Guest blog: How to evaluate exhibitions’ success?


By Lee Ali, MD, Expo Stars

For years, badge scanning has been a common way to measure success at trade events and exhibitions. It seems like a quick and efficient way for exhibitors to log and collect data on attendees. Seeing the long list of names and badges scanned at the end of a show might give a sense of instant gratification – but how much of a true reflection of your event success does it give?

Here, I’ll explain why badge scanning is the wrong approach, and how you can use a more sophisticated way to measure your exhibition performance.

The problem with badge scanning 


Sure, badge scanning is easy and, if you lack confidence when trying to speak to attendees, it might seem like a great way to collate loads of data without bothering the attendees too much.

But that’s exactly why it’s not effective.

Yes, you may have hundreds or thousands of new contacts. But how many of these are people you’ve actually engaged with? How many of these of the contacts are eagerly waiting to hear from you following the show? Who will remember you when you send out your email newsletter, and who will go straight for the unsubscribe button?

Badge scanning with zero engagement or relationship building defeats the point of face-to-face marketing.

Exhibitions and events give you a unique opportunity to engage, educate, inform and inspire your target audience. This is all part of building relationships, which can result in sales, deals or partnerships in the long-term.

If you’re taking the time to plan, execute and invest in an exhibition, you need to focus on quality leads. And the way to drive this is through meaningful face-to-face conversations.

It’s good to talk

With so much competition at exhibitions, you need to make sure you’re attracting the right people to your stand and leaving a lasting impression. Remember why people are at exhibitions in the first place. They’re there to learn and research new trends, services or products that can help them in their job role or business. The attendees are actively looking for solutions to their problems – the perfect position to be in for you to try and help them.

But don’t jump straight into your sales pitch. This could well deter them and mean you lose any potential leads in the first five minutes. Instead, start by getting to know them. Learn about their challenges, current practices and the wider objectives of their business.

Taking a personalised approach and asking the right questions can help you qualify leads and also build a rapport with prospective clients. It also helps to show that you care about them – not just your sales target.

Setting your goals

Before your exhibition, you should have a clear strategy in place that determines what you want your target audience to do after the event. Yes, you might get some sales there and then, depending on the nature of your products and services. But chances are there, there are a few more steps before we get to this stage.

What do you want your prospects to do? Do you want them to book in a demo, connect on social media, or take advantage of a free trial? Depending on what your call to action is, this will translate into the goals that you put in place to measure your performance.

Some simple statistics you can track include:

  • Satisfaction scores from feedback forms
  • Market research surveys completed
  • Webinar or free trial sign-ups
  • Meetings booked
  • Newsletter subscribers

Taking a measured approach

Technology now means it’s easier than ever for us to get lots of data at the touch of a button. But this doesn’t mean that systems like badge scanning are the most effective way to measure event success.

At events and trade shows, you have a great opportunity to get in front of potential buyers who are keen to find out about different products and services. And the key here is prioritising meaningful conversations.

Technology can help you monitor and track results, but it should support, not replace, building trust and relationships on a one-to-one basis. Adopting a personalised approach, focusing on face-to-face engagement and prioritising quality – not quantity – leads, will transform your exhibition strategy and evaluation process.