With the emergence of digital marketing platforms, too many marketers are evaluating their event marketing campaigns through marketing performance indicators like views or clicks, rather than business metrics.
With a focus on physical activations and experiences, event marketing hasn’t been as affected by digital media. But, the performance indicators of an event (e.g., number of attendees, qualified leads, etc.) don’t necessarily correlate to business value.
As the industry calls for greater transparency and value attribution tied to digital metrics, there’s a similar undercurrent within event marketing, bringing to head a core question related to live events and exhibits: how can event marketing demonstrate actual value to the business?
The metrics that matter
By using an outcome-oriented measurement framework, event marketers can assess impact across just about any type of event. Let’s examine four key metrics that can inform objective-setting and performance evaluation of virtually all events:
- Pipeline impact. Events are pipeline influencers and should can be evaluated on anticipated sales (as most converted sales happen post-event). This metric combines surveyed changes in attendees’ likelihood to purchase the products and services being promoted at the event with an analysis of leads to calculate potential revenue. The lead analysis formula is simple: multiply the number of qualified leads by revenue per product/service demonstrated.
- Brand affinity: Events impact perceptions of the brand; brand perception changes should be measured. This metric looks at key dimensions of the brand (e.g., smart,likable,fun) and determines, based on survey responses, how the event impacted perceptions across each dimension.
- Customer retention. Many events and exhibits reach existing customers. Through surveys, this metric reflects how the event impacts a customer’s likelihood to continuing doing business with the brand, an important and often unmeasured business-value driver.
- Value of experience. As a guiding principle, events and exhibits must deliver value to attendees and participants. This surveyed metric probes into the experience to understand the perception of value, helping to identify problem areas and drive continuous improvement.
As events happen at specific times, “in the moment” (or immediately post-event) surveying approaches have proven very effective at gathering data and insight. Approaches to surveying event attendees include:
- Web-based surveys for “owned” events – in which the event organizer has access to the full list of attendees and can send a survey-linked email shortly after the event. These surveys must be as short as possible and an incentive of some kind can be helpful at driving response rates.
- Interview-based surveys at large trade show exhibits and consumer activations. In this model, a live survey taker asks participants about their experience. The approach works because of the human touch – with or without an incentive.
- Web-based surveys for smaller trade show exhibits. For cost reasons, web surveys distributed to booth visitors post-event can allow for a more scalable model. Because this approach doesn’t yield as many responses, event marketers should collect data from multiple exhibit activations, combining them together and reporting on aggregated results rather than on individual events.
- Staff surveys for all are a must. Staff evaluations of the event can help to explain and give context to understand the results of attendee and visitor surveys more completely.
Because there are so many stakeholders involved in event marketing, concise, digestible executive-level reports are a must.
- Pull results into a simple summary that is easy for all stakeholders to understand
- Provide actionable recommendations for improvement – this is where the report delivers even more value, as the results drive positive changes next time around
- Where possible, compare survey results against benchmarks – which helps the reader understand if the performance results are positive or negative. These data points can come from a company’s own brand benchmarks (for example, Net Promoter Scores) or from measuring multiple events over time using the same key metrics.
- And remember, don’t use reports to “data dump” every finding from the event – role results up into key takeaways and improvement actions