Do you think you might consider investing in a virtual tradeshow?

Marketers are increasingly under pressure to justify their event spending and report ROI. This has made digital trade shows attractive. This popular marketing platform is gaining popularity because of its low cost, convenience and flexibility as well as data tracking capabilities.

However, it promises to be a virtual trade show with booth design, setup, sessions and lead generation.

Live trade shows are a key tool in the marketing arsenal. This is because they offer sponsors the chance to meet qualified business buyers and show thought leadership. The ability to network with industry peers, build new business relationships and share insights is another benefit.

The maturing tradeshow technology has made it easier to translate exhibit halls, booths and keynote presentations into virtual reality. It is however much more difficult to recreate live trade shows experiences.

Are virtual trade shows the right choice for you? To be certain, consider the pros and cons.


  • Cost-savings
  • Lead generation. Online registration allows for lead retrieval and nurturing.
  • Time-savings. You can complete virtual attendance in your office or at home, according to your schedule.
  • Content consumption. Virtual tradeshows house digital assets that have the potential for virality.


  • No opportunities for networking. Inadequate opportunities to interact with attendees over breakfast, at the end of a session or in a booth aisle.
  • Interaction. Inability physically to interact with solutions or products on the show floor.
  • Engagement. Online attendees are more likely to be distracted by urgent business matters, interruptions from co-workers, or multitasking in another web browser.
  • Technology is dependent. Online trade shows can be affected by connectivity problems or software issues.
  • It is impersonal. Chat communication is less personal than in-person conversations that allow prospects to connect with a brand.

Your event goals will determine if a virtual show is right for you. A virtual trade show might be the right choice for you if you are looking for industry insights or to expand your database.

Live events may be more appealing if your goals are to network with peers, build relationships with prospects or generate highly qualified leads.

A virtual trade show is affordable and makes it simple to make a decision. You can use metrics to measure effectiveness and ROI, and compare them with live trade shows.

Virtual trade shows will be around for quite some time. The online experience will continue to be the norm until it is safe to travel and meet in large groups again. Virtual tradeshows are new to almost everyone, exhibitors and attendees alike. There has been some learning curve.

Recently, I had the chance to be both an exhibitor and a attendee at a virtual exhibition. I was able to see the experience from both perspectives. While it is too early to compile a list of best practices, there are some observations that might help exhibitors navigate these new waters.

Does it make sense to display?

Exposing is much cheaper than traditional shows. You don’t have to pay anything to be there to support your industry and lead it. You are giving your competitors the opportunity to fill that void, and communicate their message unencumbered.

Just because they are built doesn’t mean that they will be

Although you may spend time at your virtual booth, uploading valuable content about your company and products, it is not guaranteed that attendees will see it. Pre-show marketing is crucial as there is no way to “walk the aisles” during the virtual experience. Promote your page often and early to maximize your trade show investment. I will provide some suggestions in a moment.

Create your exhibit page as soon as possible

You can save time and money by getting your exhibitor page completed in advance. Once exhibitor pages have been created, attendees can start to look at virtual booths in order to decide who they want to get in touch with after the show goes live.

You should also ensure that you post your page content as soon as possible. Make sure to use all the space available to inform attendees about your company. To give details, take full advantage of virtual business cards or pdfs of sales literature. Be sure to review your company description as well as product listing. Make sure to include lots of descriptive keywords so that attendees can find your page using the show search function.


Although it’s tempting to save money by purchasing the basic exhibitor package, spending a little more will pay off. Upgraded packages often offer promotional options, such as a featured listing that places your company at the top of a category listing or an addition of a logo and other tactics to increase your page’s visibility.

Let’s get the word out

Your virtual exhibit’s success depends on its pre-show marketing. The virtual environment offers the chance to spend money that would normally be used for travel and booth construction on great promotional content. These assets can be used to promote your brand at the show as well as in social media and sales calls. Make sure you make connections to start conversations.

Marketing ideas for pre-show:

  • Use the show hashtag in a LinkedIn post.
  • In your email signature, include a link to the show.
  • Give incentives such as gift cards or company swag.
  • Mention your site in the news section.
  • Email invites to your booth to prospect and customer lists.
  • Reach out to people who visited your page.
  • Visit the pages of exhibitors you would like to meet and request a meeting.

Allow your virtual audience to get to know you and show your support for the industry.

Attention spans have been cut in half

Virtual trade shows are no different from online browsing behavior. It is important to grab attention immediately. Expositor options on virtual trade show platforms include webinars, presentations, and videos. When creating content for their booth, exhibitors need to remember this shorter attention span. A dynamic and engaging presentation of 15 minutes will be more appreciated by your audience than a lengthy, tedious one. Your audience should always have the option to contact you for more information!

Enjoy social events

To make the most of the virtual tradeshow platform, do your research before you go. To make the most out of these events, you should set aside time to network just like at a live event.

Follow up

You can track the number of visitors to your site and the information they have viewed. Follow up with them as soon as possible (within two weeks). Provide thoughtful and engaging content to increase value in every interaction. Ask your audience their opinions about the event to continue the conversation.

Although virtual trade shows offer a different experience than live events, they can still be a great way to meet customers and generate leads for your company. You can be creative in promoting your show or setting up your booth. Remember to have fun and enjoy this unique experience.