Senior marketers at a loss to measure trade show ROI

A study by the CMO Council, together with the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association (E2MA), has found that senior marketers still need to find effective methods to measure and prove ROI around events and trade shows.

Findings from the ‘Customer Attainment From Event Engagement’ study have highlighted the fact that events and trade have been neglected as part of the overall business strategy, with 19% of those polled believing they were even lacking a strategy to act on the leads in the first place.

While 89% of marketers still thought that events continue to hold some level of importance and value for their organisations, only 31% considered them essential, instead opting to host their own events (44%), or go for a more targeted effort (40%).

Cutting back on promoting at the bigger shows is a brave call, considering the revenue-driving opportunities, ability to source new prospects, cultivate leads and set up face-to-face meetings, but it’s a cultured call based on the ineffective ROI measures.

“What this study demonstrates is that marketers’ attention is shifting, and now is the time to begin moving down this road of defining and tracking the value of event and experiential marketing,” says Liz Miller, vice president of marketing programs and thought leadership for the CMO Council.

With measurement being critical, there remains an absence of visibility into the conversion pipeline in terms of how it has impacted sales and revenue. Put simply, marketers can’t measure what they don’t know, according to Jim Wurm, executive director for the E2MA.

“The exhibit and event marketing medium needs to develop generally accepted practices for measuring outcomes from face-to-face marketing efforts,” he says.

Exhibit and event marketing analytics are desperately needed to inform the value of marketing spend and secure future investments, admits Wurm.

“This study is the first step in a process meant to make exhibit and event marketing measurement a fundamental component of every marketers program.”

So vital an issue, the E2MA and CMO Council will hold a symposium at the Hyatt McCormick in Chicago in July for marketers and event organisers to help address concerns. On the agenda will be the emergence of new technology to measure ROI, attention and engagement around their event exhibits in the hope of assisting the overall marketing strategy.