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E2MA releases study on exhibit marketing

e2ma-logoWhile events and tradeshows are still a vital part of the marketing and customer engagement mix, senior marketers remain challenged to identify effective methods to measure and prove return-on-inventment, according to a new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, conducted in partnership with the Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA).

The report, entitled Customer Attainment From Event Engagement, highlights qualitative and quantitative findings gathered from a survey of more than 260 brand marketers during the 4th quarter of 2012 and the 1st quarter of 2013, as well as interviews with 21 senior brand marketers and 11 experts within the event and tradeshow industry. The study issues a clear call to action for both marketers and event producers to look at the business measures and analytics that are powering today’s advanced, data-driven and highly targeted customer engagements.

“The exhibit and event marketing medium needs to develop generally accepted practices for measuring outcomes from face-to-face marketing efforts,” said Jim Wurm, executive director, E2MA. “It is imperative for marketers to obtain and employ exhibit and event marketing analytics to inform the value of their spend and guide them on their future investments.

The report highlights a number key findings which include:

  • 89 percent of marketers say that events still hold some level of importance and value for their organizations, with 31 percent considering them essential.
  • Events are primarily viewed as revenue-driving opportunities with 64 percent of respondents looking to source new prospects, 62 percent hoping to gather and cultivate leads and 61 percent seeking face-to-face meetings with clients and prospects.
  • While marketers still finds value in events, 40 percent are cutting back on big shows in favor of more targeted gatherings and 44 percent are choosing to host their own events.
  • The top challenges faced by marketers with respect to events and tradeshows are making a business case for investment (45 percent) and managing the escalated costs associated with them (39 percent).

“Events and their ability to host intimate, face-to-face dialogues with customers, prospects, influencers and even competitors remains critical to many marketers across a multitude of industries, but until very recently, the same rigor and attention to measurable return have not been enforced to define the return of investments,” said Liz Miller, vice president of marketing programs and thought leadership, CMO Council. “What this study demonstrates is that marketers’ attention is shifting, and now is the time to begin moving down this road of defining and tracking the value of event and experiential marketing.”

The greatest challenge marketers face around tradeshows and events is measurement, and this is primarily due to their lack of visibility into the conversion pipeline to determine how events are impacting sales and revenue. While they have customer relationship management (CRM) systems in place and a large number are happy with their CRM (42 percent), the primary metrics that are being considered are referrals/introductions, leads and deal closures, and without true visibility into the sales process, marketers can’t measure what they don’t know.

“This study is the first step in a process meant to make exhibit and event marketing measurement a fundamental component of every marketers program,” said Wurm. “The E2MA, in partnership with the CMO Council, plans to take the next step by working with marketers and event organizers to address this longstanding issue at our symposium at the Hyatt McCormick in Chicago on July 29.”

Additional transformations are also occurring in the event and tradeshow industry as valuable new technologies emerge, and while it was once feared that these technologies would rob events of some of their value, marketers are actually using them to generate additional attention and engagement around their exhibits. Personal and mobile technologies rank high among the list of solutions that add marketing value, while virtual networking holds value for only 15 percent of respondents. While these new technologies are leading to new opportunities for engagement, additional tools are needed to fully maximize the value of events and integrate them into the overall marketing strategy.

The full study, which is available for purchase on the E2MA web site, is a 98-page report which highlights where transformation must occur for both brand leaders and event organizers to capitalize on the full potential of tradeshows and events. An Executive Summary of the study, free to all E2MA members, is also available.

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