While marketing always has and always will rely heavily on creativity, it's also becoming (like every other aspect of business) increasingly data-driven.
Marketers are utilizing data to help achieve a wide range of objectives, from driving sales and brand awareness to educating customers and generating media coverage.
The ability to measure everything has been part of the allure of digital marketing for more than two decades. But until much more recently, online data was rarely effectively combined with information from the offline world, like outdoor advertising, direct mail, and most importantly live events.
That's now changing, as options for collecting data at live events, combining it with data in CRM and other enterprise systems, and measuring the performance and value of events, have significantly expanded.
Here are four key conclusions from the report.
Sales, Brand Awareness Top Objectives
Nearly every survey of marketers names lead generation and brand awareness as top objectives, and this study was no (or at least not much) different. The top five objectives respondents said they are pursuing using data are:
- Increase sales - 62 percent
- Increase brand awareness - 60 percent
- Drive client relationships - 38 percent
- Enhance brand perception - 34 percent
- Generate new leads - 33 percent
Event Marketers Are Tracking Data Beyond the Obvious
It would hardly be surprising to find out that event marketers are tracking attendee demographic data through online registration forms, attendee activity using beacons and RFID badges, and performance feedback through app-based surveys at events. This is all pretty commonplace.
What is surprising from the Freeman/Chief Marketer study is the range of data event marketers are collecting beyond the obvious measures. Per the report:
"Event and experiential marketing stand out significantly as an effective sector for data collection, generation, and influence. The study shows events provide a 'wider and deeper' range of data and metrics than other channels...No other marketing channel provides the opportunity to measure nearly the full spectrum of metrics and key customer and consumer interactions."
Among the key data points collected by event marketers are:
- Social media activity - 55 percent
- Total number of leads - 53 percent
- Total number of qualified leads - 49 percent
- Brand awareness - 41 percent
- Website traffic - 41 percent
The study further found that event marketers are more likely than brand marketers to use data to track brand awareness (71 percent to 52 percent), drive leads (60 percent to 35 percent), and justify budgets (47 percent to 28 percent). This last finding not surprising, as events are often the largest single biggest line item in corporate marketing budgets.
Event Data is Used to Improve Events—Plus a Lot More
Event marketers are not only collecting more data than ever before, but also using it for many purposes beyond serving up better session content, or more appealing food.
Again, per the report:
"Nearly nine out of ten companies use event marketing data to inform wider marketing strategy and tactical decision making, and 70 percent of brands integrate their event data with their corporate marketing databases and CRM platforms...Events and experiences generate highly valuable customer and prospect data and insights."
While 70 percent of event marketers use event data to, not surprisingly, enhance the event experience, 63 percent also use it to inform product development, and more than half use event-generated data for competitive analysis and market research.
In terms of using event data for actual event marketing purposes, 74 percent of respondents say they use event data to inform their event strategy and planning, 62 percent to measure overall event success, and 48 percent to calculate the sales impact or ROI of live events.
What's more, 86 percent of event marketers rate event data as "important" or "very important" in securing budget for the coming year. A similar percentage of both B2B and consumer event marketing professionals say event data is important or critical when communicating to C-level executives about event marketing results.
Event Marketers Are Counting a Lot More Than Just Leads
Both B2B and B2C event marketers are, of course, collecting obvious metrics like attendee counts, leads, qualified leads, event feedback, and the impact of events on brand awareness.
But they are capturing much more. Among the less obvious data points collected by both groups of event marketers are:
- Social media activity and postings (57 percent B2B / 65 percent B2C)
- Post-event sales (48 percent / 43 percent)
- Website traffic (41 percent / 42 percent)
- Press coverage / PR impact (35 percent / 43 percent)
- Online buzz or influencer postings (27 percent / 33 percent)
Surprisingly, less than a quarter of event marketers are doing attendee journey tracking (determining where guests went and what they did), given that RFID-enabled event credentials make it easy to track both macro and micro attendee engagement.
There's lots more in the report: the importance of event data for securing budget allocations, trends in event budgets, and the biggest challenges faced in event data collection, among other findings.
What's clear is that event data is an increasingly important component of overall data marketing data collection, and it helps drive decisions well beyond event planning. Both B2B and B2C enterprises need the right technology in place to capture event data, integrate it into other corporate marketing platforms, and utilize it to make critical marketing decisions across channels.