How to collect email addresses at events

Events like conferences, trade shows, and evening tech talks have always been valuable networking opportunities. In a short period of time, you can make personal connections with customers and interact with a large number of qualified leads.

The conversations you have at an event are the beginning of the lead funnel. It’s important to collect email addresses for follow-up marketing to stay in touch with these leads. And to maximize the value of every event, consider the many ways you can collect email addresses while you’re there.

Incentivize email signup

Persuading attendees to give you their email addresses in exchange for a newsletter or special guide is no easier at an event than it is online. To encourage attendees to provide their email addresses, consider offering additional incentives to sign up. 

Giveaways are always popular, so require an email address to enter. Offering branded freebies, like tote bags or water bottles, for an email address is a good way to both collect email addresses and get your brand messaging in front of your audience.

Of all of the available incentives, the event giveaway can be the most effective, especially if you promote a significant prize. When you add a time limit to this option, you create a motivating sense of urgency. By stating that the giveaway will take place at the end of the event, you encourage attendees to take action immediately, rather than putting off (and possibly not completing) the signup. 

Integrate registration with email signup opportunities

If you’re hosting the event, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate registration with email signups. Include an option for attendees to subscribe to your email newsletter and event updates when they register online. Incorporate email signup options on all event correspondence. Start promoting the benefits of signing up for email notifications well before the event.

Create multiple signup options

Structure your email signup so that you give attendees multiple ways to quickly and easily provide their email addresses: 

  • Put a fishbowl on your trade show table so interested business owners can drop their business cards inside.
  • Have an iPad or laptop available at your table with an email signup form so attendees can submit their information in seconds.
  • Prepare a handwritten signup sheet so that, in a pinch, attendees can write down their email addresses. This isn’t an ideal option, since it can be difficult to decipher handwriting, but it’s a good backup in case other methods fail or get overwhelmed during a busy event.

Use QR codes

QR codes can streamline the collection of email addresses. Add QR codes to all of your event marketing materials, including flyers, direct mail, event posters, and your program. Include a call to action, like “Sign up for our event giveaway,” to encourage attendees to scan the QR code.

To streamline the process, make sure the QR code directs attendees to a landing page or an email signup form. Make the form as simple as possible to reduce the drop-off rate. Ask for only basic contact information, like names and email addresses, so that attendees can easily sign up using their smartphones.

Provide additional post-event signup opportunities

No matter how easy you make it to sign up for an email newsletter at a live event, some attendees will miss out on the opportunity. Provide them with plenty of avenues to sign up after the event so you can still capture these quality leads.

Social media is an excellent avenue to help with this:  

  • Use Facebook ads and geocaching to target attendees both during and after the event.
  • Post a link to your newsletter signup form on your Facebook page or in a Tweet to remind attendees of the value they’ll receive for signing up.
  • Include event hashtags and a call to action in your social media posts to remind event attendees to sign up for a limited-time offer.

You may notice increased traffic to your website after an event. You can capture this traffic, too. Install a popup form offering website visitors perks for subscribing to your email list. 

Be ready to maximize your marketing

Collecting email addresses at live events is only beneficial if your business is prepared to use those addresses wisely in your marketing. Take the time to review your marketing strategy before the event and develop your email funnel so that you can reach out to your new contacts promptly after the event. 

Events are your chance to connect with your audience in person. By collecting emails and ensuring those leads are in your marketing funnel, you can nurture the relationship you already made with your face-to-face connection for better marketing results.

This article is originally published on Jul 02, 2020 , and updated on Aug 05, 2020
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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