facebook pixel

How to Increase Your Trade Show ROI and Make Sales

Trade shows are an essential part of your marketing and sales process. Where else can you directly connect in person with hundreds, if not thousands, of your target customers, allowing your reps to build relationships that (hopefully) turn into sales? While in-person trade shows nearly met their demise during the Covid-19 outbreak, they are returning in full force. This means your competitors—and your ideal customers—are attending again, and trade show return on investment (ROI) is, as it has always been, the most critical metric of success.

That’s the good news, but now returns the question of how do you get good ROI from the tradeshow?

our email marketing mascot, eebee, at a tradeshow illustration

Calculate Trade Show ROI

The simplest measure is the number of leads, but don’t fall for this. A lead is anyone who visits your booth—which is not a reliable factor. You need to look at a marketing qualified lead (MQL) as a critical measure. An MQL is someone who’s interested in the company’s service. This is where you start.

Establishing the ROI of the trade show is determined by taking the number of MQL multiplied by the company MQL value; divide that product by the cost of the trade show, and multiply the result by 100. A positive calculation is good, while a negative one is bad… if the calculation is zero, you broke even. This is why it’s important to understand the value they place on an MQL (see sidebar).

eebee at tradeshow explaining ROI illustration

Too often, companies fail at this point because MQLs from tradeshows don’t get the follow up and engagement they should.

What happens after you’ve packed up and left the convention center? Do you have a plan for following up? If a business doesn’t follow up on its leads and drive them successfully through a strategic sales funnel, the ROI is zero.


It’s critical to ask yourself how you plan on collecting MQLs and, more importantly, how you will follow up after the trade show is over.

Lead vs. MQL: What’s the Difference?

A lead is someone who goes from being a visitor to someone you interacted with briefly, shook hands, provided brief information, and captured their contact information. 

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a quality lead—someone genuinely interested in your product or service that your team has vetted. You’ve interacted, asked probing questions, learned what they’re interested in, and how your product or service can help solve their problem. You’re still capturing their contact information, and, because of your interactions, you’ve qualified this lead and see the potential to become a buyer or client. An MQL is what your sales team should focus on to drive business.

Calculating the Value of an MQL

Step 1.Calculate the average lifetime value of a customer for your business. 

Example: $1,000 service per month x 12 months = $12,000 lifetime value

Step 2. Determine how many MQLs from a trade show it takes to get one customer.

Example: If 100 MQLs earns you 5 customers, you average 1 customer from every 20 MQLs.

Step 3. Calculate your MQL value by dividing your average customer’s lifetime value by the average amount of MQLs it takes to earn one customer.

Example: $12,000 (Average Customer Lifetime Value) / 20 (MQLs per Customer) = $600 (Average MQL Value)

Using Trade Show Automation to Increase ROI

This is where Email Broadcast can help. Our unique trade show and conference automation process has everything you need to effectively capture MQLs. Then, we help you follow up using a customized automation system that nurtures and converts leads into paying customers.

Package price for your trade show or conference

Includes below

Customized staff form and/or QR code to collect lead information.

Here are some examples of the forms we use:

Simple form. Collect contact details, basic qualification questions, and subscribe to a company newsletter (if you have one).

Advanced form. Utilize all of the options of the simple form plus additional qualification questions (workflow) to drive more specific follow-up information.

Staff training. We train your staff on the registration, installation (access/login), and input instructions of your form.

Strategic email automation process.

Thank-you email. Develop a personalized thank-you email that’s sent immediately to your leads after they visit your booth.

2-day, 7-day, and 14-day follow-up emails. Send strategically curated emails containing content that nurtures your MQLs through the sales funnel.

Worksheets containing all of the leads you’ve captured

You’ll receive a CSV file with names and contact information, plus engagement information (open rates, click-through rates, etc.) from the follow-up emails.

Ready to grow?

After we have all the facts, we’ll present a proposal outlining our tailored, full-service solution—what it will include, what it will do for your business, and what it will cost.

Learn more about improving trade show ROI

Introduction to Trade Show Marketing

Pre-schedule Appointments at Trade Shows

Qualify Leads at a Trade Show

How to Get Started:

We’re ready when you are! The first step is to contact us at least 30 days before the trade show to schedule a complimentary consultation with an Email Broadcast team member.

Once you’re ready to move forward and have signed a contract, the process is easy:

  • Attend kick-off meeting with our creative team
  • Participate in content/branding meeting
  • Review/edit carefully crafted email messages
  • Get feedback from our team’s automation testing process
  • See results of your automation campaign that runs for 15 days following the end of the conference
  • Get leads sheet sent at end of the conference
    • Add on: Receive your lead report or statistics at the end of each day

Book an Appointment

Schedule your free 20-minute consultation to see if your business can profit from expert email marketing.