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Event Planning Season is Back, This Time with ROI

Announcing the Next BAM Book Jam with Arianna Davis

Is anyone else surprised by Forrester Research’s finding that trade shows are the second most effective marketing tactic following a companys own website

If you’re in marketing or PR, you likely have a memory of defending a decision to exhibit or even accept a coveted speaking opportunity. “What’s the return?” “Are our competitors doing it?” or “Why is this ‘the’ event?” you may have been asked. We share a boat, my friends. Keep paddling.

As marketers, we prioritize what we can measure. But it’s football season and comeback stories are nigh. While the exhibition industry is seeing slow growth, its heart still beats. This could be due in part to new, cost-effective tools that let businesses measure the potential return on events. Such tools offer insights into four key areas that can justify the value of an event based on potential business impact.

Here are those areas, along with many resources that could make you into a comeback kid yourself. Or at least help you avoid bagel duty through Q1 of next year.

Lead tracking from foot traffic

Eighty-one percent of show attendees have the authority to buy on-site. This means there’s a high probability of converting a lead into a customer — a killer stat to consider when everyone is scrutinizing an event budget. We know you spend the rest of your time rubbing shoulders with potential partners, resellers or customers - but be sure you’re gettin’ their digits. Apps like QuickTap or iCapture allow you to consolidate contact information from leads quickly and easily so you can later target them with relevant material.

Website traffic

Many marketers leave the task of monitoring Google Analytics to their digital marketing teams. But paying attention to the data it shows can help all marketers justify the impact an event makes to direct site traffic or organic searches, before, during, and after an event. An increase in both suggests booth visitors continued to research even after an event. Creating a landing page to which all trade show marketing material can drive people will differentiate event leads from leads that came as a result of other promotions, providing you more meaningful data.

Media coverage

Positive coverage builds trust and brand awareness and can drive sales conversions. Google Alerts track media mentions. Data from PR analytics provider TrendKite shows engagement from each article. This shows who reads and shares your earned media coverage, and the publications from which your brand gets its largest audience.

Social media

Social listening tools such as Hootsuite, Klout, and Social Mention monitor a brand’s social activity at an event. Learning where followers, social sharing/engagement and mentions occur in real-time inform your future marketing strategies.

Given the tools available for measuring return on events, it seems shocking that 44 percent of companies don’t bother. This may help explain the sluggish growth of the exhibitions industry. But trade shows can feel a little like corporate holiday parties pushed to after the New Year; even when they seem irrelevant and loathsome, attendance is expected — and you’re always glad you went. Perception is everything, and it can also hurt to have your brand missing from the show floor.

If you’re in the throes of CES planning, you’re likely stressing about sending staff out for days at a time, away from clients and other revenue-producing projects. At least there are many resources available to help justify the expense. Nonetheless, after a week under fluorescent lights in the LVCC, you’ll need a vacation, so we hope you’re planning that, too.

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