How to Effectively Use Data to Measure Event ROI


Events can have many benefits. On the one hand, you can use them to raise capital and bring in a little revenue.

On the other, they help you establish yourself as a leader in your field, build brand recognition, and offer people a personal touch, one that is increasingly lacking in our digital age.

Additionally, events can be used to get immediate feedback on certain projects, products, or possible future directions.

That said, it is worth bearing in mind that events can also be costly, offer smaller returns than what you had in mind at the outset and pose several risks.

After all, while an online digital campaign targets millions of individuals within a target market, an event usually hosts a few thousand and is limited by several factors, including geography.

Consequently, it is necessary to keep an eye on the objectives behind the event and to have a way of measuring its ROI.

You need to figure out whether the event was worth the cost. And, with the abundance of data nowadays, this is easier to achieve than ever before.

Using Data to Measure Event ROI

There are two parts to measuring an event’s ROI: the cost of the event and its return. While the cost can be straightforward to measure, the same cannot be said of the return.

Before thinking about how you are going to measure the return of your event, you need to begin with defining its objectives and goals.

Defining the Goal of the Event

When planning an event, you obviously have to establish what you want to achieve with it. In fact, you might have more than one goal, and you’ll have to develop metrics for each of them.

Nevertheless, it is good to always have a primary goal, one that you prioritize above all others. 

The extent to which you reach this goal will give you a clear indication of whether your event was a success or a flop.

With this in mind, here are a few of the possible goals your event might have.

Generating Revenue

If your event is meant to create revenue, there are several ways to achieve this.

For instance, your ticket sales are one obvious source of revenue.

Alternatively, revenue might come in from deals closed during the event. Another way is to get sponsors on board or to sell some ad space within your event.

Raising Awareness

You might want to introduce people to a cause, or you might be trying to raise awareness for your new product or service.

In either case, you need your attendees to be engaged and to be present. Otherwise, they’ll get bored quickly and start looking for the exit.

Or, perhaps you want people to know that you are currently hiring, so you are reaching out to all prospective employees in the hopes that casting the widest net will get you the best catch.

Helping People Connect

Some events revolve around helping people connect.

After all, networking events have taken off in recent years, and they usually are beneficial to everyone involved.

Participants can find new clients, contacts, or even mentors at such events, which means they have a clear value.

Measuring the ROI

Once you are clear on the results you want from your event, with the primary goal at the fore of your mind, it’s time to set measurable objectives.

Here are some metrics you can use.

1. If the Goal Is Generating Revenue:

As mentioned earlier, you first have to decide how you’re going to bring in revenue.

For instance, if you’re selling tickets, an obvious starting point is seeing how many people bought them and calculating the revenue accrued from these sales.

Nevertheless, other metrics matter, too.

For instance, you should care about the difference between the number of people who register for your event and the number of people who actually show up.

On the other hand, if you have sponsors signing up for your event, then you need to figure out whether they got any value from taking part.

At the end of the day, sponsors will pay to be part of your event as a way to market themselves and to extend their brand recognition. So, the metrics you’ll end up using won’t be for you alone.

Assuming that you are using an event app, here are some metrics to keep an eye on:

  • The number of banner impressions
  • Conversion rates
  • Total clicks
  • The number of page views your sponsors got from the event app

You’ll have to share those results with your sponsors to demonstrate the value of participating in future events.

2. If the Goal Is Raising Awareness:

As mentioned earlier, one of the main criteria for creating a successful event is to engage the attendees. Engagement becomes all the more important when the goal of your event is to raise awareness, which leads us to the inevitable question.

How can you determine that your attendees are engaged?

Again, an event app can help. It will tell you which topics garnered the most interest, which speakers attracted the largest audience, and which sessions proved to be most popular.

Additionally, if you want to make things more granular, you can create customer profiles, which will give you a much clearer insight into which personas enjoyed which parts of the event.

Not only will these metrics give you a clear idea of how engaged your audience was, but they will also determine what to focus on as you plan upcoming events.

Another way of gauging engagement is by asking yourself a simple question: are the attendees having fun?

You can make your event more fun through something as simple as gamification. The use of gamification will open numerous possibilities, including having a tournament where someone is crowned the event champion.

Alternatively, you could use live polling and have your attendees answer questions collectively.

There are numerous other ways to measure engagement, such as social listening and surveys.

It is up to you to decide which suits your type of event the most.

3. If the Goal Is Helping People Connect:

For networking events, you need to find a way to measure how many new connections your audiences made on average.

With an event app, you can look at the private chat feature as well as group discussions.

In effect, you want your attendees to be reaching out to one another through your chat feature, and you also want more attendees to take part in group discussions.

Measuring the adoption rate of both the chat and group discussion should give you some idea of how successful your event was at helping people network.

The Importance of Learning From the Data

Aside from letting you know how successful your event was, the data you collect can be an excellent resource to help you improve.

On the one hand, if you want to know how you can better a product or service, attendees will be happy to tell you.

On the other, the data you collect will tell you how to make the next event better and more likely to achieve its objectives.

This is why it is necessary to pore through attendee feedback after the end of every event.

Michelle Laurey works as a VA for small businesses. She loves talking business, and productivity, and share her experience with others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library or binge-watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on Twitter @michelle_laurey.

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