There’s no universal formula on how to measure event ROI.
The vast majority of articles you’ll find online focus mainly on assessing social media engagement, satisfaction surveys, or app data insights. Although those are all important factors to consider, let’s be honest: you won’t invest a significant amount of money or massive effort into planning events only to gain a few more likes on Facebook or Instagram.
On the other hand, how reliable and objective can satisfaction surveys be? There’s no quantifiable metric to evaluate the event experience itself. You can’t count the number of times your attendees laughed or enjoyed themselves, and they can’t, either. After the event, attendees tend to present a distorted view. You can’t rely on their (positive or negative) impressions and memories.
As for data insights you can collect through an event mobile app, when you get raw information, it’s quite difficult to understand its real significance. This may be possible in the future with the development of event technology; however, right now, the number of mobile event app downloads won’t help much when you try to measure event ROI.
Considering this, we decided to provide you with a different event ROI framework. You can use it to craft an evaluation strategy and gain valuable insights about the profit you make and the real value your event generated.
Why do you need to measure event ROI?
Although it may seem obvious, there are some hidden benefits from evaluating the impact of your event:
Reason #1. Improve the planning process
The number one reason to measure event ROI revolves around calculating the difference between what you’ve spent and what you’ve earned. However, the results you’ll gain are important for improving your future events. Since our work is based on trial and error, the ROI numbers are excellent indicators of what we did wrong and how we should approach the planning process next time.
Reason #2. Lower the costs for the next event
When you measure event ROI, you may find out that some investments or costs can be eliminated. If something doesn’t work (meaning there’s no return of investment, or there’s a negative ROI), you’ll want to exclude it since it doesn’t pay off. ROI insights will help you make better predictions about the future and avoid wasting money (or effort, time, human resources, etc.).
Reason #3. Maximize the value of your event
As mentioned in the white paper “Designing Your Metrics Road Map” published by Freeman, “At the end of the day, data may be one of a company’s most valuable assets. But for this data to have value to event organizers, they must be able to monetize the insights generated.”
In other words, when you measure event ROI, you can use the insights to generate even more value. For example, you can use the acquired information to increase the impact of your subsequent marketing campaigns.
What do you want to measure?
There’s no shortage of concepts you can measure. However, you tend to focus on criteria such as sold tickets or level of social media engagement. True, these insights are valuable to map the value your event generates. Yet, these indicators are totally out of context and meaningless if you don’t know exactly what you want to measure. On the other hand, when trying to conduct a general measurement of the ROI, you may ignore relevant data.
Here are some examples of what you can measure to help you better strategize your event metrics roadmap:
The most common reason you may want to measure ROI event is to determine the profit you’ve made. In this case, you need to go after numeric indicators and make a total evaluation of the money you’ve earned. Make sure to highlight the clear distinction between the total revenue and the actual profit.
Total revenue - expenses = real profit
The total revenue refers to the money you received after the event. The real profit, on the other hand, is the actual earnings that go into your pocket (or into your company’s pocket) after extracting all the investments you made to plan and run the event.
Level of brand awareness
When we try to quantify the number of social media likes, used hashtags, or published content, our intention is to understand the level of brand awareness we’ve produced through the event. In this case, you can easily focus on social media indicators: the number of clicks and impressions.
Are you interested in finding out how your sales pipeline grew after the event? Evaluate the number of closed sales. By focusing on this measurement concept, you’ll be able to understand the marketing effect your event had. On the other hand, you’ll be able to set a future event with a greater sales result.
Sometimes, when planning events, we are interested in transmitting an idea or in education professionals about potential challenges they may encounter. In this case, when you measure event ROI, focus on the number of leads you were able to attract and the community growth percentage. This will give you a clear idea about the informational impact your event had on your attendees.
In case you are planning a B2B matchmaking dynamic, you can easily measure the event engagement by analyzing the number of meetings your attendees scheduled. On the other hand, if your purpose is to understand the amount of engagement during the event, you can always set up activities such as live polls or quizzes. The participation results you collect after the event will give you a clear idea about the attendee engagement.
Considering these examples, here’s a list of steps that will help you evaluate the real value of your event.
How to measure event ROI (the 5D framework)
Step #1. Determine the concept(s) you’d like to measure
As mentioned above, it’s important to understand what exactly you want to evaluate. Is it the financial profit? Or maybe you are more focused on measuring the educational impact your event had? Depending on the answer, you’ll be able to design an efficient ROI measurement road map, sufficient to fully assess and understand the impact your event made in terms of revenue and influence.
Step #2. Define the measurement indicators
Once you’ve determined the concept(s) you want to analyze, you must write down the criteria that will help you measure event ROI. You can always get creative and add indicators that aren’t usually so obvious or mentioned in other articles.
For example, you can evaluate the ROI by checking the number of new blog subscribers you gained after an event mailing campaign. Also, you can check for the number of recurring deal negotiations your sales department has. Don’t limit yourself at the obvious indicators. Go after the small grains of data that have the potential to redefine your subsequent event marketing campaign or planning approach.
Step #3. Draw a clear distinction between emotional and objective indicators
As we previously highlighted, you can’t ever be sure how relevant the subjective information can be when trying to measure event ROI. Needlessly to say, it’s easy to understand the objective indicators. Just follow the numbers and decide what rates or percentages will determine your success. With emotional indicators, on the other hand, you must be careful, since they can be extremely vague.
That’s why it’s advisable to come up with a unique scale of decoding emotional indicators. For example, you could focus on defining how your attendees felt about the brand experience activity. Did they engage during the dynamic? Did they express their satisfaction trough social media? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to draw a proximate profile of your attendees’ feelings and understand how to optimize it.
Step #4. Digitize the entire process
When you know exactly what you want to measure and what indicators you are paying attention to, it’s advisable to automatize the entire process. By using Eventtia, for example, you can have access to a comprehensible dashboard that collects and presents (in a visually attractive and understandable way) the number of people who registered, ticket sales revenue, total website visits, etc.
By digitizing the ROI measurement process, you’ll save plenty of time and avoid the human error that may distort the data.
Step #5. Devote time to quality analysis
Numbers are solid, clear indicators to understand your event’s level of success. However, an in-depth immersion is needed. This is especially true for emotional indicators. For example, if you intend to map your attendees’ emotional state, you may want to conduct qualitative interviews with some guests to collect their impressions and comments about the event.
There are multiple ways to measure event ROI. From evaluating the social media engagement to calculating the real profit, you can always assess your event’s impact and success. However, it’s important to remember that analyzing event outcomes involves a well-defined strategy. That’s why, before initiating the ROI evaluating process, always ask yourself what your intentions are and what you want to do next with the insights you’ll gain.