Most Common Event Marketing Challenges in 2023

Business  Knowledge Sharing

Throughout the first quarter of 2023, The Ortus Club hosted a series of invite-only executive roundtable discussions around the world. Across 28 events, 272 marketing leaders had the opportunity to network with fellow senior industry leaders. These roundtable guests represent companies based in Indonesia, Malaysia, the US, the UK, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Mexico, Ireland, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. The series included exclusive luncheons, dinners, and virtual roundtables with a unique home-delivered brunch.

Event marketing has been a crucial tool for businesses to promote their products and services, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Events marketing can take various forms, including trade shows, conferences, product launches, and webinars. These events provide businesses with the opportunity to showcase their brand and products, network with potential customers and partners, and generate leads. However, event marketing also poses several challenges that marketers must overcome to achieve success. In this report, we will discuss some of the significant challenges faced by businesses in event marketing and how they are addressing these challenges.

Evolution of B2B event marketing in 2023 3 Yoko

CHALLENGES IN TODAY’S EVENT MARKETING

Increasing Cost of In-house Events

One of the primary challenges in event marketing is the increasing cost of organising events in-house. The cost of events is rising due to various factors, including venue rental, logistics, production costs, and more. These costs can be especially challenging for small and medium-sized businesses with limited budgets. As events become more expensive, businesses need to find creative ways to reduce costs, such as partnering with third parties, using virtual platforms, and using social media to increase exposure.

To overcome the challenge of rising costs, businesses need to be strategic in their event planning and budgeting. They need to determine the most critical elements of their event and allocate their budget accordingly. Additionally, businesses can partner with other organisations or sponsors to share the costs of organising an event. For instance, a company can collaborate with a non-competing company in the same industry to split costs for venue rental, catering or other expenses.

A way companies are cutting down on expenses while continuing to benefit from marketing events is by partnering with specialised marketing agencies. These companies can reach target personas and audiences, organise events from planning to follow-ups tailored to client’s needs, and form mutually beneficial partnerships with venues and suppliers, thereby cutting overall costs and removing the need for internal talent to allocate precious time and resources to ensure that the event is nothing short of perfect. By partnering with these agencies, companies are ensuring ROI with a structured plan and clear-cut metrics while reducing the overall expense and effort required.

Digital events, such as webinars and virtual roundtables, have several benefits over in-person events. For one, digital events can reach a broader audience, including individuals and organisations with whom the business has had initial conversations and fresh leads. They also offer more touchpoints and opportunities to enhance engagement throughout the pipeline, including existing customers. Furthermore, digital events are more cost-effective than in-person events, as they require less budget for venue rental, travel, and accommodation.

Attracting Attendees to Events

Another significant challenge in event marketing is attracting attendees to events. While attendees may be interested in the content, they may not want to travel far or take time off work to attend an event. This makes it essential to offer unique experiences that entice attendees to come and engage with the content. To attract attendees, businesses must ensure that their event is relevant, timely, and informative. They need to provide a compelling reason for attendees to take time out of their busy schedules to attend. This could be in the form of offering exclusive access to industry leaders or providing hands-on training sessions. Additionally, businesses need to use social media, email marketing, and other digital channels to promote their event and engage with their target audience.

Engagement and quality content are essential for success in event marketing. Marketers must find ways to hook attendees early with their digital talent and engage them with digital touchpoints to deliver a good experience and maintain the relationship. The value of events lies in the content and how attendees can educate themselves, making quality content essential for success.

To ensure engagement and quality content, businesses should invest in the right technology and tools, such as live streaming, social media, and gamification, to create a memorable experience for attendees. In addition, companies should focus on delivering informative, relevant, and thought-provoking content that aligns with the interests and needs of their target audience.

 

Sustainability

Sustainability is another growing concern in event marketing. Events contribute to environmental degradation through the generation of waste, energy use, and carbon emissions. To address these issues, events need to incorporate virtual components and be more environmentally friendly. Virtual events can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of an event by eliminating travel and reducing waste. Additionally, businesses can use sustainable materials and practices in the production of physical events.

To address the sustainability challenge in event marketing, businesses can adopt sustainable practices in their event planning and execution. For instance, they can use digital technologies to reduce the use of printed materials, use eco-friendly materials, and partner with suppliers and vendors that prioritise sustainability.

Determining Attendee Location for Physical Events

One of the main challenges discussed in the report is the difficulty in determining the current location of attendees for physical events. Virtual events, on the other hand, are accessible to targets all across an area or even across borders. However, in-person attendance provides unique value to participants, giving them the opportunity to stay longer, participate in optional activities, and engage in more intimate networking.

