Event marketing research 2017 conducted an online survey with a total of 1630 national and international organizers as well as 2621 national and international attendees to find out which activities are used by the organizers and which are on top of their list. As a direct counterpart to the organizer perspective, the research also analyses how event attendees search, find, and choose events.


The survey findings that are published by XING Events reveal that digitalization has a firm spot in the event marketing world. There is no doubt about that digital activities bring success. More than two thirds of organizers state to have achieved their goals thanks to digital channels. In this context, attracting more attendees (84 percent) and increasing the events’ profile (72 percent) take the top ranks. These results are motivation enough for 64 percent of organizers to make even more use of digitalization in the future.

Attendees too have arrived in the digital era for events. When it comes to selecting the channels however, organizers and attendees are taking rather different paths in 2017. Besides their website, organizers are strongly focusing on established communication channels like email marketing (76 percent) and social media marketing (73 percent). Traditional advertising activities like print ads trail far behind (47 percent).

Personal recommendations from friends and acquaintances are the way to go for 66 percent of attendees when choosing events. Email and event newsletters are right behind with 59 percent indicating the effectiveness of these methods among the organizers’ target group. “These results nevertheless clearly indicate that viral marketing will be an essential ingredient for an ideal marketing mix in the future”, Prof. Dr. Cai-Nicolas Ziegler states as one of the recommendations for event organizers.

On the other hand, organizers and attendees are on the same page about updates – more than half of organizers and attendees agree that digital event marketing simplifies exchanging information with each other. Attendees (62 percent) would like to further this improved exchange of information via social media groups. In turn, organizers seem to not (yet) recognize this potential – a mere nine percent of the organizers use this channel for communication and attendee retention.

Bottom line for organizers

“By using various channels like email marketing, organizers are on the right track”, Ziegler sums up. “However, they still need to catch up when it comes to innovative marketing activities – especially viral channels, making use of influencers and content marketing.”