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Secrets of the Trade(show): 9 Ways to Use Marketing Automation Before, During, and After Events

Secrets of the Trade(show): 9 Ways to Use Marketing Automation Before, During, and After Events


You spend weeks, months, maybe even a year prepping for a huge event. You’ve got the fancy trade show booth, a perfect elevator pitch, slick new collateral, and matching polos for you and your team. But what happens beyond the expo hall?

Your event marketing strategy doesn’t end after you’ve shaken all the hands and run out of business cards — but following up on all those leads can be overwhelming and costly.


Well, you’re in luck. Marketing automation is here to save the day and all those new relationships you sparked. Read on to learn how your B2B event marketing strategy can benefit from marketing automation before, during, and after your big event.


  • Jump-start the customer journey.
    Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report shows that 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is the key to winning their business. So sure, you can blast your entire email list with a canned “Find us at booth 274!” email. Or you can create a personalized communication experience that business buyers prefer. With marketing automation, you can build a 360-degree view of conference attendees’ needs and characteristics based on existing data. For example, the week before an event you could send a dynamic email promoting sessions or networking activities related specifically to a prospect’s interests (based on their previous engagement). Win!
  • Get social.
    If you’ve been to a trade show recently, you’re familiar with the flood of emails beforehand, with unknown brands announcing their presence and begging you to visit their booths. Since that email likely doesn’t offer the ROI you’re looking for, try social media. Social media advertisements can cultivate more authentic brand recognition before an event begins. Use social media to market your brand or your conference booth to attendees that open or engage with your email content. Following up on this initial interest will deepen the connection and lead into a seamless brand experience for your event leads. Bonus: Consider promoting a contest or giveaway via social to entice people to visit you at an event.


  • Ditch the manual sign-in sheets.
    Capture lead information efficiently with Pardot’s kiosk mode. Data imports directly into Pardot, so you can follow up immediately and get to nurturing those leads before the day is even over. Automatic data entry will save you time and headaches. Easy-peasy.
  • Break through the cluttered program.
    During the event, consider sending reminders to for sessions your team is hosting or sponsoring. While an attendee may just glance over the conference or trade show program, giving them a chance to see your content individually could boost session attendance, and thus give you more valuable brand exposure. Go a step further by using your marketing automation software to tailor your emails to individual interest groups.
  • Expand opportunities for touchpoints.
    Trade shows can be a zoo of eager salespeople and crowded booths. Your marketing automation software can use geotargeting and event data from name tag scans and sign-ins to show you who you missed at an event. If someone engaged with a pre-show email, but didn’t get their badge scanned at your booth, you can use that information to follow up with a personalized offer for a 1:1 meeting. Communicate your interest with an offer to grab coffee or drinks. Or try following up with a link to an ebook or other freebies prospects may have missed at your booth.


  • Import your leads.
    First things first! Take all of those precious leads you worked so hard for and gather them into your marketing automation platform. From there, the platform can help you segment them based on past engagement, demographics, or other criteria. If you used Pardot’s kiosk mode during the event, you’re one step ahead.
  • Qualify your leads.
    Not all leads are created equal, but you probably don’t have time to sift through thousands of data points and determine which customers you should focus on. This is where our friend Einstein comes in. Artificial intelligence software can score your leads and let you know which accounts you should spend your time pursuing. Lead scoring will help you get to know your most important prospects and what they may be looking for — a key tactic in any account-based marketing strategy.
  • Follow up. Then follow up again.
    To drive conversions from your event, it’s important to maintain the connections you made. Nurture your leads to conversion by starting individual customer journeys that go beyond a “thank you” email. Make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned, and hold your sales team accountable for follow up. Your company likely dropped big bucks on its event marketing strategy, so don’t let those valuable leads slip through the cracks.
  • See how you did.
    Use closed-loop ROI reporting to evaluate success from the event. Tailored data from your marketing automation stack will evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what to do differently next time. Oh, and just in case you need to justify your efforts to some executive folks (wink wink), reporting will also arm you with hard data to show how valuable your event was.

In event marketing, personalization is the name of the game. How can you engage each business buyer individually and efficiently as they wind through a tradeshow hall?

Pardot makes it easy to nurture your leads before, during, and after the big show.

Learn more by checking out some of these resources:

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