How to Collect Emails at Trade Shows

emails at trade shows

Collecting lead data at trade shows used to mean either having customers write their contact information down in a spiral notebook or collecting business cards in a fishbowl. The notebook method meant struggling to decipher each customer’s handwriting after the show, and both the notebook and fishbowl meant filling out lead cards, or spending hours entering contact information into a spreadsheet. Following up on leads took quite a while, and often notebooks and business cards sat around the office for weeks or months after a trade show until they became outdated.

With today’s technology, trade show lead collection is much simpler and more efficient. Not only that, but technology can be a great way to break the ice and grab a customer’s attention at your booth. Once you have their attention, you can use technology to create a memorable experience for the customer which will stay with them long after the event is over. Here are some of the best ways to collect email addresses at trade shows – and much more – using tablets and other technology.



tablets statistic

Tablets, like the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy, have become extremely popular over the last few years. In 2011, more than 80 different types of tablets were introduced at the International Consumer Electronics Show. Apps for tablets and smartphones are more popular than ever before. Today there are more than 140,000 iPhone apps available, with more than 3 billion downloads and counting. Trade show exhibitors are catching on to the hot new trend: Two-thirds of exhibitors currently use tablets in their trade show booths.

Here’s how to emails/leads at trade shows with your tablet.

Generating Leads With a Tablet

A tablet is an effective way to generate leads at a trade show by collecting customer information. A tablet app makes it easy for customers to answer survey questions and provide their names and email addresses, as well as other information to help qualify leads. With a tablet, you no longer have to decipher a customer’s handwriting, or spend time typing all of their information into a spreadsheet or CRM software. Tablet apps capture data quickly and allow you to download reports or export the data to a computer program for easy follow-up.

There are many tablet apps available today that make collecting lead data quick and easy. Here are a few examples of some of the most popular trade show apps:

  • QuickTapSurvey: One of the best things about QuickTapSurvey is that it doesn’t require an Internet connection to work. This can be a big plus at convention centers where Wi-Fi is spotty or unavailable. QuickTapSurvey is an app for both Apple and Android devices that allows you to create customized surveys that can be used to collect lead data at a trade show. After the show, you can automatically send a follow-up email to each of your leads, or easily download the data for follow-up later.
  • iCapture: This app for both Apple and Android devices does more than just capture lead data. It can also be used to analyze and qualify leads, scan badges and business cards, build email lists and create drawings or giveaways. Like QuickTapSurvey, iCapture doesn’t require an Internet connection to work, so you can collect data offline and follow up after the trade show.
  • OnSpot Social: This app specifically for the Apple iPad collects data like QuickTapSurvey and iCapture, but with the additional option of allowing customers to instantly connect to your social media accounts. With OnSpot Social, you can not only collect email addresses, but also Facebook likes and Twitter followers. Businesses that use OnSpot Social say they’ve increased their email address collection by up to 300 percent.


Badge Scanning Apps

Most trade shows these days will provide ID badges with bar codes or QR codes, which can be scanned to quickly capture lead data. Some tablet apps allow you to scan badges and save this data using a tablet or smartphone. Here are a few of the most popular badge-scanning apps available:

  • BadgeScan: This app for Apple devices scans badges by taking photos. The data is then collected and organized in the app by customizable groups. For example, you can create groups for customers, prospects, resellers, etc. You can also add tags and comments to contacts to help qualify leads. You can then export your leads to a CSV file, which can be opened with CRM software or spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel.
  • DoubleDutch: This app for both Apple and Android devices scans badges and immediately qualifies leads. With DoubleDutch, you can create customized promotions that are automatically sent to the highest qualified leads. You can also collect booth traffic data and measure staff performance, so you can make the most out of any trade show.


Business Card Scanning Apps

To go a more traditional route, you can replace the classic fishbowl of business cards with a business card scanning app for your tablet. These apps allow you to take photos of business cards and quickly convert them to lead data. Here are a few of the most popular business card scanning apps available:

  • Business Card Reader: This app for Apple and Blackberry devices scans business cards and uses advanced text recognition technology to enter the data into the appropriate fields in your device’s address book. The data can then be exported to programs like Excel, Salesforce and Evernote for easy follow-up.
  • CamCard: This app takes photos of business cards, pulls the contact information and stores it in the cloud. You can then access the data using any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection, and you can sync contacts across all of your devices, so your data is always up-to-date. CamCard lets you add notes to each contact, so you can remind yourself what you discussed with them or where you met them. You can also create reminders for your contacts so you don’t forget to follow up with them.



