The Ultimate guide to A VIRTUAL TRADE SHOW

Imagine a world where you could sit back and generate qualified leads. No more tiresome run-arounds to set up the perfect trade show and no more disappointing results. In fact, in this ideal world, you might never have to spend more than what you gain. 

Good news is, this ideal world exists, and that, in the form of ‘Virtual Trade Shows’. 

As technology is becoming more advance and easier to use, businesses are making the most out of innovative methods to maximize profits and optimize their resources. In simpler words, they now get to keep more money in their pockets!

One such key development is the rise of virtual events, transforming the entire landscape of qualified lead generation. As a matter of fact, rumor and reality, both have it – these events will only go bigger from here. So, remain seated to find out what the hype is all about. 

what is a virtual trade show?

A Virtual Trade Show is powered by a dynamic 3D environment, resembling that of a physical show, coupled with tools that engage a global audience and are accessible from the comfort of your home. Virtual Trade Shows are becoming highly popular with every passing day as they eliminate issues such as difficult event planning, poor audience turn out, limited reach and costs that are sky-high. 

So, what makes Virtual Trade Shows truly exceptional as well as the preferred choice of today’s leading businesses such as Teradata, Sage and many more? Reduced cost, maximized reach, and the ability to measure results! 

To understand what makes Virtual Trade Shows a BIG HIT in today’s time, let’s have a closer look at the features and tools that make it a valuable opportunity for organizers, exhibitors, and attendees all across the globe.

Features to look for in a virtual trade show

1. Stunning 3D designs to wow audiences

“First impression is the last impression”, isn’t that so? Present your audience with an unforgettable experience from the second the walk into your event.  

Build a phenomenal environment, starting from a rich, visually compelling landing page, and moving on to a highly customizable interface for your exhibitors and attendees to make the most out of. In short, virtual trade shows eliminate the need to download additional layouts, and instead, offer a fully personalized platform to create a lasting impression. 

2. Custom designs and layouts for branded booths

Let’s admit it – setting up booths and chasing vendors to prepare marketing material has made every exhibitor’s life a living nightmare. 

At a virtual trade show, exhibitors can now choose to brand their booths in endless ways without compromising or putting in any exhausting hours that are otherwise required while setting up a physical event. 

3. Live chat tools for networking

To fulfill the goal of a successful event, you need to ensure maximum interaction between visitors and exhibitors. Look for engagement tools such as a real-time chat platform in order to educate and engage prospects at your event. 1:1 text, audio & video chat can enable you to eliminate the hassle of long queues around booths, while at the same time, provide your audience with individual assistance towards their respective queries. You can further improve your conversion rates by addressing FAQs in group chat rooms to target multiple online prospects at once. 

Live chat tools therefore play a vital role in converting your prospects into sales, helping you meet your goals in real-time. 

4. On-event announcements to keep attendees informed

Just like any other event, you will need to keep your audience posted with live updates during the event. A virtual trade show allows you to grab the attention of your attendees using pop-up notifications to keep your audience informed at all times.

5. Live webinars to engage audiences

So, you’ve got a global audience in one place at a single time. The next thing you want is to invite industry specialists and key note speakers to provide your audience with significant value on one stage. 

Using a virtual platform, you no longer have to worry about the varying availability of your speakers or losing out on attendance due to different time zones. Live webinars can be used to engage masses at one time and can be scheduled in advance to ensure maximum attendance. 

Moreover, including a Q&A session at the end of each webinar can maximize the engagement at your event, and nurture your leads to increase conversion rates. 

6. E-commerce platform to make on-the-spot sales

While letting exhibitors showcase their products and services to the world, virtual trade shows also facilitate them in converting global prospects into sales. 

By embedding an online shop at your event, you can eliminate purchasing delays and maximize conversions by providing the platform to make transactions in real-time. So, if they like it, they keep it. Not only does this online store capture existing opportunities that you’ve nurtured throughout your event, but also passive opportunities that would otherwise be untapped and unexplored in case of a physical event.

7. Gamification to increase stay-time

To boost engagement as well as increase your audiences’ stay-time at the event, organizers can host exciting contests and games such as scavenger hunts, and more. Most organizers gamify their shows in order to direct their audience to certain areas of the event that demand an increased attendance – often times, in return for exciting rewards and incentives. 

8. Detailed reports to measure event success

It’s 2021, and you’re lagging behind if you don’t have access to real-time data. Unlike physical trade shows, online trade shows provide you with detailed reports at the end of your event, allowing you to measure your ROI for future strategies. 

