“ROI”, at best, is a misleading metric as it relates to evaluating event marketing performance.
We’ve developed a point-of-view on event metrics that is more realistic than ROI, and which recognizes that most events are more than just selling opportunities. They also build brand affinity and strengthen customer loyalty.
With that in mind, let’s look at four key event marketing metrics:
- Anticipated pipeline. Rather than evaluate an event by converted sales (usually impossible), you should evaluate the impact on a prospect’s likelihood to purchase and the potential revenue the event is driving. It’s a much more honest look at the role of events as pipeline contributors.
- Brand impact. Marketing research demonstrates that positive brand perceptions affect purchase decisions. This metric looks at changes in perception tied to unique dimensions of a brand, including “thought leadership” or “approachability”. Almost always, multiple dimensions should be measured.
- Customer retention. Many events and exhibits attract current customers who may not represent immediate sales opportunities. However, event marketers understand that treating existing customers well is important because events can impact a customer’s loyalty (and losing customers can be costly).
- Perceived quality of the experience. While not directly correlated to business outcomes, providing a high-value experience for attendees is a worthwhile goal. This metric looks at key event attributes (e.g., staff interactions, educational content) and determines if attendees perceived them as high value. This helps event marketers continuously improve their events.
The method of collecting the data is nearly as important as the metrics, and effective performance measurement requires credible data. The best way to get real insight is to ask people directly – and to ask many people the same questions.
Try these two ways:
- Digital surveys – Contact the entire attendee-base shortly after the experience. We use incentive-driven email surveys and are experimenting with SMS/text-based surveying.
- Interviews – These work well within a large exhibit or at smaller events. In this scenario, an interviewer equipped with a tablet directly interviews attendees or visitors about their experience. We’ve seen good results with this methodology.
For anticipated pipeline, effective lead qualification and analysis is necessary. Review the number of leads and connect it to products demonstrated so that you can estimate potential revenue, noting that of course there must be post-event marketing and sales efforts to convert opportunities.
The final recommendation is to survey event staff. While not quantitative, the observations of staff are very important to post-event analysis. They help contextualize and explain the results of attendee surveys and lead analysis.
Once you implement consistent event measurement across a program, you can then compare event results and see how they measure up against your benchmarks. The scores themselves have little meaning without these comparisons.
Sales, marketing and financial leaders heavily scrutinize event marketing budgets. It is imperative to show their value and use these methodologies to drive continuous improvement.
By Dax Callner, Chief Strategy Officer – GES Events