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Using events to drive leads isn’t a new concept for business-to-business (B2B) marketers. In a November 2014 study by Regalix, 91% of B2B marketing executives in North America reported investing in event marketing, and nearly all of this group—96%—said events were extremely or somewhat significant for accelerating lead gen or growing the sales pipeline. As such, lead generation tied with brand building as the top objective for companies investing in event marketing, each cited by 80% of respondents.
Much effort goes into promoting events—before, during and after—but spending isn’t even throughout the process. Regalix broke down promotion channels used pre-, during and post-event and found that marketers checked off more costly channels before appearing at events, then cut back during and afterward.
Expensive outdoor ads, TV, radio and cold calling, along with paid search and online display ads, were the most-used promotional channels pre-event. Once the big day came, though, usage dropped drastically for these channels as social and mobile took center stage. Fully 91% of B2B marketers reported using social media during events, and around 80% promoted via mobile apps and text messages. When the doors closed, low-cost channels remained the most relevant. Email (72%), blogs (66%) and social media (52%) helped marketers stay top of mind among attendees post-event.
Post-event promotions aren’t the end, though, as marketers must measure event return on investment (ROI). And here, it all comes back to lead generation. More than three-quarters of respondents said they looked at the increase in leads to measure an event’s ROI—the top response. Sales, which can happen way after a lead originally comes into play, came in second, at 48%.
But recent research suggests price per lead is high, possibly because these aren’t the most quality ones. In a September 2014 study conducted by Research Now for Software Advice, 39.4% of US B2B marketing professionals said the cost per lead generated from trade shows and events was very high, and 43.3% said it was somewhat high. Meanwhile, just 2% and 14.4% said this was very or somewhat low, respectively.
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