Although the number of new, qualified sales leads generated is the most common metric used to evaluate the success of B2B exhibiting, cited by 81% of respondents to a 2011 Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) survey released [download page] in February 2012, marketing metrics are growing in popularity, with 88% of exhibitors using at least one marketing metric to measure success, up from 81% in 2009. In fact, 4 in 5 respondents indicated that they measured success by increased brand awareness, representing a 31% increase from 61% in 2009.
Overall, 91% of marketers used at least one sales metric to measure success, up marginally from 90% in 2009.
The survey required participants to have participated in at least one B2B exhibition in the past 2 years.
Marketing metrics may be gaining in popularity, but the number of new sales leads is still the most important success metric, respondents say. When asked the single-most important metric for measuring success of exhibiting at B2B exhibitions, 40% cited the sales metric, up from 38% in 2009, ahead of the number of sales closed after the show (28%). After that there was a significant drop-off to increased brand awareness, voted most important by 8%, up from 7% two years earlier.
B2B exhibitions received on average of 39.2% of respondents’ marketing dollars in 2011, with those spending more than half of their marketing dollars allocating on average 64% of their budgets to this channel. In fact, the share of budgets allocated to exhibitions was almost quadruple the next channel, trade magazine advertising (10.5%), although both saw a slight decrease in share from the previous year.
By contrast, online marketing channels saw a year-over-year rise in budget allocations: after falling from 10% share of budgets in 2009 to 7.1% share in 2010, the share of budgets spent on trade online marketing (website, SEO, etc.) rose to 7.6%. Similarly, after declining from 9% share of budgets in 2009 to 6.2% in 2010, the share allocated to general online marketing (website, SEO, etc.) rose 13% to 7%.
Data from “The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit into the Overall Marketing Budget” indicates that among respondents allocating dollars to digital channels, email marketing/promotion ranks as the most popular digital marketing tactic, used by 79%. Almost two-thirds of these respondents use online advertising (64%), while a majority also turn to websites/microsites (59%) and social media sites (52%). Search marketing (45%) and webinars (35%) follow, although only about 1 in 5 use blogs or online video.
About the Data: The CEIR online survey was fielded in August through September of 2011. In order to qualify to participate, a company had to exhibit in at least one B2B exhibition in the past two years and have a minimum of $10 million in annual revenues. Marketing executives had to confirm their decision- making authority to participate in exhibitions, as well as other promotions and advertising decisions for their company. Only one survey was allowed per company, or, for major conglomerates, one per unique company division. The total results of the study are based on the participation of 299 marketing executives.
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