In this third and final part of this series on the findings of the Digital + Exhibit Marketing Insights study, I’ll share findings on budget, measurement and ROI.
Once again, this study was conducted by The Center for Exhibition Industry Research and the Exhibition Research Foundation in partnership with George P. Johnson. 287 Corporate Brand and Exhibition Management senior-level professionals took the survey on how they are currently integrating digital marketing into their event programs.
Below are these findings, what they mean and what you can do about them.
1. Digital tactics represent only 7% of budget for Exhibition Management and 9% for Corporate Brand Marketers. Exhibition Management is offering more digital services than Corporate Brand marketers are buying. E-Mail marketing / advertising represents the largest percentage of the exhibition / event budget.
What does it mean? Exhibition marketers are drivers of digital adoption. This is especially true with web 2.0 technologies. However, some of these services are not viewed as valuable by brand marketers. There is a misalignment of the value chain to demand.
What can you do about it? Some of this is healthy and will drive further adoption of digital marketing. Shift focus from offering legacy technologies which have not proven to be as valuable toward more forward leaning opportunities (web 2.0, etc.).
2. Only half of respondents measure the impact of their digital marketing efforts. Despite increasing use of digital and virtual media, less than half of respondents can quantify how it is benefiting their organizations. Measurements are largely based exhibition sponsorship, sales reports and post show surveys.
What does it mean? Measurement is critical in understanding and improving program performance and ROI. By not measuring their programs, event marketers are missing out on a huge opportunity to increase the efficiency and efficacy of their programs. Also, deployment of inappropriate measurement tools negatively impact understanding of performance.
What can you do about it? Build a robust measurement system for both event and digital marketing efforts. Measurement should be based on objective, emphasize outcomes over outputs, and drive a culture of continuous improvement. Make sure you are using the right measurement tools to measure the right things.
3. Sponsorships (such as keynote session and roundtable sponsorships) and speaking opportunities are seen as providing the greatest ROI followed by e-mail marketing / advertising and event signage.
What does it mean? Those opportunities which give respondents an opportunity to communicate to their audiences, drive attendance or allow for post-event follow up are seen as offering the highest value. The most interesting finding here was event signage was seen as being more valuable than event websites, social media or mobile marketing. This points to a lack of understanding of the potential impact of these technologies in the event space.
What can you do about it? Ensure you are investing in exhibition components that offer the highest value and return on investment. Audience generation is critical, as is post-event follow up. Any opportunity to engage in a conversation with your audiences is also highly valuable, both face-to-face (speaking opportunities) and online. Do not underestimate the power of social media and mobile marketing in the event space.
4. Respondents believe incorporating digital marketing tactics in their promotional programs increases their effectiveness.
65% of corporate brand marketers feel that digital affects their success somewhat. 14% feel digital makes a significant impact.
Over half of exhibition marketing respondents report that digital makes a great deal of impact on enhancing exhibition / trade show promotion.
What does it mean? Digital marketing is clearly making an impact on events. Where exhibition marketing is pushing the envelope, they see greater value in the integration of digital and face-to-face.
What can you do about it? Experimentation, adoption and measurement will lead to a greater understanding and recognition of value. Make sure your programs include all three.
This study teaches us that the integration and adoption of digital and virtual marketing tactics with face-to-face is in its infancy, however our society is increasingly engaging both in-person and online. This is accelerating exponentially. There is an organic relationship between face-to-face and and digital marketing and the impact is indeed powerful. The opportunities for brands to engage their audiences where they live, work and play are abundant, but few are taking advantage of this. Our best strategy as marketers is to recognize this and continue experimenting, learning and adopting both face-to-face and digital tactics into our marketing portfolio. We must participate in the conversation with our audiences to drive relationships based on trust, shared experiences and a mutual exchange of value.