New study underscores the continuing importance of events to demand gen strategies.
The numbers below reflected the direction in which respondents were headed with their demand gen investments at the time this survey was given. Given that the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted events for the next 1-2 quarters, they likely do not paint an accurate picture of event marketing efforts this year. However, we anticipate this will be a short term change, and it is our belief that the numbers shown in the report align accurately with the strategic direction of the events industry.
Demand Gen Report and Iron Horse have released the results of a survey of more than 200 B2B executives about their investment in events, and what the future holds for their event strategy. We were thrilled to co-sponsor this survey to get a pulse on where companies across industries see live events fitting in to their demand gen landscape.
The takeaways are clear. Although some of this spring and summer’s biggest shows have been disrupted by COVID-19, face-to-face engagement at events will continue to be one of the most important demand gen strategies.
In the short term, companies may need to shift the balance toward digital strategies to create and maintain connections with customers and prospects. At present, all events are off the table, but smaller local events, such as roadshows, dinners and breakfasts may become viable before large events come back online. (We’re big fans of more intimate events and believe these are great tactics for augmenting your large shows in any year.) But as the survey showed, taken by themselves, digital tactics are far less effective for engaging prospects and shepherding them down the funnel.
Here are the takeaways we found most interesting from the survey.
Executives Are Making Bigger Investments in Events
The research found 54% of marketers expected event budgets to increase this year, with 17% projecting their event budgets would increase substantially. Business leaders don’t make big-budget decisions without good reason; 71% said that driving pipeline was their top goal for event marketing, ahead of usual event goals like awareness and engagement. It’s great to see more companies becoming aware of how impactful the context that comes from in-person interactions at events is for sales.
In light of COVID-19, these numbers will change for this year, but we believe that when we exit this health crisis, events will return to the center of successful integrated marketing strategies. And according to the executives Demand Gen Report surveyed, we’re not alone. Over 60% believe taking a more integrated approach to events will lead to increased opportunities and closed deals. While bigger investments are being made in events, we expect that integrating event efforts is also going to be a big part of those investments.
Events Are Fuel for Demand Generation Strategies
Of the 200 B2B executives surveyed, 95% said events are important or very important to their overall demand gen strategy (more than half considered them very important). In addition to filling the pipeline, events give businesses an opportunity to make human connections and build relationships with potential customers—over half of those surveyed noted that their reps are meeting specifically with prospects that responded to pre-event emails or social or ad campaigns.
These in-person interactions provide a wealth of information, filling in the gaps between implicit signals gathered through digital channels and giving reps a more complete picture of the opportunity—and the people that are part of it—than they could have without the event.
To truly reap the benefits of events on demand gen, companies need to break down walls that exist between marketing and sales and support processes that ensure your people can connect with the right people on the event floor, take away the right information from those interactions, and get that information into the right hands, quickly, so you can continue the conversation in the right way. We’re excited to see that more marketing leaders are paying attention to the demand gen potential of events as we believe it will be a game changer for growth across industries.
Businesses are Buying In to Event Lead Management Technology
Business leaders want to be able to track progress, gather data, and analyze lead quality consistently across all of their events. Demand Gen Report found that 26% of B2B executives are currently using a universal lead capture solution while nearly 30% are planning to adopt one soon to improve the way they manage event leads. It’s great to see that more and more companies are recognizing the enormous value of a single solution to capture context from event conversations.
This trend is nothing new but it is growing. In 2016, $50 million was invested in modern event management solutions, and in 2018, Bizzabo reported that overperforming businesses were 2X more likely to use event software that integrated with their core business platform. The increasingly better use of technology to support event demand gen is great news for people on both sides of the booth.
We like to imagine a world where every event attendee is provided a unique, customized experience with resources that fit their customer journey, not some generic one. And we humbly believe the adoption of a universal lead capture solution is the foundation for that future, allowing companies to connect better with potential customers on the event floor, and continue to connect in a responsive, meaningful way afterwards.
There’s a lot more to learn from Demand Gen Report’s survey. Get the full report here.