Content marketing is still a hot trend, but in-person events are capturing marketers’ attention—and budgets.
A recent benchmarks and trends report by Bizzabo reveals that more organizations are turning to live events to bolster their marketing efforts—and the vast majority of marketers (85 percent) say event production is an essential part of their marketing strategies.
Bizzabo reports that of 1,000 marketers surveyed, 41 percent consider events marketing the most crucial channel to achieve their goals, citing events as more effective than content and email marketing combined.
“While a well-rounded marketing strategy will include multiple channels, marketers invest in in-person events to engage prospects, customers and other audiences in a meaningful way,” Bizzabo writes.
Marketers’ event goals
Although marketers’ participation in events—whether hosting, attending or sponsoring them—is aimed at boosting their organizations’ bottom lines, success is spread across a few crucial elements when hosting events.
Thirty percent of marketers say their primary reason to organize events is to increase lead generation and sales. A smaller number (21 percent) say they aim to increase brand awareness for the organization and its products, and 16 percent say they want revenue generation from sponsorships and ticket sales.
For instance, intimate VIP events may help to win new customers, while thought leadership and networking events may help to increase brand awareness, and awards ceremonies may help to generate revenue from ticket sales and sponsors. However, a conference has the versatility to support each of these objectives and more.
No matter the marketing aim, communicators can benefit from using events to connect and share insights with industry peers. Nearly all marketers (95 percent) say events provide opportunities to network in “an increasingly digital world,” a 12-point increase from 2017’s survey responses.
More events means more budget dollars
Probably due to events’ success in achieving business goals, more organizations are investing in them. Bizzabo reports that 17 percent more organizations put on live events in 2018 than in the year prior.
That increased interest can come with a hefty price tag.
Nearly half (49 percent) of marketers say they set aside at least 21 percent of their budgets to host events. Thirty percent say they spent their budgets on sponsoring or exhibiting at events, and 19 percent say that money goes toward attending events.
Those amounts will grow, too: Almost two-thirds of marketers (63 percent) say they will increase their event budgets by an average of 22 percent in 2019.
Those who are most successful with event marketing aims report spending 1.7 times the average budget on their occasions.
Leadership buy-in and showing ROI
As with many marketing strategies, executive approval can make a big difference to budget size and overall success.
Leadership buy-in is an integral part of event production. Luckily, most executives (84 percent) believe live events are an important element in reaching their organizations’ goals—a 20 percent increase from 2017.
However, executives still want marketing and event teams to measure their success and prove ROI.
Proving ROI is 28 percent more likely when leaders are on board from the beginning. Failing to prove events’ effectiveness can bring budget consequences, however: Leaders are 2.2 times less supportive of live events when marketers cannot demonstrate ROI—a struggle that 42 percent of marketers face.