This post was originally published on Attend by Event Farm's blog and was written by Garrett Huddy.
In today’s data-driven marketing world, wouldn’t it seem crazy to devote the largest portion of your marketing budget to the channel that you're most poorly measuring? As strange as it is, that's what is often happening with events. While event marketing campaigns continue to dominate marketing budgets, event success and ROI are still measured poorly, if at all. The problem isn't with events, but the metrics we use to determine event success.
Here are three of the biggest problems with event metrics and how to fix them:
1. Lack of data
While events are the biggest spend in B2B marketing budgets, they are notorious for having the the worst data. A lack of event data means a lack of event metrics. Even though events can be categorized as an “offline” marketing channel, that distinction does not mean that marketers must accept messy and incomplete data for their events, or that they should rely on anecdotal evidence as the primary way to determine an event’s success or failure.
So, what’s the solution? Stop giving events a pass for being offline and start being diligent about measuring everything from engagement to follow-up to how events actually impact sales. Develop a process for tracking everything you can. No, you don’t need to go as far as tracking attendee movements with RFID, but there’s a lot of other things you can track with the right processes and technology.
There are many event-related questions you (and your ops team) should be able to answer with data: How many attendees were from target accounts? How did your event affect opportunities associated with accounts that attended? How many attendees spoke with someone from your sales team? Who spoke with who? What did they discuss?
Arming your on-site team with the right processes and technology to track offline engagements goes a long way to help you get the data you need.
2. Setting the wrong event goals
What is the ultimate goal of your event strategy? For 76% of marketers, that primary goal is still lead generation (Regalix). While lead gen might be one of the outcomes of your event, research shows that companies should also focus on using events to accelerate their sales pipeline.
A recent Forrester study shows that marketers too often rely on events to find buyers, not to educate or persuade them. In order to focus on pipeline acceleration that ultimately leads to revenue, marketers need to shift how they think about and measure events. Counting new leads is not enough to truly see how your events are impacting business. Moving away from a lead generation focus to a pipeline focus will encourage you to measure your event’s impact on revenue, ultimately helping you optimize your strategy for maximum ROI.
Lead gen can still be part of your marketing strategy, but using events to generate leads is far less effective than other tactics. Events are the most impactful when they focus on engaging top accounts to move them along in the sales process.
3. Calculating ROI the wrong way
Event ROI has long been one of those elusive, difficult-to-calculate marketing metrics. According to a Demand Metric study, almost 20% of marketers today don’t know their event ROI—and even those who do reportedly know their ROI are often looking at the wrong metrics. Looking back to setting the wrong goals, most companies still focus on lead generation and brand awareness as their primary event metrics.
One major reason event ROI is still measured by leads and awareness is that it seems too difficult to get to a comprehensive understanding of ROI in terms of revenue. This goes back to the problem with lack of data. To compensate for not having the right data and systems necessary to calculate event ROI, many have tried to create ROI formulas that end up being overly complicated. Marketers continue to spend money on events because they know that events positively influence pipeline, but that influence isn’t being properly measured.
To adopt a revenue event marketing strategy and maximize return, marketers need to start measuring things like event potential and event influence in addition to event ROI. That way, the numbers will start to reflect what their anecdotal evidence is already telling them: events work.
Do you want more information about how you can track your event ROI? Check out our eBook, Using Tech to Track Event ROI.
Event pros, which metrics do you use to determine your event's success? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @eventfarm