Tim Stevens
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

It’s Time to Fill Your Events Lead Generation Gap

Physical events such as exhibitions and conferences have always played a key role in lead generation in the technology sector. This year however, things have been very different, with even the major, large-scale events not happening due to the pandemic.

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With a lot of enterprises budgeting big for these events every year for a very good reason – they bring in leads, it’s important to consider what to do in their absence.

  1. How are you going to plug the hole in your lead generation and marketing strategies?
  2. How are you now going to spend this budget?
  3. How long is the current situation going to last? What’s the long term impact going to be on the exhibition industry?
  4. Will things ever be the same again?

To try and answer these questions we recently conducted a survey to understand opinion in the market, with some interesting results.

Here we will look at: what we did, what we found out, and the key takeaways.

The survey methodology

To get as much insight as possible we allowed participants from any B2B industry to participate in the survey. We wanted a cross section of views to see the different perspectives on the business event industry as it is now, what people think will happen in the short and long term future, and what they’ve being doing instead to grow their businesses.

Because of this approach, we gave each question multiple choice answers to find an overall narrative, to spot trends, and to get quantitative data that we can all use to help our decision making.


To see the headline results, see the link at the bottom of this page. Now let’s quantify them and discuss these results in more detail.

Firstly, as expected, we saw that the vast majority of respondents had not attended a physical event in the last 3 months (85.2%). This reflects the fact that a lot of events aren’t taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And even those that did survive would have struggled to attract delegates due to the knock-on circumstances we’re all experiencing.

Employees on furlough wouldn’t have been able to attend. There’s likely less demand for many products and services thus buyers aren’t attending exhibitions. Many businesses are suffering with a lack of staff to exhibit at an event even if they wanted to. And many will have had their budgets negatively affected meaning they’ve had to do less events.

Let’s look at the specifics in more detail…

67% do not expect physical events to be back to normal

The majority of respondents don’t expect physical events to be back to normal attendance within a year, which backs up the assumption that less potential exhibitors are likely to spend their budget on any events that do actually go ahead.

87% say exhibition attendace down

Furthermore, 87% expect attendance to be significantly down in the short term which we would expect to see given the situation as it is right now.

78% do not intend to exhibit

Clearly then, this follows on to show us that as a result of the outlook of the majority, exhibitors and participant numbers will be down over the next 6 months.

58% converted planned physical events

With the statistics we’ve generated illustrating the feeling in the market, it makes sense that the majority of businesses have therefore started to do more virtual marketing activities.

The circa 30% who haven’t, may want to look at joining the majority quickly or they will find themselves left behind.

Some businesses may have found it easier to adapt than others which is worth pointing out.

For example, if a business already conducted regular webinars with an online audience that they had established over a period of time, they will have found it relatively simple to do more during the current times.

For those who’ve not done much digital marketing in the past, they’ve likely found it harder to adjust. Looking at the data we’ve generated through this survey though, and the ongoing uncertainty, it’s important to adapt not to lose ground.


It’s clear to see that confidence in events returning to normal in the short term is low. Even if any events can take place in the short term, which seems unlikely at scale, demand to attend will be low – for both exhibitors and attendees.

With demand being so low and events being unlikely to go ahead anyway, it will make sense for companies to repurpose their event budgets and use them for other marketing and lead generation activities.

We’ve seen that 70% of respondents are now doing more through alternative digital marketing channels to make sure new lead generation activity doesn’t suffer as badly as it could, and we’ve mentioned that those who haven’t yet adapted could find themselves in trouble.

So, what new marketing options are there to consider when repurposing your events budget?

We asked the question to see what those who have adapted are now doing. More than 2/3 of respondents said they have converted planned physical events into online events (webinars etc). Email marketing, content marketing and social media were all popular alternative marketing campaigns used to replace events.

However, starting off with new activities such as these isn’t always straightforward if you don’t already have a large, engaged audience. Putting out content on social media without any paid ads behind it if you don’t have a loyal following is unlikely to yield results quickly. The same is true for content marketing. No matter how great your content is, if you don’t have an appropriate audience it will fall on deaf ears.

This is why we’ve been fortunate enough to see a consistent upturn in demand for our data services at I-4business.

To make sure your event budget gets repurposed in an effective way you need to reach a new audience just like you have at previous events, just virtually for the moment.

To reach a new audience you need to have their information. You need compliant, reliable and effective data.

Email marketing and direct mail are all popular channels in the poll above and if you’ve got the right data to send your offering to, are extremely effective.

How I-4business can help

At I-4business we operate an ‘identify-verify-consent-inform-remind’ model to ensure compliance and accuracy. You can find out more about this here, but in a nutshell it looks like this:


We identify and add new contacts from numerous sources.


We employ a rigorous methodology to verify a fully accurate profile.


We obtain consent for us to share a contact's professional contact information with our clients for marketing communications, including via email.


We confirm all of the details via email. If at any point there are any changes to information or permission provided by the contact, we update our records immediately upon receipt.


We remind the contact that we hold their information and that it’s shared with our clients for the stated purpose. We also remind the contact how to opt out should they wish to.

As you can see, by going through this process we ensure that our data is as accurate as possible, it’s compliant, and we will gather all the relevant contacts that you will need.

Give it a try

To try us out today, sign up for a free trial now, or you can find out more about our service here.

To ask us any questions about our data, or if you’d like to find out more about or discuss this survey, contact our expert team on 01252 367400.

View the full survey results here