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Marketing | Nov 26
Jessica Malnik on February 18, 2020 (last modified on February 24, 2020) • 12 minute read
So you put on a killer event to help build awareness and interest in your brand. Attendees are excited and so is your team. You may have even generated a bunch of leads and followups.
But how can you measure—in a tangible way—whether or not the event was a success?
Understanding how effective your events are at furthering the goals you set is the only way to gauge whether those events are worth the cost and to gather important information that can help improve the next one.
That’s why it’s so important to define set KPIs for each event you put on.
Generally, those event marketing KPIs fall under either attendance or post-event conversion. We wondered which of those categories actual event marketers prioritize—so we asked 61 of them.
We found a pretty even split, with 52.5% of marketers touting attendance KPIs as most important and 47.5% saying post-event conversions.
To get more insights on that breakdown, we asked those marketers to share their #1 event marketing KPI. Below, we share the 16 metrics they talked about.
Want to know the most important marketing KPIs to track across all functions (i.e. content, SEO, email, social, etc.)? Check out the definitive list of marketing KPIs all marketers should be tracking according to 400+ marketing professionals.
Jumpy to any section below to read more about the metric, why it’s important, and ways for improving it.
“Tracking the number of mentions helps marketers understand how aware people are of the event outside of event attendees,” said Jay Simms of J. Simms Events and Marketing. Plus, Simms added, “the event can spread or become viral, and be picked up by media outlets who share the event to their followers.”
Peter LaGregor of Play It Forward Foundation agreed with Simms, saying, “for us, the most important KPI for event marketing is a combination of shares, referrals, and engagement that we collectively refer to as ‘event buzz.’”
“As a non-profit,” LaGregor explained, “we need to make sure our events resonate with people and get them motivated. The best sign of this is any indicator that someone took the time to tell someone else about the event. This tells me that we hit on something that gets people excited and motivated to take action.”
“Keeping track of social media mentions (tags of the event social handle or event hashtag) will determine the amount of engagement of the event attendees and brand awareness the event generated,” said Jamie-Lee Kay of The Other Straw.
“While it’s crucial for today’s event marketers to focus on deep-funnel metrics in order to calculate the ROI from an event,” Shannen Smith of Fundera told us, “you can’t forget about key top-of-funnel event metrics.”
“Experiential marketing campaigns aren’t just about selling a product,” Smith continued. “It’s about promoting a brand’s message and creating an experience so memorable that every attendee will want to share it with their network. You want your event to live on long after it’s ended—and social media is a way to do this.”
Tommia Hayes of Community Health Charities recommended creating a hashtag for your event as one way to measure social engagement. “Tracking social media engagement and mentions is a great way to track how engaged your attendees are and if they’re enjoying and valuing what’s being shared. This also helps you as the host see what’s working and what isn’t valuable.”
“The buzz that’s created will get your momentum rolling,” Alexandra Zamolo of Beekeeper explained, “which can put you in a great spot when you’re ready to start promoting your next event or reaching out to attendees for other opportunities.”
Andrea Moxham of Horseshoe + co. noted that using an event hashtag can also help you keep the engagement going with actual attendees. “By creating a hashtag just for your event, you can track what the attendees are saying about it so that you can later engage with them on social media and ensure your brand stays top of mind.”
“If people think you nailed the event, they’ll be more likely to return and to recommend you to others.” – Melanie Musson, 360quoteLLC
“Regardless of the goal of your event (whether that’s increasing brand awareness, educating, networking, etc.), NPS is a good indication of how well you’ve done from your participants’ perspective,” said Bel Booker, a freelance journalist.
As Hima Pujara of Grupio explained, “This score tells how much value your event brings to attendees. Thus, this score indicates whether attendees will recommend your event to others or not.”
Andrea Loubier of Mailbird agreed, “Attendee satisfaction surveys are extremely important,” Loubier said. “Without them, it’s difficult to see which areas of the event were met with success, and which ones require improvement.”
“Was it worth their time and would they recommend it to others?” asked Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls. “Attendee satisfaction and Net Promoter Score are keys to success in my experience.”
In addition to NPS, Mayank Batavia of QuickEmailVerification recommends tracking recommends (ha!).
“Towards the end of the event,” Batavia said, “you’ll want to collect the feedback of attendees, speakers, and sponsors. And one question you’ll ask is: ‘On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this event to a friend? (0 = Never, 10 = Very likely).’”
“This is the most direct, in-the-face response to the success of your event.”
Chris Clegg of PortMA said they’re #1 event marketing KPI is ROI. “Model your reach efficiency, quality, and impact to derive an estimate of new revenue generated and divide it by the budget. Then segment that outcome to see where you’re over- and under-performing.”
“As different events are for different reasons,” Harris Schanhaut explained, “there are two common denominators between all of the above types of events: how much it cost and what was the ROO (Return on Objective).”
“This answer will vary on a few things—your objectives, audience, industry, and what the nature of the event is,” Anna Tannas of Brainrider added. “If your goal is to see revenue from your presence at an event, then the one event marketing KPI you’ll want to track is ROI.”
Alexander Kesler of INFUSEmedia argued that customer lifetime value is the ultimate measure of event marketing ROI, saying, “The one metric that perhaps most accurately reflects event marketing ROI is lifetime customer value, which provides hard data on how profitable the event was.”
“Real attendance is a vital one in my opinion,” said Eloah Manzoli of Shophysio. “I’d be looking to ensure someone actually made the effort to turn out as that’s a pretty good indication they’re invested in what we have to say.”
“One of our most important event KPIs is attendance rate,” James Meincke of CloserIQ agreed.
“RSVPs are a good first level metric, but if your events are free or low cost, there will inevitably be some drop-off. Knowing some general benchmarks (e.g. we expect 70% of RSVPs to show up) will help your marketing team plan promotions to make sure you fill the room.”