To address this challenge, businesses can leverage technology to gather data on attendees’ locations, preferences, and interests. They can use event management software that allows attendees to register, check-in, and provide information about themselves, including their location and interests. Additionally, businesses can use social media platforms and targeted advertising to attract attendees from specific regions or demographics.

Another solution is to strategically build smaller, more intimate gatherings and roundtable discussions around larger conferences. This way, attendees who would otherwise not be able to travel solely for a dinner or luncheon have the opportunity to meet with peers from different areas.

Budgeting and ROI

Budgeting is also a major challenge for organisations as they navigate the changing landscape of events in a post-pandemic world. The cost savings of virtual events are leading businesses to reconsider their budget allocation and event strategies, which can be a complex process. While the cost per lead can generally be lower for in-person events, it is costly to organise them, posing a greater risk to ROI as compared to virtual events.

To address budgeting challenges, businesses must be strategic in their budget allocation and planning. They need to determine the most important aspects of their event and allocate their budget accordingly. Additionally, businesses can leverage virtual events to reduce costs while still achieving their marketing objectives. However, they need to balance cost savings with the unique value that in-person events offer.

Increasing and maximising ROI from event marketing is crucial for any business. However, achieving positive ROI from events can be a daunting task for many marketers, especially those with limited budgets.

One of the critical metrics for measuring ROI is the ultimate value of the pipeline. By tracking leads from the event through the pipeline to the eventual close, marketers can determine the actual ROI generated by the event.

Smaller companies with limited budgets often face greater challenges in attaining ROI. To overcome this, marketers should leverage cost-effective ways to drive engagement and generate leads, such as targeted email marketing campaigns, webinars, and social media marketing. By focusing on generating higher quality leads that are more likely to convert, businesses can maximise their ROI.

In addition to tracking pipeline value, ROI can also be measured by reviewing participant demographics and media coverage of events, especially for companies in the renewable energy sector.

“One of the critical metrics for measuring ROI is the ultimate value of the pipeline. By tracking leads from the event through the pipeline to the eventual close, marketers can determine the actual ROI generated by the event.”

To ensure positive ROI, marketers must always define clear objectives and metrics for the event and assign specific roles to team members attending the event. This includes involving the sales team in the planning and organisation of marketing-oriented events, as well as developing post-event follow-up plans to convert leads into sales.

Post-event post-mortems are crucial, especially before or immediately after the follow-up process. This helps identify areas for improvement in future events and optimises the ROI of future events.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that ROI is ongoing and it can take a long time for a lead to convert into a client. Therefore, the value of event marketing is more than just the bottom line dollar, and marketers should consider other key performance indicators (KPIs) such as website traffic during the event, the number of leads generated, and feedback received. Good work processes, documentation, and information sharing are also crucial to ensure positive ROI.

Finding the Right Format, Platform, and Technology

One of the key challenges faced by marketers is to attract attendees to their events, whether in-person or virtual and retain their attention throughout the event. To attract attendees, marketers are exploring the use of various tactics, such as offering free trials, discounts, or exclusive access to industry insights or thought leadership content. However, it is not enough to just attract attendees; it is also crucial to retain their attention and engagement throughout the event.

Marketers have noticed that some people still don’t feel safe travelling or gathering in large groups, and event marketing teams are facing hurdles in engaging attendees after the event and providing them with real value. A hybrid approach, incorporating both virtual and in-person components, is being considered as a potential solution to these challenges.

Another challenge in retaining attendees’ attention is virtual fatigue, which has become increasingly prevalent in the post-pandemic world. To overcome this, marketers need to employ innovative tactics that capture the attendees’ interest and maintain their attention throughout the event. For example, incorporating non-discussion segments into the event, such as raffles, performances, and activities, has shown to boost engagement and retention.

Marketers must also recognise that virtual events can only go so far in building relationships with attendees, and the return of in-person events has been welcomed by many. However, marketers must keep in mind that many people still do not feel safe travelling or gathering in large groups, so hybrid events that incorporate both virtual and in-person components may be a solution.

To address these challenges, businesses need to invest in technology and platforms that allow them to reach their target audience effectively. They need to use data and analytics to understand their audience’s preferences and behaviours and tailor their event marketing strategies accordingly. Additionally, businesses can consider a hybrid approach, where they offer both virtual and in-person components to reach a broader audience while still providing unique value to attendees.

Keeping Content Relevant

Another significant challenge in event marketing is keeping content relevant. Businesses need to ensure that their content is timely, informative, and engaging, regardless of the attendees’ location or expertise. This can be challenging, especially for businesses that operate in multiple markets or cater to audiences with varying levels of expertise.

