Getting caught up in the glitz and sparkle of planning an event is easy. Attendees should enjoy your event, but planning an event isn’t a pure act of kindness. As an event planner, you host events to get results. If you’re planning the biggest shindig of the year, you’re busy worrying about registrations, sponsors, and catering. But even so, you’ve got to ensure your event is a money-maker for your company. After all, you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a high-end event if it doesn’t move the needle for sales. In marketing, you always need to prove event ROI, especially if you’re accountable to higher-ups or the folks over in accounting.
Let’s get into nine methods we use to prove your event ROI quantitatively and qualitatively.
Average Sale Value
Any sale is good, but let’s be honest: you want people to spend as much as possible. Seeing an uptick in average sale values after an event means you’re doing something right. For example, if the people you up-sell at your conference used to have a $200 average sale value, but now they’re spending $500, that means you have more money in your pocket — and that’s a good thing.
If you see that leads from your annual conference have a higher average order value than leads from other sources, that’s a great indicator of event ROI, too.
Do you host multiple events every year? You can calculate the ROI percentage on each event and compare all of your events side by side. If you ever need to axe one event from your calendar, you can focus your resources on the events that give you the most bang for your buck.
To calculate ROI, you’ll need to know all of your expenses for the event and all of the revenue the event generated. The issue is that some costs, like labor or third-party vendors, are tricky to calculate. Remember to factor in all of your expenses, so you have a better idea of your actual event ROI.
You can use this formula to calculate the ROI percentage:
[Gross Profits – Costs] / Costs X 100
So, if you spent $25,000 on a trade show that brought in $50,000:
$50,000 – $25,000 = $25,000
$25,000 / $25,000 = 1 X 100 – 100% ROI
Brand awareness is essential, but how do you measure people’s awareness of your brand? We recommend using an analytics tool for this, but you can also measure brand awareness by:
- Social listening
- Web traffic
- Attendee surveys
Some analytics platforms will do this work for you automatically. They can even assign a dollar value to brand awareness, giving you hard numbers to take back to your budgeting committee to prove the event was a success.
Whether you want to increase brand awareness, bring in more revenue, or engage your attendees, you need to measure ROI differently. If you set KPIs before your event — and we think you should — you can measure ROI in terms of which KPIs you achieved.
And yes, hitting your KPIs is a form of ROI because it shows your event hit all the marks. Just be sure to set SMART goals for your event beforehand. During your event post-mortem, you can determine your success rate based on which KPIs you nailed and which you need to improve.
The number of leads captured at an event counts as a form of event ROI. But this is tricky because not every lead will become a paying customer. Even so, leads have value to your sales team; if you’re using sales pipeline software, it will tell you how much, on average, a single lead is worth to your business.
Since you can assign a dollar value to each lead, the number of leads generated counts as a form of event ROI. You can get more granular here, too, measuring lead generation ROI in terms of:
- Demos given
- Appointments scheduled
- New accounts (if you do account-based marketing)
How much did you earn from sponsors? Sponsorships not only reduce ticket costs but increase your earnings and event ROI. Sponsorships are a great way to measure ROI because they show sponsors have an interest in your event.
Gross profit margin is similar to ROI percentage, except gross profit margin can never exceed 100%. Instead of measuring the return on your investment, gross profit margin looks at how much money you made on every dollar spent. It’s just another way of looking at how efficient you were with your money.
To calculate gross profit margin, you divide your profit by your total revenue. So, if you earned $100,000 in revenue and took home $60,000 in profit:
$60,000 / $100,000 = 60% profit margin
The average profit margin across all industries ranges from five to ten percent, depending on your event’s nature. Even so, you want profit margins to be as high as possible because they show how efficiently you profited from this event.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
While you have to look at the financial side, events have an emotional component that’s tough to quantify. You want attendees to feel something about your event, but how can you prove they like you?
Attendee sentiment counts as event ROI, but you need a way to quantify it. Use Net Promoter Scores to see how likely attendees are to recommend your brand or event to other people. If you see an increase in your NPS, that’s a sign that you’re giving attendees the warm fuzzies, which can translate into sales down the line.
Registrations are a simple way to measure event ROI. Open your event software to see how many people signed up for this event versus all other events. If you see an uptick in registrations, that’s a form of ROI.
Of course, it’s good to check your registration numbers against attendance figures. If you have a lot of registrations but low attendance, you need to dig into the data to see what went wrong. You can’t sell to attendees if they don’t attend your event, so look at both registrations and attendance to get a clearer picture.
Need to Boost Event ROI? It’s Time to Make a Change.
Events are the best way to connect with your audience, in-person or online. The problem is that you spend a lot of time and money preparing for this event, and those costs count against how much revenue you take home. It’s not enough to declare victory because your event went off without a hitch. You’ve got to look at the business side of things, too, which means proving event ROI.
If you need to boost your event ROI, you must try something new. Why not partner up with Endless? Or check out Keaton Watson’s webinar on How to Measure Event ROI? Our tech-first approach helps you keep better track of event ROI from start to finish. Check out our case studies to see our smart event planning strategies at work.