Trade shows are important lead generating events. In the wake of 2020’s global pandemic, show organizers were faced with either cancelling or taking events online. Those who went online had little time to develop a virtual platform that offers exhibitors the opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors in the way live events do.
For the most part, exhibitors were restrained to the trade show’s virtual format
Typically involving a webpage with areas to place an image or video, a link to the company website, content about the company and products, and perhaps a live chat or ability to schedule a call with a salesperson.
When one of the biggest trade shows of the year for Hill’s went to a virtual format, the renowned pet nutrition company displayed what it could on the event’s 2-diminsional website. However, post-event results showed dramatically lower engagement levels compared to previous year’s live events where they engaged prospects in the Hill’s exhibit.
Hill’s turned to E3 XPS to replicate their real-world trade show booth and transform it in to a virtual experience that sets Hill’s apart from competitors and gives visitors immersive ways to explore the brand and products.
Virtual events aren’t new. The technology has been available for a while; however, the pandemic accelerated its advancements and widespread use.
We worked around any event organizer’s environment limitations by replicating Hill’s real trade show booth in 3D that’s accessible via a link.
Meaning, regardless of the show organizer’s format, Hill’s can send visitors to their virtual experience instead of their company website. A prospect can visit a website any time, but a virtual experience is a far more immersive and engaging experience.
Trade shows are about engagement. In Hill’s virtual experience, we included the following elements:
Since Hill’s interactive event is web-based, it has backend analytics that track where traffic to their virtual experience originates, as well as what visitors access, download and explore, as well as for how long. Hill’s sales and marketing team can pull real-time granular data on a per-day and per-visitor basis. Heatmaps show the areas where visitors interacted most.
Transforming the Hill’s trade show booth in to an immersive, engaging virtual experience has given their sales and marketing team a powerful tool they can use outside of the real trade show world. The Hill’s sales team has been able to use the virtual experience more than 20 times, compared to the handful of live trade shows where they’d use their real booth.
Hill’s virtual experience is integrated with their CRM. For example, visitors who register prior to a trade show exchange passport tokens for a swag bag and engage in other areas by filling out a form. Their contact information feeds directly into a CRM, which fills Hill’s sales funnel for ongoing sales and marketing opportunities.
Hill’s ROI in this immersive experience was so impressive that E3 already is developing another virtual environment they can use as a digital marketing piece in 2021 throughout their marketing channels.