How to measure ROI at your event

For event planners and marketers, the most important takeaway from their event is the return on investment (ROI). ROI can be a notoriously difficult metric to track, but with a bit of preparation and foresight, you can easily measure your returns.

Before you start digging into your returns, you’ll need to set clear objectives for measuring event success. What are you trying to achieve through your event? Try to choose a main objective and, if needed, set no more than two secondary objectives you’d like to accomplish through your event.

Some common event objectives include:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Closing sales, signing contracts or generating RFPs
  • Achieving an ROI
  • Generating qualified sales prospects
  • Introducing a new product
  • Penetrating a new market

Regardless of what your event aims to achieve, having a clear goal will make it significantly easier to measure your success.

Once you know what your focus will be, assign specific metrics to each objective so you can track your performance in a qualitative way. This step is crucial because, if you pick a goal without any tangible way to measure your performance, it’ll be unclear how well you performed or which event aspects helped or hindered your success.   Some objectives such as generating leads or signing contracts can be easy to measure because they are qualitative in and of themselves- you can literally count how many contracts were signed during and as a result of your event. Still, more obtuse goals such as building brand awareness can be difficult to track without assigning some sort of key performance indicator (KPI).

After figuring out what aspects will be the best indicators for your success, you’ll need to figure out which tools or methods are needed to capture these metrics. Having proper measurement tools and the means to capture data is crucial but may not always require additional work. For example, if your event goal is to gather new prospects and build brand awareness, you could potentially use the RSVPs and registrations you’re already capturing as your measurement tool. For other items such as tracking ROI, additional tools and calculations may be needed on top of your existing event tools.

Once you’ve determined your event goal, figured out your KPIs, and have an established way for capturing data, you’ll be in a great place to calculate your ROI after your event. Depending on what you’re trying to track, the way to calculate your returns will vary. For example, if you’re objectives focus on building brand awareness or expanding into a new market, using social media tools such as Hootsuite, Google Alerts, and Mention can help you calculate how much buzz your event has generated before, during, and after your event. You can also use the data gathered by in-event surveys, gamification, and other attendee feedback to calculate your return based on the objectives you’ve set for yourself.

If your more focused on actual revenue or financial returns, the easiest way to do this is to take the total revenue generated by your event, subtract your event expenses, and divide the remaining about by your event expenses like so:

ROI = Event Revenue – Event Expense
                       Event Expense

This calculation will give you your ROI expressed as a percent. A negative percent means there was a loss on the investment, a 0 percent means you broke even, and a positive percent represents a profit. While there are many other ways to calculate ROI based on gross margins or the variable cost of goods sold, the basic formula above can give even the smallest of events a basic framework for their event performance.

If building brand awareness, increasing foot traffic, generating new customers, or expanding into a new market is your objective, try one of our charging stations equipped with PeopleCounter! PeopleCounter uses a camera with tracking technology to provide valuable metrics such as age, emotion, gender, and the movement of people around your charging station over time. With this service, we’ll send you a report one week after the event so you can see exactly how valuable your investment was, and you can use this report to tie into any metrics you’re already tracking.

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