B2B Event Success Increasingly Dependent on Attracting the Right Attendees

March 6, 2023

B2B marketers who use in-person events tout their effectiveness, and live events are considered to be one of the top B2B channels for producing high-ROI leads. And in keeping with a longstanding shift towards lead quality over quantity, the extent to which a successful event program can be considered successful is more perceived to be about the right attendees than the most attendees, per a report [download page] from Splash.

Based on a survey of 670 event professionals in the US and Europe across industries and job roles, the survey indicates that the biggest key to a successful event program is attracting the right attendees. This year about one-third (32%) cited this as the key, up from roughly one-quarter (26%) last year.

By comparison, only about half as many (17% share) said that attracting the most attendees is key to success, relatively unchanged from last year (16%). The other top responses this year were compelling event content (13%, down from 15%), and accurately measuring ROI (13%, up from 8%).

Virtually all (98%) respondents are trying to measure ROI in some way, with about 2 in 3 reporting that attendance is one of the most important metrics to the business. The authors note that there are difficulties in proving event ROI without integrated marketing systems; while 41% plan to increase their investments in tech this year, that is down from 59% last year.

Turning to event types, the survey finds that for a plurality (43% share), the event mix included some in-person and some virtual events. Hybrid events (11% share) were relatively scarce, while a reliance on in-person events (30%) was much more common than only virtual events (6%).

Aligning with research showing that virtually all B2B exhibitions are now going ahead as planned, the report from Splash indicates that 40% of respondents hosted more in-person events last year than they’d anticipated. Perhaps correspondingly, there seems to be some declining enthusiasm for virtual events; the percentage of respondents planning 5 or fewer virtual events this year has almost doubled from last year’s report. Still, roughly 4 in 10 (41%) said that virtual events were more effective than they anticipated.

Smaller, more focused virtual engagements are considered preferable to larger events by B2B marketers, and this latest study also finds that fewer event professionals are focusing primarily on flagship events. Splash points towards everyday events such as roadshows, workshops and customer panels as ways to “create memorable, consistent buying experiences for customers.” To that end, 4 in 10 respondents intend to host more than 10 repeating events this year.

For more, download the study here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 670 event professionals in the US and Europe (France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK) across a variety of industries and company sizes.


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