B2B marketers who focus on technology decision makers over-index on the power of conferences, roundtables and other in-person gatherings, according to a survey of more than 1,000 professionals by events software firm Bizzabo.
In its 2019 B2B Tech Trends Report, which was published earlier this month, Bizzabo said the majority of leadership (VPs and C-Suite) execs surveyed, or 84 per cent, believe in-person events are a critical component of their company’s success, and those in tech spend twice as much on events than B2B marketers overall as a result. That spending is contingent, however, on whether those running such events can prove return on investment (ROI) in the form of leads or purchases, the study added.
While trade shows were once a mainstay for many B2B tech firms, they were cited by only 12 per cent as key to achieving business goals. Instead, conferences came out of on top at 41 per cent, while VIP events only garnered seven per cent. B2B tech organizations were also more than three times more likely than those in other sectors to spend nearly one-quarter of their total events budget on hosting or sponsoring events rather than attending them, the study said.
The study also made a correlation between the number of events a firm hosts and its ability to “overperform” as a business. Bizzabo defined overperforming as a company that is exceeding its business goals. Two-thirds of those who identified themselves as such in the tech sector organize 10 events a year, the study said.
“To measure the bottom-line focused goals, more than half of B2B tech marketers (66%) prefer to measure their event success with KPIs like sales pipeline or leads generated,” the study noted. “This is followed by attendee engagement and satisfactions which would seem to correspond to customer relation and retention being the second largest goal for B2B tech marketers.”
Aleksandra Panyukhina, head of Event Marketing at SEMRush, was quoted in the report about the different kinds of possible event vehicles and suggested there could be a progression in how live gatherings are used.
“We align the types of events that we’re using with the marketing and sales funnel. We start at the top of the funnel with trade shows for lead generation,” she said. “This way we can collect high-quality leads that are in the stage either of awareness or consideration.”
Thomas Spano, events director at programmatic ad firm OpenX, suggested in a quote that size matters if brands want in-person events to break through the digital clutter.
“We find that the biggest trend in the event industry is the move toward smaller, more intimate experiences, vs larger environments that feel like a fishing expedition,” he said. “We anticipate moving to this model over the next few years where we focus on people based event marketing vs industry based.”
If ROI is not clear, B2B tech leaders are 10 times less likely to invest in events, the Bizzabo report added.