We all miss the hustle and bustle of a successful event, but at least for the year to come, we have to choose the safer option. Until it’s safe for the traditional trade show industry to reopen its doors, virtual trade shows are the nearly-perfect substitute.
Virtual showrooms can help you maintain visibility, and they don’t have to be boring. On the contrary, a good virtual showroom can actually drive growth by boosting sales and promoting your products and services in a unique and eye-catching way.
When designed with user experience and engagement in mind, virtual showrooms keep the viewer interested, so here are some must-have features to include on your checklist:
Contact and Live Chat
Trade shows are all about communication and this has to transpire in a virtual showroom. Normally, when people stop by your booth, they know that a company representative is there to answer their questions. So, if you want the virtual equivalent to be successful, you need to provide the same level of support and give viewers the feeling that someone is there for them.
There are two ways to do this and, to exemplify them, we’ll show you a virtual showroom that we created for our clients at Recom.
As you can see, we added a live chat button in the bottom right corner for viewers who want to get in touch with the company right away. RECOM has three different chat locales, depending upon where the visitor comes from. For instance, a visitor from EMEA will prefer chatting with an EMEA rep by selecting the EMEA icon, same as a real visitor coming to a brick-and-mortar event who prefers talking with someone from his country.
For viewers who prefer talking to the company later, we have a Contact feature, which we’ve implemented via a virtual receptionist:
By clicking on it, the viewer can see three options and choose the one that best matches their query:
When including these contact features, we made the placement as visible as possible, so that viewers can easily find them, but we were careful not to make them intrusive. Contact and live chat should add value to the viewing experience, not become too distracting.
We’re big fans of videos and we couldn’t not recommend them in virtual showroom! Videos already perform well on websites, and virtual booths maximize their potential of engaging users because they’re more immersive. According to HubSpot’s The State of Video Marketing in 2020, video remains a surefire way of generating positive ROI, and 99% of marketers plan on using video in 2020!
What video should you include? It can be anything from a general presentation video to a product overview or an explanatory video. You can “scatter” the videos across the virtual showroom. For example, the user can first see a general company video when they enter the booth, and then they can click on products to open pop-up videos about them.
For Recom, we’ve added a general video about the company’s products, with footage of their headquarters and their CEO:
We’ve also added them next to the product description so visitors can see the products in action:
People go to trade shows to find new suppliers and business partners, but they also go there to learn.
Not every element in your virtual showroom should be designed for direct promotion. The aim of a successful booth is to add value and create unique experiences, so including a webinar is a fantastic opportunity.
Webinars allow virtual guests to learn more about your brand and about the industry in general. More than that, they build up leads and brand value. They boost trust, establish your brand as a leader in the industry, and they create strong, lasting business relationships. Even if viewers don’t purchase your products right away, they will remember you and contact you later.
Unlike general presentations, webinars are much more intimate, since participants can ask questions and your company representatives can steer the conversation depending on the atmosphere and the general mood in the “room”.
To maintain optimum engagement levels, make sure you have a balanced mix between presentations and Q&A.
Boring presentations? Think again. By including educational hotspots, like in the example below, viewers can learn about your products in a fun and engaging way.
In this case, the hotspot takes the viewer to an informative PDF about AC/DC converters.
Recreate the Mood of Physical Trade Shows, Not Just Their Format
Here’s the awesome thing about virtual showrooms: you have limitless creative opportunities. You can add all sorts of creative elements at a fraction of the cost of a traditional showroom. You can replicate the existing layout of your usual booth, and add much more.
However, it’s really important to also focus on the mood of physical trade shows, not just on their format. When people recall the great experience they had at trade shows, they don’t necessarily refer to huge billboards or flashy entertainment numbers. A few months down the line, they remember the experience they had with the brand. They remember the conversations with brand ambassadors, how easy it was for them to get information, and how friendly everyone was.
This is the kind of impression your virtual showroom needs to leave on visitors.
When brainstorming ideas for virtual showrooms, you don’t always need to have a specific design element in mind. Start by thinking of your brand values and picture the booth in terms of experiences. Do you want the experience to be informative, professional, funny, entertaining? What kind of client-provider relationship do you want to establish? Then, design element ideas will come easily.
Last but not least, trade shows are a great opportunity for people to take advantage of networking. Virtual trade shows can’t offer the real version of networking, but, during the COVID-19 crisis, networking continues online. Don’t forget to include social media buttons so that visitors can follow, like, and share.