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5 Ways to Measure Return on Investment at Trade Exhibitions

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Written By Natalka Antoniuk

If you own a small business or are in charge of marketing, you should consider exhibiting at a trade show. I know, it sounds old school and digital marketing is the cool new thing to do.

The thing is, that’s not entirely the case. Exhibitions offer you a unique opportunity to talk to potential customers in a warm and welcoming environment. 

If you’re looking for a B2B lead generation idea, then trade shows are your answer. The people who visit exhibitions are interested in your industry. They are a fiercely targeted, captive audience. Not to mention the B2B opportunities you are presented with. The truth is that this sort of face-to-face marketing opens the door to a range of possibilities. So why isn’t everyone doing it?

Unlike digital marketing strategies, it isn’t straightforward to calculate the success of an exhibition. You can see how effective your exhibition stand is by monitoring the footfall, or how good your sales team are by counting the number of leads they’ve got. But how do you measure your return on investment (ROI)? 

In this article, you’ll learn how to do just that. No longer will you be put off by calculations and the uncertainty of your results. You’ll find out exactly how to calculate the ROI of your next exhibition.  

What is the Return on Investment (ROI)?

Return on Investment (ROI) is a metric that determines the efficiency of a particular investment. The aim is to calculate the amount of return on any one investment. ROI is an important metric for business owners to calculate the success of a particular campaign.

How to Calculate ROI

To calculate your Return on Investment, you must divide the total benefit of the investment by its cost. The metric is displayed as a ratio or percentage. 

The formula to calculate ROI is:

(Current Value of Investment – Cost of Investment)/Cost of Investment

Measuring ROI

Measuring ROI can be straight forward in some cases, and difficult in others. It depends on your investment, what you define as a return, and your goals.

It is easier to measure a digital campaign (where the goal is to encourage people to click through to your website) than traditional media advertising where you are unsure what return you are getting from each platform.

It also is dependent on your goal and metric. If you are tracking sales and revenue you’ll find it far easier to calculate your ROI than if you were calculating an increase in brand awareness.

That being said, in this article, you will learn how to calculate ROI for any campaign goal.

Measuring ROI for your Exhibition

Trade shows may be a completely new world to you, or you might be an experienced pro. One thing I’ve noticed is that many exhibitors don’t know, or don’t understand, how to calculate their ROI.

Exhibiting is, nevertheless, one of the more straightforward marketing strategies when it comes to measuring success. The reason is that you have a team on the ground, interacting with your audience on a personal level. Exhibiting is all about engagement and can assist your marketing campaigns.

Once you have outlined your aims and objectives for your exhibit, developed your metrics, and calculated your investment all you need to do is put the numbers into the formula above. Here are some of the metrics you’re likely to be working with. 

What are your Trade Show Goals?

Before you can measure the ROI of your exhibit, you have to decide what your goals are. Without completing this step you will not be able to identify a metric, making it impossible to measure ROI.

Common goals that businesses set for their exhibit include:

  • Generate leads or sales
  • Raise brand awareness 
  • B2B marketing and networking
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Strengthen relationships with customers

Ask yourself what you want to achieve from attending an exhibition, the answer isn’t always going to be increasing sales.

Calculating the Cost of Investment for your Exhibition

When talking about exhibitions, the cost of investment refers to the total expenditure incurred when attending that show. It is important to take every cost into account to calculate an accurate ROI. 

These costs may include:

  • Floor Space
  • Exhibition Stand
  • Staff (including additional training costs)
  • Travel, accommodation, and entertainment
  • Trade show services (carpets, plug sockets, furniture)
  • Promotional items and giveaways

Everyone has a different budget and the amount you spend can vary depending on the industry and the trade show you are attending. There are loads of ways you can generate B2B leads on a shoestring budget, and this might be the one for you.

Work out your Metrics

5 Ways to Measure Return on Investment at Trade Exhibitions

Once you have decided on your goals for the exhibition, you can work out the relevant metric to measure your ROI.

1. Sales and/or pre-orders

If your goal is to increase sales and/or pre-orders you can measure it by:

  • The number of sales/pre-orders
  • The revenue generated from sales/pre-orders

2. Website Traffic

Measuring website traffic can be used to asses several goals. An individual who has seen your exhibition stand may visit your website without interacting with your team at all if you have impressed them.

Tracking unique visitors will show you how many new eyes are looking at your website, and is great for measuring brand awareness, and monitoring the success of a product launch.

Monitoring the bounce rate will let you know how far individuals are looking to get to know you and are a good way of observing brand awarenessnetworking, and relationship building.

Keeping an eye on what devices people are using to visit your website can show you how effective your exhibit has been at achieving most goals. If you see an increase in people visiting from a mobile, they might be viewing your website in the exhibition hall. This shows whether you have made an impression, grown brand awareness, and built customer relationships.

Comparing average vs new sessions will allow you to compare this information with tangible data, identifying the return on investment for your exhibition.

3. Media and Press Coverage

Monitoring media and press coverage is an easy way to measure the ROI of a product launch.

Creating a media buzz before the exhibition can increase the number of visitors to your stand, helping you to achieve other goals. Seeing an increase in coverage after the exhibition shows that people have taken an interest in you and your brand.

Leading exhibition stand designers understands that this is key to exhibition success and now offers a free client PR package.

The in-house marketing team takes on the responsibility of writing press releases, as well as getting them published across a variety of media channels so you have less to worry about.

With content marketing booming as we enter 2020, press and media coverage will be key to measuring your ROI and business success.

4. Data Collection

If your goal is to generate leads, monitoring the amount of data you collect is the best metric. You can count names, contact numbers, addresses, or LinkedIn contacts and use this figure to calculate ROI.

5. Social Media

You can use social media to monitor attendee satisfaction by running polls and inviting comments from the community. This not only encourages people to interact with your stand but improves brand awareness and customer relationships.

Social media is also a great platform to measure lead generation, as everyone who follows your brand on a social media platform as a result of an exhibition is a new lead. 

Calculating ROI for your exhibition has never been easier

By calculating costs, setting clear goals, and identifying the metrics, it is easier than ever to track your exhibition’s ROI.

Utilizing digital elements of your brand, such as social media platforms and your website, make it easy to gather information and engage with your exhibit attendees.

No matter what your goal is, these metrics will help you calculate ROI and measure the efficiency of exhibiting as a marketing strategy.

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