To address this challenge, businesses must develop a comprehensive content strategy that aligns with their event marketing objectives. They need to understand their audience’s needs and preferences and develop content that resonates with them. Additionally, businesses can use data and analytics to track the performance of their content and make data-driven decisions to improve their content strategy.

Having content specifically created from the discussion itself is also a very effective method for retaining engagement. Creating curated reports and summaries of the discussions that high-level guests are a part of, gives marketers an avenue to spread the word about their businesses or their clients. Furthermore, it keeps businesses at the top of their guests’ minds, even after their events. This way, marketers can create bespoke, organic content that is not only sure to be relevant to their target audiences but also has a high likelihood of spreading through word of mouth.

It is also important to address the growing demand for on-demand content, which conflicts with marketers’ desire for uninhibited engagement. Marketers must find ways to provide on-demand content to attendees without compromising the value of live events. Another challenge is only inviting executives who may own the budgets but are far removed from the day-to-day decisions at their organisations. This can result in a lack of engagement from attendees who are not involved in the decision-making process.

To drive retention and build long-term customer relationships, businesses must focus on personalised outreach and shared ownership between teams. Companies should position their events as solutions to customer challenges, focusing on creating unique experiences that build relationships early and encourage attendees to become brand ambassadors.

 

Attendance Rates Across Virtual and In-Person Events

Finally, attendance rates across virtual and in-person events have become unpredictable, posing a significant challenge for businesses. This shift is due to various factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in consumer behaviour and increasing competition in the events market.

One of the biggest challenges faced by event marketers is driving retention for both virtual and in-person events. Balancing virtual fatigue with the apprehension of a return to in-person events is a crucial factor to be taken into account. Additionally, there are several other challenges that marketers face in driving retention, including identifying the appropriate session duration, tapping into different senses virtually to connect on another level, identifying success metrics when running client events, and setting marketing ROI beyond pipeline generation toward deal-closing.

To address this challenge, businesses must be innovative in their event marketing strategies. They need to offer unique value to attendees, such as hands-on training, exclusive access to industry leaders, and personalised experiences. Additionally, businesses can leverage social media and other digital channels to promote their events and engage with their target audience.

Another crucial aspect of post-pandemic event marketing is addressing the shift back to in-person events. While many people are excited to return to in-person events, there are still concerns about safety and social distancing. Businesses must communicate clearly and transparently with attendees about their safety protocols and make sure that attendees feel comfortable attending events.

Again, partnering with third-party agencies and specialists is crucial in ensuring success with event marketing. These companies are experts at crafting events that senior leaders are likely to want to attend. They have the tools and the know-how to effectively reach and engage niche markets, big players, and unfamiliar regions.

KEY STRATEGIES AND SOLUTIONS

Prioritise Engagement and Quality Content

Engagement and quality content are essential for success in event marketing. Marketers must find ways to hook attendees early with their digital talent and engage them with digital touchpoints to deliver a good experience and maintain the relationship. The value of events lies in the content and how attendees can educate themselves, making quality content essential for success.

To ensure engagement and quality content, businesses should invest in the right technology and tools, such as live streaming, social media, and gamification, to create a memorable experience for attendees. In addition, companies should focus on delivering informative, relevant, and thought-provoking content that aligns with the interests and needs of their target audience.

 

Lead Generation and Relationship Building

Lead generation and relationship building are critical for success in event marketing. Businesses must find ways to attract and retain attendees, while also collecting valuable data to inform future events and improve the customer journey. Clearly defined KPIs should be used to measure success and determine ROI.

To drive lead generation and relationship building, businesses should focus on delivering interactive, engaging, and personalised experiences that cater to the specific needs and interests of their target audience. In addition, companies should use data to track attendee behaviour and preferences and adjust their strategies accordingly to improve the customer journey and maximise ROI.

Developing social media and targeted marketing strategies aimed at reaching a specific segment of customers and generating leads through webinars and product demonstrations is also an effective way to increase lead generation. By tailoring marketing efforts to a specific audience, businesses can generate more qualified leads and improve their chances of converting those leads into paying customers.

 

Retention can be challenging in a virtual setting, as competition is also able to conduct similar workshops and events. However, businesses can overcome this challenge by keeping customers engaged in their own domain and using targeted, individualised, and precise communication. By understanding the needs and interests of their customers, businesses can provide relevant and engaging content that keeps customers coming back.

Collaborating closely with their counterparts in sales, marketers must leverage engagement approaches that do not feel too ‘salesy’ and instead focus on sharing knowledge and expertise. This can help build trust and establish the company as a thought leader in the industry, increasing the likelihood that customers will choose to do business with them.

