Event Marketing Fuels Revenue Growth, Confirms Harvard Business Review Study

Alex Clemente, managing director of Harvard Business Review Analytic Services

Companies increasingly are tying event investment and activity to actual revenues or profits, according to a new study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and event-marketing software provider Splash. The report, "The Event Marketing Evolution: An Era of Data, Technology and Revenue Impact," surveyed more than 700 corporate executives.

More than 90 percent of the respondents said they prioritize hosting events for customers and potential customers, while just slightly fewer prioritize sponsoring events. Companies that have seen revenue growth surpass 30 percent over the past two years are increasing their event investment more than others.

When it comes to measuring the impact of the events themselves, less than a quarter of respondents (23 percent) say they can calculate return on investment for their events. Most of those companies that track ROI also have invested in data-driven event technology, according to the report, and have shifted their strategy from sponsoring events to hosting their own. "The best technology adopters are on average more likely to see business value from events and to consider themselves better positioned for future success," the report concluded.

Those surveyed said they tend to invest significantly in events, representing companies that host an average of 73 events annually and sponsor an additional 62 each year. A third of the respondents host their own trade shows, and more than half (51 percent) employ between one and 10 full-time event-planning and event-management employees. One in 10 responding companies allocate more than half of their marketing budge to events, and 40 percent say they'll spend more on hosting such gatherings in the coming year.

"Creating in-person business relationships through events is becoming more crucial than ever," said Alex Clemente, managing director of Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. "The study shows that, despite the prevalence of social media and digital-growth strategies, event investments are growing. This is corroborated by our survey respondents, which include senior marketing managers, who state that events drive more business value than other channels."