The biggest predictor of marketing ROI on a trade show or an event is your ability to follow-up after an event.

Getting new clients interested in the product or service your business offers is one of the biggest challenges you will ever face. Now, you have successfully garnered interest and need to be very delicate with how you handle the next step. It could literally make or break the connection you have built with this potential new customer.

The following are some of the most important things to remember when following up with event leads.

Add a Personal Touch, Not an Email Blast

Nobody wants to feel like cattle and that includes your potential customers. They want to know that their business matters to you and that you see them as an individual and not just another number. This is why it can be such a huge mistake to fire off an email blast immediately following an event. Sure, you might add the personalization of their name in the addressee section, but they still know it has not truly been personalized.

So, how do you follow up after an event if you have hundreds of leads?

One idea is to divide and conquer. Another is to categorize the leads. Put the big leads on top and add a special touch. Whether you are giving them a phone call or creating a letter personally formulated for them, be sure to mention specific issues relating to their needs. Perhaps it is a question they asked you or something they mentioned. Try to address them in a way that lets them know they are a priority to you.

After an Event, Follow-Up in a Timely Manner

We’ve all heard “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” When you get back in front of your leads is just as important as how often you do. It’s incredibly important for you to follow up with leads directly after an event. Reinforce the conversation you had with them during the event providing more context and information on the topic.

A great strategy to beat your competitors to the punch is to tee up your follow-ups for the evening after the event. Before sending each of them out, add the information specific to each contacts’ conversation so they come across as personalized and genuine.

Another great event follow-up strategy is to contact them in an unexpected way. While snail mail always provides a personal feel, it’s not the fastest way to stay in contact. SMS is a great tool to give a quick personal touch that isn’t invasive but can be a great way to keep an open line of communication. Inputting your contact’s cell phone numbers into a business SMS system allows you to quickly send personalized messages while keeping each conversation organized.

Be Cautious About Handing Leads Off to Sales

Not every event lead is ready to be handed off to the sales team to close, just as not every customer is in the same place in the buying cycle. According to MarketingSherpa, only about 27% of the leads you acquired at your event are going to be ready for a sales call. This means there is still work to do before you hand them off to close.

Going right for a sale after one introductory meeting with an event lead is a great way to instantly turn off that prospect. While you don’t want to “go for the jugular” right away, you do want to start nurturing your event leads to move them closer to a purchase. Your sales team can be a great resource for this with the right coaching and strategies. First, bucket your leads based on their interest in your product and where they are in the buying process. You may end up with three buckets that looks something like this:

  • Top of Funnel: Leads that are in the awareness stage looking for more information about your product or services.
  • Middle of Funnel: Leads that have specific needs and have identified you as a potential solution but need additional information about how specifically you can solve their need.
  • Bottom of Funnel: Leads that need to be convinced that you’re the right solution compared to your competition

From here, email prospects with content at each stage of the purchase process that speaks to those pain points and positions your solution as the right one for them specifically. Your sales team can support these efforts by following up with leads to answer any questions they may have and move them further down the purchase process.

Create a Plan for Qualifying Leads

You now have qualified marketing leads but you are not quite sure if they are ready to become a customer. Maybe you are not even certain they are a good fit for what you have to offer. Consider engaging with them in a way that allows you to gather more information.

A qualified lead might be a good fit for the sales department. They can reach out and try to get a better understanding of what the potential new customer needs to find out if your business is able to accommodate them. They can ask the right questions and make an informed decision based on the responses.

Once you have formulated a definitive plan for how to best follow up with event leads, you will be better prepared to succeed. This will likely provide your business with an ROI you and your entire team can be excited about.