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New opportunities for marketers to maximize ROI from live events

by | Jun 1, 2017 | Marketing, Public Relations

New research from enterprise event automation firm Certain reveals the extent to which in-person events play a critical role for marketers at enterprise companies.

The data, part of a new benchmark survey of enterprise marketers, shows the extent to which many marketers rely on large events to hit their revenue goals, the tools they use to do it, and just how much of the event industry has yet to be digitized. Of the respondents:

  • 70 percent plan to spend more on events in 2017
  • Less than half (49 percent) use event management and event automation solutions in their current event strategies
  • Most (57 percent) take four days or longer to follow up with leads obtained at events

Will you increase or decrease marketing spending on events in 2017 from last year?

Will you increase or decrease marketing spending on events in 2017 from last year?

Event marketing is big business in the U.S. with in-person events accounting for $26.1 billion of B2B marketers’ spend, and trade show and exhibition spending rising 6.3 percent in 2016. Looking ahead, 70 percent of the U.S.-based senior marketers surveyed said they plan to increase their marketing spend on events in 2017, while only five percent reported a planned decrease. A further 58 percent of respondents invest in producing 50 or more events per year, indicating that the relevance of in-person events for brands to make human 1:1 connections with customers and prospects is on the rise.

How much of your marketing budget was spent on events in 2016? Include spending for all events, from smaller field events to large conferences.

How much of your marketing budget was spent on events in 2016? Include spending for all events, from smaller field events to large conferences.

“Events offer a unique opportunity for companies to connect with customers in a personal way that an email communication often can’t,” said Peter Micciche, CEO at Certain, in a news release. “Today, event automation helps marketers take full advantage of this opportunity by helping them use data to personalize offerings and conduct fast lead follow-up.

“Capturing and acting upon event-based buying signals and data insights quickly, or better in real-time, is critical given the charter of senior marketers to accelerate sales cycles and drive revenue growth,” Micciche continued. “That’s only possible when you use careful planning and today’s powerful event automation platforms.”

Disconnect on event automaton ROI

Certain’s event marketing survey showed that marketers largely demonstrated an awareness that event management and event automation solutions help deliver successful outcomes for events — a quarter ranked these as the most important tools. Yet surprisingly, less than a half (49 percent) of respondents are using event management and event automation solutions in their current event strategies. That means there’s room for improvements to efficiency for these already-valuable events.

The sluggish pace of lead follow-up is one of the most striking data points of the survey. “Real-time follow-up” is on the radar of very few (six percent) marketers who said they are able to do so during or directly following the event on the same day. The majority (57 percent) take four days or more to follow up on their interactions at events; 17 percent cited one week; 16 percent said two weeks; six percent said three-four weeks; and four percent cited longer than a month.

The survey findings serve as further evidence that senior marketers can increase the ROI of their events by integrating the physical and digital worlds in their 2017 marketing strategies. Late last year a Forrester Research report predicted at least 30 percent of CEOs will exit their CMO’s this year for not mustering the blended skill set they need to drive digital business transformation, design exceptional personalized experiences, and propel growth. The report also cautioned senior marketers that “both analytic and creative skills helm the strongest companies.”

Which channel or tactic has been the most effective for promoting in-person events?

Which channel or tactic has been the most effective for promoting in-person events?

Other findings from the research include:

Planned 2017 marketing budget spend shows events are a big focus:

  • 2/3 of respondents (67 percent) plan to use 11 to 50 percent of their 2017 marketing budget on events
  • Half of respondents (50 percent) plan to use 26 to 75 percent of their 2017 marketing budget on events

Event management still requires large-scale human involvement:

  • 39 percent of respondents said they rely on the involvement of 100 or more employees during the event lifecycle of an in-person event

Events are critical to many respondents’ marketing strategies, but there’s still room for improvement:

  • 77 percent gave their events four or five stars (out of five) for driving demand generation
  • On average, events were identified as the second most effective marketing tactic (after direct marketing) over content marketing, email marketing, paid search advertising, and webinars.

See complete survey results here.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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