade show. Luckily, you don’t need to write every email completely from scratch.

Simply copy and paste the templates below, adding in personal elements wherever possible for a quick, but effective, pre-trade show email execution.

But first, let’s cover some general tips for these emails:

  • It’s best to make them as personalized as possible. This extends to both the content of the email, as well as the logistics of it, such as: who the sender is and the type of email it is (mass marketing versus 1:1 plain text communication). Sending emails from a familiar salesperson, rather than from a sales@ or info@ account improves engagement.
  • Convey as much value as humanly possible. It’s extremely likely that your emails will not be the only ones that the contact is getting in regards to the trade show. Try as hard as possible to convey the value of stopping by your booth, while also delivering value within the email. Check out more tips for making your booth truly stand out in our Ultimate Guide to Trade Show Marketing.
  • Make sure to exclude contacts as needed. If you’re sending a mass booth announcement email to everyone on your list but are also planning to send a targeted email to prospects or past attendees, be sure to exclude them from your initial email. You don’t want to over message segments of your database, and make the communication appear disingenuine.

1. The Booth Announcement

Out of all the email templates listed here, this particular email stands out as the one that works best as a marketing email -- an email that packs a visual punch, offers CTAs (calls to action), and functions dynamically for the recipient.

Since your company will be announcing attendance for your entire list, you really want this to pop.

Here is a good, general template to follow:

 

Whenever possible, incorporate the trade show logo colors and any graphics from the show. Try to incorporate other possible value-adds, such as a registration referral link or a link to a blog post you’ve written about the show.

2. Introduction Email

The goal of this email is to introduce prospects / potential connections at the show to the members of your team that will be in attendance. This helps to create a familiarity with both your team and company, and inspire booth attendance.

Another goal of this email is to set-up a 1:1, private meeting with the prospect at the show. Let them know that your team is happy to take time out of their busy show schedule to meet with them and talk about their company’s pain points, and how you can help.

One of the most effective ways to send this email is to send by the sales rep that the contact is most familiar with (if that rep is attending the show). If not, sending from the sales manager or head of the sales team can prove effective as well.

Here’s an example of what this can look like:

 

3. Past Attendee Targeting

Leverage the contacts that your team gathered from attending the show last year by using the email template below.

It’s best practice to send this email from the rep who connected with them last year, and reference any personal details about the contact or their company as possible.

 

Again, if there’s anything you remember about the contact (their favorite sports team, a drink they enjoyed during happy hour, etc.) be sure to weave that into your email to show you genuinely care and are looking forward to connecting.

4. Booth Teaser

Since you’re most likely sending your booth announcement email pretty far in advance of the show, it never hurts to have a secondary touch point to remind contacts of the value of your booth as the show gets closer.

The focus of this email is strongly conveying the value of your booth, and why the contact should want to come talk to your team. Are you doing a giveaway? A free consultation? Offering physical copies of your popular eBook? Talk about that.

If over messaging is a concern for your team, especially if your company is not usually hyperactive on email, this can be a good place to further segment your lists based on contacts who took action in your first email -- either by clicking a link or responding.

This email can be successful as both a visually dynamic mass marketing email, or as a more personalized 1:1 email from their local sales rep. Use your best judgement based on what you know about your personas and how they prefer to be messaged.

Here’s what this can look like:

 

A Note On Pre-Trade Show Emails

Trade shows before, during, and after are one of the busiest times for manufacturing companies. But, it’s important to make the time to track and measure these emails after sending. If you tried out a new template for the first time, how did it do? Did it reach your goals?

Though it is tempting to just copy and paste these templates, fill in the details, and send them, never to think about them again -- that will only hurt your team in the long run.

Make sure you’re always testing, measuring, and tweaking these templates based on what the numbers show, to make each and every trade show more effective than the last.


Emails During the Trade Show?!

trade show email

Yep, you read that right.

As a part of your full trade show email strategy -- it’s important to have a fleshed out plan for emails while your team is at the trade show.

Not only do we have some templates and ideas for how to leverage email sends throughout the show, but we’ve got some tips and tricks to share for the best way to collect email addresses at the trade show, and build your list of leads.

How to Get Emails at a Trade Show

One of the reasons, if not THE reason, your company is attends trade shows is to acquire new leads. Unfortunately, this is something that can prove challenging once your team is at the show, surrounded by hundreds of other booths, trying to scope out the best leads and gather their contact information.

While there is no one secret trick to attracting trade show goers to your booth and converting them to leads, there are a few things you can try:

  1. Digitize your forms. When gathering contact information, make the process as simple and quick as possible -- for both your team and the lead. Have a simple form ready to go on a computer or tablet that can be filled out in seconds by your prospect and transported instantly into your CRM. Plus, it’s easy for your team to log into the CRM later on that day to leave any important notes about the contact that were gathered -- rather than having to scratch their heads when they get back to the office wondering who’s who.
  2. Offer resources only attainable with an email address. Similar to the way a conversion opportunity works digitally on a whitepaper, offer contacts free access to your digital resources if they enter an email address. Bonus points if this resource helps them solve a pain point, and your sales team can follow up with them on how your company can further help them. Pro tip: To further engage with them, send these contacts additional resources they might be interested after the show to spark a conversation.
  3. Feature a giveaway. People love free stuff, and your leads are no exception! Rather than having prizes and giveaways right at your booth, have attendees put in their email address to enter. They’re entered to win an awesome prize, and you scored an awesome lead.

