Offline and marketing events have always been a way for B2B companies to effectively reach and communicate with clients and prospects.
A report released by eMarketer on B2B Event Marketing 2017 found that "even with the rise of more measurable digital marketing tactics, trade and marketing events continue to be a major avenue for building relationships, influencing attendees and sharing industry thought leadership," said analyst Jillian Ryan and author of the new report.
The report showcased how offline interactions can influence the path to purchase, while an offline event technology stack can bridge that divide.
"Events are often a black box for marketers,” according to Alexandra Gibson, CMO of event marketing software company Event Farm.
Understanding digital channels can be very challenging for B2B companies because of the disconnect between these channels. "Events shouldn't just be a flash in the pan. They need to be part of a greater strategy that includes digital," Gibson explained.
B2B marketers who organize their events across the buying cycle tend to have the greatest success in closing the disconnect between offline and online touchpoints, according to Kurt Miller, senior vice president of strategy and planning at experience marketing agency George P. Johnson.
"Integrating events into a wider marketing and communications cadence is essential. There is a single relationship with the customer or the prospect, and part of that relationship is online and part of it is offline. Events straddle both worlds," he said.
In earlier decades, B2B marketers used Excel spreadsheets or something similar to organize their event data.
"In the past, insights coming from events had been isolated," Miller said. "They may have been manually aggregated into a spreadsheet, but don't always match up with what is happening to the buyer online."
A traditional event stack includes tools, such as an event mobile app, a CMS for the event website, on-site engagement tracking tools, networking capabilities, registration software, attendance scanners with RFID, beacons and perhaps even real-time polling systems, according to Alon Alroy, co-founder and chief of marketing at Bizzabo, an event marketing platform provider.
"Then, there needs to be a whole suite of analytics, and insights to analyze data from all of these pieces and to digest that into something a B2B marketer can actually understand," he said.
As for adoption, just less than half of US marketing decision-makers used event management and automation software to manage in-person events, according to the April 2017 Certain survey. Some 43% of respondents said they utilized a mobile app, and 30.5% used lead capture, claimed eMarketer.
Six in 10 event professionals polled by Cvent and the Event Marketing Institute said the ability to capture data is the most important criterion when selecting an event technology service provider.