The cancellation of most in-person events last year led many B2B organizations to adopt virtual events as a core strategy, with a majority claiming they will continue to use at least some aspects of virtual events even after the pandemic is over. This enthusiasm behind virtual events is apparently well-founded, with a report [download page] from ON24, Market2Marketers and Heinz Marketing finding a near-unanimous high level of satisfaction with the performance of virtual events when measured against marketing goals and objectives.
Indeed, close to all the B2B marketing professionals surveyed who have virtual events planned say that they are very (45%) or somewhat (52%) satisfied with virtual events’ performance against their goals. Some 8 in 10 also report that ROI from their virtual events in the past 12 months has been either excellent (28%) or good (65%).
Goals and Objectives
A pre-pandemic report from Demand Gen Report found that in-person events were considered the most successful top of funnel engagement tactics by a majority of B2B marketers. Engagement remains a top goal for marketers now that many events have been taken online and marketers start to consider the option of holding hybrid events. About half (51%) of respondents to this recent survey listed customer engagement as one of their top 3 objectives for their events.
Revenue growth (43%), product awareness (41%) and sales pipeline growth (40%) are also common objectives. However, fewer are using events for corporate communication (26%), training (25%) and demand generation (24%).
Assessing Event Performance
While B2B marketers are using several metrics to assess the performance of their events, the top metric — used by 58% of respondents — is attendee-level engagement. This comes down to the attendee’s overall experience, an element that is considered critical to the success of an event by an overwhelming majority of marketers.
Although attendee-level engagement is an important metric used to assess performance, engagement on an account level is considered important by far fewer marketers. Only 36% say they use account-level engagement as a metric to measure the success of their events.
More than half of marketers also gauge the performance of their events by the opportunities and pipeline generated (53%) and by the total number of events or sessions attended (51%), while other commonly-used metrics include information or content downloads (50%), event feedback or score (46%) and registration to attendee conversion (44%). And, although 4 in 10 say one of their top 3 objectives is to grow the sales pipeline, only 28% use booked meetings as a metric.
Virtual Events Strategy
When B2B marketers plan virtual events, only about 1 in 5 (19%) say they merely mirror their existing physical events strategy. Instead, there is a near-even split between those who adapt their physical event strategy to prioritize virtual audiences (41%) and others that create a new strategy for hosting virtual events to maximize digital engagement (40%).
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a May 2021 survey of 200 B2B marketing professionals, 70% of whom work at companies with more than 250 employees.