Events, especially marketing events, are a critical tool in any marketer’s playbook. According to Forrester Research, tradeshows and events are the second most effective tactic in the marketing mix, after the company’s website. Forrester also reports that 25% of the average B2B marketing budget is spent on events.
Whether it’s a user conference, roadshow or sales meeting, marketing events create multiple touch points, offer unparallelled face time with your target audience, and accelerate the sales process. According to the IBM Global Chief Marketing Officer Study, almost two-thirds of CMOs believe ROI will be the primary measure of their effectiveness.
So the question becomes, how do you accurately measure event ROI?
1. Align Internally
Marketing events touch many departments within an organisation. Often they are planned by one department and marketed by another. Customers and prospects are then engaged onsite by sales and other groups. Organisations must align internal stakeholders to not only ensure they are sharing resources and leveraging spending appropriately, but also maximising the quality leads and pipeline opportunities that result.
Organisations should also develop and consistently follow a lead generation strategy for onsite representatives. In addition to scanning the badges of interested attendees, what qualifying questions might be asked? How will the data be captured?
2. Harness the Power of Technology
Companies today are able to greatly simplify the process with event management solutions, cutting costs by an estimated 20-30% (Aberdeen Group, 2012), while also increasing attendance up to 20% (Frost and Sullivan). Companies that use event management solutions are able to leverage customised email marketing, create customised and dynamic registration processes, set up automated payment processing, build and launch branded event websites, connect to social media channels, and more, all from a central platform.
” Event technology can help increase event attendance by 20%, increase productivity by 27%, and decrease costs by 20-30%.” – Frost & Sullivan
Attendees expect relevant, compelling event experiences, content and insights in order to justify time away from the office and the cost to attend. Engaging attendees shouldn’t be left for day one of your event. The attendee journey should begin immediately. Marketers should communicate with attendees every 1-2 weeks following registration. Content can include background information on key session topics, industry studies, webinars or podcasts with speakers, and more.
By engaging attendees prior to the event, marketers can also encourage desired behaviours like upgrading to paid registrations, choosing sessions or tracks, promoting one-on-one meetings, downloading the event app, and sharing the event on social media.
4. Get a Bird’s Eye View
Part of delivering ROI is being able to track results for the events themselves. In a world where 80% of event processes are managed manually (Frost & Sullivan), this can be challenging, but it’s a challenge that has to be solved.
To track individual event ROI, organisations need effective reporting and budgeting tools, another area where technology like an event management solution can help. With such reporting, organisations can have – and share – an executive dashboard of revenue and expenses across events. With key performance indicators (KPIs), like registration rate, average cost per attendee, and attrition rate (or verification ratio), marketers also get a bird’s eye view of their events, increasing transparency and facilitating better decision-making.
As mentioned, marketing events are the second most effective tactic in a marketer’s arsenal. But can you prove it? Without visibility into how events affect the marketing and sales process, having a complete picture of ROI can be difficult. While embracing the previous strategies brings marketers much closer to measuring and achieving great marketing event ROI, this strategy has an exponential impact on ROI.
Specifically, we’re referring to integrating an event management solution into marketing automation systems like Eloqua or Marketo and CRM solutions like Salesforce. Through such integrations, marketing organisations can:
• Develop a 360 degree profile of attendees, enabling more relevant and personalised event experiences that accelerate the buying cycle
• Align marketing even more closely with sales, allowing for the capture and scoring of leads onsite, automatically entering prospects into follow-up campaigns
• Incorporate rich event data into existing systems, creating powerful intelligence for determining the impact of events on key behaviours
• Tie event investments to the revenue cycle, making better comparisons to other marketing channel