According to findings published by the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research, exhibiting companies are now spending $24 billion (£17 billion) each year on trade show marketing, with 85 percent of executives stating that the number of exhibitions they will take part in will either stay the same or increase over the next few years.
Nevertheless, while 99 percent of exhibitors find unique value from exhibitions, there are significant challenges related to engaging attendees, especially with mobile technology meaning many attendees' eyes will be on their phones. As a result, intelligent exhibition stand design can be the difference between success and failure.
In this article, we offer five top tips to attract mobile-addicted attendees to your exhibition booth.
1. Add a Social Media Wall
Social media walls are an increasingly popular inclusion within custom exhibition stands and they can serve as a great way to capture the attention of mobile users at a trade show or exhibition. In simple terms, a social media wall is a wall or screen, which displays social media posts related to your stand or tradeshow for all to see.
Aside from attracting attention, a social media wall can encourage visitors to tweet or share content on Facebook about your company and its exhibit. This, in turn, allows you to reach a wider audience than those in attendance at the event itself, while also helping to generate a buzz at the show too.
Crucially, however, social media walls only display social media posts using the right hashtag, and according to Eventbrite, less than half of attendees posting at an event remember to use the right hashtag. For this reason, it is imperative that you clearly display the hashtag on the wall itself, and promote it as much as possible elsewhere.
2. Include a Charging Station
Attendees who are active on their phone or tablets all day are likely to burn through their battery power fairly quickly. So, a great way to attract them to your booth is to provide them with the facilities to recharge their phone. One particularly effective strategy is to provide this facility in exchange for their contact information.
"Offering this facility will benefit marketers in multiple ways," say Enigma Visual Solutions in a blog post. "It will ensure attendees have continued access to their phones, but will also keep attendees at the booth for longer, providing more of an opportunity to converse with them."
When deciding on your exhibition stand design, make the provision of a mobile charging station a priority. This is likely to be easier for those investing in custom exhibition stands, although it should be possible with most modular set-ups too. Compliment this with comfortable seating and even the provision of refreshments to retain visitors.
Pro tip: earn non-dues or non-registration revenue by having these valuable charging stations sponsored.
3. Accept Mobile Payments
According to the CEIR, 81 percent of trade show attendees have buying authority. This means that just over eight out of every ten visitors to your exhibition stand are potential customers, with the power and capacity to make purchases. It is sensible, therefore, to make purchasing as easy as possible and mobile has a key role to play.
Over recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of mobile payment apps, as well as online wallets with mobile support. In some instance, your mobile event app can offer this feature for you. However, there are numerous other examples including PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Venmo, Square Cash, and Zelle. While specific features vary, these apps all facilitate financial transactions from mobile devices.
When trying to attract attendees who rely heavily on their smartphones, it makes sense to try to accept payments from as many of these sources as possible. This will allow visitors with buying authority to make purchases quickly, easily and/or spontaneously, even if they have left their bank cards at home.
A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode, which can be scanned using a smart phone. After scanning the QR code, the user will be able to download a file, see an advert, watch a video, or be redirected to a specific web page or social media page. This technology can be implemented within exhibition marketing easily and effectively.
It is important, however, that QR codes are used intelligently. For example, using a QR code to allow attendees to download your app, or to link them directly to your social media pages are examples of good use. Similarly, you might opt to go paperless and use a QR code to allow visitors to access event literature on their phone.
If you are using QR codes to direct visitors to pages on your website, or product pages, it is essential that these pages are optimised for mobile. You can also use QR code scanning technology to allow people to download and store your contact information, which can help to keep your business memorable after the event ends.
Finally, mobile-addicted attendees are spending more time than ever before utilising apps on their phones. In fact, according to research compiled by Google, people now spend an average of 30 hours per month using mobile apps. Moreover, users become significantly more likely to use an app and keep it installed for the long-term if the app provides them with discounts, coupons or exclusive content.
Creating an app, advertising it ahead of the event and offering customers a discount code to use at your booth is a great way to ensure that people interested in your business actually find time to come to your stand on the day.
There are also extremely valuable uses for the app at the event itself too. For example, you can use location technology to send push notifications to people who are close to your booth. You can also potentially use the app to accept payments or to upload content in order to boost post-event engagement.
Reno Macri is a founder and director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in exhibition services, event branding, event production, modular exhibition stands and much more. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.