Organizers who wish to closely monitor and regulate certain booths can request their providers to generate reports in real-time and help them improve the output they aim to achieve.

9. Keep the event active for as long as you want

If you wish to keep your event up and running, even after its live features have been deactivated, unlike a physical event, a virtual platform makes it possible for you to do so. Exhibitors, in this case, can receive notifications of booth visits, queries, and purchases while organizers can continue to promote the event using emails and social media in order to continue its activity. 

How are virtual trade shows Better than on-site events?

1. Globalization

The online nature of your trade show can help you qualify leads from across the world. All of this, either from the comfort of your home, your office or the coffee shop next door. In fact, as long as your audience has an operating device at hand, there’s no way you can keep them away from a truly exceptional experience. So, get ready to travel continents with your Virtual Trade Shows.

2. Environment-Friendly

On an average, around 600,000 tons of waste is produced at trade shows every year, caused by paper waste and other marketing material. This increases the carbon footprint contributing to climatic change. Virtual trade shows eliminate the use of paper, and for that matter, any wastage that can have a detrimental effect on the environment. Therefore, it’s time to turn your business green by hosting a virtual trade show and taking ownership of your planet.

3. Accessibility

Virtual trade shows are a great opportunity for people who are differently-abled to access a world that they are otherwise excluded from. Unlike physical fairs, these events provide several options to assist individuals with impairments and other disabilities, allowing them to benefit as much from the event, as any other visitor.  

Are you ready to maximize qualified leads?

exciting virtual trade show ideas

Virtual Food Show

Food shows have been an exciting means of bringing people together since the beginning of time. In which case, what’s better than gathering food producers, manufacturers, consumers and enthusiasts from “all over the world”, at your virtual food show?

Leading distributors & manufacturers like Nestle, Jake’s Finer Foods and Centennial have recently conducted successful virtual food shows, boosting their profits, and adding value to the entire food industry.

Jake’s Finer Foods (JFF), in particular, strengthened its position as a progressive broadline distributor by hosting the first of its kind Virtual Food Show that successfully targeted a hard to reach audience to achieve higher registration volume, extraordinary branding and insightful communications. This helped create a unique win-win situation for both the exhibitors and customers as captured by the reporting dashboard.

Read more about Jake’s Finer Foods’ Virtual Food Show.

Virtual Car Show

Car shows are typically the sole talk of the town before, during and way after their occurrence. Now imagine your car show is not just the talk of the town anymore, but the talk of the ‘world’.

Yalla Motor, a leading Middle Eastern automotive portal, went big with their recent Virtual Car Show. Due to their diverse audience, this online platform was accessible in Arabic, particularly for the locals, and in English for the rest of the world attending the virtual event. This feature particularly enabled them to target a larger audience, engage with them using live chat tools, and convert prospects into sales in real time.

Virtual Property Show

While property shows are one of the most frequently occurring shows, there in no doubt that they require one of the greatest efforts to be conducted too.  Moreover, as is evident, real estate is an incredibly saturated market. So how do you get an edge over competitors who are all using the exact same tactics for the exact same audience in every region. 

Hosting a virtual property show can enable you to target a global audience that is interested in investing in your offerings. You can provide attendees with as much information, in the form of presentations, documents and videos, required to equip them in terms of making an informed decision. On the other hand, you can conduct valuable conversations using effective chat tools and live webinars at your virtual property show in order to generate maximum qualified leads. 

So, are you ready to elevate your business and explore profits before your competitors jump onto the bandwagon? Talk to a representative for more details.

Virtual technology Show

The pace at which technology is innovating has made it difficult for those in the industry that are slacking to keep up with effective tools to profit maximization.  

No matter the size of your business, the tangible and intangible benefits of hosting a virtual trade show play a significant role, not only in yielding successful outputs, but also, in networking, advertising and direct sales. In today’s business environment, tech industrialists are switching to virtual alternatives to showcase their powerful technologies on a larger scale using optimum resources. This helps them surpass high costs (of setup and shelving), and allows them to create a virtual landscape to benefit from and engage with a wider audience.

Other Virtual trade shows

Virtual trade shows allow you to surpass all the limitations that once, very rightly, made you rethink your decision of a regular event. Whether it’s a technology show, a travel show, or any other you can ever think of, going online will help you skyrocket qualified leads and move towards a hassle free approach to profit maximization and brand building.

