The Internet as virtual trade show
The Internet has become a virtual trade show as buyers and decision makers can find all possible solutions and products.
However the main problem of the website is that the visitors want to remain unknown and incognito on the website of vendors: they are moving around like ghosts.
Knowing who your visitors are is a challenge but feasible.
As people will land on your website using search terms and will look for their points of interest on your website you will be able to determine what products or solutions they are really interested in.
This will allow you to re-target contacts in those visiting companies by sending a relevant email as contacts are provided and their interest is known.
On your website it is rather unlikely they will fill out a form or click to send you an email with a question. Even online chat boxes have very little uptake in B2B although the technology is available and free (open source)
The real virtual expo
The benefit for a decision maker or influencer on a virtual trade show is that products and solutions of an industry are grouped in one place and requires limited amount of search.
The benefit for the exhibitor is to reach out to interested parties that might not be found using the company website.
Real virtual expos require to register before entering the virtual trade show website. Question is if the visitors will give their company address or use a free web mail (hotmail, gmail, aol, yahoo, …) which have little value.
As visitors can wander around from booth to booth, it can be more difficult to identify their needs than on the Internet where they have to make an effort by searching to find your website.
Still you will know the visitors are interested or have a problem to solve as they have taken the effort to register and visit the virtual trade show.
After the show all seemingly interested visitors can be emailed – hopefully with a message relevant to their needs or problems.
Breaking the ice: starting a conversation
The main advantage of a virtual trade show should be that the visitor will pose a question or start a conversation when visiting your virtual booth.
The breaking of the ice and engaging into a conversation should be the main advantage of virtual trade shows.
The conversation might be a greater challenge as not only people do need to click to chat, but your staff needs to be more than a call center operator or an assistant having generic knowledge. Writing down the question to be followed-up is not the idea of a trade show – even a virtual one.
Your experienced staff ‘present’ on the virtual booth needs to consist of employees who are aware and knowledgeable of all solutions presented on the expo. This requires an investment in employees as they need to be available and focused during the entire virtual trade show.
- That can lead to boredom as nothing happens over long periods of time.
- Not just an additional task on top of their normal work as they need to be instantly responding to questions of possible interested visitors.
The virtual trade show is a great concept, but making it successful is quite a challenge and it has to compete with your company website too.
What is your experience of effectiveness of virtual trade shows ?
Did you engage into a conversation ?