event marketing ROI

Event Marketing ROI: how to measure success [and 7 KPI’s to ensure it]

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Posted on July 15, 2019

At the end of the day, when you measure event success, every aspect leads you to one and only critical care-about: how did it help your business to thrive?

When organizations need to measure event success, there are a few points of view to take into consideration. The first one is the adoption of a measurable scale that can help on developing bigger and better events.

strategies to drive business

Event profile, objective and expected come out

Once the vision of your event is set, it’s like there’s an open way of clarity ahead of you. Then, you can think about what’s your primary big goal, as well as the secondary ones. Examples of event goals are:

When you’re meant to measure event success, get back to your briefing. Yeah that one you discussed with your client before the event planning phase. If you were not there at that time, it’s essential that you get access to the it. For any good briefing, you should be able to extract information such as what was the current scenario before the event and what was the targeted scenario, after the occasion.

Here at InEvent, we’re often talking about consistent and scalable event planning. If you have not read this post about how to build up an Event Planning schedule for any conference type. Start from it. Great organization and systematic overview of the whole process will drive you a long way on the road of successful events. 

Differences of organization branding and event branding

Marketers and event planners commonly fall into this doubt: will my event be branded with my organization brand, sponsor brand or have it’s own brand? Good news is: you don’t need to pick only one choice. Look at the case of Inbound, by Hubspot. The event is huge (20k+ attendees per edition) and has a personality of it’s own. Still, any event marketing material, such as it’s website, clearly communicates it’s organized by Hubspot. On top of that, more than 60 sponsors have been attracted to name the event attractions, rooms and stages.

Tools you can count on

Strategic planning has no substitute: you need to know how you’re gonna do every single step towards you goals and integrate all of your efforts. Efficient CRM management, clear understanding of customers behavior,moving prospects down the funnel, generating reports that your C-level and clients can easily understand… we know it’s hard to make it simple. Start by choosing the right tools. Among this overwhelming amount of choices, instead of looking at those infinite lists that only makes you more anxious, stick to few technologies you really need:

1. Set your goals and translate them into KPI’s.

Ideally, your event has one primary goal. You don’t need to limit it to that, but it’s gonna give you and your whole project a strong sense of direction to be followed. For a data driven approach, establish clear ratios and numbers to monitor. These might be, for example: selling 5.000 tickets; ensure 5 major media vehicle coverages; or even generate 10.000 qualified leads.

team work


  • Ticket sales – Number of tickets sold.
  • Returning guests ratio – Returning guests divided by number of guests in the previous edition.
  • App downloads – Number of people who actually downloaded the event app.
  • Actual visitors / purchases ratio – Number of visitors who attended to the event divided by the number of visitors in the previous edition.

Social engagement

  • Messages exchanged within the event – Number of interactions among event participants, exhibitors and sponsors.
  • Poll interaction – Number of people who answered to your quizzes.

Official hashtag mentions – Number of social media posts that made a mention to your event.

Operational agility

  • Accreditation and check-in – Average time spent by each visitor queuing at the event door to get a credential and check-in the actual event venue.
  • Activities punctuality – How many delays didn’t start at the predicted time and average duration of delays.

2. Sponsorship quotas and ROI.

Event revenue from sponsorship can reach 10x the amount generated on tickets sale. And for that, event sponsors want visibility and awareness. They want to show their power over competition. They chose your event as a means of strengthening their positioning among your visitors profile.That literally means having their brand in front of as many people as possible. At the same time, it’s important to highlight their values of environmental and social responsibility. 

Revenue and ROI

Return of Investment: we know that’s the top priority when you need to measure event success. For every buck spent, you need to prove it’ll come back multiplied. OK, and that can bring even more pressure when we realize that event marketing is growing fast. The more available budget you receive, the more ROI you need to bring. So how can you ensure it? See the list of KPIs up there, in the first of the seven points? That’s pretty much the same topics you’ll have in the menu when defining what success means for your event

Sponsorship Quotas

Defining a quotas and selling them is basically another project inside the project. Have you heard people saying they are working on a project that is “more or less like this”, and then they tell a story that only exists in their minds? If it’s not documented, it’s not a project. It’s just an idea or something else. Have you quotas defined and clear when offering them to a sponsor.

