Measuring Event ROI: What, How and Why?

21 April 2016

Event ROI couldn’t be more important. It’s the key metric when it comes to events, and increasingly the set of figures that finance and procurement teams are most interested in. They’re right to be interested too—all the impact, wow-factor and inspirational buzz of even the best event counts for very little unless it’s built on the back of solid business objectives, a firm handle on the numbers, and a plan to measure and report value. Events have to pay their way, now more than ever.

There’s no better way to demonstrate the ability of events to educate, inspire and send results sky-rocketing than to show directors hard figures. But just what does event ROI look like, how should you be measuring it, and why is it so important? Let us talk you through it.

What Should I Be Measuring?

However conscientiously they are run, events cost money. That initial investment (more than just venue cost—think in terms of total event outlay including entertainment, catering, man-hours etc) needs to be offset against the benefits brought about by the event.

What those benefits are depends on the nature and business objectives of the event. Even simple celebratory events (Christmas parties, for example) should be tied to workflows, targets, and key business drivers. Built on that foundation of understanding and integration, your event will naturally have a set of objectives—for example, to drive revenue from corporate sponsors, stallholders and exhibitors. In that situation, ROI would be measured as total revenue in from those channels minus the total cost of the event.

The key metrics differ if your event is intended to educate, raise brand awareness or generate new partnerships or leads, but the principle remains the same. Build your event around clear business objectives, and let those objectives decide what you should be measuring.

How Do I Measure It?

How you go about measuring ROI will depend on what metrics you’re treating as proof of return, and other factors (including available tech, choice of venue and budget) will play a part in deciding what tools and methodologies you utilise.

Attendance figures are easily collected on the day(s) and vital to demonstrating ROI—if you built it and they didn’t come, you may need to address your marketing efforts, messaging or ensure that you are offering real value to attendees in the future.

There are a number of useful tools for measuring other quantifiable metrics over the full lifecycle of your event. Recent leaps forward in the quality and capabilities of online registration and event management systems have made platforms like Eventbrite invaluable for capturing, tracking and measuring the interest and actions of delegates, and there are also a number of mobile apps designed for use across an event. These apps can track every link clicked and action taken relating to the event, providing a wealth of information around interest, engagement, and ROI.

Lead gen events give you direct, traceable ROI direct in your CRM software, from the day of the event to conversion, making event-related revenue lift easily measurable. Elsewhere, look at specialist post-event surveying software, speaker reviews and numbers of session check-ins as useful ways of gathering key metrics.

There’s never been a better time to be measuring event ROI, thanks to the unprecedented availability and sophistication of data, leaps forward in event management software, drops in pricing and improved competition among data-driven event apps.

Why Should I Be Measuring ROI?

Firstly, so you’ve got an answer when one of the directors corners you and asks how the event went and why he paid for it. Justifying your event by clearly and concisely reporting measurable, scalable ROI is a solid foundation for going on to talk about how the event also left sales teams inspired, led to unprecedented conversion figures over the last quarter, changed the game for partner engagement and opened up massive new opportunities to boost bottom lines and move into new geographies.

It’s not just about justifying this event either—the stronger your reporting and better your ROI, the stronger the business case you build for your next event.

ROI isn’t just about your business though. Sponsors and stallholders at your event can review the benefits to their businesses, and constant monitoring and measuring of key metrics can help you to dynamically improve attendee experience, boosting top level ROI over the span of an event.

Measuring ROI benefits everyone. You and your team get demonstrable results that contribute to the overall business case for events in your organisation. The people holding the purse strings get a hard report on where their money went, why, and what benefits they’ve had in return. Sponsors, exhibitors and delegates all get an idea of the value of your event and reasons to partner with you or attend again in future.

We would love to talk about working together to create an event that delivers on your key business objectives in a measurable, reportable way. Get in touch now via the contact page.