New CMO Council Report on Event Marketing Underscores Central Role in Customer Engagement, but Senior Marketers Want Better Tracking of Business ROI to Justify Future Investments

PALO ALTO, Calif. (April 23, 2013)—While events and trade shows are still a vital part of the marketing and customer engagement mix, senior marketers remain challenged to identify effective methods to measure and prove ROI, according to a new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, conducted in partnership with the Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA).

Further complicating this scenario is that events and trade shows have largely remained isolated and disconnected from the overall business strategy, with 45 percent of respondents struggling to make a case for attending or participating in shows and 19 percent lacking a strategy to act on the leads they gather.

The report—entitled “Customer Attainment From Event Engagement”—highlights qualitative and quantitative findings gathered from a survey of more than 260 brand marketers fielded during Q4 of 2012 and Q1 of 2013, as well as interviews with 21 senior brand marketers and 11 experts within the event and trade show industry. The study issues a clear call to action for both marketers and event producers to look at the business measures and analytics that are powering today’s advanced, data-driven and highly targeted customer engagements.

The report highlights a number of important key findings, among them:

  • Eighty-nine percent of marketers say that events still hold some level of importance and value for their organizations, with 31 percent considering them essential.

  • Events are primarily viewed as revenue-driving opportunities, with 64 percent looking to source new prospects; 62 percent hoping to gather and cultivate leads; and 61 percent seeking face-to-face meetings with clients and prospects.

  • While marketing still finds value in events, 40 percent are cutting back on big shows in favor of more targeted gatherings, and 44 percent are choosing to host their own events.

  • The top challenges faced by marketers with respect to events and trade shows are making a business case for investment (45 percent) and managing the escalated costs associated with them (39 percent).

“Events and their ability to host intimate, face-to-face dialogues with customers, prospects, influencers and even competitors remains critical to many marketers across a multitude of industries, but until very recently, the same rigor and attention to measurable return have not been enforced to define the return of investments,” said Liz Miller, Vice President of Marketing Programs and Thought Leadership for the CMO Council. “What this study demonstrates is that marketers’ attention is shifting, and now is the time to begin moving down this road of defining and tracking the value of event and experiential marketing.”

The greatest challenge marketers face around trade shows and events is measurement, and this is primarily due to their lack of visibility into the conversion pipeline to determine how events are impacting sales and revenue. While they have CRM systems in place and a large number are happy with their systems (42 percent), the primary metrics that are being considered are referrals/introductions, leads and deal closures, and without true visibility into the sales process, marketers can’t measure what they don’t know.

“The exhibit and event marketing medium needs to develop generally accepted practices for measuring outcomes from face-to-face marketing efforts,” said Jim Wurm, Executive Director for the E2MA. “It is imperative for marketers to obtain and employ exhibit and event marketing analytics to inform the value of their spend and guide them on their future investments. This study is the first step in a process meant to make exhibit and event marketing measurement a fundamental component of every marketers program. The E2MA, in partnership with the CMO Council, plans to take the next step by working with marketers and event organizers to address this longstanding issue at our symposium at the Hyatt McCormick in Chicago on July 29, 2013.”

Additional transformations are occurring in the event and trade show industry as valuable new technologies emerge, and while it was once feared that these technologies would rob events of some of their value, marketers are actually using them to generate additional attention and engagement around their exhibits—with personal technologies (34 percent) and mobile (24 percent) ranking high among the list of solutions that add marketing value while virtual networking holds little value (15 percent). While these new technologies are leading to new opportunities for engagement, additional tools are needed to fully maximize the value of events and integrate them into the overall marketing strategy.

The CMO Council’s “Customer Attainment From Event Engagement” study—available for $199—delves into these issues and many more, identifying what must happen in order for marketers to reap the full benefits of their event and trade show investments. The paper, sponsored by a coalition of E2MA member organizations also features perspectives from industry experts who stress the importance of holding event producers accountable for what they deliver. A complimentary executive summary is also available. To learn more about the challenges and best practices of marketers who are leveraging the value of events, conferences and trade shows, download the 97-page report at

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council's 6,500-plus members control more than $300 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include more than 20,000 global executives in more than 110 countries covering multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, India and Africa. The council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE),, Marketing Supply Chain Institute, Customer Experience Board, Market Sense-Ability Center, Digital Marketing Performance Institute, GeoBranding Center and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME). More information about the CMO Council is available at

About E2MA

The Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA) is the premier thought leader and content development organization for corporate marketers and their suppliers in the face-to-face marketing medium. Driven to benchmark and promote the business value of trade shows and events, the E2MA evaluates and identifies best practices, new tools, new technologies and new techniques that enable marketers to optimize their event marketing programs. The E2MA is the tradeshow industry's newest association formed by the combining of the Tradeshow Exhibitor's Association (TSEA) and the Exhibitor Appointed Contractors Association (EACA).   

The new association is comprised of more than 500 member companies representing more than 17,500 full-time trade show professionals and more than 45,000 part-time trade show workers. The association is headquartered in Bend, Oregon. To learn more, visit


Media Contact:

Crystal Berry

Director, Marketing Programs and Communications