With many companies still cost-conscious about marketing, the Web presents a perfect opportunity for marketers to maximize the power of events and quantify returns. The interactive and direct nature of the Web can help marketers to better foster, manage, qualify and follow up on interested leads from trade shows and seminars.

How can marketers leverage the Web to maximize return on investment and ensure the best closed-circle interaction for potential customers?

Getting Face Time Starts at Home

Making eye contact, shaking hands and building relationships are critical to cultivating sales pipelines and promoting your company—and the leading goal at events. While the Internet is often not conducive to cultivating a strong and personal one-on-one sales relationship, it is a great way to develop leads, inform prospects and drive traffic to events at which you can develop relationships.

Start by getting the word out on your own Web site by keep an updated calendar of events online. Arm interested individuals with everything they need: where, when and why they should attend; registration information; and links to hotels and accommodations.

Use email signature files—an often-neglected piece of "real estate" for promoting events—to list a short string of details on an upcoming conference or meeting. The National MS Society effectively did this to promote its black-tie Super Bowl Gala in San Diego.

While email footers were only an element of a complete campaign, they were helpful in getting quick responses from recipients. Requests for ticket information often came from casual, unrelated email communications.

Save-the-date emails are another good way to "tease" an event. Even on early emails—in all communications—provide instructions on how to sign up or link to places where prospects can do so.

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Reid Carr is the president and strategy director for Red Door Interactive (www.reddoor.biz). He can be reached at rcarr@reddoor.biz.