In the fast-paced world of events, the key question that should always be on every event planner’s mind is ‘What’s the value of this event?’: has it generated leads; has it raised brand awareness; has it brought in the targeted revenue?
Whatever the primary goals of your event, it’s essential that you’re guided by objectives to measure and reflect on the success of the event, and understand how to use this data to improve in future.
Here, we share our top tips for measuring the metrics that truly matter for events, with tips and additional resources from event measurement experts, Explori.
Step One: Know Your Objectives
Before diving into planning the speaker sessions, awards, and entertainment, take a moment to reflect on your event’s core objectives. Are you aiming to foster industry connections? Or perhaps to introduce a new product to an expanded (or exclusive) audience? Your KPIs should be a reflection of these goals. Below we’ve dived into some of the KPIs you might use to measure event success.
The Key KPIs
Registration and Attendance
Registrations are one of the easiest metrics to track – if you’ve had fewer registrations than expected, or compared to the previous iteration of the event, dive into the reasons: was it the timing, venue, or a lack of promotion?
Equally importantly, look at actual attendance: while registrations demonstrate interest, the actual attendance speaks volumes about the attendee journey. A significant drop-off from registrations to attendees? That’s a chapter worth exploring. Could the event have been marketed better? Was the time or date off-putting? Was anything unclear in the event instructions?
Comparing your data against industry benchmarks of attendance and drop-off rates can also be a useful way to gain a more objective view of how your event performed (however, always bear in mind that each event has its own objectives).
In the realm of in-person events, engagement isn’t just about listening; it’s about interacting. Did attendees actively participate in sessions? Were the Q&A sessions buzzing with questions and thoughts? You can take this a step further with new technologies that are presenting opportunities for facial recognition to see where attendees’ attention is throughout the event.
With wearable tech and RFID tags, you can also look at how long attendees spent at the event, and whether their journey was affected by things such as lunch breaks, panels being placed later in the day, and more.
If your event is an annual or recurring affair, the number of attendees that return year after year is a testament to the value it brings them. Don’t rest on your laurels with this one, though: things can change quickly so make sure you’re investing in keeping your guests engaged and loyal.
Our top tip in this area is to keep up event promotion all year to maintain audience interaction and awareness: check out our guide to using content to extend the lifecycle of your event.
For many events, especially those with a business tilt, the number of leads generated is the most vital metric. Of course, it’s not just about collecting business cards, but about forging potential partnerships and collaborations; however, you’ll want to have a solid system for scanning and collating information from interested parties at the event.
Make sure this is a key part of your preparations, and plan communications to send after the event to make the most of the legwork that your in-person interactions have done.
Social Media Buzz
In today’s digital age, if it’s not on social media, did it even happen? Make sure to have hashtags and an easily-findable event page on socials, and monitor action on your channels. It’s a window into how your event resonated with the audience and extended its influence beyond the venue’s walls. You can find out more about making social media go further in our complete guide to using social media for events.
Hire Space top tip: Be active on socials in return, and interact with posts and followers. This will help both drive brand recognition and personality, and may well boost your posts in the algorithm.
Nothing beats direct feedback, particularly when it’s formal. Post-event surveys can be a source of a wealth of insights, highlighting hits but also pinpointing areas of improvement for the next time you put on your event.
Check out our guide to collecting feedback from your event for more insights.
Step Two: From Data to Insights
When measuring the outcome of your events in relation to your intended objectives, it’s crucial to have access to a comprehensive range of data that covers all the points you want to know. Make sure you plan your data strategy well in advance so that you know exactly what you want to find out, throughout the entire event planning process. This way, you can include valuable questions in the registration form (which in turn helps you to know what types of people are signing up, giving you more insights on the demographics to target with event promotions).
Quantitative and qualitative data
Explori recommends having a mixture of quantitative (ie number of registrations, number of attendees), and qualitative (such as responses collected from feedback forms) data. Numbers alone can’t capture the full story and qualitative data brings in the crucial human element – opinions, experiences, and motivations that quantitative data might overlook.
