Trade Shows Good, But Measurement Bad


Events, shows and experiential marketing are traditional ways of making a brand tactile, but a little ROI would be nice. When it comes to measuring how effective events are in boosting sales and intention, shows unfortunately are kind of a marketing Galapagos.

Not that you don’t get leads from shows, but what do you do with them? A lot of marketers don't know, according to a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, with the Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA). Forty-five percent of survey respondents said they were struggling to justify attending or participating in shows, and 19% said they had no strategy to act on the leads they gather. Not that they dismiss them entirely: 89% of respondents say events still hold value, and 31% say they are essential. 



The report, “Customer Attainment From Event Engagement,” finds that the degree of conversion generated by a show is hard to trace because the primary metrics are referrals/introductions, leads and deal closures. 

“The exhibit and event marketing medium needs to develop generally accepted practices for measuring outcomes from face-to-face marketing efforts,” said Jim Wurm, executive director for the E2MA, in a statement. “It is imperative for marketers to obtain and employ exhibit and event marketing analytics to inform the value of their spend and guide them on their future investments."

The study -- culled from a fourth-quarter survey of over 260 brand marketers, including 21 senior brand marketers and event and trade show industry experts -- found that most marketers see events as revenue-driving opportunities. Sixty-four percent look at them as a way to gain prospects; 62% hope to gather and cultivate leads; and 61% seek face-to-face meetings with clients and prospects. 

But 40% are cutting back on big shows in favor of more targeted gatherings, and 44% are choosing to host their own events. Thirty-nine percent cite escalating costs. 

Marketers are, however, using technology to grab attention and engagement. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they are using "personal technology," 24% said they use mobile, and only 15% use virtual networking.

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