With the return of in-person events and its popular demand, companies are allocating at least 21% of their marketing budget for events. So you can understand why they would want to track their return on investment (ROI) and ensure these events are actually helping the business.
But how do you prove it?
While calculating revenue is one way to do it, most event objectives go beyond earning profit. Some prioritize nurturing existing relationships with customers or internal stakeholders. Meanwhile, others focus on brand and product awareness, generating sales leads, etc. So when it comes to measuring the true impact of events, 55% of enterprise marketers admit that it’s a real struggle.
Don’t lose hope just yet! With the right tools and this article, we’ll show you that it’s easier now than ever to track, measure, and prove the true ROI of your events.
What is event ROI?
ROI in its most simple terms is: [Revenue - Total Expenses] / Total Expenses.
For events that are specifically designed to generate revenue through ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandise, calculating ROI is pretty straightforward. However, as mentioned, not all events are directly tied to revenue. Every organization defines event success differently.
Therefore, event ROI is more flexible in its definition. It is not only defined by revenue but by the overall net value derived from an event. This could also include things like the total number and satisfaction of attendees, leads added to the sales/marketing pipeline, partnerships, and many more!
Top Event KPls & Event ROI Metrics
With the many ways to define a successful event, there is an equally overwhelming amount of event KPIs out there. The best place to start is with your event goals, desired outcome, and event format (e.g., in-person, hybrid, virtual). These should help you determine which KPIs are relevant and should be measured.
Do keep in mind that individual KPIs do not automatically guarantee a high ROI, rather it can be predictive of an event’s success. Think of ROI as a car, and KPIs as its parts. Each part by itself doesn’t make a car, but it can give you an idea of what the car is going to look like. And like with any car, you can mix-and-match parts so you can come up with the set of metrics that work best for you.
To get you started, here are four of the most common event objectives and the top KPIs:
1. Building Awareness
- Social Media Reach and Engagement
- Social and Press Mentions
- Website Traffic
- Booth Visits
- In-event Sign ups (Newsletters, Podcast, Resource Downloads)
2. Driving Sales Revenue
- Sales Qualified Leads
- Appointment Booked (Demos Requested)
- New Pipeline Value Generated
- Acquired Customers
3. Social Engagement (Nurturing Relationships)
- Audience Engagement (Comments, Questions, Polling)
- Average Time Spent // Drop-off Rate
- Networking Matches Made
- Messages Sent
4. Generating Profit / Fundraising
- Cost per Attendee
- Cost per Lead // Cost per Customer Acquisition
- Direct Purchases
- Sponsorship Revenue
Here are a few more metrics to keep your eye on. While these metrics don’t necessarily align with any of the event objectives, they can still help you understand where your audience is responding positively and where there is still room for improvement.
- App Adoption
- Pre-event Registration
- Event Check-in
- Session Analytics
- Survey Response Rat
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
How to Measure Event ROI
Identify event goals
As with any campaign, measuring ROI begins with goal setting. Begin with a clear list of all your goals and then rank them according to importance. The level of importance will vary depending on the type of event, the target audience, and the internal stakeholders. It is important that these goals are aligned with all departments involved as each would have their own interests.
For example, Marketing could be more keen on increasing social engagement, while Sales would want to close as many new deals as possible during the event.
Set up measurable objectives to your goals
Regardless of which goals take priority, you will find that each goal comes with accompanying event metrics. Let’s say your primary goal is to build brand awareness. You’d want to look at metrics like your number of attendees and your press and social media coverage. In this case, your objectives could include attracting 5000 attendees, gaining 1000 new social media followers, and securing 15 press mentions.
The key to setting a good measurable goal is to aim for an ambitious but attainable number. It could help to look at the results of your past events or look at events of similar nature to benchmark with.
Calculating ROI can be tricky on its own, but it can get more complicated when the data isn’t consistent across all your events. You would have to define things like -- does sponsorship money count as event revenue? Are travel costs part of the event expenses?
Moreover, if you’re using any surveys to gather any quantitative feedback, you would have to use the same set of questions and scale. For example, you could use a 1-5 (or 1-10) rating scale when asking, “How likely would you attend again?”. But you could also phrase this as a simple Yes or No question by asking, “Would you attend again?”
Track and integrate event data
Creating a single, centralized database can help increase consistency, transparency, and ease of use when it comes to reporting. However, you can’t report on metrics if your data isn’t in the right place. You need to make sure that you’re properly capturing data and syncing it with your systems of record. That means having tracking pixels or cookies, making sure all your forms work and are integrated with your CRM, etc. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can always start with the event technology you use to run your event, which already gathers an incredible amount of insight.
