Research Revealed

The Event Strategy Report — 2022 Edition

The 2022 Event Strategy Report

The report that set the narrative on what event executives were thinking before the pandemic—is back.

The 2022 edition of the Event Strategy Insights & Benchmarks Study gives us unique insight into how the industry is evolving and analyzes how the top brands are approaching strategic planning for their event marketing programs today. The report explores how event strategies are determined, how events fit within overall corporate marketing goals, and how brands use data and analytics to inform their strategic plans.

Conducted in partnership with Event Marketer, the 2022 Event Strategy Report yields fascinating insights and data that will help event marketers navigate the move into a post-pandemic world. Exploring a variety of topics, we surveyed over 300 people, 40% of which were VP to Chief-Officer level,  and 73% were director level and above. 66% had annual revenue of $100 million or more, and we had a solid mix of B2B vs. B2C.

Through this study, we uncovered five industry shifts that give us insight into the next era of event marketing and six event strategies the top-performing companies are utilizing to stand out in the sea of event sameness.

First, let's look at the top five industry shifts that are shaping the way brands are approaching event strategy. 

  1.  Budgets are rebounding strong.
    As we move into the post-pandemic era, brands are starting to prioritize the in-person experiences we have all been missing. This budget rebound is especially true for organizations whose event strategies are closely integrated with corporate marketing.

  1. Event budgets are changing as we adjust our approach to health and safety. 
    As we begin the steady return to in-person experiences, even some of the most cautious brands are easing back on health and safety precautions as the need for quarantining, testing, etc., dissipates. 

  1.  Instituting a company-wide event portfolio strategy is a
    rising trend.

    45% of the people we spoke to already have this in place, 30% have this underway. This is becoming more and more valuable as our industry evolves to accomplish many company-wide goals through events. 

  1. Understanding the needs of our customers, prospects,
    and audiences is the biggest opportunity impacting
    event strategy
    For attendees, there must be real business value that justifies the time and energy spent away from other responsibilities to attend an event. Understanding attendee needs and expectations is critical when developing an event strategy to ensure an event is successful and the content provides value for attendees.

  1.  Investment in product launches, flagship user conferences, and partner programs are expected to increase the most, as part of brands’ event portfolios. 
    With the increase of company-wide event portfolios, events with specific, streamlined goals are being prioritized within larger company initiatives, and brands are expected to allocate big budgets to make them innovative and exciting, especially with the return of in-person events. 

So how are brands responding to these shifts, and standing out in this evolving industry?

We identified six themes in how companies are achieving best-in-class success through events that are making their brand truly stand out.

  1.  CMOs are highly engaged in the strategic planning for events
    This is creating strong alignment between overall corporate marketing  strategy and events strategy. CMOs see the value events can bring to the marketing mix and want to maximize opportunity to connect with their audiences. 

  1. Beyond just the CMO, event strategy is developed with more collaborative effort at higher levels with the company.
    As in-person experiences return, a directed event strategy brings tremendous value that ripples across entire organizations. The role events play in larger company initiatives drives collaboration and involvement from a variety of stakeholders and higher level executives within the company. 

  1. Events more often align with larger corporate marketing strategy and goals.
    It is clear that big brands recognize events can’t stand alone, they must have intention and purpose. Because of this, brands are designing events with their marketing strategy in mind, and using events to move their brand closer to those larger marketing goals. 

  1. Driving sales revenues is a top reason for events
    In alignment with using events to obtain larger marketing goals, events are being treated as more than just an opportunity to gather leads, but strategic opportunities to drive pipeline and close deals.

  1. Data collection and analysis is being treated as a critical aspect of developing event strategy
    The demand to better understand the needs of our customers, prospects, and audiences, drives the need to collect and evaluate data. Data facilitates tailoring event content and structure to meet audience needs, and implementing data for year-over-year improvement. 

  1. Event technology is prioritized as an investment.
    There is a huge value-add to both the brand and the audience when innovative, purposeful technology is incorporated in event design and prioritized within event budgets. 

This flagship study makes it clear that as the corporate event marketing industry continues to restart and recover, having a detailed and well-informed strategic plan for events that is well aligned with key groups will yield strong results within your organization and create unforgettable experiences for your attendees. 

The study also gives insight into the way brands are innovating and reimagining in-person experiences:  turning their event from just another conference, into a powerful tool to propel their brand, push cultural narratives, and create movements that last beyond the closing ceremony.  

Want to review this data and our findings in detail?

Download the full 59-page report (PDF).

More Like This, Delivered to You

As our agency continues to explore the future of experiences, you can join us and leaders from Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and many more of our clients to stay ahead of what’s next by subscribing to XO. Each month, you’ll receive our latest insights and perspectives, plus carefully curated links worthy of your next new tab.

Explore More

Insights in
the Inbox

XO is a newsletter with a mission to be loved by marketing executives and event professionals.

Through careful curation and purposeful prose, XO serves thousands of leaders who want to stay on top of what’s new and what’s next in the world of experiences.

To join in, see past issues or subscribe below.