Without metrics, how are you going to measure the success of your event? You need a way of gauging the degree of your success so you know how to improve come time for the next event. By gauging, though, this doesn’t just mean looking at the attendance numbers or total ticket sales. You have to examine much more deeply to understand the general behavior of your demographic.
Here’s a list of five metrics to determine the overall success of your event.
1.) Did Your Event Grow?
Obviously, you want to achieve higher attendance numbers, especially if last year’s event undersold. There are several metrics you can use here. First, you want to look closely at the RSVP numbers and compare that to the actual number of people that show up and register at the door. If there’s a wide gap between those numbers, then what are some remediation steps? Some airlines, for example, intentionally sell more tickets than there are seats available because there are usually some no-shows.
For the no-shows, you can also send out a courtesy notification asking the reason for not showing up. Similarly, you can look at the “maybe attending” people and examine the number that eventually decided to attend vs the ones that opted not to. Reach out to these people to find their reasoning for deciding one way or the other.
Another point is to measure the number of quality attendees. What does it mean by “quality attendees”? A guest who is a long-term social media follower is an example of a quality lead, whereas friends and family of that attendee may be considered a lower quality lead since they’re just likely tagging along and are less likely to convert to loyal consumers.
2.) Measure the Social Reach
You need to measure the social media activity surrounding your event. How often was the event hashtag used? How often were certain posts and tweets shared? What about paid social media ads? How well do those generally perform if you’re using them? If you live streamed the event, how many people tuned in?
One concept that is especially important to discuss is critical mass. In terms of social media, critical mass refers to the amount of initial social media activity that is required before enough shares can be generated to cause the content to go viral or at least get thousands of views. Of course, the critical mass differs depending on the type of content.
In terms of measuring social media outreach, you need to examine the key performance indicators from different angles to get a general idea of the amount of online activity required to reach critical mass.
The UK-based conference Event-Tech Live in 2014 saw a massive increase in attendance from its 2013 event after experiencing a 29% growth in social outreach and hitting whatever magical number it needed to reach critical mass.
3.) Measure Returning Consumer Activity
While total turnout is important, you need to break the numbers a bit down further. You specifically should know how many of the attendees are previous guests and how many are first-timers. You should especially pay close attention to the former. Of these, how many previous events have each of these returning members attended? If you offered special incentives to returning members, what was the response rate?
Returning guests are your loyal consumers, so you want to understand their activity patterns and take appropriate measures to keep them coming. Use surveys to determine their prime motivators for returning. Is it the content presented by the speaker, the workshops, or the awesome swag bags?
By analyzing the metrics, you should also be able to gleam a few extra tidbits of info, such as the types of loyalty offers the members best respond to, or the general size of their party.
4.) Event ROI
Event ROI goes beyond the revenue earned from ticket sales. There are a number of other metrics to look at here. If products are being sold at the event, then merchandise sales need to be accounted for as well. Other measurements include:
- Number of people who submitted their contact info at a tradeshow booth and/or workshop
- The number of walk-ins, if applicable
- Sales from a specific product launch
Also remember that ROI should be measured against the total overhead cost of the event. This is the case even if the event is funded by corporate sponsors. Speaking of sponsors, you can even take the metrics a step further and measure the number of sign-ups and enquiries your sponsors received.
While you don’t benefit from this directly, there’s usually a correlation between the sponsor’s metrics and yours. Plus, if the metrics reveal positive figures, then you gain the good graces of your sponsors, thus increasing the odds of a long-term relationship.
5.) Post-Event Survey
A high turnout does not necessarily equate to success. If post-event surveys reveal a general dissatisfaction, then attendees may not likely return in the future. So what are some questions you should ask?
The typical scale-of-1-to-10 questions are always useful. You can also include follow-up questions. If a low score was given, then you can follow with a fill-in-the-blank question asking why they were dissatisfied. Some questions to ask guests include:
- How likely are they to return?
- How likely are they to recommend the event and/or company products to friends?
- How likely are they to make a purchase in the next 30 days (can be any company product or specifically the launch product).
With a post-event survey, you can get an idea of what attendees generally liked and disliked. Some areas are also more important than others. If guests didn’t really like the food, for example, that is likely not as big of an issue compared to, say, if they didn’t like the main presentation.
There are various parameters that determine an event’s overall success. Use multiple metrics to get a more detailed idea of how the event turned out and what can be done to make improvements in individual areas.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Venueseeker, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 6 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.