For many marketers and event planners, Return on Investment, or ROI, is a phrase (and acronym) that can send shivers down the spines of the most intelligent, assured meeting and event professionals. Why? In many organisations ROI is ill-defined, yet understanding that defining ROI in your organisation is the first step to proving it. ROI strategy needs to be at the forefront of your planning process (and continue during the entire event lifecycle), whether you’re working at a non-profit or a Fortune 500 company.
Nearly 75% of CMOs say proving ROI and understanding effectiveness are the most pressing challenges associated with their event programs.
1. Focus on your brand
It can be easy to take your eyes off of how your events impact the brand of your organisation (in so many ways). It goes beyond cost-to-revenue ratio, the importance your own organisation’s brand plays regarding the ROI surrounding your events. When you deliver incredible experiences, your brand receives higher customer satisfaction scores, perceived value and quality of products and services and most importantly, higher customer advocacy rates.
During your events, your attendees are the centre of your attention, interacting personally with your brand — from the mere presence of your leadership team to the content of your educational sessions, to the dining experiences and the entertainment. You’re there to provide real, tangible experiences. This leads to relationship building, brand loyalty, and broadening the reach of your brand.
Beyond revenue, engaged attendees build brand value and an overall positive impression you’re likely not to get anywhere else. How to prove this with data:
1. Create a focused post-event survey with questions directly related to your organisation’s brand impressions. E.g.
• Has your impression of Company Ltd. increased or decreased?
• Would you refer Company Ltd. to your friends and colleagues?
2. Social Media: measure clicks, mentions, reach, impressions, platform engagement, and conversions directly related to your event.
3. Website metrics: hits, visits, time-on-site, conversions, bounce rates, form fills, and registrations.
2. Attendee experience impact on ROI
Engaged attendees are more satisfied, more likely to advocate, and more likely to return, justifying the cost of your public events, training sessions, and conferences. That’s why a positive attendee experience is key to proving event ROI. The formula is pretty simple: create an amazing attendee experience, and the positive buzz will ensure they come back for more and your registration numbers rise.
The key to great engagement is offering the tools and opportunities for that engagement. Mobile event apps offer many ways to create engaging and personalised event experiences. They eliminate the need for outdated printed brochures and schedules, instead offering attendees access to their personal schedule, interactive event maps, attendee messaging and networking, social media feeds and gamification, polls, and feedback surveys on their mobile devices.
Post Event Survey Results
This is the part that the leadership will focus on, so asking the right questions will help illustrate the positive impact of your events. Be prepared to prove via your survey that your events lead to:
- Higher customer/member/donor satisfaction rates.
- Upsell opportunities.
- Growth of the company.
- A rise in perceived quality, trustworthiness.
- A transition from vendor to partner.
Measure Mobile Metrics
- Engagement (live polling, session surveys)
- Interaction – gamification
- Number of Leads (broken out by type: new, returning, current customer, referral, etc.)
- Sessions attended – and length of time
- Speakers with the highest attendance
- Most popular sessions
Social Media Metrics
- Increase in followers
- Hashtag usage
- Social shares
- Social likes
3. Your event-retention story
Not focusing on customer or member retention makes little sense if you’re intent on proving ROI and building profitable events that please your bosses. Marketers know that acquiring new customers (attendees) costs more than retaining them. It’s also a fact that face-to-face events have a positive impact, not only on your relationship with your attendees, but also on the
impression of your organisation and brand. The benefits of hosting a great event include:
- An increase in the size of business deals, donations, and member retention
- Quicker sales cycles
- Decrease in cost-per-customer
- More attendees
- More sponsors & exhibitors
- Brand advocates
Registrant metrics and exhibitor counts measure the impact of more attendees shows the clear impact of your event monetarily. How many attendees returned, how many were net-new? Post-event survey results demonstrate your Net Promoter Score, illustrating brand affinity, an overall better impression of your organisation and shows that your attendees trust you. While Marketing communication metrics such as the open/click-through rate and social media metrics like how many visits were made to your event website, blog, and social media pages, measure the engagement of your customers.
For many event professionals and marketers, the definition of “success” ends at the number of attendees or the NPS. Giving your event ROI a power boost means thinking beyond these important metrics, and by digitising your events you supercharge the insights you get from your event.
4. Your events & pipeline
Event ROI always comes down to money, whether that’s increased donations or sales-ready leads. Cost-to-revenue ratio is the tip of the iceberg here. You have more to prove, and because of this, you’ll have a better story to tell about your attendee’s journey. For example, by integrating your events platform to your CRM system, you will be able to add a prospect’s attendance at a conference session quickly into that attendee’s profile, capturing the engagement and enabling more targeted follow-up from your sales and marketing teams. Or automatically create a task in your CRM based on an attendee’s journey through sessions and stand visits. The data will do the work for you here.
When you can capture, analyse, and report this attendee data you’ll be able to showcase the ROI of your event and continue to drive revenue through targeted post-event follow up.