Event Marketers: Your Time Is Now

Time for a confession—I’m a chief marketing officer who’s always had a secret passion for events. It’s true. I love the particular kind of magical energy that comes from people connecting with people, people connecting with content, people connecting with a brand. You just know intuitively that events help your company tremendously.

And I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. The stats show the legendary power of live events:

  • Events are a $565 billion industry worldwide.
  • In this decade, events, meetings, and conventions are expected to grow 44%.
  • 79% of the U.S. marketers use events to generate sales.
  • On average, organizations spend anywhere between 21-33% of their marketing budget on events.

Still, to be completely honest, I’ve always been afraid of talking about events. When I present our marketing plans or results to our CEO, CFO, or the board, deep down, I’m deadly afraid of being asked that dreaded question: OK, you’ve spent more than 30% of your budget on events, but what’s your ROI?

In the world of marketing, everything has become digitized and data- and metrics-driven. For all my other marketing programs—search engine optimization, paid ads, content marketing, email campaigns—there’s always a wealth of data and endless reports for me to see and show. My team can pin down the exact number of clicks, views, email opens, content download, conversion rate, MQLs, SQLs and we can dissect the data any way we want. So when I present to the board and the CEO, I can confidently discuss the ROI of these marketing programs and what knobs we can turn to make them more effective.

When it comes to events, however, there’s somewhat of a black hole. We may be able to cobble together stats such as the number of registrations, attendees, or meetings, and some survey results. But ask me what the event ROI is and what knobs we can turn to make them better, and I never have a really good answer.

Until now.

Thanks to Live Engagement Platforms like DoubleDutch, we finally have a wealth of in-depth data to make clear exactly how our events advance our business outcomes—magical energy and all. It’s exciting stuff. Why? Because this new technology promises to transform events and event marketers into key players in executive-level conversations.

Live Engagement Marketing Data: Your Ticket to the C-Suite

The average marketing technology tracks between five and 15 data points throughout the customer journey. It’s useful information, sure, but nothing compared to what we do at DoubleDutch. The DoubleDutch Live Engagement Platform tracks an average of 183 data points per attendee, per event. Everything from what panel a person goes to, to posts and likes on event-related social media, to which event documents they request. That’s a lot of data that gives you, the event marketer, tremendous power.

Event Marketers: Your Time Is Now

All this means is that now is the perfect time for event organizers and marketers to step up and propel their career to the next level. It’s time to aspire to be tomorrow’s CMO.

Here are just a few ways that Live Engagement metrics can help you get to the C-Suite:

  • With DoubleDutch’s 183 points of data per attendee, you’re finally able to view and analyze macro and micro attendee engagement signals—including networking activity, online comments, and post-event engagement. Use these specifics to prove to your CMO, CEO, and board exactly how you’re deriving ROI from the event program.
  • Take a seat at the executive table and lobby convincingly for a larger event budget, armed with a trove of concrete proof of the importance of Live Engagement Marketing.
  • Your insight from event metrics can influence not just your event strategy but your company’s broader marketing and business strategies, making you a player in big-picture C-Suite conversations.

Bridge the Ambition Gap

Now that the technology is available, there’s another thing we event marketers need to work on. We need to bridge that pesky ambition gap. Too many event marketers, hampered by vague or insufficient metrics, have been insecure about expanding their influence in the office.

Which brings me to Rachel (not her real name), who was the head of events at one of my prior companies. She was one of the best professionals I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with—selfless, service-oriented, positive, you name it.

When I asked others in our marketing department what their career goals were, all I’d hear was “become the head of marketing.” They wanted to be CMO. They wanted to be general manager. But when I asked Rachel—the one who more than anyone I felt certain could pull it off—she didn’t express any C-Suite ambitions at all. Why? Rachel didn’t think she had enough experience with data and technology to lead a marketing team.

To be honest, hearing this made me sad. Over the years, I’ve found this lack of confidence is quite common among event organizers. The reason is that for a long, long time we didn’t have access to technology to prove how important our events really were. We were stuck, essentially, referring only to that “magical energy” of a good event.

But that’s no longer the case. With Live Engagement Marketing, we can access real-time event data in a user-friendly platform that anyone can make sense of. We can link that data to client relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation (MA) platforms that will help us parse it out. And we can use that data to lead advanced strategy sessions in our departments and our organization at-large.

Step-by-Step Advice to Advance

Now, how can you get there? Here are a few lessons I want to share with all of you:

Be fearless. Define your career not by where you’re now, but what the possibilities could be.

Integrate with the rest of the marketing team. Events don’t need to be an island. Use events as an opportunity to lead the rest of the marketing team. You already support them, and now, with the data and technology at hand, you can lead the conversation on strategy, content, and customer journeys.

Guide. Use your new insight to guide conversations. When you run an event, you’re like a mini-CMO. The whole company is looking to you for direction. So step up to the stage and play that leadership role. Use the event as a rallying point to direct the company’s business strategy and use the customer insight you get from events to earn a seat at the strategy table.

Hug the data. Don’t be afraid of data. Data is your friend. Data is your ticket to the C-Suite. I’ve seen events professionals run the most complicated and sophisticated budget spreadsheet, so I know you can do it.

Lastly, embrace technology. Technology is the way of the future, so learn about it, incorporate it in your events, and use it to transform your event experience and your own career.

Collectively, we’re going to find our own fight song to become live engagement marketers. It’s time for the events industry to enter the modern era. And the answer lies in the hands of each and every one of you. So let’s fire up our confidence. Let’s enter the C-Suite as an influential peer and really demonstrate our value.

Let’s go. It’s time.