trade show

Trade shows and other kinds of industry events present superb PR and marketing opportunities. In addition to meeting prospects and potential partners, trade shows offer ideal venues for meeting reporters and editors. The shows are perfect for major news announcements and new product roll-outs or product upgrades. The trade show itself also promotes announcements by exhibitors.

The first step is to agree on your team’s goals and objectives and define the benchmarks. You might compare show-to-show or shows vs. direct mail vs. Facebook. The goals you select are instrumental in choosing the metrics. For instance, if your object is to sway opinions, the goal may be percent change in perception.

Choose a measurement tool. A clicker to count people visiting the booth may be simplest tool. Count the average number of people in the booth at the top of the hour, advises Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing in her Trade Show & Event Measurement Checklist. Repeat at random times throughout the day and take the average. Other tools include surveys that measure the change in perceptions, sales tracking tools in customer relationship management systems (CRMs).

Tracking badge scans provides another level of booth visitor measurement. In entering badge scans in the company’s customer relationship management database, make sure to identify the individual as a trade show contact.

Monitoring Solutions

Media monitoring services offer an effective way to gauge the effectiveness of PR emanating from trade shows and industry events. Social media monitoring reveals what people say about your event, before, during and afterwards. Monitoring during the event may guide changes in messaging during the remainder of the show.

Make sure you begin measurement as soon as you release marketing materials, Paine recommends. Note the medium, the data, the author and if possible the source. Was it from a speaker, an attendee or a competitor?

“Don’t just compare events, look at the big picture,” Paine advises. “Are events the most efficient way to get your message across, or to get new leads? Compare online virtual events to IRL (In Real Life) events.”

“Don’t forget to factor in the costs of attending,” she adds. “Travel budgets are severely restricted these days and a small change in the price of a ticket can make a big difference.”

Major Trade Show Metrics

Marketing and trade show experts suggest tracking metrics to measure the value of attending trade shows.

Media mentions. Note product mentions, if key messages were reported, if competitors were also mentioned and the message’s positioning, visibility and prominence.

Social media reach. Social media reach is a vanity metric which on its own gives no useful insights. Used in conjunction with other social media metrics like social media engagement, acquisition and conversion, however, media reach will give you an idea whether participating in a trade show was worth your time and money, says Stephanie Campanella of Tradies Get Online. “Use social media monitoring tools to track different social media metrics,” she advises.

Website traffic. Compare the difference in website visitors before and after the trade show, including changes to both direct and organic traffic, and calculate the percentage change. There should be an increase if the trade show was successful. Some companies create a landing page dedicated to the trade show to segregate and track visitors.

New leads. If your goal is to expand your database of leads that you can then nurture with lead management techniques, make sure to measure the number of new leads generated through trade show marketing, urges Rachel Sprung, events coordinator in the marketing department at HubSpot. Your marketing software with analytics tools should allow you to identify which of the submissions are new to your database.


Attributing revenue to trade shows is difficult since sales staff usually don’t close deals until months later – and because prospects at trade shows often have had previous contact with the company.

However, marketers can reach a reasonably accurate estimate based on the following internal assumptions, explains Ed Jones, retired president of Constellation Communication Corp., a consulting firm specializing in event ROI, in Exhibitor Magazine.

Number of hot leads. Identify the number of prospects who commit to a specific sales-related step as the result of the trade show.

Close rate. Ask your sales department for your company’s average percentage of closed sales per hundred sales calls.

Average value of sale or contract. If you promote multiple product lines, develop a weighted average based on the level of interest for each product at the show and its price.

Use this equation to calculate estimated revenue: Number of hot leads X close rate X average value of sale of contract = estimated revenue.

Bottom Line: While trade shows often provide considerable marketing and PR benefits, they can be costly. Measuring the results of trade show marketing is needed to validate those costs, identify the best events to attend, and find the most successful marketing strategies. Monitoring traditional and social media can reveal comments about your organization before and after the trade show, providing valuable information on the event’s effectiveness.

This article was originally published on the CyberAlert blog.