Editor’s note: Need a better way to manage event ticket sales and attendee stats? Download this free Eventbrite (Event Analytics) dashboard to keep track of page views, ticket sales, and more—all in one place.
“Without understanding how many people engaged with your brand you can’t understand event success.” – Olivia Collins, Gather
“Going to events is great, but if you don’t gain any new leads for your business as a result then what’s the point?” asked Gwyn Wood of Kiwi Creative.
“Arguably the most important KPIs you track are qualified connections made at the event,” added Adam Helweh of Secret Sushi, Inc.
“The end goal for every event we attend is to earn leads,” said Jackie Lynch of Guidebook. “With this in mind, we focus on high-quality attendees who could potentially convert into leads.” Ricky Wolff of Markletic agreed, noting sales pipeline generated as their #1 KPI. “At the end of the day, you need to prove the ROI of your event investments.”
“Qualified leads can be generated at events through booth check-ins, prearranged sales meetings, and the number of demos occurred,” explained Courtenay Worcester of EventGeek. “Be sure to mark the leads and accounts you met and engaged with at the event in your CRM so you can track how many deals and how much revenue resulted from it.”
“An event marketing KPI that marketing teams should track is the number of booth visitors that convert into marketing qualified leads,” argued Tracy Staniland of Chisel AI.
In addition to measuring the sheer number of leads generated, Mike Weimar of Iconic Displays recommended measuring the cost of those leads, too. “Lead generation is usually a top goal of every event, so my one favorite KPIs is lead total divided by total event cost.”
“Although RSVPs and attendee figures are also important,” said Paige Sander of Salted Stone, “understanding post-event conversions will give your team a better idea of the success of an event.”
Stephen Taylor of WISER Systems, Inc. explained that post-even conversions can “take various forms, be it email open or response rates, meetings or phone calls scheduled, requests for additional information, product demonstrations, or content downloads.”
“Whichever conversion KPIs your organization uses,” Taylor added, “it’s essential to track them post-event to keep attendance numbers or during-event KPIs from working like vanity metrics.”
“This KPI covers all of the bases,” said Nathan Fuller of Launch Team, Inc. “A sales appointment shows interested and qualified leads, which is why I would use this metric over actual sales closed (since closing a sale can be a lengthy process and it can fall short for a whole host of reasons unrelated to the show).”
“Your total registrations will let you know how well you promoted your event and if the final list of speakers successfully encouraged attendance,” said Angela Ash of Flow SEO.
Avinash Chandra of BrandLoom and Aaina Bajaj of Signity Solutions agreed, with Bajaj saying, “Registrations are one of the main event KPIs that every team needs to track. It is necessary to track registrations regularly to have a transparent picture of sales performance over time. The more detailed you become with this metric, the more certainty it will provide while evaluating your event performance.”
“Driving brand awareness is all well and good, but marketing events must also demonstrate that they are adding financial value to the company,” said Ian Kelly of NuLeaf Naturals. “Post-event conversion is important because it’s how you evaluate the success of the event—Is it worth investing in again?”
As for how to measure that, Kelly recommended tracking the number of email signups that result from the event.
“Consistently monitoring “Sales by Ticket Type” will give you valuable insight into future event planning to help you make smarter decisions about your event promotion strategy,” said Gregory Esterhai of Eventsured. “This metric will also give you better insight into ticket pricing as it’ll help you better understand how many individuals are buying early bird tickets, general admission, or VIP.”
“For event marketing,” Cassy Aite of Hoppier said, “the number one KPI to keep track of is sales by marketing source. This metric tells you which source exactly makes the biggest impact on your bottom line.”
Editor’s note: Looking for a better way to monitor ticket sales by ticket type? Download this free Eventbrite Events template to see the whole breakdown in one neat dashboard.
As Sayana Izmailova of Wild Apricot sees it, the most important KPI for event marketing is how many new attendees an event brings into the fold. “Attendance numbers on their own can include constituents who are regular attendees and aren’t good indicators of how well the event was marketed to people outside the organization’s regular circle,” Izmailova said.
“New contacts are especially important, as they can be surveyed to answer questions like where they heard about the event and what made them interested in attending. These and other answers can tell a powerful story about which marketing efforts were worthwhile and which weren’t.”
On the flipside, Sam Williamson of CBDiablo UK recommended tracking return attendees, too.
“The event marketing KPI that we always pay close attention to is how many attendees to our first event decide to purchase advance tickets for our next event. We’re interested in the lifetime value of a customer, and if our first event doesn’t immediately inspire them to purchase a ticket for our next event, then we’ve done something wrong and we need to address that immediately.”
Benedetta Fadini of MCI Group suggested tracking a broader group of event marketing KPIs they call audience engagement. “That includes every metric that shows the event is resonating with the target audience—be it through social media engagement, participation at sessions, app downloads, feedback surveys, etc.”
Leah Carter of Leah Naomi agreed, saying, “I think it’s good to look at the level of engagement from your attendees across platforms vs their attendance. That way you will know what avenues are working at what time and why.”
“One common KPI that should always be tracked is driving brand loyalty,” argued Delanie Olsen of Total Event Resources.
“Whether it’s an internal or client/consumer-facing corporate event, building a strong brand following and creating an event where attendees leave with a better understanding of the organization and their services/products will always be key in reaching goals and tracking engagement,” Olsen explained.
At the end of the day, the best KPI to measure the success of your events is highly dependent on the goals you set from the beginning. If you’re throwing an event to foster a sense of community among customers, you should measure success with different KPIs than you use for an event aimed at building brand awareness among new audiences.
Either way, the event marketing KPIs above should help you find the right success metric for you.
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