Maximizing Trade Show & Expo Sales with PPC

By Kelsey Hadaller | Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

As the hosts of our own PPC conference Hero Conf, we know how much time and planning goes into organizing events. If you or your clients’ businesses are hosting an exposition or trade show, utilizing PPC can help lift your ROI. In this post, I’ll be explaining 4 crucial steps that have lead to success for our clients when building a PPC strategy for promoting ticket sales for expos and trade shows.


Expand Keyword Targeting


Depending on the awareness of the expo or trade show you are advertising for, branded terms can bring in a large majority of the total conversions at a low CPA. Since Branded conversions typically have low CPAs, this gives you a little room in the budget to target keywords with low Conversion Rates and high CPAs.


Besides only targeting event related keywords, try testing higher funnel keywords with a relatively low budget. These can be general keywords that are still related to the event topics. Below would be the different types of keywords you could target.


  • Branded keywords

  • Event keywords

    • Example: retailer trade show 2016
  • High funnel industry keywords

    • Example: retail industry best practices


Even if the most general keywords do not lead to direct ticket sales, you are still increasing traffic to the site and building your remarketing lists. Another way to use high funnel keywords when advertising for ticket sales is to first test them in RLSA campaigns. Since you are only targeting searchers who have already visited the site, conversion rates are frequently higher than in a regular search campaign targeting the same keywords.


Place Remarketing Tags Early


If you don’t already have remarketing tags placed across your site, it’s best to implement them well in advance to start building audience lists. Keep in mind that audience lists must contain at least 1,000 cookies to be eligible for RLSA campaigns. There’s nothing more frustrating than setting up a Remarketing or RLSA campaign only to find that the tag wasn’t placed properly. Use Google Tag Assistant to quickly check your site for the remarketing tag far in advance to the launch date.


Are you using Bing Ads to promote your event? Try Remarketing and RLSA campaigns in Bing if they’re typically successful in AdWords. As long as the Bing UET tag was placed on the entire site, you can use Bing’s Shared Library to create audience lists similarly to how you would in AdWords. See Bing’s explanation of the process below.


Bing UET tag



Improve CTR with Promo and Custom Ads

If you are offering early bird pricing, be sure to run promotional ad copy highlighting the discount. Below is an example of one ad that uses the text “Save $100 When You Register Today!” to convey a sense of urgency. This advertiser could also point out when the promotion ends to further improve click-thru-rate.




Setting automated rules to pause these promotional or early bird ads is also important to make sure your messaging in ads and landing pages aligns. Either use ad level labels to easily identify which ads need to be paused or filter by the promotional language to set up automated rules in AdWords.


Countdown ads can also help improve Click-Through-Rate. To maximize the benefits of Google Ad Customizers, try using a countdown to the end of the early bird pricing promotion instead of only counting down to the event start date. The below image shows the options for countdown ads when creating them within the AdWords interface. If you’re new to custom ads in AdWords, I recommend creating the first ad in the interface to avoid errors and then using it as a guide in the AdWords Editor to include countdown ads across other ad groups.


Trade Show SERP


Narrow Down Location Targeting

International expos and trade shows will typically require advertisers to target a wide range of location targets. Consider narrowing down your location targeting once the event date is a week to a month away. This can be especially helpful if campaigns are limited by budget. Maximizing ad exposure for searchers in locations who can easily coordinate last minute travel could lead to greater ticket sales and lower the overall CPA for the account in the final stretch.


Final Thoughts

Creating a PPC strategy for events like expos and trade shows takes extra planning since campaigns typically run for a limited time. Using automated rules and creating a timeline of budgets, goals and planned account changes can make managing these accounts much easier. These tips will be especially beneficial once the event date is only a month away and advertisers can spend more time on budget allocation and strategic bid management.