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2 min read

8 Lead Tracking Strategies for B2B Trade Shows

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In B2B marketing, trade shows remain an opportunity for businesses looking to connect with potential clients, share their products or services, and stay ahead of industry trends. However, learning from our own recent trade show experience, we know that effectively managing and tracking leads can be daunting. With the traditional reliance on business cards fading and digital alternatives like QR codes posing their own challenges, planning your lead-tracking method is essential. Here are 8 crucial strategies to help your process and maximize your trade show ROI:

1. Business Cards and Badge Photos

It may sound like overkill, but combining traditional and digital methods helps ensure comprehensive lead capture. When they’re available, collect business cards while jotting down notes directly on them. Simultaneously, snap a quick photo of the attendee's badge to capture any additional context. This dual approach provides both contact details and valuable memory cues.

2. Spreadsheet Organization

Transfer your collected data into a spreadsheet. This can be done during downtime while at the event or after returning. If the latter, be mindful that with passed time, sorting data and recalling details may lead to confusion or missed leads. Create columns for essential details such as the event you met the contact at, their information, CRM details, and lead qualification status. Structuring data in a spreadsheet will facilitate sorting, filtering, and analyzing leads.

3. Utilize CRM Tools

Amplify your lead-tracking efforts by using CRM software to streamline lead management. CRM platforms such as HubSpot offer mobile apps that allow you to input leads directly from the trade show floor. Leverage features like tagging and lead scoring (using a combination of properties) to prioritize and nurture leads post-event.


4. Dedicated Lead Retrieval Devices

Investing in dedicated lead retrieval devices offered by trade show organizers is usually an option, although it often comes with a steep cost. These devices scan attendee badges or QR codes, instantly capturing lead information. Be sure to confirm compatibility with your CRM system for seamless integration and data transfer. Or have a CRM Ops Admin on standby to upload the list correctly into your CRM with all appropriate properties and tagging completed.

5. Mobile Apps and Digital Solutions

Explore mobile apps specifically designed for lead tracking at trade shows. One we stumbled on, iCapture works offline and allows you to scan trade show badges and business cards effortlessly ($8K business solution). Unlike traditional optical character recognition (OCR), this app sends business card images to real people who manually transcribe and verify the data for accuracy, and then store info in a spreadsheet. Automatic data syncing with popular marketing automation software like HubSpot typically have this, ensuring your leads seamlessly integrate with your existing system.

6. Business Card Organizer Notebooks

Consider using a physical organizer explicitly designed for storing business cards. These compact notebooks feature slots for inserting business cards and space for jotting down notes. While it may feel old-fashioned, they offer a tactile and reliable method for organizing leads on the go. At the very least, having a dedicated regular notebook is advisable to avoid jotting down information on random slips of paper.

7. Data Entry Assistance

Arrange to have data entry tasks assigned to another team member during or after the event. Streamline the process by providing standardized templates and guidelines for recording lead information. Make sure to allocate time for data entry during or immediately after the event to prevent leads from becoming lost.

8. Memory Aids and Visual Cues

Capturing visual cues such as photographs of exhibitor booths or memorable encounters with prospects can be very helpful. These memory aids will be valuable reminders when following up with leads post-event. Incorporating visual cues into your lead-tracking system will also help enhance recollection and engagement.

Elevate Your Lead Tracking Game

Ultimately, the key to efficient lead tracking is to have a fool-proof plan to capture information in real time and organize it systematically. By combining traditional methods with digital tools and leveraging memory aids, you can ensure that no lead slips through the cracks. Remember, every connection made at a trade show represents a potential business opportunity, so prioritize accuracy and diligence in your lead-tracking efforts!

Want more tips on how to optimize B2B success at trade shows? Download our Ultimate Trade Show Checklist!

trade show tips for b2b