Every time I visit a trade show, I see so many exhibitors shuffling piles of paper: company collateral, lead capture forms, and stacks of business cards. Many exhibitors take a business card from their prospect, then fill-out their lead capture form, and finally staple the business card to the top of the form, to keep the person's contact details together with their qualifying information.

But all too often they run out of staples, or the card gets separated from the form on the way back to the office, making it impossible to match-up the form with the prospect, and resulting in many leads never making it into your sales or marketing funnel.

Can a business card scanner app solve your lead capture struggles?

The benefits of using a business card scanner app

For many organisations, collecting business cards is the way they've always taken people's contact details. Will using a business card scanner app improve the way they capture leads at events? Here are three benefits you can expect when you start using an app instead of collecting physical business cards:

1) No lost cards

One of the biggest benefits of using a business card scanner is that you'll stop losing business cards. You won't find crumpled business cards in your pockets or at the bottom of a bag, or get your lead capture forms back to the office and find business cards have become separated from half your forms.

2) Less transcription time

This will vary, depending on the app you use, but potentially using a business card scanner app can reduce the time your team spends typing up leads after each event. However, this isn't a given: rather than having a pile of business cards, you may just get lots of photos of business cards, so you'll still have to type out each person's contact details.

3) Faster follow up

If you can cut down the transcription time, that means you can start following up with leads sooner. Research shows that the sooner you follow-up with a lead, the more likely you are to close a sale, so speeding up your follow-up time can really boost your bottom line.

Business card scanner technology

There are three levels of business card scanning technology:

  • Image-only: business card scanning in its simplest form. Rather than pocketing a pile of business cards, you get a photo or a scan of each card, ready for your team to type up back at the office.
  • OCR (optical character recognition): this technology recognizes printed or written text, and then translates it into digital character codes. This means you scan a business card, and the technology extracts the person's data and converts it into a digital data format.
  • Transcription included: the app provider offers a service that includes transcription of business cards. At present, OCR technology can sometimes introduce errors, particularly with unconventional or particularly creative fonts. Transcription by a person can offer greater accuracy levels, while taking the manual work off your team's to-do list.

Disadvantages of business card scanner apps

For organisations looking to go paper-free at their trade shows, business card apps may seem like the way to go. But it's important to consider the disadvantages of these apps, as well as the advantages:

1) No good if your prospects don't carry business cards

This should go without saying, but obviously a business card scanner app will be no use if your prospects don't have business cards with them at events. In these instances, you'll still have to capture people's contact details manually, on paper forms or using other lead capture methods.

2) Huge range in quality

Not all business card scanner apps are the same. You get a wide range in quality and capabilities. You may assume you're getting a full-featured business card scanner app, with transcription included, and end up with nothing more than photos of your cards, for your team to transcribe themselves.

3) Limited capabilities

A business card app is only useful if collecting business cards is the only way you collect leads at events. However, as soon as you add in other lead capture methods - such as badge scanning or filling in lead capture forms - a business card scanner is useless.

Consider your lead capture requirements

A business card scanner app may be the answer to your lead capture struggles. Equally, you may have more complex lead capture requirements, such as capturing leads in a variety of ways, in which case a universal lead capture solution like Integrate Events may be a better fit. We've put together a guide to generating the best-fit leads from events, and how changing your event lead capture process can help you outpace your competitors. Download it now.

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