Exhibition Organizers and Brand Marketers – Benchmark Your Digital Playbook with Industry-Wide Trends Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Research Director

This year’s opening session at the IAEE Midyear Meeting gave attendees the first glimpse of the newly released study, the Digital Playbook, and it is now it is available for anyone to access here: Digital Playbook.

The panel discussion gave attendees a chance to hear firsthand how organizers and a leading, brand marketing organization are using digital tactics in their exhibition marketing efforts. It was designed to encourage attendees to think about what their organizations are doing in this arena, offering a resource to benchmark an attendee organization’s activities to industry trends, and reflect on areas of opportunity to enhance their digital marketing approach or realign efforts.

Here are some takeaways from the study:

  • Over two-thirds, 68 percent of those surveyed have a digital strategy in place. For organizers and brand marketers reading this blog, does your organization have a plan? Your competitors may have one.
  • Focus pays off, organizations with a digital strategy in place or that have plans to implement one in the next six months report the median percentage of revenues attributed to  digital tactics is 15percent while those that don’t have a plan in place are more apt to report 10percent or less of revenue comes from digital tactics.
  • The top-ranked performer for revenue generation is email, 71 percent of brand marketers, 60 percent of B2C organizers and 68 percent of B2B organizers. If you’re an exhibition organizer, are you leveraging revenue generation opportunities through sponsorships, banner ads and other digital advertising opportunities with your exhibitors via e-newsletters and other blast email communications?  In-booth lead capture is also a top performer among 52 percent of brand marketers.
  • More than nine out of 10 respondents identify one or more tactics used for the purpose of cost-savings. Again, email is the most used for this purpose, 71 percent, followed by social media, 41 percent, and microsites/websites, 24 percent. Among these most used tactics, microsites/websites, 86 percent, and email, 81 percent), are found to meet or exceed expectations by the most users.
  • Over one-half, 56 percent of those surveyed are reducing traditional tactics and replacing them with digital alternatives – with the biggest change being a move away from direct mail and print documents to digital alternatives – email, pdfs and a variety of other digital formats. The change is a reduction, more than elimination. Therefore print and mail are used more strategically.
  • The ebbing of mass marketing is evident in the exhibition industry. Seventy percent of those surveyed customize digital tactics to their target audiences. Organizers and brand marketers are taking advantage of the ability to segment their target audiences and use digital vehicles most apt to reach them.
  • For over one-half of all respondents, engagement with attendees occurs throughout the event lifecycle, and four out of 10 do so year-round. Digital tactics enable marketers to connect and engage with their audiences for a longer time period, providing the opportunities to establish a deeper connection that motivate them to return to the next edition of an event. And metrics for assessing the ROI of attendee engagement activities are where they should be, for organizers (37 percent of B2B and 28 percent of B2C), the most important metric is impact on generating attendance while brand marketers’ primary focus is lead/sales generation (50 percent) and second, attracting attendees to the booth (40 percent).

I hope this overview of results makes you want to read more, take a minute to download the full report at: Digital Playbook. This report is available for free.

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