Harvard examines link between events and ROI

Event marketing can lead to rapid revenue growth, according to a study in partnership with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.

A new report confirms high-performing companies are investing ways to link event activity to actual revenues or profits.

The study, from a partnership between Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBR-AS) and event marketing software company Splash, surveyed more than 700 enterprise executives.

"Creating in-person business relationships through events is becoming more crucial than ever," said Alex Clemente, managing director of HBR-AS.

"The study shows that, despite the prevalence of social media and digital growth-strategies, event investments are growing. This is corroborated by our survey respondents, which include senior marketing managers, who state that events drive more business value than other channels."

Called 'The Event Marketing Evolution: An Era of Data, Technology, and Revenue Impact,' the paper gathered insights on event strategies.

Julie Hogan, global face-to-face marketing director, Facebook and Instagram, said she uses event marketing software to link the companies' various CRM systems. She believes it has been integral to improving the company’s event-measuring capabilities over the last two years.

In the report, Hogan added: "The face-to-face interactions that take place at events are incredibly powerful. And coming up with ways to measure the return on those interactions, and our investments in those events is really incredible.

"We’ve certainly become much more consistent in our ability not only to calculate a return on our investment, but also to make our event team more productive, deliver a better customer experience, and understand how we can do better in the future."

Companies are also allocating significant resources to event marketing activities with:

  • One third hosting their own trade shows

  • 51% employing between one and 10 full-time event planning and management employees

  • 27% employing 11 or more full-time event planning and management employees

  • One in 10 allocating more than half their marketing budget to events

  • 30% allocating at least 20% of their marketing budget to events

  • Four in 10 reporting that they’ll spend more on hosting events in the year ahead

More than 90% of companies prioritise hosting events for customers and potential customers, and almost as many sponsor events, the report reveals.

Around 23% of companies say they are able to calculate return on investment (ROI) for events.

"More than ever before, it is crucial for businesses to go beyond the digital space to build meaningful relationships, through human, in-person experiences. However, measuring event ROI is challenging and until recently, it was nearly impossible," said Ben Hindman, CEO of Splash.

"Now, with the growing investment in events, and the maturation of end-to-end event technology, event marketers have the ability to report on much more than anecdotal results."

According to the study, the "best [technology] adopters are on average more likely to see business value from events and to consider themselves better positioned for future success."


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