Marketing / Networking

How to Collect Email Addresses from Live Events

Updated: Sep 20, 2022 · 7 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

best way to collect email addresses at trade show

by Jared Kimball

Attending live events is a massive investment of not just your money, but your time and effort, yet it can often seem like you show up, but don’t walk away with anything concrete. Well, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to collect email addresses at events. And these tactics apply whether you have a booth at a trade show or if you’re networking at an industry event, but their implementation may vary slightly depending. So, let's discuss the best way to collect email addresses at trade shows.

No matter how crazy these ideas may sound—believe me they work—and the more effort you put into it, the better results you’ll see.

 Step 1: Theme your team

Most people who go to a trade show put a ton of effort and money into creating a cool looking booth, but just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. 

If you take some of that booth money and put it towards theming out your team, there’s a real good chance your booth will become the talk of the whole trade show.

Imagine you sell some sort of software product that does email marketing. What would happen if your team called themselves the Email Marketing Ninjas and wore some sort of ninja costume?

You probably think that sounds crazy, however, it would get your team noticed and everyone would ask, “Who are those ninja people?” 

At ICON 2015, Training Business Pros (who are one Keap Certified Partners and Trusted Advisors) took this tactic to new heights. Their CEO, Paul Tobey, had spoken at ICON14 and while they had a booth, they didn’t see the lead activity they wanted. They knew that in 2015, as a Canadian brand at an American conference, they had to stand out from more established, recognized American brands 

Training Business Pros COO Nancy Houle said, “We decided to focus on ‘different,’ not trying to be ‘bigger is better.’” So in order to drive foot traffic to their people and a first class party they had (instead of a booth) and to generate leads, they dressed Nick Longo, who is now their director of digital marketing services, in a Canadian Mountie costume. And it paid off—Houle says they started scooping up business they had seeded in 2014 as a direct result of being different in 2015. And they’re still signing clients—just from being different. (And for any ICON16 attendees, be on a look out for their music jam session.)

how to collect email addresses at events

Live events, whether they’re trade shows or conferences, are all about buzz, so why not be THE buzz that everyone is talking about?

You’ll grab attention just from that idea alone and attract more traffic to your booth. That’s just the first step…

Step 2: Give something cool away

Let’s say your average customer is worth $10,000 over the next year.

Couldn’t you afford to give away a $1,000-plus prize to get more people on your email list?

All you would need to get is one customer from the trade show and you come out ahead by $9,000 giving away the $1,000 prize. If you get a few more customers then you’ve got a profitable live event.

Here’s how you do a giveaway with style… 

Sticking with the ninja theme, you could use your team or hire a model or two to walk around the trade show telling everyone to go visit your booth for the free prize giveaway. They can hand out paper ninja stars and tell them that if they get the star signed at the booth they’ll get a free drink, food, or some other enticing freebie (more on that in step three).

This approach works great because many people will approach your ninjas and ask if they can take pictures with them. Conversations naturally occur while people take photos. So seize the opportunity to entice them to visit your space, or if you’re networking and don’t have a space for them to visit come up with an enticing reason for other attendees to say “Go talk to the ninjas!”

Having freebies or a high-end giveaway entice people to talk to you, and being noticeable and different will pique people’s curiosity. So use that photo opp to exchange business cards and build up your lead list.

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Step 3: Get people to linger longer

Now that your team and models are sending people to your booth, or if you’re talking to them, you need to keep them talking with you.

The longer you can keep the prospects, the better the chance you can make a connection and build long lasting business relationships.

If you’re trying to keep people at a booth, here are some ideas:

  • Free massages (people will line up for this)
  • Free games—carnival games, video games, or etc.
  • Free food and drinks—provide a place to sit down and strike up conversations while people are munching away

You’ll notice that people tend to be grateful for the free services and will linger. They’ll want to find out more about your company and conversations will begin to flow.

If you’re networking without a designated space, your freebies can include your business card with special offers or promo codes for discounts, free e-books, anything of value that will entice people to visit your site and give their email.

Step 4: Capture data

There’s a good way to capture data (typically a name and email) and then there’s the best way to capture data.

I’m just going to give you the best way to capture data.

Make sure you’ve got some sort of lead capture software to input prospects information. When capturing data make sure your paper forms, digital forms, or whatever medium you’re using to get their data for the prize give away is easily accessible.

Paper forms should be on clipboards with attached pens so prospects can easily write in their contact information. Digital forms should be mobile as well so using cell phones, iPads, or tablets is a good idea.

Using clipboards or tablets makes it easy for prospects and your team members to easily ask people to fill out the forms without relying on a table or other hard surface that’s not so mobile.

When creating your lead capture forms, make sure you don’t leave any open ended questions because people will either lie or they might not know the answer. 

However, if you jog their memory or do the majority of the thinking for them they’ll give you more info.

How to get more info from your prospects

The standard name and email is a given, but make sure you get more data so you know who your best potential buyers are.

For example, if you ask, “What’s your yearly revenue?” and leave the answer as a blank line most people will leave it blank, lie about their revenue, or maybe give you the truth.

Take the guesswork out of it; give them multiple choice answers.

If the question is “What’s your yearly revenue?” give them four to five check boxes with options like:

  • $0 – $100k
  • $100k – $1 Million
  • $1 Million – $10 Million
  • $10 Million – $50 Million
  • $50 Million+

Your prospects will just check the box that fits with their business. No hard thinking required.

If you follow these steps on how to get email addresses from live events and plan ahead you’ll get more leads than ever before.

Follow up 

Of course the most important part of capturing emails at a live event is following up with those leads after the fact. Check out this post on how to follow up with leads after a conference.

Jared Kimball openly shares his strategies and techniques for email marketing on his site

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