In addition, assembling a sales team tasked with reaching out to potential customers and inviting them to your events can be an effective strategy for increasing lead generation. Sales teams can help build relationships with potential customers and facilitate conversions, creating a more effective and efficient sales funnel.

Virtual Events

Virtual events  have become increasingly prevalent due to the pandemic, offering businesses an opportunity to connect with their target audience safely and cost-effectively. However, virtual events also present unique challenges in terms of engagement, measurement, and ROI.

To succeed in virtual events, businesses should focus on delivering high-quality content, leveraging the right technology and tools, and fostering engagement through interactive experiences, such as live Q&A sessions, polls, and networking events. In addition, companies should use data to measure engagement and ROI, and adjust their strategies accordingly to maximise the impact of their virtual events.

It’s important to remember that events should be seen as just one tool in a holistic marketing strategy. By planning events not just for the current year but for the next few months, businesses can ensure maximum impact and follow-up. This means creating a post-event plan that includes follow-up campaigns, evaluation of event performance, and ongoing engagement with attendees.

Businesses should also consider hybrid event formats as a potential solution to the challenges posed by the pandemic. Hybrid events allow for the best of both worlds, combining the convenience and reach of virtual events with the effectiveness and appeal of in-person events. By embracing new technologies and innovative event formats, businesses can adapt to the changing landscape of event marketing and continue to drive engagement and ROI.

 

Personalised Outreach and Shared Ownership

To drive retention and build long-term customer relationships, businesses must focus on personalised outreach and shared ownership between teams. Companies should position their events as solutions to customer challenges, focusing on creating unique experiences that build relationships early and encourage attendees to become brand ambassadors.

In addition, businesses should partner with other companies to expand their reach and offer more value to attendees. By fostering shared ownership and collaboration between teams, businesses can improve their event marketing strategies, enhance their brand reputation, and drive long-term growth.

Evolution of B2B event marketing in 2023 8 yoko

Approach to ROI

Measuring ROI and demonstrating the value of virtual events is another challenge, as traditional metrics are not as applicable in a virtual environment. The same can be said for in-person events as attendance and exhibit booth traffic may not fully reflect the impact and value of the event. However, businesses can use a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics to measure ROI, such as program review conducted every month and end-of-quarter look, tracking pipeline and closed one attribution, and capturing leads in CRM.

Generating better ROI through events marketing has become increasingly important in recent times. With the shift towards digital events, businesses can now generate more traffic and enhance engagement throughout the pipeline, including existing customers, individuals/organisations with whom they’ve had initial conversations, and entirely fresh leads. This shift has allowed companies to continue generating stronger leads and driving sales even during a pandemic that saw a downturn in SQLs.

It is important to consider various methods to measure return on investment (ROI) for both virtual and in-person/physical events. One way to measure ROI is by calculating the amount spent on an event and the number of customers gained from it, which is a short-term, monetary ROI. However, it is also essential to consider other key performance indicators (KPIs) such as website traffic during the event, the number of leads generated, and feedback received.

Good work processes, documentation and information sharing are crucial to ensure positive ROI. It is important to remember that the ROI is ongoing and it can take a long time for a lead to convert into a client, and the value is more than just the bottom line dollar. As such, businesses should continuously monitor and track ROI over time, keeping in mind that event marketing is just one tool in a holistic marketing strategy.

To drive better ROI, businesses should also provide multiple touchpoints to differentiate from the competition, such as one-to-one meetings, hospitality suites, networking/partner events, and more. Marketers should focus on niche capabilities and should not attend trade shows until they have meetings scheduled. In addition, CX is key, particularly in framing new narratives that address evolving consumer expectations around sustainability and other developments.

Marketing and sales functions must work hand-in-hand to ensure that targeting is on point and the right personas are properly reached. Marketers must balance the many different drivers for events, such as lead generation, brand awareness, and relationship building. Unique URLs made for specific events are incredibly useful for measuring event effectiveness as site visits and eventual conversions can be accurately attributed to each specific event.

To effectively measure ROI, businesses should define clear objectives and metrics for the event, assign specific roles to team members, involve sales teams in the planning and organisation of marketing-oriented events, and conduct post-event post-mortems to assess the success of the event and identify areas for improvement.

To measure ROI and success, businesses should determine a set purpose and desired outcome early on, pay attention to both quantitative and qualitative metrics, and fulfil the needs of all attendees, not just leads or prospective clients. Attendees likely have their own goals that must be met when they choose to go to events, whether it’s expanding their networking, finding partners, etc.

