The Trade Show Metrics that Matter

January 3, 2017

“If the metrics you are looking at aren’t useful in optimizing your strategy – stop looking at them.” –Mark Twain

In the spring of 1962, Dick Swandby sat in a meeting with his brow furrowed. His team was arguing over which products to showcase at their next trade show exhibit. They were gridlocked. Eventually, the decision was awarded to the team member with the loudest voice.

As Swandby sat there observing, he noticed one crucial thing missing from their discussion: data. Swandby knew that if you could measure something, you could understand it. So he developed the first method for determining measurable trade show metrics. Ironically, his impact on the trade show industry was immeasurable.

Technology has only built on Swandby’s invaluable method. Now, you have the ability to plan, measure, and optimize nearly all facets of trade show success with cutting accuracy. But when swimming in such an overwhelming sea of trade show metrics, what data should you care about?

#1. Website traffic 

Whether or not driving people to your website is a primary goal for your trade show, site traffic is an important barometer of success you should be measuring.

Analyze site traffic both before and after the show. Your performance across organic, direct, and referral sources will indicate where your strategy sang, and where it may have fallen flat.

For example, a stark increase in traffic prior to an exhibition could mean that your pre-show marketing strategy resonated with your audience. And conversely, if you don’t see an uptick in traffic post-show, you may need to make a bigger splash on the show floor.

Don’t have Google Analytics or some other digital analytic software already installed on your site? Stop reading and set it up now – you’ve got a lot of ground to cover!

#2. Social media engagement and conversation

Social media is an inextricable piece of a successful trade show strategy. Social media marketing metrics for both b2c and b2b exhibitors provide valuable insight into A.) Your audience’s behavior online, and B.) Whether or not your brand’s messages are resonating with your audience.

Track social media engagement metrics and conversation every step of your trade show journey. This data can inform your strategy in real-time, providing you a window into what your audience wants and what they’re talking about.

Publish content tailored to your audience’s interests, and distribute it when they’re most likely to engage with it. Doing so will get them excited to come to your exhibit and help build a lasting relationship, long after your booth is disassembled.

#3. Foot traffic

Wireless tracking technology is here, and it’s making it easier for us to understand who’s visiting your booth, where they’re going once inside, and how long they’re staying. And with state-of-the-art Bluetooth, RFID, and Wi-Fi tracking systems, you can garner this information without interrupting your attendees’ experience.

This is practical data you need to optimize your trade show strategy, informing everything from your outreach to your booth layout.

When analyzing foot traffic data, pay most attention to these three metrics:

  • Visits – Measuring the total number of visits to your booth speaks to its visual impact on the show floor. Are you standing out among the crowd?
  • Unique visits – While total booth visits can shed light on the overall appeal of your exhibit, unique visits can help you better understand how large your reach was at each show.
  • Dwell time ­– How long are people staying in your booth, and where are they spending the most time? Use this information to adjust your booth’s layout, and integrate more interactive elements to engage your audience more effectively.

#4. Lead acquisitions and responses 

Generating leads is one of the most common goals of trade show marketers (after all, exhibiting is about fulfilling a business need). So it only makes sense to invest the proper time and resources into accurately measuring your leads from acquisition to follow-up.

The most effective way to capture and organize lead information at your exhibition is by integrating digital engagement elements in your booth. Link these information capture stations directly to your company’s CRM to help track and organize your potential customers. This way, following up with your leads after the show is easy to do, and responses are easy to measure.

#5. ROI metrics

You need to understand the value of exhibiting at a trade show before you can improve it. What’s more, knowing your booth’s ROI is essential for communicating its worth to key stakeholders.

It’s an intimidatingly important task, but fear not! Calculating your trade show’s ROI is not as elusive as you may think. In fact, measuring ROI metrics is as simple as completing a few steps:

  • Define your goals – Why are you exhibiting? Is it lead gen, brand awareness, product sales, or something else entirely?
  • Track and label your leads – As mentioned in trade show metric #4, you need to accurately monitor leads generated at an exhibit to tie future sales back to your trade show efforts.
  • Calculate the lifetime value of your customers – How much is your average trade show lead worth? This value will take some time and calculation, but it’s necessary to understand the ROI of your trade show.

Ultimately, all of these essential trade show metrics lead to this one thing: return on investment. Check out our in-depth guide on calculating your trade show ROI today to take the next step toward trade show exhibit mastery.