Beyond Revenue: How to Prove Event ROI

By Bob Birdsong

Event ROI is simple to figure from a revenue standpoint — some version of the net value gained from an event after subtracting costs. But what about all the other stuff that’s not so tidy or easy to measure?

Tracking event content — the information that fleshes out an event listing — can help you focus event resources to get the most ROI from every event you host.

Event content goes beyond the event name, date, location, and description too. It also includes metadata, event images, RSVPs, social shares.

The Benefits of Tracking Event Content

Event content gives you more insight into event ROI than just revenue. Real-time data acts as a customer service and feedback tool, allowing you to develop more relevant future events.

Tracking event content allows you to plan better by answering questions from a “snapshot” view (what are customers doing on an individual level?) to measuring the aggregate health of your events (is this a popular event series to host?) to showing you how events are performing in general (are you throwing great events but seeing reduced attendance across the board?).

Tracking event content lets you:

  • Gain a greater understanding of your audience’s geography and interests
  • Answer attendees’ queries and to improve your next event
  • Take a closer look at your event schedule for better planning
  • Expand your existing audience
  • Understand how to advertise effectively based on your audience’s preferred channels
  • Make decisions about when and where to hold your event
  • Determine what days and times are likely to be most popular
  • Understand which keywords are being searched to find local events

The Data You Should Collect to Prove Event ROI

The event success metrics you keep track of will be up to you and what your desired outcomes are. But know that success can be measured in more ways than pure revenue. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite ways to measure event ROI that aren’t money.

Geographic data

Attendee geography is beneficial in a couple of ways. First, you can see where attendees come from and how far they’re willing to travel to come to an event. Second, you can use the geographic data to plan event expansions into other regions.

If, for instance, a majority of your attendees drive two-plus hours to come to an event, you know you have ample demand waiting to be filled and can choose your next location accordingly.

Social media data

You should always have a team dedicated to monitoring and collecting hashtags, keywords, and brand-specific mentions for the lifecycle of any and all events. During the event, your team should respond to attendees’ questions, complaints, and compliments.

After your event ends, you can mine social media data for insight about what went well and what needs improvement.

Attendee data

A variety of apps can help you track interaction points during your event. This information can help you gain a clearer picture of what’s working, what’s not, and what’s of most interest to attendees.

If attendees flock to one assignment such as a workshop or keynote, you know they’re attracted to the speaker and/or the subject matter. You can then use that information to inform current and upcoming events.

Post-event data

Post-event surveys provide a bird’s eye view of your event to assess strengths and weaknesses. If people comment that sessions were too long or they wanted more time to get to know other attendees, you can plan for shorter sessions and more networking opportunities at your next event.

Helpful Tools For Tracking Event ROI Data

There are a ton of helpful tools available to help you track event content to measure ROI. We won’t mention specific companies, here. Instead, we’ll talk about categories.

Web Analytics

Analytics software will help you track the number and duration of visits to your website, audience behavior and acquisition metrics, and conversion rates (if you have goals and funnels set up).

Marketing automation software

If you’re sending emails to prospective and past attendees, you can use the data contained in your marketing automation software to track email open rates, clickthrough rates, bounces, conversion rates, and unsubscribes.

Event management software

Event management software lets you create multifaceted marketing campaigns around your events. At the very least, you’ll have access to email marketing, website, social, mobile, and budget data.

Event registration software

Registration software makes it easier to register attendees for events but they also allow you to know whether registered attendees showed up and more accurately measure whether any revenue was generated from ticket sales.

Online event calendar

The right online event calendar can help you track everything from RSVPs and social shares to attendee geography, approval response time, and trending events. If you can find one that centralizes all of your events into one page with option to filter by event type, you may also increase registrations.

Mobile app tracking software

You can use mobile apps to collect data on user activities, live polls, surveys, ratings, and reviews — valuable feedback you’ll want to use to shape future events.

How To Use Event Content and Data to Prove Event ROI

Using event content and event data to track what your attendees and prospects are responding to can help you customize and personalize future events. Here’s how to put that event data to good use:

Look for trends

Aggregated data can help you identify your most popular event location or the best times to host events. Use these trends to inform future event planning.

Assess raw numbers

Conversely, metrics like attendance might not be valuable in the aggregate. However, looking at individual attendance rates can tell you a lot about the popularity and repeatability of particular event types. If you see that webinars are well attended, but AMAs are not, you’ve got valuable information about your audience’s needs.

Evaluate events based on marketing segments and personas

Look at your marketing personas to see how they are responding to or participating in specific events. For example, you might see that 20-24-year-olds are really digging your events, but the 34-38 crowd isn’t. If you looked at attendance for the entire event and not the segments, you wouldn’t know this detail and mistakenly build event content that doesn't resonate with all segments of your audience.

Track your entire lifecycle

Tracking customers from pre-marketing of your event to registration and through to a post-event survey is a key component of connecting all your data in the end. The more you understand critical points in an attendee’s journey with particular events, the better you’ll be able to plan future events.

Track administrator efficiencies

While it may not seem to impact your attendees in the way that social posts or on-site content can, back-end efficiencies like approval response times can speak volumes about the health of your events.

Track URLs

Make sure every channel used to promote your event has a vanity URL. You can use free tools online to shorten URLs for easy sharing. This lets you see exactly which of your marketing efforts are working.

Secure sponsorships

Sponsorships let you spend less money to get the same or better results. Don’t overlook small businesses in your area, either. They’re always interested in getting in front of a shared community.

Employ brand advocates

If you have brand advocates, you can lower costs by getting them to do some promotion for you. Influencers have built-in credibility with their networks that can be transferred to your events. Give each influencer a tracking URL (see above) so you can know who has driven the most registrations. Then reward the winner with comped registration or access to a VIP upgrade.

Personalize your follow-ups

Personalized follow-ups (versus generic ones) can be the difference between returning community members and lost ones. Personalized messages have been proven to increase open rates and engagement, which, in turn, gives you more opportunities to market your next event to more people.

Conclusion

Be diligent about collecting event content and event data from your events (if you haven’t been already). With the right plan in place, you’ll increase attendance, create better events, and have an easier time proving ROI to your boss. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Localist has all of the features mentioned in this post in a single platform, making it easy for you to plan and promote events with proven ROI. You can schedule a personalized demo of the platform here.

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