What is a good event ROI?
Well, there really is no one answer to this question given that this would again depend on your goals and the nature of the event. But to give you an idea of some of the benchmarks in the event industry, here are some quick statistics:
- The average webinar attendance is 55% of the registered attendees.
- 65% of consumers say they better understand a product or service from live events.
- After attending a marketing event, 74% of attendees have a more positive opinion about a company.
- B2B enterprise companies achieve a gross revenue of 5:1 on average (That’s 5 dollars for every dollar you invested!)
- The average financial ROI for events across all industries ranges from 25-34%.
How to Improve Event ROI
Have a pre-event promotion strategy
A great pre-event marketing strategy is crucial to the success of an event as it can shape both the quantity and the quality of your attendees, among many other things. You can get creative as you want, but generally speaking, you need to include social media as a main vehicle for your event promotions. Since everyone is on social media today, it becomes an effective tool for reaching your target audience and generating excitement and FOMO (fear of missing out) for your event. You can also opt to have a dedicated hashtag so that it would be easier for people to follow your posts.
While events are normally planned by a single department, there are some overlaps. Like a career fair organized by the recruitment team might need Marketing to run some ads, or a marketing event might need help from Customer Success inviting existing customers. So it is important to ensure that they are sharing resources, seeing the same (updated) data, and spending appropriately within the budget.
Moreover, if this event is focused on driving conversions and sales, you should be working closely with your sales team to create a mutually agreed plan to maximize the quality leads and pipeline opportunities created during the event. Like what other registration information could you collect to further qualify attendees asides from their contact information? How can product interest and onsite participation data be used to better qualify prospects? You should be able to determine how you can help your sales team optimize their resources to engage with qualified leads at the event.
Use the right event software
With events, the attendee experience is everything. If your attendees love the time they spent at your event, they’ll be more inclined to purchase from you, tell their colleagues, publish about your brand, be more receptive to post-event communications, and return the next time! A great attendee experience can set you up for long-term success. This means more money for the business and greater event ROI.
Attendees are looking for hassle-free and engaging events. This means being able to attend events on their mobile, more opportunities for interaction and collaboration, and having control of the event experience (especially if it spans for several days) instead of being automatically locked into activities that they might not be interested in.
If your platform is limited in terms of opportunities for engagement, then you just might lose your audience halfway; or if it’s too complex, then it might be confusing for them to navigate through different parts of the event. Therefore, the right event software can make or break you.
Want to take your attendee experience to the next level?Discover Cadence today!
Leverage live data and mid-event surveys
For most of this article, we talk about how to use data to calculate post-event ROI and reporting, but let’s go back to the car analogy. Each metric is indicative of what the event ROI might look like. So if you keep your eye on it during (and even before) the event, you could see where there is room for improvement and make the necessary adjustments.
Let’s say there is an unusually low number of people checking in from your registered list. This could be something worth looking into. Why are you losing people between registration and check-in? Do you need more promotion leading up to events to build excitement and sustain hype? Is there a glitch in the software that is keeping people out? Is the interface not user friendly enough and confusing people when they try to check in?
For a series of events or events that last several days, you could send a quick survey to gauge what is working well and what experiences are falling short. You can use this data in real-time to make adjustments for the next day. For example, if attendees felt they did not have enough time to ask questions, you could extend the time for Q&A the following day based on their feedback. If you found out that attendees felt rushed between sessions, you could extend the break time between them to give attendees more downtime to network and explore. It would also help if you allowed attendees to submit anonymously as they might be more honest if their names are not attached to it.
The Bottom Line
If you want to boost your return on investment when it comes to events, you have to determine first and foremost what constitutes that ROI. It doesn’t always have to be a wildly ambitious objective or a massive quota to hit. The most important thing is to measure it in some way that is valuable for your organization. And while all of these KPIs are important to manage, there is no single number that adequately captures it all (we would love to have a metric like this if anyone has discovered one!). The best you can do is carefully select these performance indicators and track them regularly. Then use that data to make adjustments along the way so you can continually improve upon your event ROI.
Looking for an easier way to measure, calculate, & determine event ROI? Get started with the best event platform today!
Cadence is your all-in-one event platform that can help you heighten everyone’s ROI at your event! Our platform can collect, analyze, and optimize important insights to keep attendees engaged and make measuring data a whole lot easier.