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Written by Esther Chung

Study Reveals 6 Technology Trends Disrupting the Event Industry

October 1, 2018


Written by Esther Chung


Study Reveals 6 Technology Trends Disrupting the Event Industry

October 1, 2018

There’s no question that events are becoming a top priority for marketers (the investment is no joke — it's a$565 industry). And just like any other industry, technology is altering the way event organizers do their job.

Today, technology doesn’t just help make the actual event process go smoothly (i.e. check-in, automating emails, guest list management), it also enables marketers to measure their events — a traditionally difficult channel to measure — just as easily as any other marketing channel.

In anew report on the state of event marketing, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed 739 enterprise leaders from all over the world to better understand the impact of technology on the event industry. From the results, we pinpointed six event tech trends (somealready predicted by our CEO Benearlier this year) that marketers need to keep top of mind to ensure they’re staying ahead of their competitors.

Anecdotal evidence—buttressed by our survey results—suggests that technology, and specifically the newest generation of event marketing technology, is critical to being able to calculate event ROI, and to realizing a host of other benefits.

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 2018

1. Brands are adopting event technology to enable ROI measurement.

One of the study’s key findings is a big one: just23% of the survey respondents are able to track event ROIvs. 37% of tech adopters.

Salesforce, one of the companies surveyed by HBR-AS and anEvent Optimizer, is part of the 23%, and a star example of a company who can effectively measure their events’ ROI.

They use both their own CRM and third-party event technology to first calculate and track the total amount of potential business from potential attendees, then measure the amount of new opportunities generated in the 90 days following the event. They also conduct extensivepost-event surveysand focus groups to paint a full picture of event success.

[Events are] just a continuous measurement process, listening for what worked and what didn’t, and then continually optimizing what we do over time.

Eric Stahl, Senior Vice President of Product Marketing,Salesforce Integration Cloud

Reporting on revenue impact is crucial for event program growth and budgets: the study also reports that those who are able to track event ROI are alsoincreasing their event marketing budgets.

2. Brands are integrating their event technology into their marketing stack to enable full-funnel measurement, real-time action, and cross-team collaboration.

A majority of the best adopters (51%) say they’re finding success fromintegrating their event technologyinto their company’s CRM system or marketing stack.

In comparison, non-adopters tend to stick to top-of-funnel metrics (like number of RSVPs and attendees) since they don’t have a way to account for multi-touch attribution and connect their events to pipeline, sales, or revenue.

Beyond ROI and data — but indirectly related — the study reports that event technology also enables better cross-team alignment and real-time action, so sales or customer teams can easily see how an event influenced the sales cycle and gain more insight about their prospects at every stage of the event lifecycle.

The HBR-AS reportalso cites that Facebook integrates their event technology closely with their CRM in order to maximize the effectiveness of their events.

We’ve certainly become much more consistent in our ability not only to calculate a return on our investment, but also to make our event team more productive, deliver a better customer experience, and understand how we can do better in the future.

Julie Hogan, Global Face-to-Face Marketing Director,Facebook|Instagram

3. Brands are leveraging powerful data from event technology to power personalization.

With more advancedevent marketing technology, companies are now able to capture data — from dietary preferences to interest in various sessions at a conference — at every stage of the event lifecycle for a more personalized experience before, during, and after an event ends.

With this data, brands can automate better post-event follow-ups and personalize their outreach based on guest data (i.e. who showed up to an event, which sessions they attended, how long they stayed, etc.), which is integral to accelerating sales cycles and improving customer engagement.

As data and technology improves and more brands invest, here's what the future looks like: conferences will be able to tell guests that a session they might be interested in is 90% full an hour before it even begins, or brands will be able to tailor future sessions' content to specific guests based on post-event survey data.

4. B2B companies invest more heavily in event technology than B2C.

The report also states that not only are B2B companies investing more aggressively in event technology than B2C companies, but they also see slightly more value in events:54% of B2B companies say events drive more ROI than any other marketing channel, compared to 48% of B2C companies.

The study also found that tech companies themselves are investing the most in event technology (followed by business/professional services, consulting firms, and healthcare companies).

But B2C brands are not far behind. Even though B2B companies aretraditionallymore mature than their B2C counterparts and require more meaningful touchpoints (like events!) in their sales cycles, the lines between B2B and B2C are getting blurrier (especially with the growing expectation ofpersonalization and the emergence of more powerful data).

We know that if we increase foot traffic [with events], sales go up .

Nicolas Glandon, Director of Retail Operations, EMEA, Estée Lauder Companies’MAC Cosmetics

5. Brands that invest in event technology are better positioned for success in the future.

And companies say the investment is worth it.

Tech adopters say they are more likely to see business value from events, to consider themselves better positioned for future success—90% versus 65% of non-adopters—and to find it easy to demonstrate an event’s impact on their business.

It’s not just aboutevent ROI, though. A successful event program starts by creating the best guest experience—from the first email invite, to theevent landing page, to theon-site experience, and even post-event surveys. And with event technology and integrating it with the rest of their systems, marketing teams are better able tostreamline workflowsand ultimately, scale their event programs moving forward.

There’s an event management piece and an event analytics piece, and you have to get it all right before you can claim victory.

Eric Stahl, Senior Vice President of Product Marketing,Salesforce Integration Cloud

The study uncoveredfour additional top benefits of event technology:

• Improved event registration and attendance

• Increased process productivity across event staff

• Better (and more consistent) attendee experiences

• Improved ability to plan and execute events that are in line with company goals

6. More brands will continue to invest in event technology in the future.

Wefinallyhave the technology to track and prove our events’ value, and yet we haven’t even begun to start leveraging these tools to their maximum potential. So far, a sliver of the marketplace is ahead of the game:one third of organizations have thus far adopted event marketing technology.

There is hope, though.Another one fifth of companies plan to adopt event technology in the next 12 to 18 months.

Want to see the budgets, challenges, and event strategies of the fastest-growing brands in the world?See the full HBR report.


Esther Chung

Esther is the Director of Content Marketing at Splash. When Twitter s not deciding what to eat for lunch, she leads content strategy for Splash, a technology company that powers advanced in-person marketing programs for the world’s leading brands.

We compare your event marketing program to 739 enterprise brands. Take our 3-minute assessment to see how you stack up.

It's finally here: get the full HBR report on the Event Marketing Evolution

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