  • How many quota tiers you’ve got?
  • How much each of them costs?
  • Where is the sponsor brand exhibited?
  • Does it include digital space too?
  • Master quota includes exclusivity or it’s a shared space?

When prospecting and scheduling meetings with possible sponsors, the best argument you could present is validation of previous work. That includes proving you’ve done a great job at choosing the right keynote speakers to your event, as well as bringing previous business cases numbers, with your biggest clients.

3. Event ROI (Return on Investment)

KPI’s are there to help you make money. But it’s also about how money is spent. Outline a precise budget expenditure target for whatever occasion. Make sure your briefing has been well understood by you and your client. In other words: get to know exactly what services your contracts include or not. You don’t want to get a plie a of trash in front you, for instance, because AV or scenography contracts didn’t include waste removal when disassembling their gear. No company invests huge amounts of cash in events for no reason. Leaders are quite aware of events power, as long as they can measure event success. 

measuring success
  • Cost per head – Total cost of event divided by number of attendees.
  • Actual VS Expected – Total event expenses divided by expected expenses. It’s not uncommon to have expenses above predictions, but do define an excess limit for that also (e.g.: 10-20 %).
  • Cost per lead (CPL) – Total cost of the event divided by generated leads. In this occasion, you need to set parameters for a qualified lead means. Name and email are essentials. But if you’re planning to get more detailed information, the right way to do it is during the ticketing or accreditation processes. In the actual event, make sure you have something valuable to offer (prize, gift, discount, etc) in case you wanna investigate your lead further.
  • Cost per Acquisition (CPA) – Total cost of the event divided by the number of paying visitors and sales done inside the event.
  • Vendors – Total costs with suppliers such as F&B (food and beverage), AV (audiovisual), venue, speakers, etc.

4. Determine your communication channels.

Channels are the way you communicate with the audience and monitor behavior. Before the event,  email marketing is still the favorite channel for 40% of event organizers. It’s cheap and guaranteed to reach your whole audience. Opens and clicks through rate are measures to keep track of – that’s how you get an approximate idea of who’s really intending to attend to the occasion. While word of mouth and social media are also valued by event professionals, they are resources for earned media. Therefore, there’s not as much control as with email marketing. And during the event, in-app push notifications have proven to be way quicker and more efficient. 

  • Email – Best tool to start engaging even before the event. Keep an eye on opens and click through rates
  • Event app push notifications – Agile and most efficient communication during the event.
  • Word of mouth – Personal relations a
  • Social media – Spread the word via social media to cause buzz and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out, but don’t rely on that as your first channel)

5.  Measure event success through “Expectations V.S. Actual Satisfaction”, with NPS.

 This is valid both for attendees and sponsors.

  • NPS – Net Promoter Score – Probably the most complete and reliable methodology to get feedback nowadays. Read our dedicated article about NPS and start using it right away.
  • Post-event surveys  – While NPS is more quantitative, efficient and easily accepted by respondents, descriptive post-survey feedback forms are qualitative. They offer the opportunity for participants to describe in detail how the experience was.

6. Do benchmarking and centralize information.

fix the problem

You can only fix the problems that you identify. As well as you can only better what you benchmark. And at this time, you know that checklists, budget frameworks and schedules are your best friend. Period. But do you have them at the same place? Is it only understandable by you, or it’s something that could easily improve your communications with any stakeholder?

Centralizing might sound not favorable when it comes to leadership and team management. But if the subject is information, it’s totally the other way around: the more you centralize it, the better. You need a “control room” to take the best decisions.

Improve risk management and keep sales funnel in mind. 80% of marketers agree that Live Marketing is crucial for the whole mix to work out. 31% of them agree that events are the most single important channel to achieve business goals.

Frequently, it involves dozens of events during the same fiscal year. It’s no little money to be just burnt, so a holistic and integrated multi-event management software is fundamental for achieving business goals.

7. Wrap up and apply key takeaways on the next occasions.

Keep the same framework and perfect your processes. It’s vital to have a tool that can compare your development throughout your event portfolio – let’s say every year – to have a clear comparison and follow your progress with a bird’s eye.

Further steps to work the leads onward the buyer’s journey.

Corporate events have to power to lift up brands and organizations from the ground.   

Event Planners and Marketers who develop a holistic strategy, including the definition of what success means, have frequently seen great outcomes and scalable growth.

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