Perplexed? B2B Marketers Say Events Key But Data Shows No ROI

Events are on every marketers docket for 2018 as a critical part of the demand strategy. However, most marketers are caught on a back foot trying to explain the ROI to their finance team and CEO when reports show that no deals are closed from individual events. ROI looks poor and it gets harder to justify doing events in future years.

Since this is the peak B2B event season I decided to take away the defensiveness from marketers and talk about ROI of events.

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Success of an event starts with a well defined event strategy as discussed in my previous article. That is a MUST! As mentioned before the goals of an event are to:

  1. establish brand and leadership
  2. generate qualified leads for new and existing business
  3. broker deals and partnerships to expand footprint

Most CRM/SFDC report do not show the impact of all goals listed above. Reports are simplistic and only look at showing impact of Goal 2 above and that too only for ‘new’ business. In addition, for smaller cash strapped companies, those reports are run within less than a year which may not be enough time given the size of the deal. Also, the campaign attribution gets lost as time elapses which is likely with large deals.

That said, how do we measure the impact of events and ensure that data is present to aid future discussions and decisions. For every event requiring significant investment, marketers should ensure that their dashboard captures all three goals above and attribute it to the event. To do that, the KPIs need to be well understood and tracked. A single dashboard in most cases does not do justice.

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  1. Track uptake in social footprint.
  2. Measure traffic to website before and after event to observe any spikes due to PR, promotions and announcements.
  3. Measure website conversions on key collateral or offers promoted.
  4. Create and report on integrated digital campaigns to the database following a major event. These campaigns typically show the highest response rates due to heightened company awareness.
  5. Pre-event emails focusing on setting up meetings and offering to schedule demos to non-attendees should be tracked to ensure meetings and demos are attributed to the event.
  6. Capture volume of new Leads from campaign, upload them timely and mark correctly – This is about the only step that most companies do right.
  7. Work with sales on reviewing those deals to ensure length of sales cycle goes down. Close adherence to ABM tactics is crucial at this point. As we all know this is the single most critical factor in increasing sales velocity.
  8. Customer meetings, user conferences, soirees where new and existing customers are invited should get tracked and reports should include upsell/retention of as part of event ROI.
  9. Any large partnerships, C-level conversations, chance meetings that happen due to being present at the event should all be captured.
  10. Create your framework on above KPIs, capture the data quarterly and refresh periodically.It’s all about timing and speed. Always look at a complete picture when making decisions to ensure investments are not compromised or delayed which may eventually stunt your company’s growth!

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