Events and conferences have a wider variety of marketing tools available than ever before. Yet, leaders are struggling to figure out which marketing methods are most valuable.

Who can really blame them? Marketers and planners aren’t technologists, so they’re not sure they’re doing the best job they can to reach attendees and deal with sales opportunities.

Event automation service Certain and Heinz Marketing polled 271 business-to-business professionals in December 2017 on the challenges they face with event marketing for their hosted events.

While brand awareness improves as a result of holding an event, a tangible return on investment was hard to find, in part due to a lack of organization focus on exactly how to measure performance.

The disconnect between how successful an event was, and the marketing or technology elements that enabled that success, is often unclear because of a lack of strategy.

“While B2B professionals understand the importance of events in driving demand, accelerating pipeline, and generating revenue, marketers still struggle to tie all performance-based metrics to event outcomes,” reads the report. “These performance gaps reveal that though three in five respondents feel confident in their ability to increase brand awareness, they are less confident in their ability to maximize pipeline creation, the number of event attendees, and the number of sales-qualified leads. Negative performance gaps in these areas range from -6 percent to -16 percent. These gaps indicate the challenges B2B teams have between strategy and execution prevent B2B teams from obtaining the full rewards that events have to offer.”

Here are three takeaways from the survey.

Missing the Sales Mark

Event professional underperformed on every factor of event success when compared to the importance they place on a specific area. Before and after an event represent the hardest marketing challenge.

Hosted Event Success FactorsImportancePerformance
Knowing who attended8.758.16
Being effective in getting desired customers/prospects to attend8.476.71
Being able to follow up with attendees in real-time7.926.71
Determining next steps in sales process7.636.68
Enriching existing customer data based on attendance and interactions7.616.52
Capturing data on who attendees met with7.546.75
Personalizing attendee’s experience7.416.3

“What do these gaps mean? B2B professionals understand the basics of knowing who attended and capturing the data of who they met with, but the biggest gaps are found in the pre- and post-event marketing,” concludes the report. “From getting the right people to attend to following up with attendees afterward, there are steps missing that hinder event success.”

Mobile and Automation Lag

Event automation and mobile apps are less popular than marketing automation and customer reputation management software, despite all the talk about event apps becoming the new normal in the space.

More than two in three of those polled use customer relationship management software, while about a third use a mobile app. Event automation and management agencies, however, aren’t widely used.


Is Social Really the Best Way to Market During Events?

When marketing during an event, social hashtags are the most popular marketing tactic, followed by personalized emails and printed agendas, surprisingly. Mobile agendas still lag behind printed agendas, and mobile push notifications are used by less than a third of events.

These less popular digital methods represent a major opportunity for more impactful event marketing, although wider adoption of mobile apps can help as well.


Following an event, about 80 percent of organizations use email marketing to contact attendees.

Photo Credit: The 2017 Collision Conference in New Orleans. Most event marketers don't have a solid strategy to figure out which technology tools help them reach their goals. Collision Conference / Flickr