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If you invest in setting up a booth at an event, you want turn as many visitors as possible into leads. You need their data, but you don’t want to bore visitors to sleep with an endless survey. Right? Behold: There’s an alternative! Imagine setting up an interactive contest. One that doesn’t feel like a survey at all.  Yet it collects all your data and gets amazingly high completion rates (80% and more!).

If that’s what you want, this checklist will prove extremely useful. You’re going to learn how you can easily collect data and double your amount of leads, all in just seven steps.

First things first…

Define your goals

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with this survey. You have people with you for a short period of time, make sure you use that time frame wisely and focus on the one (or perhaps two) things you’d like to get from your visitors.

Did you know that about 80% of event exhibitors don’t put their collected data to good use? Be the other 20%!

Answer these questions to set the right goals for your event:

  • Why are you part of this event? Is it to better your brand, leads or raise awareness? Base the rest of your goals and communication strategy on this.
  • What is your positioning statement? What do you stand for and how is this relevant for visitors? What are your key selling points? All of your messaging should reinforce this.
  • Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to reach and what drives them? Why will they be at this event? Adapt your communication to your ‘ideal visitor’.
  • What actions do you want your booth visitors to take? Give feedback or sign up for a newsletter? Or should they leave specific information behind for you?  Translate this in a strong call to action and incorporate it in all your communication.

Choose the right hardware  

There are so many options! Keeping your target audience in mind is key. What devices are they comfortable with? Focus on lowering that threshold for respondents.

I personally prefer to work with iPads at events. Here’s why:

  • Costs: Renting one iPad air with the latest version of IOS and 4G, for one day, will cost you around $30 to $35 (so it’s not necessary to actually own a lot of devices!)
  • According to your budget, you can think of extras such as insurance, personalization of the devices, 3G sim cards, …
  • iPads are super standardized, which means that their use is easy and the same across most types of devices.
  • iPads are extremely reliable and have the most user friendly interface

Before the event:

  • Decide on the number of devices you’ll need. Consider how many people will man your booth and add a device or two as a spare.
  • Specifications to look out for: an updated operating system, a recent model, insurance, 4G.
  • If Wi-Fi is provided at the venue: don’t make it the only option.
  • Invest in 3G sim cards or a personal MiFi (Wi-Fi hotspot) that works on a 4G connection.
  • Look for a data collection tool that allows you to capture data even when you’re offline.

At the day of the event:

  • Bring chargers, make sure all devices are charged beforehand.
    Also check for a spot at or near your booth where you can recharge if necessary.
  • Test your survey on every device.
  • Gain battery life by disabling GPS settings and adapting the clarity of the screens.

Find a survey tool that works for your brand

You can get a lot of visitor data from trade show organizers, it’s easy, accurate and relevant. But be careful: In order for you to be able to communicate and share promotional content with them, you need an opt-in.

So while it’s a good idea to compare the visitor data to the responses you collected, the best way to collect valuable data to your brand: do it yourself. Look for features that suit your needs:

  • Room for branding and strong visual communication. Make sure visitors recognize who you are at every point of interaction with your booth.
  • Easy in setup. You shouldn’t have to reinvent the data collection survey!
  • Offline data collection capabilities when you can’t depend on a reliable internet connection.
  • Options to engage with your audience in a fun, personal way. Some gamification elements perhaps?

Ask the right questions to get the data you need

Don’t reinvent the data collection survey, if you’re doing this for the first time at an upcoming event, it’s a good idea to use a template with standard questions as your starting point.

Key points to keep in mind when building your lead-generating-machine:

  • Personalize your questions
  • Limit your survey to 5-7 questions
  • Work with features like Skip Logic to increase efficiency and relevance
  • Focus on additional face-to-face interaction at the event

Looking for more detailed insights in what you should ask exactly? A more detail version of the 7-step plan is available here.

And then, on to the next steps!

The golden step: Set up a contest, add an incentive

When you ask people for a favor (their personal data), they expect something in return.

By incentivizing your survey, gathering data goes faster and with less objections.

What: Even when you’re on a small budget, there are options like loyalty points, coupons, or exclusive product or service perks. Give your prospects something that matters to them in relation to your own brand.

How: The best way is to work with a contest. By adding a fun-factor to your standard questions, you increase the chance of personal interaction and make people curious to come and see you. Interactive features like a ‘digital scratch card’ are an easy and instant hit!

Who: Try to reward everyone. Give one very big prize to hook your visitors. Provide an additional little something for all other contestants and have a booth filled with happy faces!

If you set up a contest in your survey, make sure you add all necessary legal info. Here’s a great terms and conditions template to get you started.

Get your booth in order

If you can, work with representatives at your booth for a face-to-face approach. You could also set up unmanned tablets via “Kiosk Mode” if needed. Find more in this easy guide to set up kiosk mode for your iPad, Windows tablet or Android device.

Here are some helpful tips, when you’re working with representatives:

  • Plan ahead! How many people will you need to man your booth?
  • Make a briefing. Make sure everyone tells the same story and focuses on the right things.
  • Test the tablets and survey together, so your team operates it correctly and follows the storyline.

One additional check for booth-happiness: Guide visitors as much as you can towards your contest and survey. Incorporating a bold and big call to action in the design of your booth is a way to grab attention and get visitor entries.

After the event: analyze and communicate

Help visitors to remember you, follow up:

  • Prepare email templates based on the answers your respondents could give. The right survey tool will help you send out different emails that feel personal and to the point.
  • Send out a first reminder right after the trade show. Good to keep the memory fresh!
  • Make your follow up actionable: People came to your booth, they left their contact data, what do you want them to do next?
  • Find more tips for successful follow up here.

Analyze how you did:

  • Did you collect data before at similar events? Use those numbers as a benchmark.
  • Take your goals from Step 1 and compare how you can answer those questions now, after the actual event.
  • Some additional numbers to consider: How many people attended the event? How many visited your booth? How many of those left a response? How many respondents turned into leads and afterwards into customers?

The next step is yours!

If you enjoyed this case study, you should put it to good use! Let us know in the comments below which ones you’ve successfully applied.

About the Author: Sofie Nelen is a Digital Marketeer at Survey Anyplace, where she fights to save the world from boring surveys. She gets her inspiration from following what customers do in their tool and transforms that into useful guides for the rest of the world. Connect with Sofie on Linkedin, or read the blog.


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