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R.O. Why?

R.O. Why? | Measuring data that matters

Why are we using R.O.I. as a measurement of the success of an event? In this article we will cover the four key metrics that connect event marketing to business value, event measurement methodologies to get credible, reliable data and how to convince stakeholders to think differently about the value of your events.


R.O.I. is not the right metric for event marketing

What is R.O.I?

Measurement isn’t just about sales or pipeline. Traditionally, it means:

Investment = How much you spent

Return = How much you got back

Let’s talk about why this is so complex. What does an event or exhibit cost? What is the cost to get the show on the exhibit floor or to build the exhibit, fabrication, shipping, creative? Do you include the cost of staff time at the event and away from the office, internal reviews, major changes after exec reviews? 

How people evaluate costs differs across the board. If you include all of the stakeholders and their time,  it gets expensive really fast. It’s not impossible to understand costs if you are consistent about what you track. What is impossible is the return.  How does an event impact sales?  


Event ROI is Impossible to Measure

Let’s stop trying to call it ROI. It’s really hard to determine what we spent and it’s even harder to attribute a converted sale to what happened at an event.

If we get out of this model of thinking, the onus of post-event nurturing comes off the event marketer and on to other folks who should own it. If you got a hot lead at an event, for example, it generally goes to someone else to convert that lead to a sale. If that’s the case, we have to stop holding event teams accountable for what happens after the event. Their job is to warm up the lead and then turn it over.

The job of the event marketer and marketers, in general, is to create the opportunity. Let’s measure event sales performance on that.


What Really Matters When It Comes to Measurement

As marketers, it is not only our job to impact sales, but we also have a responsibility to build the brand, and we have some level of impact on existing customers.  Revenue is part of it, but it’s not just about that direct revenue calculation.

Change the conversation with your stakeholders. Utilize a set a common metrics and objectives across events that is holistic in nature, and determine how the event is performing against what you are trying to accomplish. Align the conversation with event people to the conversation that is happening at a higher level at the company.


The Four Metrics That Matter

Measurement and Insight

Anticipated Pipeline – How well did the event do at creating and moving sales opportunities forward? The accountability for event marketers is creating opportunity.

Brand Impact – Strong brands lead to stronger sales. A brand that people have a strong affinity for connects back to their eventual purchase behavior. What are the attributes of the brand that are essential to communicate? Compare event survey results with brand benchmarks.

Customer Retention -  The important metric that people are not measuring. The retention of existing customers is a critical business driver. It’s critical to use events as a way to retain and build loyalty with an existing customer.  We should focus on customer retention, as existing customers are part of the audience we reach.

Quality of Experience – We are also in the business of creating high-value experiences for attendees. Using a survey-based methodology helps to ascertain whether or not we have provided value. What are those value drivers? Are we servicing those needs?

These attributes can be used across all events – consumer, BTB, etc. Adapt the model to the specific nuance of your industry. There’s flexibility in the model, but it is comprehensive and gets to the value drivers from both the attendee perspective and the business perspective.


R. O. Why?

How do we track the level of opportunity or the anticipated pipeline? Events are opportunity engines. Anticipated pipeline evaluates the level of opportunity created – it is predictive. It looks at opportunity rather than end result that we know is impossible to measure.

How to measure anticipated pipeline?

Propensity – To evaluate someone’s mindset, we must survey or interview attendees to ask about their likelihood to purchase as impacted by the event. Or when you are capturing leads, make sure you are qualifying those leads and projecting potential revenue.

  • The first thing to determine - How does the organization make money?
    Look at the broader context here. You want people to buy the products and services promoted at the event. But there may be other product sales that are impacted by the event, as you can impact a customer behavior across an array of potential revenue drivers for the company. 
  • Second thing – Survey “likelihood to purchase” rates against each relevant revenue streams.
    Ask about likelihood to purchase from the organization overall as a result of the experience. 


Likelihood of Purchase Sample Graphic
image source--Likelihood to purchase sample infographic

  • Finally, leads – This is a way to get to projected revenue.
    Leads are likely tied to products/services showcased at the event.
    • Qualify all inquiries. We consider a badge scan an inquiry. The lead question: Is this person a decision maker or influencer?
    • Rank all leads. What is their timeframe for making a change?
    • Calculate potential revenue. Warm + hot leads x revenue for products showcased.


In Conclusion

  • Use metrics that connect what you are doing with the business outcome. Align your event marketing to what your stakeholders care about. What is the impact on the business from your event?
  • Predict sales impact. Use this as a predictive model rather than a post-event attribution model.
  • Let’s eliminate ROI from our industry.

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About the Author

Amy is the Global Digital Content Marketing Editor at GES. With a strong background in content marketing, social media, and communications, she is a passionate writer and self-confessed word geek. She is also the founder of a non-profit and a health and wellness online community.

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