In addition to collecting leads, tablet apps can be used to get attention at your trade show booth. Tablet games can be great icebreakers, and they can get trade show attendees talking about your booth long after the event is over. Visitors to your booth can use a tablet app to answer quiz questions, snap a selfie or create a work of art. Meanwhile, salespeople can be on hand to answer any questions they may have.


Contests and Giveaways

Contests and giveaways are popular tradeshow staples. A tablet can make entering a contest as simple as tapping the screen and entering an email address. Some apps provide virtual scratch-offs so customers can instantly win prizes just by entering their contact information.


More Ways to Use a Tablet

ways to use a tablet

Tablets can also be used to display product information through videos, brochures or virtual demonstrations. This can be as easy as installing the YouTube app so customers can browse through your product videos. If no Wi-Fi is available at the event, you can leave one video or PDF file open on the tablet for attendees to view as they walk by your booth. You can even record presentations at the tradeshow on a tablet and allow customers to view any that they may have missed.

Some tablet apps turn your tablet into a virtual billboard that can display Web pages, documents, audio or video, making it easy for visitors to your both to scroll and swipe through them. Kiosk Pro allows you to set limits by only letting customers visit certain Web pages, limiting browsing times and hiding address and navigation bars to make the display look more streamlined. You can store your content offline, so the app will still work when no Wi-Fi is available.


Displaying a Tablet at a Trade Show 

There are several ways to display a tablet at a trade show booth. The simplest, of course, is just to have your salespeople carry them around. This has the advantage of allowing them to interact with customers anywhere on the show floor. They can also use apps to scan badges and business cards as they meet with attendees.

To attract more customers directly to your booth, it’s best to use a tablet kiosk. A kiosk is an enclosure that keeps the tablet safe and secure at your booth, preventing damage and theft. This enclosure can be a floor stand, tabletop kiosk, display counter or wall mount.

  • Floor stands: Floor stands are freestanding kiosks which can be placed anywhere in your booth. They take up the least amount of space and are the most versatile type of tablet kiosk.
  • Tabletop kiosks: Tabletop kiosks can be placed on any surface, like a table or display stand. They can be a more cost-effective option than floor stands, but they take up valuable table space at your booth.
  • Display counters: A display counter is like a small table with a tablet display built into its surface. This option saves table space, but takes up more floor space than a floor stand. However, the size of the display counter offers another large area for graphics and advertising.
  • Wall mounts: Wall mounts take up the least amount of floor and table space, but they are usually not the best option for trade show booths, where wall space is limited or unavailable. However, wall mounts can be used to create an eye-catching display by grouping tablets together to form one cohesive design.


APG Exhibits offers a wide variety of quality tablet kiosks in multiple price ranges. Visit or call 866-752-2192 to learn more.


Trade Show Tablet Tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using a tablet at your trade show booth:

  • Follow up ASAP: More than 70 percent of trade show leads are not followed up at all. In addition, 15 percent of leads want to be contacted immediately after a trade show, and 30 percent of non-purchasers will be ready to make a purchase within six to nine months.
    Trade show leads
    Clearly, it’s essential to follow up on leads as quickly as possible, and tablets make this easier than ever before. Many tablet apps allow you to automatically send a follow-up email to all of your leads, so they can receive it while they’re still at your booth. If you don’t have an Internet connection at the trade show, you can send the follow-up emails later that day, without spending hours entering information into a spreadsheet.
  • Customize: No matter which app you choose, make sure you can customize it to match your brand. This will allow you to better engage visitors and make your booth stand out at the event. It might even be a good idea to develop your own customized trade show app with your brand in mind.


Other Types of Lead-Capture Technology

lead capturing technology

If you choose not to go the tablet route, there are other types of technology that make it easier to capture emails and leads at trade shows. Badge scanners and business scanners provide similar functions to their corresponding apps, but use standalone electronic devices.


Badge Scanners

Badge scanners can often be rented from the exhibit where you’re presenting, or you can purchase your own. A badge scanner is a small device, similar to a smartphone, that scans badges and stores contact information, which can be downloaded or exported to a computer program for follow-up. Many badge scanners come with software to help you organize and qualify your leads after the trade show.


Business Card Scanners

Unlike a business card scanning app on a tablet, a business card scanner is a standalone device that works similar to traditional scanner. You insert a business card into the device, which scans it and converts the contact information into text. This is an easy way to scan business cards which you’ve collected on the trade show floor, or through the classic fishbowl method. Many business card scanners are portable, so you can keep one at your trade show booth for quick scanning.


