Six Event Metrics Every Management Professional Should Understand

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Metrics and analytics are terms so overused in the business world that they risk becoming empty buzzwords, right up there with “Gamification” and “The Cloud.”  That’s rather unfortunate, given their clear value to any business professional savvy enough to understand how they should be used. That includes event planners, by the way.

I’ve touched a bit on metrics in the past, but I’ve never really examined them in too much depth.  Today, I’d like to change that. I’ll be looking at a few vital metrics that any event manager worth their salt should know and understand, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of their clients.

Thorough knowledge of these metrics not only makes it far easier to know whether or not you’re doing your job well, this knowledge can also be used to show clients how skilled you are at hosting and planning events. Now, do note that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of valuable metrics that I won’t be covering today (I’m primarily going to be focusing on event success metrics), and not every metric will be applicable to every event.

It’s also worth noting that most of the metrics on this list are used for a wide range of purposes outside of simply determining an event’s success (or failure).  For example, at an event where you’ve set up vendor booths, each vendor could use these metrics to determine how valuable their time at your conference was to them. Keep that in mind and consider sharing your event metrics. Ok, lets dive in.

Cost Per Lead

Cost Per Lead may well be one of the most important metrics at your disposal. It’s fairly easy to calculate; simply divide the program cost by the number of qualified leads your event generated.  A qualified lead is any attendee or entity who has expressed future interest in the brand or brands represented by your event, and those who guarantee future investment in one form or another.

In order for a lead to be considered qualified, having a name and address isn’t enough. Ideally you know a lead has the budget to invest, a need for whatever product or service your brand offers, and the authority to make a purchasing decision for themselves or their organization. Further, you want to be aware of the time frame in which they’d like to make this investment.

Knowledge of how many qualified leads your event generated is an important metric in and of itself, as well. Cost Per Lead is vital for projecting budget requirements for your clients’ future lead generation efforts.

Cost Per Contact/Cost Per Attendee

Cost Per Contact (sometimes referred to as Cost Per Attendee) is another important metric, designed to calculate how many overall contacts your event generated. This is somewhat similar to Cost Per Lead, except that it incorporates everyone reached by your event. Simply divide the program cost by the number of attendees. This metric can be used to let you know whether or not your event is cost effective based on how many people it reached. Note that this should be used in conjunction with other metrics, as it’s not a suitable measure of success on its own.

Lead-To-Sales Conversion Rate

Of all the leads your event generated, what percentage of those led directly to sales. That’s your conversion rate, calculated by dividing total number of transactions by total number of leads (then multiplying by one hundred for your percentage.)  Let’s say, for example, your conference had 5,000 attendees. Of those attendees, 1,000 ended up being qualified leads. Of those 1,000, 500 of them actually followed through with a purchase. 50% is your Lead-to-Sales Conversion Rate.

500 sales / 1000 leads = .5 = 50%

Note: You’re going to want to set a period of time over which you measure this metric, based on the average purchasing behavior of consumers associated with your brand or industry.

Expense To Revenue Ratio

Expense To Revenue Ratio (or “efficiency ratio”) is another metric that’s fairly easy to calculate, but no less important for it.  It’s primarily associated with the marketing costs surrounding an event, and is calculated by dividing the total expenses of an event by the total revenue directly generated from that event. If the expense incurred by running an event is significantly higher than the revenue generated by that event, then you’re looking at some pretty severe problems with efficiency.

Gross Margin Rate/Event Revenue

How much did your event make you overall? That’s the question that Gross Margin Rate seeks to answer. To hammer it out, subtract the total cost of any sales generated by the event from the total revenue generated by those sales. This is your gross profit.  Now divide your gross profit by total revenue.  The number you wind up with, when calculated as a percentage value, is the event’s Gross Margin Rate.

Return On Investment/ROI

Although Return on Investment has somewhat fallen out of favor recently, it’s still worth mentioning here, as it’s one of the clearest demonstrations of an event’s success (or failure). To calculate ROI, subtract the total expenses of your event from the gross revenue of generated sales, and divide that new number by the event’s total expenses. For example, if you have an even that cost you $800,000 to host, but you managed gross revenue of $2,000,000 from the event; your ROI would be 150%. If your gross revenue were $500,000, however, you’d wind up with an ROI of -60%.

ROI, although dated, is still one of the clearest demonstrations of an event’s success (or failure).

As I’ve said, there are many other metrics which any event manager worth their salt should know. These are just a few metrics often used to measure success in the business world, which can easily be put to use to determine just how good – or bad – your events really are. They aren’t perfect, of course; don’t ever think that any of the items on this list should be the sole scale by which you measure your work.

Finally, avoid spouting off a list of meaningless figures. Only when combined with other methods of assessing an events success such as surveys do metrics help tell a more complete story.