Marketers Cite Positive ROI From Events, Despite Limited Measurement

December 8, 2015

DemandMetricAttend-Average-ROI-Events-Dec2015Most marketers engaged in event initiatives claim a positive ROI from their efforts, according to a new report [download page] from Demand Metric sponsored by Attend, but ROI is only sparingly used as an event success metric. The survey – fielded among 202 marketers (68% primarily B2B) – found the average ROI for events to be in the 25-34% range.

Indeed, fewer than 1 in 10 respondents said that they break even on events (6%) or that events are a loss for them (2%). However, a large share (19%) said they don’t know what their average ROI is for events.

Separate results from the survey suggest that the percentage not knowing their ROI could be even higher. When marketers were asked which event success metrics they use, fewer than one-third cited ROI. The use of ROI as a metric was higher among those respondents who use event management technology (31%) than those not using such tools (25%). Respondents using event technology were also more likely than those not using them to measure level or quality of engagement (43% vs. 30%) and revenue generated (47% vs. 31%).

Overall, though, only 28% reported using event management technology.

Separately, a BioBM study [download page] of 61 B2B marketers in the life sciences vertical found only about 38% quantitatively tracking the ROI of conferences and events, though another 49% either measure it qualitatively or said they have a good idea of it. Results from the study indicate, though, that while conferences occupy the largest share of participants’ marketing budgets, they had only the third-highest ROI, behind content marketing and email marketing. This suggests that life sciences marketers may be spending a disproportionately large share of marketing dollars on them.

The Demand Metric survey similarly reveals that events occupy a large share of budgets for those involved in them, with participants estimating their event allocation to be 30-39% of overall budgets. For its part, a study released at the beginning of this year from Forrester Research revealed that events occupy the single largest share of B2B marketers’ budgets, averaging out at 14% among all survey respondents (not just those involved in event initiatives).

While ROI measurement may be limited, there has generally been strong enthusiasm for events. For example, almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents to the Demand Metric study feel that events are better than other tactics for customer engagement, and 85% believe that engagement at events is an important way to progress customers through the buying journey. Research from the Content Marketing Institute, meanwhile, indicates that in-person events are the most effective form of content marketing for B2B marketers. Finally, data contained in MarketingCharts’ 2015 B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report reveals that trade shows and conferences are one of the top-3 sources buyers turn to when researching a vendor’s products and services.

Other Findings:

  • Conferences, tradeshows and webinars are the top 3 types of events produced, hosted, or participated in by the Demand Metric survey respondents, regardless of company size.
  • Some 63% of respondents use 4 or more event types, with just 1 in 10 hosting or participating in a single event.
  • Leads generated and pipeline opportunities are the most commonly used event success metrics.
  • Almost half of respondents feel that events are becoming more important, while another 43% feel that their importance is staying the same.
  • Close to 6 in 10 are satisfied (50%) or very satisfied (7%) with their event strategies and results, and another 35% are neutral.

About the Data: The Demand Metric survey was fielded from August 19-September 6, 2015 among 202 study participants who acknowledged using events as a marketing initiative. Slightly more than half of respondents come from companies with more than $25 million in annual sales. Roughly two-thirds come from mostly or entirely B2B organizations, with another 21% coming from a blend of B2B/B2C and the remaining 11% from mostly or entirely B2C organizations.

The BioBM survey was conducted March 23-April 30, 2015. Participants were recruited via email through BioBM’s newsletter as well as through relevant LinkedIn groups. Almost 4 in 10 came from companies with at least 200 employees.


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