10 Operational Metrics to Measure Event ROI

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Events are often the single largest expense in a B2B marketing budget (and a significant expense for B2C marketers as well), but can provide a return of $3 to $5 for every dollar spent. That's why nearly two-thirds of event pros plan to spend more on live events this year than last.

When it comes to budgets, corporate event planners seek to optimize the return on their event outlays. This means both choosing the right events to attend (or host) and getting the biggest impact out of every dollar spent on the event. Second, they need to be able to quantify their results. 

While there are a number of metrics to quantify results, the primary focus should be operational metrics. These metrics include information on which sessions, presenters, and activities were most popular, among other variables. As a rule of thumb, we list the top 10 metrics most event managers use to measure ROI. 

  1. Consumer/attendee preferences (collected through surveys): Questions can relate to brand or product opinions as well as any aspect of the event—food, venue, activities, content, accommodations, etc..
  1. Number of registrations (collected through online registration): The raw number of sign ups.
  1. Attendee demographics (also collected through online registration): Common data collected are age, gender, and income/education level at B2C events, while title, industry, and region are important for B2B gatherings.
  1. Targeting success (collected at on-site check in): If your primary target audience was a specific groupsuch as C-level executives, or MDs, or Millennials—what percentage of attendees were in this group?
  1. Registrations by promotion source (collected via unique URLs or tracking pixels): Monitor the success of various campaigns and channels—email, social media, influencer marketing, display ads, etc. —at driving event registrations.
  1. Registration conversion rate (measured through website analytics): This is the number of registrations divided by the number of registration page visits. Ideally, marketing teams will test multiple versions of their event landing page to optimize for registrations.
  1. Engagement conversion rate (measured through event management platforms such as EventMAX): This is the number of conversions for predefined at-event goals—such as attendees registering for the following year’s event, signing up for a demo, giving their lead/contact information to a certain number of exhibitors at the event, or participating in x number of sessions—divided by the total number of event attendees.
  1. Attendee engagement / behavior (collected through the event credential—badge or wristband): How many attendees were attending breakout sessions--and how many were on the golf course or sipping drinks by the pool? How many "attendees" only show up to "check in/register” as registration is closing after the event is over (because they need a badge to take back to their office so it doesn’t look like they were gambling or doing other things with their time in Vegas)?

This speaks to the level of interest in and usefulness of the content. You can also determine which sessions, booths, and activities drew the most visitors, as well as which kept visitors engaged for the longest time.

  1. Networking opportunities (collected using surveys, a meeting match app such as Jifflenow, or the event credential in conjunction with an event management platform): Measure which networking activities and/or areas were most popular, as well as specific attendee feedback.
  1. Booth conversion rate (measured using an RFID-enabled credential): Calculate what percentage to total booth traffic (as measured by beacons) converted to leads (as measured by badge scans.) These results may reflect value of event itself (did it draw the "right crowd" for your business?) as well as operational factors (the effectiveness of your booth signage, promotion, activities, and personnel).

The key to making this effective for exhibitors is for the event producer to use a single common platform for attendee registration/badging, sponsor/exhibitor management, and exhibitor lead retrieval (or an extensible system of different tools that are seamlessly integrated).