We’re not kidding – you’re just not imagining big enough. With highly flexible options, and no real need to book a venue that requires a large capacity, virtual trade shows make it easier for organizers in any industry to showcase their products and services to a wider audience.

One such case is that of MarineMax. MarineMax broke all barriers to go above and beyond with their product, and hosted a remarkable online boat show. Using their global platform, MarineMax was able to offer training, demos, boating tips and free trials to keep their audience engaged and excited from across borders.

Explore more online trade show ideas that will shoot up your leads.

checklist before hosting a virtual trade show

1. Do your platform research

Before you begin, ask your solution provider for a demo and test the technology yourself. Ensure that the platform is user-friendly for everyone across the globe, and not just techies.

2. Understand your security needs

The security options available for your event are vital to its success. Be sure to ask your virtual event provider about their hosting company and the security features that they employ. It is highly essential for you to have a finished platform that is free from fraud, viruses, and crashing servers when you have peak traffic at the virtual trade show.

3. Strategize

Identify your objectives, set clear goals for the team, and align expected results to help you move in the planned direction. This can, in addition, help monitor and regulate the event as it takes place and be prepared for any discrepancies.

4. Devise a marketing plan

Create a holistic marketing strategy that targets multiple channels to ensure maximum attendance, engagement and conversion of leads. The next section will walk you through a detailed marketing manual.

5. Prepare quality content for your attendees

Virtual trade shows let you host multiple types of content on your platform – whether its a document, presentation or a video. Make the most of it by getting in touch with your team and sponsors to brainstorm sessions ideas and content. Also collect sales collateral, marketing videos, and any other useful PDFs to host at the event.

6. Create an event schedule

Most trade shows go on for a day or two and therefore, your attendees need to be provided with a schedule that enlists the sessions available and timings when trade is open, friendly to different time zones. Share the schedule on your landing page to make sure interested attendees and exhibitors are online and available for sessions and chats aligned.

7. Monitor event with data analytics

One of the key selling points for a virtual event is that you can monitor and evaluate your performance at any time of the event. Unlike a physical trade show, this can allow you to both, quantify and justify end results.

The complete marketing Manual for organizers

By now, you’re probably convinced and ready to host your own virtual event. But let’s not forget the time when you needed more information to make the right business decision. Similarly, while virtual events are doing wonders for people belonging to various industries, they are still fairly new for a lot of people.

Therefore, as all marketing plans, you’re going to kick-start your event with an awareness phase. Use a slide deck or an introductory video to first explain how an virtual trade show works and highlight the benefits of being a part of it.

Marketing to Attendees

A key factor in predicting the success of your event is the amount of people attending it. You want more leads at the top of the funnel so a greater amount eventually ends up converting into sales. Dedicated event marketing is the way to go! We’ll explore the following marketing channels:

1. A landing page that features the event on your company website
2. Email marketing to reach out to those on your email list already
3. A sticky bar to advertise the event across your website
4. Social media to create a buzz and stay top of mind

1. Landing pages

To market your event, you’ll first need a landing page. This will provide you with an online space to do two important things:
    1. Provide prospects with trade show information such as the goal of the event, speaker details, schedule, and activities.
    2. Feature the event registration form that will let attendees sign up for the event and get updates.
  To improve its visibility and engagement, you should:
      • Include important event details such as event dates, duration, and time.
      • Publish an agenda and speaker information.
      • Optimize your page for search engines. If a prospect is looking for a trade show to attend, they’ll most likely go to Google and type in the relevant keyword. These will be like ‘live trade shows’, or ‘car trade shows’.
      • Mention a few of your popular exhibitors and speakers so attendees know what to expect at the event.
      • Feature influencers on your page to make your elevator pitch more attractive. People love to hear from industry experts so they’ll definitely want to sign up if they know they’ll get a chance to interact with them!
      • Keep the copy concise and engaging to encourage perspectives to consume more of it. Talk like you speak!
To optimize your registration form for high sign-ups:
      • Add a registration link along with a login link, ideally above the fold.
      • Ask for information that you absolutely need, such as email and first name to ensure quick and easy sign-ups.
      • Make sure that the field labels are straightforward and intuitive. It’s important to make the form as easy as possible to fill out.

2. Email Marketing

Next, it’s time to leverage your existing email list. Create a vibrant, HTML event invitation in your email builder to send out to your list asking them to register for the event. This list will be a quick and easy way to market to already interested prospects. 

But what should the emails look like? You want your recipients to be hooked in from the get-go. That means crisp and engaging subject lines, fun and informative copy, and relevant visuals. You can also add logos of your exhibitors and include pictures of your speakers. All these will turn your email a treat for your prospects. 

