Bank Street Events, Stamford

A new Harvard Business Review study shows an overwhelming majority of companies (90 percent) prioritize staging events for customers and potential customers because for more than half of them, event marketing is the most valuable marketing channel they have.

The survey of 700 senior executives, titled “The Event Marketing Evolution: An Era of Data, Technology, and Revenue Impact,” found that the fastest-growing companies are increasing event activity the most,  with one-day conferences as the most popular format. Sponsored events were almost as popular with industry trade shows as the preferred way to partner.

Impact Measured

The authors warned that even as companies embrace event marketing, they may be missing out on the competitive advantage it affords because they aren’t embracing the potential of event technology to measure and track effectiveness. Only around one in four (23 percent) surveyed said they could accurately calculate ROI—including cost-per-opportunity and customer-acquired—for events. “Their enthusiasm is largely intuitive, based more on anecdotal evidence than on hard data,” the executive summary states. While many are tracking attendance, media mentions and sales leads, most are not connecting that data back to revenues and profits.

That is not to say that companies are not planning to take the next step to mine event data riches. Of those who had not already invested in tracking technology, roughly one in five (18 percent) said they planned to do so in the next year or so. Based on feedback from those already paying for tech tracking, the spend could be anywhere from $20,000 to $500,000. Two-thirds of tech adopters said they paid less than $100,000.

Next Steps

The authors suggested the following event-marketing best practices to take advantage of insights that could result in more effective—and profitable—meetings.

  • Integrate event technology into the company’s existing information systems.
  • Measure bottom-of-the-funnel sales metrics.
  • Align events programs based on impact on revenue.
  • Use event data to personalize messaging.
  • Position different types of events at different stages of the sales funnel.
  • Opt for hosted events, which can be better controlled.
  • Engage personally with attendees at sponsored events.

The study was sponsored by the event marketing platform Splash.