How to evaluate your event marketing strategy and define ROI

Lead Forensics, Friday 29 April 2016

An event speaker in front of a small audience of sales people

Numbers are what make the B2B world go round. From how many leads are being generated, to the number of calls being made and the all-important sales figures. So for marketing teams, being able to measure and prove a positive ROI for different activities that are being carried out is vital. 

In-person events

As a marketer, one activity that’s likely to come high on your agenda is event marketing - and with good reason. Research recently released by the CMI has revealed that for 69% of content marketers, in-person events and blogs are the two most effective tactics they use. 

So what are we talking about when we say ‘in-person’ events? 

In contrast to third-party events, such as trade shows where you may pay to take space, in-person events are those that you host yourself. They may call for a substantial investment to be made financially and in terms of time and resources, so you’ll want to ensure you are achieving a positive ROI.

To help you answer the question that will inevitably follow your event - ‘was it worth it?’ - we have pulled together an overview of the main points you need to consider. Covering these issues off in your planning and thinking should mean you are able to better measure and analyse the results of your event. Whether you’re a seasoned events veteran, or you’re thinking of hosting your first one, here are some pointers:

1. What is the goal of the event?

Why do you want to use an event as part of your marketing plans? What do you hope to achieve? In-person events are best suited for targeting potential clients who are already some way down the sales funnel. This is in contrast to big trade shows that usually bring in larger amounts of top of the funnel leads, who will need sifting through and segmenting. Either way you want to be sure what success will look like for you. 

Make sure that the entire company is on the same page in terms of the agreed goal. There’s no point showing the CEO that you achieved a 20% increase in brand awareness when all they care about is how many new deals were closed or accelerated! Agree on a goal then work out your strategy based around it. 

2. What is the total cost going to be?

Costs can quickly add up so you need to ensure you’re working with an accurate TOCE figure – total cost to execute. There are of course the directly related costs, things such as venue hire, refreshments, guest speaker charges, etc. They are the easiest to calculate. But don’t forget to work out what the associated costs may be. For example, this may include time that the marketing team spends before and after the event to promote it and follow-up. Plus any sales reps who are spending their time inviting people, attending on the day and then working on the follow-ups afterwards. Their time needs to be counted as well. 

Make sure when you look at your TOCE figure that it includes all the upfront/direct costs, as well as the less obvious ones. 

3. What are the potential long and short term effects?

It’s worth keeping in mind that taking part in any kind of event will have immediate effects but also some longer-term effects too (although these may be a little more tricky to estimate). Don't let that put you off though, they may be less straightforward to evaluate but never forget to include them in any ROI discussion. 

4. What are you going to measure?

This will depend on the goals you have set for the event. Try and record as many stats as possible. For example: how many people were invited, how many accepted, how many never RSVP’d, who showed up, who didn’t, what was the ratio of existing clients to leads, and any other quantifiable measurements you can take from the event. If you gave a demo of a new product and offered it to the attendees then how many took you up on the offer?

There are also things like pipeline reports and the number of business cards that were gathered etc. You need to decide what will be possible to record. What you need to think about is what will be the most relevant information to collate to help you in measuring your goal? 

Keep an eye on the use of any ‘soft’ parameters you may be tempted to include, such as ‘effective networking’ or ‘brand impact’. They may be equally important but are very hard to measure. One way to help with this would be to do a survey among your sales reps afterwards. 

5. Do you have a plan in place for post-event?

To get the most out of your event and maximise you potential ROI, make sure you plan all the things you want to do after the event. Put this plan together beforehand so everyone knows what they are doing and can get straight on with it. When you and the team are tired because you just ran an exhausting event it’s easy to drop the ball. So plan ahead and make sure you detail who is to do what, by when. 

6. How will you gather feedback?

Ask for feedback from everyone involved with your event: all invitees, employees, vendors, etc. Collect their feedback in whatever makes the most sense, but keep it brief and as easy to do as possible. 

7. What will you cover in your debrief?

Apart from an actual ROI figure you may be able to compute depending on your goals, it is just as important to evaluate the whole event in a more abstract way. Ask yourself the following questions. Be honest and include the answers in your post-show analysis: 

 

  • What happened? - list all the details, numbers, facts, good and bad happenings, mistakes, successes, etc.
  • What worked? - if mistakes happen then we’re often quick to call the whole thing a disaster but it’s important, especially in those cases, for you to answer this question before you go into any error analysis
  • What didn’t work? - list all those things that didn’t work, always avoid placing any blame, just list them
  • What have we learned? - another of those questions that might need a bit of reflection and can lead to surprising answers
  • What will we repeat/avoid in future events? - take all of the answers above into account

    Hungry to learn more? Then for a deeper look into event marketing ROI, check out this excellent guide by Double Dutch: Practical Guide to Measuring Event Success

    Whatever you decide to do, remember that your success will ultimately depend on how much planning you put in, particularly if it’s the first in-person event you have hosted. Make sure you’re starting with an accurate cost figure and have considered every little detail, then ensure you record every fact, figure and insight you can. That is how you will put yourself in the best possible position to effectively evaluate how it all went and to present strong numbers.

Event marketing cheat sheet

Topics: Event marketing, Open Sales Conversation

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