Trade shows are great for so many things: brand recognition; meeting customers and prospects; mixing and mingling with colleagues. Also long hours, sore feet and big dinner bills. But it can be good for other things as well, namely online marketing, including SEO, social and link-building. Here’s how and why:
Social media marketing is a big part of search results and is increasingly becoming more important. Followers, likes and interactions are recognized by Google and can have a positive impact on your rankings. That said, IT trade show Interop provides hourly updates from its feed and has more than 5,000 Twitter followers. By acting similarly, you, too can increase your visibility on social networks and search engines. You can also increase foot traffic to your booth at the show. Here are some examples:
- Promo codes
Let your audience know you have promo codes and show it how to get them. Offering this kind of discount is a great way to interact with customers, prospects and colleagues. Make sure your BDM team is involved and actively using them.
Giving away products is a great way to get traffic to your booth. It’s also a great way to get people buzzing about you in the social space. Let everyone know what you’re giving away (standard iPad or a Hawaiian vacation) and how they can get involved. Perhaps if someone follows you on Twitter and stops by the booth, they get two entries instead of one.
- Show updates
During the show, provide constant feedback via your social networking platforms:
- How is the show going?
- How was the latest keynote speaker?
- Let everyone know your keynote is about to speak
- Let everyone know before you’re giving away a prize
Content should be written and optimized for your blog to promote your involvement before, during and after the show. Search engines love fresh, well-written content. If you’re not already blogging, then start today. If you are blogging, then tradeshows like Interop provide avenues to add great content. Examples:
- Before the show
Let everyone know you’re attending. This can include where your booth is located and when your team is speaking. You can also talk about the products you’ll be displaying and provide a link within the blog to those product pages. Let your audience know why they should stop by the booth. Are you giving anything away? Will you have product demos available? Maybe you’ll have free pizza and beer; if so, that’s a great blog post.
- During the show
Much of the updates during the show can be broadcasted via Twitter or other social channels (see “show updates” above), but a solid daily blog post with the highlights can also be compelling. What are the key takeaways from the day? Did you have a big rush of people to the booth? If so, take a picture and let everyone on your blog know about it. Link the blog post to the product that had everyone’s attention. Perhaps you generated a ton of interaction during a panel your product manager sat on. If so, post the questions and answers.
- After the show
Make sure to wrap everything up with your overall impression of the conference with the highlights.
Link-popularity building is the foundation of many successful SEO programs. Generating relevant and quality backwards links not only helps improve rankings, but also drives quality website traffic and supports branding. There are numerous link- building opportunities assocated with tradeshows like Interop. For example:
- Exhibiting and sponsorships
If you’re sponsoring or exhibiting at the show, chances are you’ll have an opportunity to let the world know via the show’s website. For example, see Interop’s list of exhibitors. The majority of the companies that are paying for a sponsorship have no information about what they do, let alone a link back to their website.
Is your company speaking at Interop? If this is the case, make sure you completely fill out your speaker’s bio. The majority of the bios are left blank. Again, this is a great place to get great backward links to your online properties: website, blog, Twitter profile, etc.
As mentioned below, press releases and blogging can drive quality links back to your website. Getting the proper keywords, content and links within your PR campaigns can have a significant impact on SEO.
Before the show, the PR buildup should be in full swing. This will include press releases, social activity, speaking engagements and editorial pushes. Be sure to cover:
- Press releases
Get the right keywords into your announcements and have links pointing to the most relevant pages, NOT just your homepage or events page. If you’re featuring a product, send the readers to the proper product page.
If you’re exhibiting, chances are you have new products or updates to existing products to promote. Make sure they’re considered for any awards. Your company winning—or at least being considered—can have a big impact on customer perception in online research, along with making your sales team very, very happy.
Trade shows like Interop give you the opportunity to add freshly optimized and engaging content in a new way:
- Site content
Product pages can have calls-to-action that hit home with visitors and prospects. For example, if you’re featuring a product demo during the show, state that on the product landing page: “See the desktop virtualization software in action at Interop, booth #9555.” You can also create entire new pages about your exhibit. For example, if you’re featuring a “big data” product that isn’t ranking for a keyword like “big data analytics,” you can create an additional page that speaks your booth promotions, demos, team and Interop interactions that are centered around the “big data analytics” product.
Gasoline on the Fire
Here at Fathom, we love it when our clients are attending trade shows like Interop. They are the perfect opportunity to boost rankings, traffic and leads in a new and creative way. Using an analogy, SEO is like a fire—the more logs you throw on the fire, the bigger it gets. Properly marketing your participation in trade shows is like adding a log doused in gasoline to your fire. Poof!!