Probably the number 1 question we get asked by clients is, “How do we know if our events are successful?”
There is a desire for an off the shelf solution, or cheat sheet of formulas, clients can utilize to measure an event’s success. And to a large extent they are right, there are some standard formulas, and further we appreciate their desire to quantify their outcomes. But there is much more to it than what formula to use.
The companies that ask these questions are very often not measuring much or are measuring everything and thinking there is magic somewhere in the data. Some have even gotten trapped by using dreaded vanity metrics.
There are some quick calculations included below that you can use to demonstrate event success such as ROI, but beware, these formulas can’t be used in a vacuum.
When we get asked about what metrics a client should use to measure an event, we often respond with “What are your goals?” “What behavior are you looking for from the event attendees and how are you building that into the event itself?”, or “How does this event align with the greater business strategy?”.
The point is not to frustrate the client, but to shed light on the misconception that if you can measure something, it will prove something. Without context the data’s value is severely diminished, and you may miss the opportunity to measure what is truly important to you.
For example, we were approached by a prospective client who was frustrated with their event operations. They had recently hosted a series of moderately priced educational seminars and were upset it was taking so long for attendees to sign up for their services. They wanted to know how long they should expect it to take for people who attended to then sign up. In this case, they could look at their own historical data to see the latency period their attendees generally exhibit, but the issue goes beyond that. Was there a call to action at the event? Was the event structured in a way where attendees knew a specific action was desired of them? Is there a culture of action built into the attendee experience?
By not planning the event with this goal in mind, and not structuring the event towards the desired outcome, the event was not set up for success and whatever metrics they gained from the event, while still maintaining validity, are less powerful because they are measuring an event that was never set up to be successful. In this dynamic, the company will almost always continue to be frustrated by the lack of “real business value” out of their events.
EventWings’ advice is to be able to clearly articulate the expected outcome of the event, and what the host company values out of an event before planning begins. Only then will your metrics have real business meaning and value.
With that context, here are some – not an exhaustive list – of the quick formulas for measuring event outcomes but, again, how you plan and what you measure will depend on what you value: