It's Not All Numbers. Measuring the Soft Benefits of Your Event

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As we covered previously, information can be collected by different means at different points before, during, and after each event. 

With soft benefits you must ask the following questions: Did attendees enjoy the event? Did brand awareness increase? These outcomes have value, though that can be difficult to quantify. So, it's important to measure these outcomes, but also track results at the third level. 

Every event manager wants to optimize their ROI from an event. While hard metrics are important there is also a softer side to the experience. The following is a list of top 10 soft metrics event managers use to measure performance:

  1. Event social media activity (tracked using a social media monitoring tool): Some social metrics are operational, as noted above, but the quantity of shares and impressions, as well as sentiment analysis of social sharing, reflect soft benefits.
  2. Media and influencer coverage (measured through social media plus a news media monitoring solution, or a more comprehensive tool like Sysomos, Brand24, or BrandMentions): Look at the overall online coverage of your event and sharing of related content.
  3. Lift in total online brand presence (measured with social plus media monitoring tools): This is the change in brand mentions before and after the event across social and news (industry and trade) media.
  4. Lift in brand awareness (measured by pre- and post-event surveys): Evaluate the change in brand recognition and perception created by the event.
  5. Change in website traffic during and immediately post-event (measured by web analytics tools): Check to see if there was there a noticeable spike in site traffic around the event dates. If so, what were the key traffic sources? Which pages did visitors spend time on?
  6. Partner/sponsor feedback (collected via surveys): Ask partners and sponsors how they would rate the value and success of your event for them.
  7. Partner/sponsor retention (from registration or event management system): Look at the share of exhibitors/sponsors who returned from the previous year, as well as any change in the total amount spent by each sponsor/exhibitor.
  8. Number of returning registrants and attendees (using data from registration system and event management platform): This is a key measure of the value of recurring or annual events.
  9. Number of attendees (from on-site check-in data): This figure is most useful if compared to past events or to expectations. Also required to calculate participation rate (see #12 above).
  10. Pre- and post-event content engagement (measured by email system, web analytics tools, and social network insights): Quoted in Corporate Event News, social media guru Jay Baer recommends creating, sharing, and measuring the results of event-related content in various forms (email updates, podcasts featuring event speakers, a Facebook group, blog posts, videos, SlideShare presentations, webcasts) before and after the event.