Presented by Cvent

The job description of an event marketer is changing rapidly. It has never been harder to break through the noise out there, to reach your attendees and persuade them to come to your events. Attendees have an increasingly heightened expectation that your event will be relevant and valuable to them personally. They want that to be meaningful, personalized, and highly impactful, and that expectation starts right out of the gate, from how you market your event, how you turn prospects into registrants, and continues through the attendee experience you deliver on site.

And there’s also an internal expectation: proof of impact from events — a return on the 24 percent of a company’s marketing budget that is typically spent on events.

“Why? Because they work,” says Mike Dietrich, Senior Director, Product Marketing for Cvent. “Outside of a company’s website, events are the most effective marketing channel.”

But a quarter of a company’s marketing budget is a hefty investment into face-to-face meetings and events. And the people writing the checks, the senior marketing or business leaders, only deploy capital where it’s going to do the most good, and want to measure the impact of all those places where they put their dollars. They need to do the same for events.

That means you’re asked to be not just a first-rate marketer, but a digital marketer, a technologist, and even a financial analyst who can dig deeply into the numbers and prove ROI.

“Identifying where your organization currently sits and how to improve can be tough,” says Dietrich. “How are you doing compared to your peers? What are others doing that you could do? What does ‘good; look like and how does your organization get there?”

That increasingly requires a map and compass, and event technology has evolved to the point where those tools are readily available to hand – and it’s why Cvent created the “Event Evolution Model” and an accompanying assessment tool. 

“As the world’s largest event tech company, we have a front row seat to the trends and changes in the industry,” Dietrich says. “With millions of events every year running through our platform, we have a real good sense of the global community of use out there and how different organizations and different companies are meeting these challenges.”

That’s formed the basis for their model, which is constructed to look at how organizations plan, execute, and measure the impact of their events. It looks at all facets of your event program, from how an event strategy is put together, how that’s planned and executed, and the resources and tools that are available on site. And then long after the event is over, it examines how organizations are using all that data to continually prove impact and improve the next year’s events.

Levels of maturity

Event programs fall into one of four general levels of maturity:

  1. Emergent
  2. Elevated
  3. Evolved
  4. Expert

Here’s how that translates into the real world.

Emergent meetings and events programs are really in their very foundational stage. What we see here is many of the meetings and events are kind of ad-hoc. They’re planned and executed by whoever is available to do that within the organization – there might not even be an event professional on staff. Success is largely defined as the event happening in the first place. Did people show up? Did they listen to the content? Did they listen to the agenda?

Elevated meetings and event programs typically have a set of professional resources in place, with staff that identify as event professionals. They have processes in place, and they’re probably starting to use technology selectively to help them organize, market, and execute their events. But even in this stage, they probably still have a limited ability to prove overall event value. They typically fall short of the expert and evolved meetings and event programs, because they’re still often unable to prove the impact of their events and be able to tie results directly back to those events and any marketing efforts.

Evolved programs have a very well-defined and rationalized meetings and events strategy. They have specialized resources, often teams of event planners, to be able to execute any number of events typically. They have very strong data and technology foundations, which they use then to leverage the ability to consistently deliver quality events.

But while they have those professional planners, and they’re quite good at capturing data and using data to prove impact and improve year-over-year results, they’re having issues of scale. They’re largely still using data to make decisions only for their marquee events, or maybe the top few events they host during the year.

Expert meetings and events programs are distinguished from those at the evolved level by their ability to manage and leverage their technology and data, to enable them to really achieve excellence at scale. It is one thing to execute an event linearly or sequentially. It’s another thing to be able to attain a level of execution excellence, meeting over meeting, when your event program may constitute hundreds or even in some cases thousands of events per year.

Where do you rate?

According to data from the Cvent platform and the marketing and event professionals who have taken the assessment so far, about 15 percent of programs are at an E1 level, while the vast majority, around 65 to 70 percent of programs, are at the E2 elevated level. About 10 percent of programs are at the E3 level, and only about five percent are at the E4 level.

What gets measured

There are four key areas that help determine what level of maturity any company is at.

First is the organization’s event strategy. What is an organization’s ability to develop a personal, measurable, and data-formed event program that’s aligned to their goals? Does your organization have a deliberate reason for each event they host and attend? Is there a specific reason that justifies why a company hosts every event that they have?

Second is an organization’s ability to execute that strategy efficiently and effectively across the whole event program. Levels of execution vary, from Excel sheets and Google docs all the way to organizations that have full specialized planning teams, access to external resources, the ability to deploy technology to be able to help them organize and execute and market their events and prove impact and ROI.

The next is the attendee experience. This is looking at an organization’s ability to deliver a seamless and personalized event experience to their attendees, and the ability to measure the impact of that initiative. Are you able to deliver an impactful, personalized experience to the attendee? Are you able to measure and track that attendee journey and that attendee experience at your event?

The final pillar is measurement and optimization. This is the organization’s ability to translate attendee and event data into provable value for the organization, through the full life cycle. How is that event strategy put together? How is that strategy executed? What is the quality of the attendee experience that’s delivered on site? After the event is over, how is measurement and optimization done by that organization going forward?

The event evolution model and scorecard

If you’re asking yourself, “How would my organization answer these questions? Where would fall? Are we emergent? Are we experts?” there’s a tool to help you get there.

The event evolution model takes you through 14 to 16 questions: How do you measure KPIs? How do you select events? What type of staffing do you have? What type of technology do you use? How are you measuring and optimizing? How do you look at ROI? The assessment takes about 10 minutes, and the scorecard will rate your event program, offer a write-up of what that level means, and then, for each of the four pillars (How do you make your strategy? How do you execute your event? How do you deliver an attendee experience on site? How do you measure and optimize), you’re offered a practical, actionable tip that can take you to the next level of performance.

There’s a companion ebook that drills down into each of the pillars and every permutation of maturity to give you a quick cheat sheet on what E1, E2, E3, and E4 levels of performance look like across the center of performance and across all of those benchmark levels.

If you’re interested in finding out about your individual organization’s event program, how it measures up, and getting help to chart a course to get your event program up to that next level of execution, head here now for the assessment tool.

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