Here are a few of the most popular business card scanners available today:

  • WorldCard Pro: This compact and portable business card scanner can read business cards in 24 different languages. It can be used with a Mac or PC through a USB cable, and its software can easily sync your contacts with your email address book. You can add keywords to contacts to help you qualify leads, and you can even locate contacts on social media websites, like Facebook, Skype, Twitter and LinkedIn. Contacts are backed up to the cloud so you can access them from any device.
  • DYMO CardScan: This portable contact management system comes in various models that can be used with a Mac or PC. Not only can it read contact data from business cards, but you can also drag and drop data from emails, Web pages and documents into its contact management software. The software allows you to you verify and correct U.S. addresses, so you know your information is accurate.


Using the latest technology to capture lead data at trade shows can save your business time and money. If you’re ready to take your trade show game to the next level, contact APG Exhibits. We can help you select the best display designs to incorporate your new trade show technology. Our quality display products help exhibitors and marketers leave a lasting impression on attendees and increase their ROI.

Our parent company is a full-service promotional marketing agency, so we have extensive experience with promotional products, custom apparel, commercial printing, fulfillment and more. We can provide complete project management to help you maximize the value of any trade show.

Our competent, knowledgeable staff have three decades of experience in national, regional and local brand support. We guarantee the best customer service and the lowest pricing – we even price match. Visit today, or call us toll free at 866-752-2192 for more information.

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5 Responses

  1. Great list, guys. We’ve taken some inspiration from these guys when designing our own tool. Especially Zuant — seriously, go and check it out, it’s beautiful.

    We’ve thought long and hard about the process of capturing B2B leads at events, and we’ve spoken to a ton of industry pros. From our research, most exhibitors fall into one of two camps.

    On the one hand, you have teams who prioritise scanning as many badges as possible. And some can be pretty strategic about it too, estimating how many potential prospects will attend and then creating goals for what percentage they want to scan. On the backend, they often use lead scoring techniques to filter the best leads up to their sales guys. They’re all about volume, and it works for them. There’s a bunch of case studies showing companies doing this successfully.

    On the other hand, you have exhibitors who need more than a badge scan. With long sales cycles and a need to uncover insights that can help their team sell to multiple stakeholders further down the line, these guys aren’t solely driven by volume. Perhaps they already have a pretty comprehensive database of prospects in their industry, and so “new leads” are a rarity for them. Sure, they still want to capture lots of leads, but they’re also motivated to capture insights which can help push prospects down the sales funnel.

    We’ve developed Captuvate ( for this second group. If your sales team need more than a spreadsheet full of names and numbers to call after your trade show, then check us out using the link above. Our app lets you schedule appointments for sales guys while on the event-floor. Even if your sales team aren’t all at the event, you can book prospects into their calendar so the prospects don’t go AWOL after the event. We’ve also included a feature to add voice notes to any lead, so that you don’t have to spend a ton of time writing down why the prospects is of interest. Just tap a button and talk into the app, and — with our Salesforce integration — your team can be listening to your notes within seconds.

    Speaking of Salesforce, the way we’ve integrated means that if you meet a prospect who you already ‘know about’, you can append that information to their contact record instead of creating a new lead. Why is this useful? Suddenly, you’re not only able to take credit for sales that are generated from your leads, but you can also show how your events influenced prospects who were already in the pipeline. If you can show that you spoke with a dozen existing prospects (and have the voice memos to prove it), then they closed business with you a few weeks later, that’s awesome. Few marketers have worked out how to prove the influence their events have on existing opportunities, so we think this is a step in the right direction.

    Apologies for the shameless plug. We just feel there’s a lot more companies can do to boost event ROI if they take these things into account. If you’re interested in learning more, let me know!


  2. sandeep says:

    It was really a wonderful article and I was really impressed by reading this blog.

  3. Thanks for sharing the great information, It was really a wonderful article and I was really impressed by reading this blog. we provide Lead Retrieval App for Trade shows, It helps vendors & exhibitors to capture, prioritize, and organize leads and contact information at trade show events. check out here:

  4. Jim Morton says:

    Great article! It’s amazing how much trade show data gathering has changed in the last few years. I just wanted to mention that if you can save the data out in the CSV format, our Goolara Symphonie software lets you import that data directly to your recipient list.

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