Trade Show Decision Guide: Badge Scanners vs Apps

You’ve spent months preparing for a major trade show. The entire team is confident that, this time, you’ve truly created a way to compel countless attendees to spend time at your booth. The event arrives and, sure enough, they come in droves. There’s even an occasional crowd waiting to hear what you have to say. You scan badge after badge and collect contact after contact.

Then you pack your bags, board the plane, and head back to the office. Everyone is excited and riding a wave of momentum as it comes time to follow up. You compile your list, send out your emails, and…

Nothing. Not a single new sign-up. No requests for demos. Sound familiar?

It could be that all those booth visits were driven more by intrigue than actual interest. Or perhaps the presentation was a tad too gimmicky. Or it could be that you did everything right when it came to crafting your collateral and messaging—but missed the mark on something far more fundamental.

Without even realizing they’re doing it, many companies fail to connect with promising prospects at these events for one simple reason: The method they’re using to capture quality leads is outdated and flawed, resulting in a lot of hype but little to show in the way of ROI. 

What if we were to tell you there’s a different way to collect mission-critical data on trade show leads? One that can be highly effective at turning conversations into legitimate opportunities for new clients or customers?

trade show lead capture apps, trade show apps

Where Many Trade Show Lead Capture Methods Miss the Mark

The opportunities inherent to trade shows are tremendous. With so many of your most promising prospects gathered in one central location, for no other reason than to network and learn, they’re not just open to discovering new tricks and tools of the trade. They expect to make these discoveries.

So why is it so hard to get meaningful marketing ROI from trade shows? Often, this issue can be traced back to your method for capturing leads.

If you’ve been using trade show badge scanners, you’re far from alone. These devices allow exhibitors to collect lots of leads and replace manual entries with automatic transcriptions. You can quickly capture any number of potential prospects’ information fast. And the more names you get, the more leads you’ll have to nurture.

But while badge scanners offer benefits over the old business-card-in-a-fishbowl method, there are drawbacks.

First and foremost, they do nothing to help you separate wheat from chaff. Badge scanners let you amass contacts. That’s it. There’s nothing of value to help you segment lists, separate hot prospects from lukewarm ones, or feed the data into other tools you use for outreach. All of that is done manually, if at all.

Add to that the waiting period that often comes with badge scanners, and even your hot prospects can go cold by the time they finally hear from you. As we’ve mentioned before, it can take as long as two weeks to get lists from badge scanners rented out by trade show organizers.

And if Wi-Fi is weak or unavailable at any time during the event, your system is unlikely to capture anything at all during those times.

Viewed through this lens, it’s easy to understand how a well-executed trade show booth can still result in crickets once you finally launch your follow-up plan.

Where Trade Show Apps Come Into Play

With badge scanners, anyone and everyone who stops by your trade show booth is a prospect. You simply scan, save, and send. This process often results in thousands of dollars spent to acquire big lists that may contain a handful of folks who are likely to follow through.

Is that really the best method for generating demand? It’s certainly not an efficient way to dip into valuable marketing dollars.

So instead, many marketing teams are turning to lead capture apps to get the details they need, faster. In fact, global companies have been known to reduce the entire trade show lead capture process from three weeks to a few days, simply by switching to apps.

Rather than collecting generic business card information, trade show apps allow you to ask qualifying questions, such as Which features most appeal to you based on your current needs? and What is your project budget?

trade show lead capture apps

They also come with many other built-in “pros” that can be used to generate qualified marketing leads right from within your trade show booth—instead of just adding another name to your list. For example, top-rated trade show lead capture apps will also allow you to:

  • Customize the data you collect by building branded surveys and forms, complete with qualifying fields such as geographic locations and team goals.
  • Score leads quickly by tallying responses to create an overall lead score, making it easy to distinguish quality leads from dead ends.
  • Follow up at just the right times by connecting your lead capture surveys and forms directly to other tools like MailChimp, Marketo, or Salesforce. 
  • Continue to capture information even when Wi-Fi is spotty by using offline capabilities to gather data and then have it automatically synced with your database when you reconnect.


The next time you’re preparing to exhibit at a major event or trade show, pay careful attention to the method you’re using to capture leads. If your goal is to connect with meaningful prospects, you should absolutely be using a trade show lead capture app instead of the traditional badge scanner.

Looking for more ideas you can use to turn event excitement into real revenue gains? We have plenty! Download our free eBook for tips, tricks, templates, and best practices: Trade Show Marketing: How to Become an Expert in 30 Minutes.











Deepa Christina Radh

Deepa Christina Radh

Brand & Community Manager at QuickTapSurvey
Keeping it fresh and engaging with all things content and community. Let's chat! Find me on Twitter @quicktapsurvey or email deepa@quicktapsurvey dot com
Deepa Christina Radh