Here are some other details to remember:

  • Write a concise and exciting subject line that clearly states your virtual trade show is coming up along with the date.
  • Add warmth to your email by personalizing it with the recipient’s first name.
  • Include key information such as the trade show’s time and date.
  • Add a link to your landing page or directly to the registration form.
  • Create an eye-catching call-to-action.
  • Make sure your email is compatible with most devices (that doesn’t mean just mobile!).

Follow this simple schedule to send out your emails and subsequent reminders:

  • First email: Three weeks before the event.
  • Second email: One week before the event.
  • Third email: A day before the event.
  • Fourth email: 15 minutes before the event. We’ve run tests at vFairs that have shown that sending a reminder email 10-15 minutes before the event perform better than a reminder an hour before the event.

3. A sticky bar on your website

Another way to get more eyes on your event is by placing a sticky bar across your website to let other visitors know about your event. As this piece of information sticks to the top of your website, appearing on every page, every visitor to your website gets to see it. This makes the bar a great way to get more prospects to your event’s landing page. But these sticky bars are subtle and offer limited space to companies. We recommend only adding two elements to it:
  1. A message to tell readers that your virtual trade show is coming up along with the date it’s on.
  2. A CTA that asks them to register for the event. The link will take the user to your event’s main landing page.
While there are other types of modules that you can use to really bring attention to your event, such as a website pop-up or a site cover, a sticky bar will offer the least amount of interruption along with decent visibility for all your visitors.

4. Social Media

With social media consumption consistently on the rise, be sure to leverage this channel. Here’s a little checklist you can use to make the most of social media marketing:

  1. Announce your virtual trade show at least a month in advance. You’ll need to send reminders later, but this is a great way to become top of mind and stay there.
  2. Build anticipation by sharing event details after every few days. Do exhibitor reveals, share speaker bios, or talk about themes that’ll be discussed at the event. Add color with speaker pictures!
  3. Post content in relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
  4. Add the link to the event landing page in your social media bios. Also, include it in every social media post that you publish on your channels.
  5. Use UTM links for all your posts, measure the performance of each channel, and keep optimizing your efforts based on the information you extract.
  6. Reply to comments, interact with your viewers, and crack a joke if you can! This will make prospects like your brand and look forward to being in your company.
 

Marketing to Exhibitors

Exhibitors are interested in learning how going online can benefit them more than a traditional event. Here is a list of benefits for your exhibitors to hop onboard with you:

    • Enhance interaction and boost engagement with customers using live chat tools and webinars
    • Provide attendees with the option to download content in the form of documents, presentations and videos. Monitor your booth and regulate available content in real-time
    • Customize booths without the hassle of vendors and printers
    • Use an online shop to make ‘on-the-spot’ sales
    • Evaluate booth performance with detailed reports consisting of data such as the number of participants, booth visits & sources driving the audience to the event

Virtual Trade Show Analytics

Of all aspects of a virtual event, data is a clear winner. Why? The quality and depth of data collected from virtual events beat traditional events by a mile.

To benefit from the comprehensive data offered by virtual trade shows, you’ll need to know what to track. This will help you understand your audience and optimize future events (and even your marketing efforts!) for even better results. For certain pre-event activities, you can:

1. Optimize event registrations

To get more people to come to your event, optimize your registrations first. Closely track the performance of your marketing efforts. Track your conversions from your Google Analytics account or your virtual event platform dashboard. Identify the channels that are bringing in the most conversions and optimize accordingly. 

Moreover, you’d want to see how well your landing page is performing in terms of conversions. How far down the page is the form? Do you need to change the positioning of the form? What works better? Above the fold or below the fold? How many form fields get you the best conversions?

Running A/B tests with these options in mind is a great way to optimize your landing page and registration forms. If you start your marketing efforts early, you’ll also have more time to optimize them for the best results.

2. Understand your demographic

Understanding your target audience helps businesses hand-tailor their event experience for them.  To learn more about your target audience, ask questions such as the following:
  • What are your areas of interest?
  • Which exhibitors are you most interested in speaking to?
  • What are you hoping to get from this trade show?
Data from these questions will help you offer a more personalized experience to each of your attendees. A lot of organizers will make long registration forms to get more data about their prospects. Don’t do this! Long forms are only a hurdle to registration. Save these questions for after your prospects have entered your event funnel. Here are the options we recommend:
  • After sign-up, send an optional follow-up email that asks recipients what they’re
  • After entry to the virtual trade show, ask questions from the event page so you can customize the experience. 
  • Use a virtual event platform that lets attendees update their profile within the event. That way, it’s less work for the organizer, and attendees have control over the information others see at the event.