For more tips on how to get leads attracted to your booth in the first place, check out or Ultimate Guide to Trade Show Marketing.

Sending Emails During the Trade Show

We know, we know, this sounds a little overwhelming and begs the question “Why?” When your team is back at the hotel after a long day at the show, the last thing they probably want to do is fire up their laptop and send off some emails.

The good news? These emails do not have to be fully fleshed marketing campaigns that are sent to every single person they talked to that day.

Instead, focus on reaching out to the best fit prospects who your team had good, meaningful conversations with. The key here being to offer additional help and resources to them, and remind them who you are. This is a great time to send along any of your company’s resources that address their pain points.

Here’s an example of what this could look like:

 

Again, this email is a great place for personalization (are you starting to see a theme here)? Humanize this template with personal notes where possible.

The goal of your marketing strategy for during the trade show should be to set your team up for success once they return back to the office and are embarking on the task of following up with these leads.

By digitally acquiring the emails and being diligent about taking notes, and even making the first few touch points while at the show, you’re already ahead of the game and can save time once your return from the show.


Trade Show Follow Up Email Marketing

Following Up with trade show leads

You know the feeling: You’re back at the office after a trade show, trying to catch up on the mountain of paperwork at your desk, returning phone calls from current customers, and doing your best to stay on top of contacting the leads you connecting with at the trade show.

You open your CRM, see the list of leads, and become increasingly overwhelmed while thinking about emailing each one. What do you say to turn them into customers? What is the perfect subject line that will make them open?

Instead of going through this painstaking process every time you return from a trade show, simply follow some of the templates below for guidelines on content, subject line, and more.

5 Post-Trade Show Email Samples  

Before we dive into some templates, let’s cover the basics of a few best practices to keep in mind when crafting a trade show email marketing follow up strategy:

  • Be helpful. In all of these emails, the ultimate goal is to give, give, and give some more. In giving, you’ll be subtly promoting your company’s products, services, and resources -- ultimately moving the lead through the pipeline.
  • These emails should be 1:1. Every email should be sent by the rep that made contact with the lead at the trade show. If the lead is not in that rep’s territory, than the first touchpoint should be the connecting rep reaching out while CC’ing the rep who would be best fit to talk with the lead. This not only helps improve engagement, but eliminates potential confusion as time goes on.
  • Personalize as much as possible. I know, I know -- we’re starting to sound like  a broken record. But that’s how important it is to put in as many personal notes as possible. If you’re not sure what to reference, try checking out the lead’s company’s websites and grabbing a piece of content you liked. Or, take a peek at their LinkedIn and see if they’ve shared any articles recently you can reference.

Keeping these tips in mind, here are some templates for follow ups:

1. Keep It Simple

The goal of this touchpoint is to gently remind the lead of who you are, and what your company does, without coming on too strong.

 

By letting them know you’ll be in touch soon, rather than asking too much of the lead right off the bat, you meet them where they’re at -- and are more likely to see future success.

2. Request a Follow Up Chat

This email can be sent a week or so after template #1 is sent, or works great on its own as a method of reaching out to a lead.

 

3. Send Along Information

This is your chance to earn a halo with the lead and show your expertise, and your company’s ability to help them solve their company’s problems.

If you’re not sure of exactly what the lead’s pain point is, research their industry and try your best to figure out what it might be. Does your company have impressive, short lead times in an industry where long lead times are common for the part they need? This is the perfect chance to send them a resource that lets them know.

 

4. Offer to Soothe Their Pain Points

This template is best used when you’ve had a more in depth discussion with the lead about their pain points. Most likely, you’ve already talked briefly with them about how your company could help.

 

5. Remind Them Of Any Trade Show Specific Offers

If you were offering an exclusive trade show discount, promotion, or offer for your leads -- reminding them that they're eligible is a great way to keep the conversation going.

This is also a great chance to enroll these leads into an ongoing work flow or sequence so that when the offer is over, you can continue the conversation with minimal effort.


How Often Should You Be Following Up With Trade Show Leads?

Follow up with the leads as soon as possible when returning back to the office, and keep in touch as frequently as you see fit -- without being annoying. While this means something different to everyone, in general, stick to sending emails no more than once a week to follow up with trade show leads.

After about 4 weeks of following up with the lead and they have not engaged back, it might be time to send a soft break-up. Let a few months go by, and then send another soft reach-out, reminding the lead about your company and your willingness to help.

Here is a recommended cadence for follow ups:

Bullet Points


To the best of your abilities, track each lead’s engagement with your emails. If you send a resource email and the lead clicked to explore the resources, this is a great opportunity to have a follow up call and ask them what they thought of the resource / if you can answer any questions.


Make Trade Show Email Marketing Repeatable

As we discussed previously, it’s important to measure, track, and tweak your trade show email strategy based on how the content you’re sending is performing. BUT, this doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch every time you go to a trade show.

There are ample resources for marketing automation that can help save time when executing your email strategy.

 

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