The Exact Steps I Used to Get a 49% Response Rate From Leads at a Conference I Didn’t Even Attend

13 December 2017 by

From one conference in November, I sourced 981 potential leads.

After three weeks, 49% of them replied, and two of them already closed deals worth $100k to my company.

The brilliant part?

I didn’t attend the conference, nor did I have any intention of ever going in person.

I didn’t spend money on plane tickets, nor did I tick away the hours at a conference I didn’t really need to attend.

Instead, I connected with my target audience without ever leaving the office.

Here’s how I did it.

Note: Want to know if the prospects you are emailing are making it back to your website? Leadfeeder will tell you. *Try it free, we’ll show you who visited our website in the last 30 days in minutes.*

Why this strategy works so well

Conference buyers are an ideal group to target.

Why?

Anyone who registers for a conference as a buyer is

  1. Authorized to spend money, and/or

  2. Looking to spend money.

These are people who want to solve their problems by connecting with other businesses in their industry. They want to make connections and get as much out of the conference as possible since they’ve already spent money on registration and travel.

In other words, they’re primed to make a purchase before I even click send.

Plus, I already know they’re interested in the services I’m advertising because they registered for a conference in my field.

Contacting them with the expo as a backdrop for my email is a “warmer” approach to a cold email.

But, unlike marketers who actually attend each conference, I can benefit from that connection without spending the time and money it requires to travel.

It’s personalization at scale a la Heather Morgan, but without significant investment, something anyone sending cold emails can benefit from.

How to get leads from conference lists

How to get leads from conferences

If your industry has regular, well-attended conferences (most do), then these events are a great source of names for cold emails.

But you don’t have to attend the expo to benefit from its list of attendees and other useful information. Instead, you can

  1. Register for the conference

  2. Scrape information from the website

  3. Skip the conference & start writing some emails

How you register is actually one of the most important steps.

How to register for the conference

When I registered for the November conference that gave me 981 potential leads, I had three options:

  • Register as an exhibitor

  • Register as a travel trade person

  • Register as a buyer

In most cases, if you’re drafting cold emails to prospects, you’ve only ever registered as an exhibitor or travel trade person.

But registering as a buyer opens up access to a full list of exhibitors and potential buyers.

The people who register as buyers are the ones you’re targeting. They’re the ones who have spending power in their organization.

At a minimum, you can get their names, titles, and company. Sometimes I can get this list for free with registration, and other times I have to pay for “premium” access.

The important thing is that, once I’ve registered as a buyer, I can see a list of companies and individuals looking to buy in my industry.

We now have the perfect cold prospect list.

How to make conference lists useable

Unfortunately, most expos display the information I want on a website, not a nicely formatted excel doc.

While I could go through the lists by hand, it’s much easier to use a scraping tool to collect names, titles, and companies.

I prefer to use browser extensions from businesses like Outwith Hub or Web Scraper. I also found this comparison article on web scraping tools to be helpful.

Once I have the names from the conference properly formatted, I use a bulk email finder to find corresponding email addresses.

My favorite email finder is on Hunter.io because of how easy it is to use. However, the free tool only allows 100 emails per month, per registration. If you use several phone numbers/emails to register, you can stretch that limit some.

Otherwise, you may want to research other tools. In that respect, Google is your friend.

Once I have names and emails synced up, I check every one by hand. Scraping tools are not perfect, and there will be errors in your list.

Manually checking information is the most time-consuming part of my process, but I end up with far more valid names and addresses for my prospects.

Once I’m done, I can move on to writing the emails and un-register from the conference. Sometimes I get my money completely refunded, and other times I don’t. Make sure you know the refund policy of each expo, since some of the fees are quite expensive.

After I’m finished, conference participants will never know that I registered as a buyer and not as a seller.

How I craft an email to expo attendees

The first thing I do when it’s time to write an email is to segment, segment, segment. My primary criteria for segmentation is by industry.

For example, I send a different version of each email to travel tech companies, wholesalers, and online travel agents.

Each of those three groups has a different way of thinking and of approaching business, so it’s important that I adjust my pitch for each group.

I prefer to do this with Mixmax, but you could even use Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook to send emails in bulk.

As for the actual email, it’s as pragmatic as possible.

First, I use the expo name in the subject line of the email. That’s how I routinely get numbers like a 75% open rate.

Next, I tell them that I had hoped to arrange a meeting at the expo in question but, sadly, was no longer able to attend.

Then, I ask if they’d like to discuss X idea, Y proposal, or Z objective that we could achieve together.

Sebastian Agren shows how to get leads from conferences

This is one of several emails I sent during my November campaign to conference attendees.

It’s easy to overdo things, so I stick to one main idea for each email. I think about the pain points someone in that industry experiences, then pick one to write about.

That’s how I approach every cold email I send to prospects from a conference list, and it works every time.

Note: Want to know if the prospects you are emailing are making it back to your website? Leadfeeder will tell you. Try it free, we’ll show you who visited your website in the last 30 days in minutes.

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