Last Updated on October 7, 2021
Marketing is actually a significantly more important aspect of event management than most people realize. If you don’t market your events effectively, then people don’t hear about them. If people don’t hear about them, then your attendance numbers start to decline. And if your attendance numbers start to decline; well…
I think you can figure out the rest.
Now, the trouble with marketing, especially in today’s events landscape, is that it’s incredibly complex. Even if you’re just doing a bit of advertising through social media, there are so many variables to keep track of that it’s nearly impossible to observe and analyze your efforts. That, of course, makes it next to impossible to discern whether or not what you’re doing is actually working.
That’s where analytics comes in; business metrics are among the most powerful tools in any organization’s arsenal. For the uninitiated, those two terms are basically just a fancy way of saying you’ve got a systematic method in place for tracking, collecting, and analyzing business data. If you’re looking to determine the success (or failure) of your event marketing efforts, there’s no better way to go about it.
See, marketing is one of the fields most closely associated with analytics. There are mathematical formulae for determining just about everything, from cost per click to lead generation to registration. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can use those metrics in event marketing to determine what’s working well, what’s working poorly, and what could be working just a little bit better.
General Marketing Metrics
We’re going to kick things off by providing a few generalized tools for tracking your marketing efforts. Although these aren’t specifically tied to event management, they could still prove invaluable in tracking how well your efforts to get the word out are resonating amongst prospective attendees.
Cost Per Lead
Cost per lead is pretty simple to calculate – you just need to divide how much you spent to source new leads by the number of leads you sourced.
I’ll give an example. Let’s say you’ve got a marketing team that spends around $80,000 in a single month to source 5,000 new leads. Meanwhile, you run an event that costs $10,000 to market, manage, and run, generating 600 leads. Your marketing team’s CPL was $16, while your CPL was just a little higher, at $16.60. While regular market efforts should generate a positive ROI (we’ll discuss that metric later), your event might not.
Conversion rate is pretty much what it sounds like in the perspective of event management – of the leads you acquired at your event, which of those leads became paying customers?
The value of conversion rate in determining an event’s success is precisely why no metric should ever be examined in a vacuum. While events generally have a higher CPL, the trade-off is that conversion rate usually tends to be a whole lot better.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that conversion rate can be a bit of a slippery metric, as it requires you to specifically define its parameters before you’ll get anything of value out of it. You need to know both what period of time you’re measuring along with what you define as a conversion.
For example, you might want to calculate the rate at which people signed up for a new product or service from your business at your event. You might also want to calculate the number of people who signed up for one of your services after the event. Both calculations involve conversion rate, but they’re likely to obtain different results.
Basically, you need to make sure you know what you’re measuring before you measure it.
Quality Leads Generated
Now that you’ve got your conversion rate, another important metric to account for is Quality Leads Generated. Basically, this is the percentage of your leads that are legitimate sales prospects – the people who are highly likely to become customers and complete their journey through the sales funnel. Let’s say your event has a 10% conversion rate – that means that the number of quality leads you’ll generate is 60.
Cost Of Customer Acquisition
CoCA is a metric that’s closely related to CPL and QLG. To calculate it, simply take the number of quality leads you’ve generated, and divide your budget by that number. Going back to our first example; a budget of $10,000 means your CoCA with 60 quality leads works out to $166.67.
Average Sales Price
Another important metric to take into account is the average sales price (ASP). This is the average amount that your Quality Leads are actually willing to spend – and it’s probably one of the most valuable metrics in terms of tracking your ROI. To calculate it, simply average out how much each one of your quality leads spent on your business.
Return On Investment (ROI)
Here’s the metric that every event manager/marketer loves to hate. Basically, this metric is how you justify the cost of your event. It’s calculated differently based on the industry you’re involved in and the event you run, but generally you’re going to take the total revenue generated by your event and divide it by the budget. This’ll give you a general idea of how profitable things were…but not much else.
Too many people in the event industry look at ROI as the be-all and end-all of success metrics. It really isn’t. As you’ll soon see, there are other, more important metrics for you to keep track of – especially if you’re looking at your marketing efforts.
