Let’s start by saying that event success measurement is not the same for everyone. What might be crucial for you may be irrelevant for someone else. This in part has to do with the goals you’re trying to achieve with your event.
For example, event professionals who are planning events for profit will consider the amount of tickets they sold their benchmark for success. Others, on the other hand, might be holding events to promote their brand and products, so they’ll evaluate the number of leads they attracted for measurement success.
We must also look into the real value and impact of events as such, in terms of brand awareness, customer loyalty, and other criteria that might be relevant for you.
In other words, you might reach a good attendance rate, yet have little influence over your guests, leading to less sales and lead capturing. Will you declare your event a success because you had a high number of attendees? Or will you be aware of the poor impact your event had and focus on improving the attendee experience next time for greater results?
While there is no standard way in which you should measure the success of your event, there are specific steps you’ll want to consider when assessing your conference, product presentation, or workshop.
Step 1. Define your goals the right way
Running events requires multiple resources in terms of money, time, and effort. That’s why you’ll want to thoroughly evaluate the reasons why you need to plan an event in the first place. When doing this, you’ll discover that “Getting X mentions on Instagram” or “Gathering X number of guests” aren’t relevant goals.
On the contrary, your event must have a positive impact on your overall business or marketing strategy. For example, you could plan your event to introduce your new product and to raise your sales by X%. Or you could run a conference to strengthen the community you’re serving and gain X times more brand ambassadors who’ll promote your products or services.
In other words, you’ll want to ignore the superficial or vanity metrics, such as the attendance rate, which is relevant only if you’re running an event exclusively for profit. Instead, you’ll have to establish your goals carefully, making sure that your event(s) will strengthen or skyrocket your marketing or business strategy. Once you figure out your goals, you’ll know what data to look for to measure the success of your event.
Step 2. Create meaningful KPIs
The success of your event depends on what you’re measuring. If you’re looking at your attendance rate, you might discover that you had a low number, and then conclude that your event was a failure. But if you’re looking at the number of qualified leads you retained, you might discover that your event was actually a success. So, apart from setting up specific goals, you’ll also want to determine meaningful KPIs.
Let’s take the leads example. Say that you retained 100 leads from 200 attendees. Not a bad result, you’ll say, and then classify your event as a success. However, we recommend you look further, as this leads number might not be a meaningful KPI. What you’ll want to look at is the number of hot leads that actually moved down the sale pipeline thanks to your continuous marketing efforts after the event.
The meaningful KPI in this case will be the qualified leads you’ve retained and their positive response to your communication campaigns. In other words, your KPI won’t be a number, but rather a desired behavior your leads manifest after the event.
Step 3. Evaluate the real value of your event
When quantifying the impact of your event, you’ll want to consider the overall picture. As we previously mentioned, running an event takes time, effort, and money, which means you’re actually investing in an action that has the potential of multiplying your profit.
For example, the entire event management may cost you $XX.XXX, yet it might get you achieve your goals (in terms of marketing or sales), helping you reach $XX.XXX ∗ 3 in profit. So not planning the event will actually contribute to a financial loss (since you won’t be able to multiply your profit). These calculations will show you the real value an event can have and help you design the right framework for it and achieve your wanted result, which will be the real indicator of your success.
Step 4. Exclude other environmental influences
Event professional and entrepreneur Kevin Van der Straeten advises, “In order to be able to measure meaningfully, it is important to try and isolate (as far as possible) the effects you wish to achieve from other environmental influences. For example, make sure you don’t plan your event to coincide with a major advertising campaign. Because this will make it difficult to access which channel has helped to convince your customers.” If you really want to evaluate your event’s success, analyzing specific business and marketing KPIs, it’s important to avoid running secondary actions that may determine people to take action.
Be fair and accurate in your measurements
If done correctly, event marketing will be a central piece of your overall business strategy. That’s why measuring the success of your event is so much more important than just evaluating the ROI. It goes beyond numbers. Apart from helping you measuring the real value of your events, it will give you the necessary information and framework to adjust and improve your event’s format, content quality, and attendee experiences so that you can accomplish your goals each and every time.