According to Liz Miller, who oversees marketing programs and operations at the CMO Council:

I was really surprised by how few marketers take advantage of an integrated marketing campaign pre-show. When we asked, ‘What channels are you leveraging to let your most valued customers or prospects know you’re going to be at this event,’ a lot of the channels were show-owned.”

In other words, unless they’re putting on the show, brands keep quiet about their attendance at events, despite the fact that 45% of those surveyed believe event marketing is the most effective channel for demand generation.

Events are where it’s at

The opportunity for leads is certainly there: event attendees spend an average of 8.3 hours on the show floor over an average of 2.4 days. It’s not the same old faces, either—36% are first-time show-goers, so sales teams can rest assured that there will be new leads to woo and face-to-face meetings to have with existing customers.

A majority of respondents also said that speaking on panels or presenting is valuable, an opinion likely informed by marketers’ belief that events help position their companies against competitors and advance thought leadership.

But even with the faith that marketers place in events for generating sales, few (6%) believe that their companies do a good job of converting leads—and it’s not the fault of CRMs. A healthy number of marketers (42%) are happy with their CRM systems.

The problem, instead, lies with metrics. Some 58% admit that they don’t use any, but that may be because they can’t get the data or even know what data to track. Just 9% have a formal, structured, and tech-enabled system for tracking or score an event’s effectiveness.

Room for improvement

Improvement, respondents said, can come from having better strategies in place (35%), data collection (32%), speaking opportunities (31%), and post-event reporting and analytics. 

Already there are technologies in place that can provide some of this information: RFID-tagged badges, QR codes for conference content, but marketers aren’t necessarily demanding that event producers do a better job of providing pre- and post-show analytics.

“We, as marketers, keep saying [to producers], ‘I’ve exhibited for five years. What are you going to do for me?’” notes Miller. “Say what you need: ‘What intel can you provide with what’s happening with [show attendees]?’”

If things don’t improve in event marketing, marketers believe three demand channels (search, direct/email, and web-based marketing) could take its top spot. 

You can view the CMO Council’s Customer Attainment from Event Engagement, the source of the statistics cited here.