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Event organizers should pay special attention to viral marketing, argues XING Events in recent research [download page], which finds that attendees are more likely to learn about events from friends and acquaintances (66%) than by any other means.

This adds to the body of research supporting the massive influence of word-of-mouth, not only in event marketing, but also in purchase decisions (both consumer and B2B).

Beyond word-of-mouth, both email marketing and search appear to be important for event organizers, as attendees rely on them as informational vehicles:

  • Roughly 6 in 10 learn about events by following recommendations in emails and event newsletters;
  • About half target their search towards specific events they’re familiar with; while
  • More than one-fifth use certain keywords in search engines to search for suitable events.

While fewer (16%) are using social media to search for events, organizers are looking to ramp up their use of social media marketing, according to an accompanying survey of event organizers.

Almost two-thirds plan to increase their use of social media in the future, with websites (48%), email marketing (41%) and influencer marketing (33%) also slated for more frequent use.

For the time being, only about one-quarter of organizers are using influencer marketing, though the use of influencers is more popular with conference organizers than seminar or trade fair organizers. Trade fair marketers, by contrast, rely more on PR and traditional print ads than the other event types.

Overall, event marketers are looking primarily to attract more attendees (84%), boost event publicity (72%) and boost customer retention (60%), per the report. Notably, though, conference marketers are most interested in increasing the event’s profile, while trade fair marketers are most interested in increasing customer retention.

As for digital marketing, organizers have had the most success with these activities in boosting event publicity (70%) and attracting more attendees (65%), with fewer able to improve customer retention via digital.

With almost two-thirds planning to use more digital marketing activities in the future, the key advantages cited by this group are: addressing the target group more effectively (86%); lower cost (66%); and greater ease of measurement and control (62%).

The full study is available for download here.

About the Data: The results are based on surveys of 1,630 national and international organizers and 2,621 national and international attendees. Event organizers reported organizing seminars (63%), conferences and congresses (39%), trade fairs (34%) and other events (31%). Attendees reported primarily attending seminars (61%), conferences (54%), trade fairs (42%) and others (10%).

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