3 Ways to Get Subscribers at Conferences

Exchange Cards

Our summer intern, Nick Randazzo, picked up some solid tips on list building at conferences while he was here. He’s back at school, but still sharing what he’s learned:

A great way to meet potential subscribers is at industry-based events like workshops, trade shows or conferences. These events are the perfect opportunity to show people how awesome you and your business are.

Your goal at these functions is to impress people with your business. If you are successful, people will subscribe to your email list because they want to hear what you have to say. But when the time comes for people to subscribe, do you know how you would go about the process?

If you don’t, here are three ways you can allow your new friends to join up with you, and some pros and cons of each.

An iPad

If you are using an iPad, you could use OnSpot; an app that lets people sign up to your AWeber list (along with social media at the same time). Your iPad would be found wherever you are stationed, or you could carry it around with you.


  • They are noticeable; they’ll draw the eye of passersby.
  • You don’t need to go back and enter email addresses into your list later.
  • Understanding handwriting is not an issue.
  • They can be associated with class and wealth, which may improve your overall image.


  • They can be expensive.
  • If you have several people who want to sign up, they can only do so one at a time and the rest will have to wait – which may cause people to become impatient and leave.
  • Can be accidentally damaged.
  • Their association with class and wealth could actually damage your image, based on your audience.

Pen And Paper

If you choose the more classic route, you will have the good ol’ clipboard and pen at your table for folks to write down their information. You may also opt to have different sign up slips that people can write their information on and then leave with you.


  • It has the potential to have multiple people signing up at once if you use multiple clipboards or the slips.
  • It is easy for people and they are familiar with the process.
  • It doesn’t cost much at all to set this up.
  • It is a more casual approach.


  • You could lose a lot of subscribers due to not being able to read their handwriting.
  • It is a two step process: getting people to give you your information and then going back later and putting it into your list.

Business Cards

If you use business cards to get sign ups at an event you have the freedom to be creative in how you do it. For an example, you may opt to have a container like a fishbowl that people can deposit their business cards in:


  • If you exchange business cards with someone, you know they are at least somewhat interested in your business.
  • You can use this method in different forms, such as a direct exchange of cards or using a bowl to collect many throughout the event.
  • Exchanging cards is personal- there is a mutual agreement between the two parties. At the very least, you have made a connection.


  • Just because someone gives you their card doesn’t exactly mean that they want to be added to your list. You need to ask first! And if you collect business cards in bulk, please make sure you are clearly displaying the information that they will be subscribed.
  • It could be difficult to keep track of the many cards if a bunch of people are giving you them and you don’t have time to note who’s a “yes” and who’s a “no.”
  • Again, you have to enter the email addresses into your list after the event.

Whichever method you decide to use may change from event to event. Now we’d like to ask you. Have you used any of these techniques before? And if so, what has worked (and not worked) for you?

Feel free to leave your comments in the section below!


  1. Phil Scimone

    11/5/2013 4:01 pm

    You may have skipped one very important tool, and that would be conference badge bar-code scanning. It takes just a second, many badges can be scanned in just a small fraction of a minute, since it is electronic you can avoid having to decipher hand written emails, and can be easily uploaded to your list management software.

  2. Nick Seferlis

    11/5/2013 5:32 pm

    This information came in right in the nick of time. I leave for a conference in the morning. Great info.


  3. jim cockrum

    11/5/2013 9:56 pm

    Great ideas! I didn’t know about the ipad app!

    I have one more idea to throw in the mix…I purchased and easy to remember domain name and I drop that on people who want to know more about me and my biz. The only thing you’ll find on that one page website is an aweber.com opt-in box and my newsletter offer.

  4. Rishi

    11/6/2013 11:45 am

    Great post. I like the iPad idea a lot.

    I also encourage people to have a “Free Raffle” so they can incentivize people to sign up.

  5. Randall Magwood

    11/6/2013 2:14 pm

    Business cards and “pen and paper” is more of my speed. I usually stick with just one major marketing/traffic strategy, but the use of an Ipad is a good idea.

  6. Maia Duerr

    11/6/2013 3:16 pm

    I am impressed that you noted that, depending on the audience, use of an iPad could be considered a negative since it is associated with wealth and class. Good for you for thinking of the many ways that something can be perceived, and also the importance of the audience and equity as a value.

  7. Ivan Widjaya

    11/12/2013 9:47 pm

    I am more for bringing an iPad. It’s easier. In fact, you may even be able to do it with a laptop or a smartphone. People are already technology savvy so it saves you the effort of writing everything and distributing business cards.

  8. Dare

    11/13/2013 8:18 am

    Hi Nick,

    From personal experience ( I attended lots of oil and gas conferences in Nigeria e/g NAPE, Nigeria Oil & Gas, – NOG), I discovered that the use of business card is the best form.

    On a personal note, the use of business cards cement trust, mutual understanding and a feel of attractive belonging to your client/subscribers.

    Thanks for sharing, I’m sticking with my business card approach.

  9. Sase Antic

    11/30/2013 4:25 pm

    Good info on the ways to get subscribers at conferences/events, highlighting the pros and the cons.
    So far, the combination of business cards and pen an paper technique works best for me.

  10. Rod

    1/4/2014 9:36 am

    Ya know, this may seem old fashion at this point, at my booths while at tradeshows I hand out custom usb drives with my logo and my copy and incentives stored on the drive, they snatch them up! 1. They get free usb and 2. They have to at least look at my information before they can remove it.