By measuring ROI and success effectively, businesses can make data-driven decisions, improve their event marketing strategies, and maximise their ROI. In summary, generating better ROI through events marketing is crucial in today’s market. By leveraging digital events, companies can generate more traffic and enhance engagement throughout the pipeline. Measuring ROI is important to ensure that events marketing is delivering value, and businesses must continuously monitor and track ROI over time. Providing multiple touchpoints and focusing on niche capabilities can also help drive stronger lead generation and retention. Marketing and sales functions must work hand-in-hand to ensure that targeting is on point and the right personas are properly reached.

Enhancing Lead Generation and Retention

Generating stronger lead generation from events is a crucial goal for any business. There are several strategies and tactics that can be implemented to achieve this. One effective method is to provide multiple touchpoints to differentiate from the competition. This could include offering one-to-one meetings, hospitality suites, networking, partner events and more. By offering a variety of options, attendees are more likely to find something that suits their interests and needs, which can increase engagement and lead generation.

To enhance lead generation and retention through events, businesses can offer valuable market insights and information through events and workshops, build relationships with potential clients through effective communication, collaborate with partners to gain exposure to a wider market and attract new customers, assemble a sales team tasked with reaching out to potential customers and inviting them to events, develop social media and targeted marketing strategies aimed at reaching a specific segment of customers and generating leads through webinars and product demonstrations, and attend physical events to connect with potential customers directly and start in-depth conversations about their specific needs.

It’s also important to lean heavily into existing partnerships. By collaborating with partners and sponsors, businesses can increase their reach and exposure to a wider audience. This can lead to more leads and potential sales, as well as increased brand awareness and reputation.

A way to drive stronger lead generation is to transform industry leaders and clients into brand ambassadors. This can be achieved by providing them with opportunities to showcase their expertise and by inviting them to speak at events. By doing so, these leaders can help to create buzz and generate interest among potential customers, leading to more leads and subsequent sales.

Marketing and sales teams must also work in tandem to contact invitees and remind them of the event leading up to the date. Personalised communication and follow-up can help build anticipation and keep attendees engaged even before the event.

Other effective strategies for driving stronger lead generation include securing pre-event commitments from prospects to visit the booth, focusing on niche capabilities, and not going to trade shows until meetings are scheduled. Additionally, CX is key, particularly in framing new narratives that address evolving consumer expectations around sustainability and other developments. By focusing on these tactics and strategies, businesses can generate stronger leads and drive more sales through event marketing.

By focusing on enhancing lead generation and retention, businesses can increase their ROI, build long-term relationships with customers, and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.

Why The Ortus Club?

Event marketing can be an effective tool for businesses to promote their products and services, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. However, it also poses several challenges that marketers must overcome to achieve success. From finding the right format, platform, and technology to attract attendees to events to determining attendee locations for physical events, marketers must be equipped with the right tools and strategies to address these challenges effectively. By incorporating sustainability and using a hybrid approach, businesses can continue to engage with their target audience while reducing costs and their carbon footprint. Additionally, businesses must be innovative and strategic in their event marketing strategies to overcome challenges such as declining attendance rates and keeping content relevant.

Offering businesses a unique opportunity to engage with their target audience, generate leads, and maximise ROI, event marketing has become an integral part of the modern marketing mix, The importance of event marketing has been heightened by the pandemic, which has led to the rise of virtual events and a renewed focus on building relationships with customers in a digital environment.

To enhance event marketing strategies, businesses should focus on implementing key marketing strategies and best practices, such as offering certifications, bringing in third-party speakers, creating awards, and providing incentives such as giveaways. Data analytics is an important tool for organisations to use when targeting their events and deciding where to host them, what to discuss, and how much to spend, to ensure that the cost is justified by the return on investment.

To be successful in event marketing, businesses must prioritise engagement and quality content, while also implementing effective lead generation and relationship-building strategies. In addition, organisations must use data to inform their decisions and measure ROI, while also leveraging key marketing strategies and best practices to enhance their brand and drive retention.

The way forward is increasingly looking to be small-scale. Large conferences and expos are losing favour with corporations and SMEs alike, and executives’ willingness to attend is dwindling. Instead, events such as masterclasses, webinars, and roundtables are only increasing in popularity. Costs are lower, connections made are more valuable, and engagement is easier gained and retained.

The Ortus Club‘s events provide an excellent opportunity for businesses to network and build relationships with potential customers and partners. Thinking of scaling your B2B marketing to a global audience? If you’ve read this far maybe this is your time to host an event with us. Reach out today to find out more.

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