A recent Harvard Business Review study found the vast majority of companies (90 percent) prioritize events. For more than half of them, in fact, events are the most valuable marketing channel.

Despite the enthusiasm, companies may be missing out on the competitive advantage events offer, warned the report, titled “The Event Marketing Evolution: An Era of Data, Technology, and Revenue Impact.”

The reason? Fewer than one in four (23 percent) of the 700 senior executives surveyed said they can accurately measure the return on investment. Their support for event marketing is “largely intuitive, based more on anecdotal evidence than on hard data,” the executive summary said.

Missed Opportunity

CMOs earmark 24 percent of their annual budget to live events, so not understanding ROI is a major missed opportunity.

With no clear line of sight into event activity, companies focus on the top of the sales funnel. They use basic metrics like number of attendees, leads generated and social media mentions. But they miss the bigger picture, being unable to connect the dots and tie events to revenue and profit.

The good news is the latest ROI technology provides powerful tools to measure event impact based on the data. Here’s how you can leverage these solutions to improve business outcomes for your company, exhibitors and attendees.

Personalized Experience

Engagement tools like smart tags and mobile event apps generate a goldmine of data. Using real-time analytics platforms, planners can passively track activity and gain a clear picture of event performance in real time. For example, session and traffic metrics provide clues on attendees’ interests based on where they spend their time in sessions and on the show floor. Armed with these insights, organizers can send push notifications, recommend relevant sessions and exhibitor booths or suggest other attendees to meet based on shared interests, profiles and availability. The result is more personalized, VIP experiences.

Better Events, Proven ROI

Here are six ways you can use advanced event tech to improve your meetings and event outcomes.

  1. ROI technology provides real-time feedback via spot surveys, heat maps and dwell times. Why wait for post-event reports to learn about problems? Tap into the data and make adjustments that enhance outcomes on-the-spot.
  2. Popular event metrics include attendance, number of tickets sold and amount of direct revenue generated. While financial returns are vital, it’s important to choose both qualitative and quantitative success metrics.
  3. Recent advances open new doors to measure event value in innovative ways tied to demand generation. For example, set metrics to see if attendees are: increasing their knowledge about your brand, finding solutions to their business problems, networking effectively and creating new opportunities. You’ll gain valuable insights on how your event impacts attendees’ brand perceptions and likelihood to buy.
  4. Events should be part of an overarching marketing plan. Savvy companies use data gleaned from events to improve other pieces of their sales and marketing programs. Then, they conduct customized outreach that converts more prospects and keeps customers engaged year-round.
  5. With data from smart tags, marketers can now sync their event activity data to their CRM (customer relationship management) and marketing automation systems. This is critical for marketing attribution. At last companies get a clear view—based on hard data—of the role events play in driving revenue.
  6. ROI technology raises the bar on reporting. Create data-driven reports for C-level executives, sponsors and stakeholders in mere minutes. And provide a comprehensive picture of event success that shows your team is moving the needle for your company.

Brian Friedman is Vice President of Digital Innovation at Aventri. Smart Meetings partnered with Aventri to write “Event Technology Trends: The Significant Seven,” a resource on ROI technology and other innovations that are transforming meetings and events. You can download a copy of the report here.