Go figure.

At a time when so much business and related relationships are conducted online, face-to-face events have never been more popular — a reality underscored by London-based UBM's $17.6 million acquisition of Joe Pulizzi's Cleveland-based Content Marketing Institute (CMI) this year. UBM, which made a strategic shift from print and online publishing to events several years ago, bought CMI mainly to gain control of its events, including its yearly content marketing conference.

CMI's own 2016 benchmarks found 75 percent of marketers believe in-person events are more effective than options including blogs or white papers. For the sixth consecutive year, the organization rated events as the most effective marketing tactic.

Events Offer Face Time

Why are events so popular? Perhaps because so many businesses rely heavily on contractors, freelancers and remote workers, leaving fewer peers in-house for strategy sessions and brainstorming.

In fact, more than one half of IT decision makers (ITDM) prefer in-person communication for strategic advice, making events a valuable channel in a content marketing strategy. 

That's one of the findings from customer engagement research from IDG Enterprise, a Framingham, Mass.-based enterprise technology media, data and services company.

Face-to-face meetings important

The research, based on 1,000 respondents from six IDG Enterprise brands (CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World), concluded that 93 percent of IT decision makers have attended at least type of industry event to learn about new concepts (79 percent), see and try new products (72 percent) and learn about new vendors and their offerings (69 percent).

Event attendance is holding steady with 66 percent of ITDMs planning to attend the same number or more regional events and similarly 53 percent for national events.

"Overall, events continue to be a great marketing tactic and certainly a strong marketing tactic for driving demand generation for companies," Julie Ekstrom, IDG Enterprise’s SVP of sales, told CMSWire.

Who Attends Tech Events - and Why

Events offer multiple touch points for sharing content and conversations before, during and after the event. As CMSWire contributor Dennis Shiao wrote recently, an event is "structured as a time-bound, content-producing machine: keynotes, panel discussions, training sessions and presentations. All involving people with a shared purpose and shared interests."

The IDG research found 43 percent of ITDMs share information about major tech purchases when they are at events and 81 percent continue the conversation later by sharing content from events.

Think of events as goldmines for vendors: they give company representatives the opportunity to have knowledge-based dialogue with attendees. If vendor follow-up continues to be knowledgeable, 86 percent of ITDMs agree that it can positively impact the likelihood of a purchase, the research shows.

About one in four survey respondents said they will attend more trade shows and events where they can talk to vendors.

why people attend events

Learning Opportunities

Challenges Associated With Events

Shiao, director of content marketing at DNN Corp., said one challenge associated with events centers on harvesting and optimizing all the data that they produce — more data than marketers are likely to know what to do with.

“A single event in 2016 probably creates more data than all of the events produced in 2006,” Shiao told CMSWire.

“Event apps track the movements of attendees throughout the event, while social network apps help attendees share their event experiences with the world. To event sponsors and event marketers, this is both an opportunity and a challenge. There’s an opportunity to better understand and qualify attendees, while there’s a challenge in having the right tools and processes to decipher and act upon this tsunami of data.”

Some event sponsors turn to solutions like Certain’s event management software. Peter Micciche, CEO of Certain, said marketers with integrated marketing and event automation systems in place see a three to one return on investment from event marketing.

"When sales and marketing teams engage in timely follow-up, within a day from the event, the rate of lead conversion increases by 65 times. So a fully synced event and marketing automation system with bi-directional integration with their CRM system is the way for B2B companies to drive revenue in the future," he said.

Save the Date for #DXS16

Some events are just too good to miss. And with that in mind, we'll conclude this article by inviting you to take a look at of the all the possibilities — from keynotes and roundtables to networking and interesting conversations — offered by CMSWire's second annual DX Summit conference (#DXS16).

DXS16 will be held Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago, with a full day of pre-conference workshops on Nov. 14.

This year, we'll once again be gathering digital customer experience thought leaders, practitioners and analysts from our community to share the strategies and technologies you need to deliver memorable digital experiences.

"Our DX Summit gathers core elements of our community, a select group of global digital experience and digital marketing leaders and leading analysts in the space, and gives them a forum to exchange market trends, best practices, lessons from the trenches and inspirational ideas," explained Brice Dunwoodie, publisher of CMSWire and president of its parent company, Simpler Media Group, Inc.

"We’re bringing together a host of specialists to help you and the organizations you represent gain essential insight about the broad and evolving field of digital experience."

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