How We've Created A Successful Event Marketing Strategy: Sock Club's Guide to Trade Show Success

Chloe Ayres
January 10, 2024

Sock Club attends over 20 trade shows per year so we know a thing or two about event marketing. In fact, most of our business comes from forming partnerships with our clients face to face at promotional product events. We are continuously adding events to our roster, improving our return, and even hired an events manager in 2022. The key to our success has not only been trial and error, but we’ve also learned how to master event marketing

According to Hubspot, “Event marketing is planning, organizing, and executing an event for the purpose of promoting a brand, product, or service. Events can take place in-person or online, and companies can either host an event, attend as an exhibitor, or participate as a sponsor.”  Event marketing is important because it can help you increase your attendance rates by implementing event promotion, increase your conversion rate by implementing post-show follow-ups and increase brand awareness. Here’s How to Market an Event to get closer to your 10x return. 

How to Use Email Marketing in Your Event Marketing Strategy 

What CRM does your company use? Our personal favorite is Hubspot. Not only does it allow us to get extremely granular with our data, but it also allows us to create high-converting email campaigns. For every event, we send out pre and post-show email sequences. Here are 4 things to consider when creating an event email campaign:

  1. Segmentation 
  2. Personalization 
  3. Pre-Show
  4. Post-Show
Person looking at custom logo socks for event

Email Segmentation

If you sent every single marketing email to every single contact you would probably see a decrease in open rates and an increase in unsubscribes. The conversion rates for your email campaigns might also become significantly lower because your content is no longer relevant to the receiver. This is why segmentation is so important! 

Segmentation is dividing your email subscribers into smaller groups. What this looks like for Sock Club is creating email lists from certain trade shows, lists based on company size, company industry, or even contact job title. Then, we can let each of these contacts know about our presence at upcoming events that might be relevant to them. It also gives us a long-term follow-up plan that allows us to follow up a year later and let them know that we’re attending the same event that they met us at a year prior. 

According to the Data and Marketing Association, segmented email campaigns can see a 760% increase in revenue. (Campaign Monitor)

Email campaign segmentation allows us to create highly personalized content for each of our subscribers which brings us to our next point, personalization.

Email Personalization

You probably receive hundreds of promotional emails in your inbox every day. Oftentimes it’s the same deals, same products, and nothing new. According to Experian, personalized subject lines can increase open rates by 26%. (Campaign Monitor). 

One of the most important marketing tactics today is creating exclusivity and making your readers feel like VIPs. When you’re sending event marketing emails, a personalized subject line can feel like a personal invitation and like that even was hand-picked for your reader.

This is a great way to increase your open rate in your pre-show marketing emails. 

Pre-Show Event Marketing

If you take away anything from this list, let it be pre-and-post show email campaigns. Here is why it’s so important:

"Consider your pre-show marketing your hook, the trade show your line, and the post-show your sinker. Pre-show campaigns show your potential customers that you are proactive and personal while increasing brand awareness and driving traffic to your booth. While post-show campaigns are your way to generate and close your leads, whether through a personal webinar or following up on individual conversations from the show." - Ayla Lambert, Sock Club, Content Marketing Manager 

Most of our pre-show marketing emails contain information about what, when, where, and why. We will include things like our booth number, when to find us, and if we’re doing any event giveaways. Including information about your event giveaways can help drive more traffic to your booth. 

A busy booth can look like an inviting one and bring in more people who have never heard about your business. Our preferred event giveaway idea is free socks. It allows prospects to experience our quality and value firsthand. These free promotional items help us drive booth traffic and spread brand awareness throughout the event. 

We’ve had people excitedly run up to our booth at trade shows saying “I am here for the free socks!” Socks are a great conversation starter. 

We also experimented with bigger ticket items like free 60 pairs of custom logo socks and even an iPad. All of these giveaway items are announced to our current subscribers in our pre-show event marketing. Once people visit our booth for our giveaway items and a quick chat we collect their email and add them to our post-show email sequences. 

