How do you know if your brand event was a success? Is it the number of attendees you had? The number of new deals you closed? Or maybe it’s the percentage of high-quality leads you were able to attract?
No doubt, the return of investment (ROI) is a surefire way of knowing what goals you achieved. The above-mentioned indicators validate your brand’s true impact. However, if you truly want to evaluate your event’s actual success, you must dig a little deeper. You can’t focus on just the quantitative aspect of your results—you also need to understand the qualitative impact of your efforts.
According to Mike Wohlitz, vice president of Event Services at Freeman AV, “It’s certainly important to have a return of investment (ROI) in the brand experience category. However, more and more people want a meaningful connection with a brand. Just think of the deep relationships Apple and Disney have with their customers. So it’s also important for marketers and event professionals to evaluate a Return of Experience (ROE) for their events. ROE may be harder to measure, especially with short-term data, but it ultimately results in a stronger brand allegiance and deeper emotional connection to a brand or organization.”
We decided to take the ROE concept one step further: apart from analyzing the numbers, you must calculate the emotional ROI of your events.
Right now, you’re probably wondering what emotional ROI is, and why it’s so important.
As Paul Schreuder, lecturer Events at Dutch Fontys University for Applied Sciences - Fontys Academy for Creative Industries, writes in one article, “Attendees are looking for experiences that help them to create personal emotional value. Value in a way that the experience should contribute to their ‘quality of life.’” In other words, the emotional ROI of your event will signalize the emotional value you were able to produce providing impactful and meaningful brand experiences to your audience.
As Schreuder specifies, when it comes to evaluating an event’s emotional ROI, “The measurement doesn’t have to be quantitative.” So you won’t find any concrete calculations to measure the exact feelings and their intensity.
However, there are some adjacent criteria you can look at to better understand your brand event’s emotional ROI and emotional value. Here are a few of them to get you started:
Indicator 1. Live interaction
The easiest way to understand if your attendees truly enjoy your event is by evaluating the emotional ROI in situ. Observe their behavior during the event. Are they eager to take part in the activities you’ve prepared for them? Are they interested in participating in life polls and Q&A sessions? Do they seem interested in the brand experiences you’ve designed for them? What’s the general vibe during the event? Do you see them focused on what’s happening around them? Do they seem truly invested in the event and interested in making the most out of their experience? If so, know that you did a very good job. This indicator may seem subjective and difficult to measure. Yet, it’s impossible not to understand if your guests are happy or bored. You’ll be able to tell just by looking at your audience if they’re engaged or completely disinterested.
Indicator 2. Online activity
According to Markdebrand, “71% of event attendees will share the information about their brand experience with their peers.” The question is: are they interested in sharing their brand experience during and after the event via digital platforms? Of course, as event professionals, we won’t count the number of times an attendee uploaded a new event photo on Instagram. However, it’s good to be aware of your attendees’ social media presence. Evaluate their emotional ROI by understanding both the narrative and the frequency of their online activity. From this activity, you can easily extract their post-event reactions, willingness to share their experience with their peers. You can also understand if your guests are interested in becoming ambassadors of your brand.
Indicator 3. Meaningful connection
Your brand has a humane dimension, yet it’s almost impossible to reflect it through social media campaigns or ads. Event marketing, instead, may offer you an efficient platform of building meaningful contacts with your potential clients. By interacting with you and your colleagues during the event, attendees will “put a face to the name” and humanize their brand experience. Considering this, you can evaluate your brand event’s emotional ROI by analyzing how much easier and faster you can establish business relationships or initiate social selling after the event.
Indicator 4. Post-event content
People usually write a review or blog post of your event for three reasons: you paid them to write one, they hated your event, or they loved it. If someone writes about your event because he or she enjoyed it, know that you hit the jackpot. There’s no other better recognition or a more powerful indicator for your event’s emotional ROI than an attendee who took the time to write about you. People who loved your event will share the brand experiences you created during the event with his or her community.
Emotional ROI is difficult to measure, understand, and evaluate. It takes lots of observation and interpretation. However, these insights are priceless, since they are the real indicators of your brand’s impact on your guests. That's why, apart from the exact calculations and the numbers that will prove you a positive return of investment, always be aware of the emotional pulse of your audience and make the most out of this information.