Social Marketing Metrics
Social media is one of the most powerful tools in any event marketer’s arsenal, as it provides a relatively infinite audience for you to market to – and at a nominal cost, if you don’t spend any money on advertising. Unless you’re absolutely positive none of the guests at your event use Facebook or Twitter, a social marketing campaign is among the best tools for generating buzz. Naturally, there are a bunch of social metrics to keep track of how well you’re doing.
Social Media Mentions (Twitter/Facebook/etc.)
Who’s talking about you online? While a high volume of social media mentions/shares could be a brilliant thing for your event, make sure you take stock of what they’re saying. Not all buzz is good buzz, and if people are speaking poorly about your brand, you need to make yourself aware of that and have a conversation with them to fix it.
Impressions and Reach are two closely related metrics. The latter is simple – a measure of the total audience you’re communicating with. Impressions, meanwhile, measures how many people saw a particular post. Taken together, they could be used to determine how to increase the size of your audience.
Again, a really simple metric – how many people are checking in at your event through social media? This is closely related to mentions/shares, but I feel it a distinct enough metric to warrant its own entry on the list. After all, it’s one thing to share news about your event; it’s another altogether to let everyone know you’re there.
Engagement’s a bit of a contentious metric – it measures the total number of likes, shares, and comments on a particular post or page (some people also measure clicks, as well). Basically, it looks at how people are interacting with your content, and measures how active they are. Average engagement – closely related to this metric – looks at individual post engagement compared to your overall number of followers.
The reason this can be problematic is that high engagement on its own might not necessarily be a good thing, especially if people are engaging with your social media page to criticize your firm. Again, don’t measure engagement in a vacuum. What people say is just as important as the fact that they’re saying it.
This is how fast you respond to comments/replies on social media. Generally speaking, the higher your response rate the better – but take care that your responses actually have meaning.
The number of unique visitors to your social media page or (perhaps more importantly) your event registration page. This metric isn’t necessarily important on its own, but it can be used to examine how your audience moves through the registration funnel – if a ton of people make it to the event registration page but only a small percentage of those register, it could indicate a problem somewhere along the line.
And now, finally, we’ve gotten to the event itself. Though there are only a few metrics specifically related to the events floor, don’t let that fool you – they’re every bit as important as the other metrics detailed in this piece (perhaps even more so). If you’re to get a complete picture of how well your marketing’s paid off, you need to take these into account, as well.
Pretty much what it sounds like – this metric measures the number of people who actually attended your event versus how many you expected to attend. While it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll have a few no-shows, you don’t want this metric to be too high, but neither do you want it to be too low. Of your expected attendance falls way short of how many people show up, you could end up dealing with capacity issues, like the 2013 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.
Survey Completion/Abandonment Rate
Although surveys might not be the best way of determining attendee engagement (most people don’t even bother to fill them out, honestly), a high survey abandonment rate could indicate that your survey’s too frustrating or long. A high completion rate, meanwhile, likely signifies that you’ve designed an excellent survey (or offered great perks to people who fill it out).
Net Promoter Score
This basically measures who out of your attendees would be willing to recommend your product or brand to their friends. Especially important in events that feature hands-on tests or demonstrations, this metric helps you determine how effective your event is at bringing people on-board as brand advocates. The higher this is, the better.
How did people register for your event? Did they click through from your social media page, navigate directly to your registration site, or purchase tickets on-site? How people register for your event could help you determine weaknesses in your marketing campaign – or strengths.
Just as important as how people are registering for your event is when. If you’ve got a ton of attendees registering months in advance, then it’s a safe bet your marketing has paid off. If, on the other hand, everyone’s leaving it to the last minute, you probably need to work on your timing a bit.
There are other metrics related to event management and marketing, of course. I’ve just laid out some of the most important. They’re a great starting point if you want to measure your event’s marketing campaign – pair them up with the analytics software in one of the many event planning platforms out there, and you’ll give yourself a complete picture of how well you’re actually doing from an advertising perspective.
Of course, there’s one thing worth mentioning before we wrap things up – on its own, each and every one of these metrics is effectively useless. It’s only when they’re measured side-by-side with other, related metrics that their true value comes out. Or, to put it another way…
No metric exists in a vacuum. Always keep that in mind. If you don’t, you aren’t going to get a complete picture of your event.
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