3. Learning audience preferences

Once the event goes live, it’s time to learn what aspects of your trade show are fan favorites. Track your attendees’ journeys during the event to understand the booths they visit, the representatives that they talk to, the speaker sessions that get the most attention, and so on. 

Remember to only use a virtual event platform that collects this data for you. This kind of platform will help you get in-depth attendee insights that you can use to optimize future events. The reporting module will provide data such as: 

  • views for each booth
  • time spent at each booth
  • time spent on each page
  • the average time users were online 
  • Registrations vs. attendance
  • Number of resource downloads
  • CTR for exhibitor websites

And so on. Each of these data points will tell you what aspect of your event was a success and what kind of content performed the best at your trade show.

4. Post-event analytics

Another way to get more data out of your virtual trade show is to send an event follow-up survey to your attendees after the event. Such a survey will ask them how their experience with the event was and include questions such as the following: 

  • What was your goal of attending the event?
  • What are some areas we can improve for you?
  • How would you rate the following on a scale of one to five: sessions, networking, exhibitors, duration of the event, and so on.

Email this survey to all your attendees and analyze the data you collect.

Cost of Event - Physical vs. virtual trade show

Without a doubt, pricing plays a crucial role in deciding which option to opt for. So, if you’re here, you’re probably looking for a cost-effective solution that gives you more value in return for your money. Let’s break it down so you can see for yourself. 

  • Venue Rental – based on its capacity, rental costs are a given expense that every trade show organizer has to include in their marketing budget. On the contrary, due to the online nature of virtual trade shows, you no longer have to book a physical space to accommodate attendees, and hence, get to save all that cash. 
  • Parking facilities – most trade show hosts either provide large parking lots or free valet services to facilitate the audience visiting their event. Organizers therefore bear the cost of this facility in order to provide convenience to everyone visiting the venue. In case of virtual trade shows, since attendees are accessing the event from the comfort of their home or office, there is no need to allot a budget towards additional facilities. 
  • Setup & Equipment – Stage, booths, information desk, lobby, and the list goes on. At a physical event, building a respectable show is one of the biggest challenges for every organizer. This requires them to exhaust not only their budgets, but also a lot of their resources on setting up for the big day. That’s where virtual trade shows make their winning run once again. Your virtual event provider is responsible to set up the perfect event that is highly customizable to your needs, and at the same time, is nothing less than a physical show. 
  • Hospitality – You can’t be a host without providing your guests with refreshments and miscellaneous facilities such a washrooms. Virtual trade shows free you of all your hospitality duties that in turn, lower the money spent on these add-ons. 
  • Staffing – Pulling your resources out from the work that they do, and dedicating them to event duties puts a burden on your daily operations and costs you the hours lost within the duration of the event. In case of virtual trade shows, the team providing you with the service takes care of all the legwork from A to Z. With constant assistance, your event is managed by a team of professionals remotely, saving up on essential resources. 
  • Travel & Stay – for any key speaker that travels to your event, you are usually bound to incorporate travel and stay into your cost. Fortunately, you can now invite speakers from across the globe without spending a single penny to ensure their presence at your event. 

While physical trade shows have been popular to a number of trade show organizers in the past, the high costs and very limited reach has compelled most of them to improve their results by switching to virtual alternatives. After all, the smartest business owners are the ones that optimize their strategies and use cost-effective means to generate huge profits. 

Conclusion

Trade shows are a great way of allowing businesses of all sizes, belonging to various industries, to promote their brand and showcase their offerings to a diverse group of individuals. They provide you with an enormous opportunity to generate qualified leads and skyrocket your profits. But none of this is really profitable if it has to come at the cost of innumerable resources and extensive work.

Hence, virtual trade shows are now redefining the way businesses can maximize their profits and keep the environment healthy. And guess what? The opportunities are just beginning to blossom as your business is now growing beyond borders.

Get started and book a free demo now!

About vFairs

At vfairs.com, we strive to build a top-class online event platform that will help event organizers make memorable connections with their target audience. We’re obsessed with taking out the hassle normally associated with physical events, leaving organizers and exhibitors to focus on what’s most important – engagement with the audience. 

Get in touch with an expert to learn more about vFairs here

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