There’s a wide range of ways to measure the success of a trade show you attend as an exhibitor. But for most people, what matters more than anything else is the number of leads you generate at the show. Even more important? The number of leads you convert into customers. This often depends on your follow-up strategy. What’s your plan for following up on leads after your next show?
It should include a great follow-up email that you can send out to every lead you earn at a show. Here’s how to write effective follow-up emails that will secure those leads in the long-term.
When to Send
Aside from the content of the email itself, the most important thing about a follow-up is that you don’t delay in sending it. Aim to send out follow-ups one to two days after a trade show ends. If you can’t swing that, then send emails within a week.
This timing tends to produce the best results for a couple of very simple reasons:
- If you send emails sooner than this, it’s easy for them to go unnoticed. Your recipients may still be traveling home and then catching up on work once they get there. They won’t have time to pay attention to follow-ups the day the show ends.
- If you follow up with leads weeks after the event, your trade show booth and product or service are no longer fresh in recipients’ minds, and they might dismiss your email as spam.
One to two days after the event ends hits the sweet spot between traveling home and getting back into the work routine.
Make sure your emails land in inboxes on a work day. Sending emails out over the weekend adds to the risk they’ll be regarded as spam come Monday morning or be so far down the list in recipients’ inboxes that they don’t read them for another couple of days.
Warm Leads First
Finally, be sure to follow up on your hot leads, then warm leads, first. Leave the unqualified leads until you’ve dealt with those that show the most potential.
How to Write
Excitement about your product or service and the show success you just experienced might tempt you to write a long follow-up email. You probably also fear that leaving out some crucial piece of information might lose you a sale. But if your recipients are combing through a dozen follow-up emails after a trade show, it’s possible they’ll just overlook those that don’t get to the point right away.
When you write follow-ups, keep them simple and short. You don’t need to go into any great detail—all you’re providing here is a quick summary of what you can offer and an invitation to discuss it.
What to Write
The best trade show follow-up email comes down to the Rule of 3: Three main sections answering three important questions the recipient is likely to have as they read.
1. Who Are You, Again?
The people with whom you’re following up probably spoke to a dozen or more different exhibitors at the trade show. It’s possible they won’t remember you specifically unless you remind them. Your first objective in a follow-up email is to jog the reader’s memory with a reminder of where you met. If possible, include a personal touch to help build rapport. Perhaps you had a common interest or talked about something that happened at the show. Whatever it is, include it, even if it seems insignificant.
2. What Can You Do for Them?
By now, your reader is probably asking themselves (at least, subconsciously) if they need to continue reading. How can this email benefit them? Your next step in a follow-up email, therefore, is to explain—succinctly—what you do. More specifically, what you can do for them.
The simplest, most effective way to do this is with a quick sales story that highlights how you can solve a problem they have. For instance, discuss a problem you dealt with for another client, how you solved it, and how they benefited.
Don’t assume they remember what you offer from speaking with you at the show!
This kind of storytelling is most effective if it directly relates to a problem the reader actually has. If you discussed any such problem at the trade show, bringing that into this section of the email will make it much more effective.
3. What Do They Need to Do Next?
Any good sales pitch needs a call-to-action. The final section of your email should answer their third question: What to do next? If you’ve piqued their interest with your story, they’ll want more information, so it’s up to you to let them know where to find it.
The specific call-to-action you include depends on what you want your email to achieve. If this is part of a longer sales cycle you might direct them to a product brochure. If you’re trying to move directly to an active sales pitch, your call-to-action might be an invitation to schedule a meeting or phone call.
Most importantly, your call-to-action should be brief, clear, and explicit. The reader should know exactly what they need to do to proceed and should be able to do it without having to go looking for more information.
Sample Email Script for Qualified Follow-Ups
Here’s an example of what a follow-up email could look like:
What to Do with Unqualified Leads
Your less qualified leads shouldn’t necessarily be treated in the same way. If they’re not at the point in the sales cycle where they’re ready to hear a pitch, then the above email isn’t helpful.
For those leads, it’s better to offer them information. Rather than an invitation to schedule a meeting, make your call-to-action a white paper download or a webinar link. Offer valuable information, so you encourage them to stay in contact. That gives you the opportunity to continue building a relationship, and eventually make the sales pitch.
Bear in mind, these emails are going to people that you may not have even met, so the email will naturally be a lot more generic than those you use for qualified leads. Most of the time, there’s no need to extensively personalize the emails you send to unqualified leads.
Measure Your Results
Remember to keep a close eye on the kinds of responses your emails get. Monitoring your results will help you calculate the ROI for that show and help you refine and improve your sales strategies for your next successful trade show.
A follow-up email is a crucial part of effective lead management. Many people with whom you speak at a show are interested in your product or service but forget about you or forget how to follow through in the hustle and bustle of the end of a trade show. Give them a short, sweet reminder, and put more trade show leads in your pocket!