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Event & Experiential Marketing Trends


I took a look at one of the world’s most comprehensive annual research studies on event & experiential marketing to breakdown industry trends for you. You can use this data to help justify your trade show or event budget and presence to leadership.

Here is what I found.

Marketing Trends

Keep the Goal in Mind

As with most marketing projects, the end goal has to be kept in mind when making tactical decisions.

What is the goal or strategy for events and experiential marketing in 2016? Unsurprisingly, the top two goals for investing in events or experiential marketing are to increase brand awareness and drive sales. You can also expect to see significantly more events and experiences hosted by companies in 2016 than in the past, with a whopping 79% of respondents planning to execute more event and experiential programs this year.


Interestingly, the criteria for measurement has changed in the past two years, with total attendance or participation as the highest form of measurement, followed by Facebook likes or social media activity, followed third by leads. The second and third place measurement of social media activity and leads is intriguing due to the complexity of tracking ROI these metrics give. In a perfect world, a lead gathered includes detailed information about a prospect that includes a timeframe for purchase. These types of details are harder to flesh out when someone is retweeting a post or sharing an exciting Facebook status from your company. A lead will often automatically be entered into your company’s marketing automation or CRM platform, whereas tracking someone through social media into your CRM system can take multiple steps. What you measure should be dictated by your end goal for hosting an event or trade show. If brand awareness is the end goal, social media buzz will be a relatively easy measure to track and give you the most reach, whereas if driving sales is a key goal, detailed lead information will set your company on track.


So, we know we will be seeing more events and more experiential marketing taking place over our year. With more events to host and theoretically more competition for attendance and “buzz” at these events, a sizable budget to help companies stand out has become important to respondents- as budgets are expected to increase by 6%. The 2015 average growth rate of budgets is nearly three times the level of recent U.S. GDP growth.

The Value of Events

The goal is to increase brand awareness and generate sales, which will be done by measuring the total attendance, social media presence, and the number of leads with an increased company budget. But why? Why are events worthwhile?

We live in a consumer-driven world, where the customer is expecting much more from a company than ever before. Why is the investment of an event worthwhile? The consumer values events. A significant 98% of survey respondents said that participating at the event or experience made them more inclined to purchase. Is there anything else your marketing department is doing right now that leads to a 98% more inclination to buy? If not, it’s valuable to consider hosting an event. It may even be a good idea to host an event for your best clients if you are exhibiting at a trade show.

If you are attempting to justify an investment in an event or trade show to your boss, know that these consumer and event trends are increasing, and shows the pulse of what’s to come.

You can read the full report here 2015 Event Track Exec Summary.


About the Author

Kayla was a Senior Marketing Associate at Skyline Exhibits, based at Skyline's International Design Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

3 responses to “Event & Experiential Marketing Trends

  1. Hello Kayla,

    Thanks for sharing the highlights of this new study. I think the surprising prominence of social media activity, especially Facebook, in event measurement is because the report is focused mostly on business-to-consumer events. If a company creates a lot of buzz about their event via attendee’s own social media, the company gets true marketing value. Considering that Facebook alone is such a major part of 1.6 billion people’s day, getting your event mentioned and shared by Facebook members may be the single best way to promote a consumer brand.

    However, if Facebook activity was the second most important metric for business to business events, I would also be shocked. Survey after survey identifies brand awareness, leads, and sales as the top metrics for B2B event marketers.



  2. Thank you Kayla,

    That was a great read indeed! I find it rather intriguing that “social media followers” could be considered like a goal. Considering the HUGE amounts of money you spend at trade shows, if your goal is simply to get followers-, there are many other activities that make way more sense and ROI.

    To me leads capture remains number 2 and number 1 is ROI. Very few companies are able to track their ROI because it requires using the right tools and showing true discipline – one must account for all expenses and really track the turnover generated by leads coming from the show within a few months timeframe after the event. Few only try it, less even achieve it. Yet, there’s no better method to justify your presence at a trade show.

  3. Kayla,

    Great blog post. Thank you! I thought under “Measurement” it was interesting that “Facebook likes or social media activity” came in second. The world of measurement is changing!

    To address your statement, “A lead will often automatically be entered into your company’s marketing automation or CRM platform, whereas tracking someone through social media into your CRM system can take multiple steps. ” … There is a great CRM solution out there called Nimble ( It’s a cloud based CRM solution which focuses on social selling. Jon Ferrara is the founder of Nimble. He is dynamic and always ready to help! Previous to Nimble, he was co-founder of GoldMine & figured out a way after selling GoldMine & taking some time off how to allow people to nurture relationships using the “social river” as he calls it to assist in turning digital relationships into prospects and clients.

    Here is Nimble’s blog just in case you are interested:

    – Eric

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