Sock Club tradeshow booth display

Post-Show Event Marketing 

Most events we’ve attended have allowed us to scan badges to capture the information of people we’ve had good conversations with. After the event, we use this email list to create a segmented post-show email campaign. Remember, these people are at the bottom of your funnel now. This is where the closing happens! 

Your post-show campaign should include your call to action and attempt to get your prospects to convert. If you attended a smaller event, it can be beneficial to include personal details from the conversation you had with your prospect. 

If your marketing budget permits, it may make sense for you to do a post-show webinar where prospects can get to know you and your company on a more personal level. It creates a space for them to ask questions and process more information before actually committing. 

Post-show email marketing can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful event. However, you may be wondering, what other marketing channels can make an event promotion strategy successful? Let’s talk about your social channels. 

How to Use Social Media in Your Event Marketing Strategy 

Social media is a great way to spread the word about your upcoming event or presence at an industry event. You can post organically through Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin, or you can even curate a paid ads strategy. Social is also a great place to post event recap highlights, get tagged by influencers, and even use it as a blog post distribution channel. 

Here are some of our favorite ways to promote events on social to increase our booth traffic. 

Organic Posting Strategy 

If your business has a presence on social media, create a posting strategy for at least 6 months leading up to your event. Schedule an event announcement post, let followers know how to sign up, where to find you, and promote any giveaways you’re doing. Email marketing allows you to stay top of mind during the workday, but social media marketing allows you to stay top of mind even after people clock out.  

If you’re looking to reach a larger audience than just your own followers, consider a paid social strategy. 

Paid Social Media Strategy

The week of the event you can create geo-targeted Facebook and Instagram ads promoting your event within a 10-mile radius of the location. You can even connect your ads to an event sign-up page that allows viewers to register and get more information. 

Post-Event Social Strategy

If your marketing budget permits, it might be beneficial to invite influencers to your event to review it and post about it. This not only helps your event gain more recognition but it also helps you gain social proof. Another thing you can do is create short video highlights and repost attendees' photos and videos they’ve tagged you in for promo for next year. 

Lastly, posting event overview blogs and then sending them out to publishers for backlinks can help create another source of website traffic for your business. 

Social media, along with email marketing, can be powerful tools in driving awareness and creating a community. But, how do you stay at the top of prospects' minds in their day-to-day lives? Event giveaways. 

Person packing custom socks for event giveaway

How to Use Event Giveaways in Your Event Marketing Strategy 

Earlier we talked about how our preferred promo item at events is free socks. Why? We’re a USA Made sock manufacturer and pride ourselves on the quality of our product. So what better way to let people experience that quality than try before they buy? 

What’s unique about our business is that we’re in the promotional products industry, so we work with anywhere from Fortune 500 companies like Meta and Google, to local “mom and pop” businesses to put their logos on socks. Those socks get used for anything from new hire gifts, company stores, and even trade show giveaways. This is why we love giving away free socks at trade shows because it shows exactly how much traffic custom socks can drive! 

Just this year we invested in a claw machine that puts a fun spin on our free swag items and helps drive booth traffic. However,  if you’re giving away something for free just make sure you’re getting something in return, like contact information. 

Whether you’re asking attendees to enter a giveaway for a chance to win some cool swag or you’re just handing it out for free, click here for some more swag ideas and the Best Trade Show Giveaways of 2023

The right event marketing strategy can help you increase your attendance rates by implementing event promotion, increase your conversion rate by implementing post-show follow-ups and increase brand awareness through trade-show giveaways or a social media strategy. By learning how to master an event marketing strategy through trial and error, we’ve been able to 10x return on our events. 

If you’re looking for trade show giveaway ideas for your next event, then Sock Club can help! We specialize in USA Made custom socks with logos and can ship in as soon as 5 days. We never charge rush or set-up fees and designs are always free. Just send us your logo and we will handle the rest. 

Click here to get back to Sock Club's Guide to Mastering Event Marketing

Chloe Ayres
January 10, 2024