Proving Event ROI: How To Start Thinking About Your Event Data

Brian Pesin on 7/23/15 7:30 AM

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970337_609727172373347_433217604_nThere's a great paradox that exists in the event marketing industry as marketing of all types continues to move in a digital direction. Although much of what we do takes place online, in-person events and face-to-face contact are the best ways to build meaningful relationships and close new business deals. In fact, per this article, both B2B and B2C marketers cite in-person events as one of their most effective content marketing channels.

However, event marketers frequently express or operate under the assumption that it's very difficult (or even nearly impossible) to measure the success of your event due to factors like long sales cycles, multiple prospect and customer touchpoints and more. The good news is that there are a lot of tools and practices that are becoming more commonplace to help you collect and measure event data so you can figure out if your event was successful or not.

Event data can teach you important things about these key people as they relate to your business, like their buying interests and personal preferences. It can also help guide your strategic decisions when it comes to improving any events that you have in the future. But before you begin that process, you'll first need to start thinking about how to measure the success of your event.

dataTo start, we recommend taking a reserve approach: figure out exactly what data you’ll need after the event, and work backwards from there. Ask yourself questions like “what do we know about these people already?,” “what don’t we know about these people?” and “what’s missing from our overall picture?” to come up with your data points.

Still need some help coming up with the data points that will be most useful to you and your team once your event has come to a close? Some initial ideas include:

  • Total number of invitees vs. attendees
  • The number of leads your event generated

  • Increased brand engagement and awareness

  • The overall attendee experience

  • The overall perception of your event

  • How you can best reach attendees moving forward with other points of engagement, like webinars, customer roundtables and more

  • Revenue, both current and future

  • And the buying interests and plans of your attendees.


Once you’ve established how you're going to measure your return, think of ways that you can collect this data before, during and after your event. You have a variety of traditional and digital tools at your disposal, so choose the ones that will work best for you and make your job easier in the process. For example, you can use:

  • A unique website and/or RSVP URL to collect web and social analytical data for your event

  • Social media to keep tabs on what the media says about your event and its subject beforehand, and understand which tactics generate additional momentum

  • A pre-event survey to understand audience awareness about your brand and the event’s topic

  • Registration systems to gather data about your attendees’ demographics

  • A mobile event check-in app to track who RSVPed and attended, how many unconfirmed guests showed up, dropoff rate between confirmed guests and attendees, and more

  • NFC or RFID chips to track what your attendees do at the event, and then better understand things like their buying interests and the follow-up information they requested

  • And a post-event survey to seek feedback on strategic issues, like if the event has altered brand perception.

Post event feedback survey | Event Data

This sample post-event survey from SurveyMonkey might be able to give you some ideas to help you get started.

A few pro tips to keep in mind when you're starting to think about how to collect and analyze your event data:

  1. Keep in mind that open-ended questions are harder to filter through quickly, while questions with numerical or a limited set of answers will be easier to analyze.

  2. Be mindful of the origins of your data. If your data is “dirty,” or there are duplicate or overlap answers, using it for your invitations and other aspects of your event will further amplify the problem down the line. Make sure that you include only the appropriate players, and that all of the data that you use is clean.

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Event pros, what are other useful questions and data points that you've used to prove the ROI of your events? Let us know in the comments, or as always, tweet us @eventfarm.

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