Together, these two forms of data create a more holistic view, allowing for more informed decision-making, deeper insights, and a richer understanding of the subject at hand. Scoring systems like Net Promoter Scores can be extremely useful for converting qualitative data into a more quantifiable data set.
Here are some examples of questions you might ask to gauge attendee sentiment around your event and brand:
- Overall Experience: « How would you describe your overall experience at the event? »
- Event Highlights: « What were the highlights of the event for you? »
- Brand Perception: « Has your perception of [brand] changed after attending this event? If so, how? »
- Recommendations: « Would you recommend our events to others? Why or why not? »
- Future Participation: « What could we do to ensure your participation in our future events? »
Lagging versus leading indicators
The experts at Explori also recommend collecting data that represents both ‘Leading’ and ‘Lagging’ Indicators, allowing you to look backwards and forwards at the same time.
Lagging indicators are retrospective, focusing on aspects like revenue gained or attendance achieved, while leading indicators predict future trends. Leading indicators, like sentiment around your event both before and after the event date, can paint a picture of how resilient an event is to changes in the environment, such as the emergence of new competitors.
Benchmarking across industry data can be hugely helpful, allowing you to make assumptions on everything from drop-out rate, to whether sentiment around your event is improving or flagging, particularly in comparison to competitors. Crucially, this gives you the opportunity to look for areas of improvement, or to identify what you’re doing well compared to others in the industry.
Hire Space top tip: Look for data points that are consistent with industry standards, to make it easier to compare your own data with that of others.
Key metrics to measure for sponsors and exhibitors
While it’s crucial for your event to meet your goals, it’s equally, if not more, vital to ensure that your sponsors and exhibitors find value in it. After all, this is where a sizeable proportion of your event revenue comes from, and without it, there’s no
When collaborating with sponsors, you’ll need to first grasp their goals and set clear success metrics. This approach ensures you offer them meaningful opportunities and data that keeps them happy and returning for the next year.
You can read more about keeping sponsors happy in our guide to attracting sponsors for your event.
Step Three: Report, Reflect, and Redirect
The whole reason you’re tracking your data is to see what’s gone well, and what hasn’t hit the mark, so that you can tighten up for the next year. But you can’t just sit back and rest on the laurels of an event that’s met the objectives this time round; once you’ve collected your data, you need to make sure you’re able to use it to the best effect to feed into keeping your audience engaged with your brand.
Optimise your reporting
Data means nothing if you can’t use it to tell a story. This is where many event organisers and marketers fall down, but you should be able to turn data into graphs, visual reporting, and bite-sized reports to convince stakeholders and budget holders of the value of your event. Here are some tips on how to do it:
- Focus on your key metrics: Go back to the key metrics you set as the objectives for the event. This might include attendee numbers, net promoter scores, engagement rates, conversion rates, or revenue generated.
- Visualise your data: Leverage tools like Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, or even Excel to create graphs or customer journey visualisations, ensuring they are informative and visually appealing. AI tools are becoming more and more adept at doing this for you – check out our guide to how to use AI for events.
- Develop Bite-Sized Reports: Break down complex data into smaller, more digestible reports. Focus on one key insight per report and avoid cluttering with too much information. This approach makes it easier for stakeholders to process and remember the information.
- Highlight ROI: Clearly demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of the event. Visualise cost versus revenue, audience reach versus engagement, and any other metrics that directly speak to the financial and brand value generated by the event. Remember to always align this with the objectives you set for your event.
- Include Testimonials: Attendee testimonials can add depth to the quantitative data and provide a more rounded view of the event’s success. It’s always worth having the human angle to balance out the numbers, especially if your attendees have glowing things to say about you!
Review your data strategy
Your data strategy helps in tracking progress and pinpointing specific areas that are either contributing positively or negatively to the overall goals of the event. Like with any situation, you’ll find new things to measure and track – make sure that any data points you’re adding on are consistent so you can track them in relation to the other data you’re already collecting.
Measuring the impact of events is crucial: it relies on clear objectives, a clear strategy for tracking actions, and a clear method of using and reflecting on these at a later date. As you plan and execute, keep these metrics in mind, and you’ll have a clear roadmap to success.
If you’re looking to make your events work for you, get in touch with our Hire Space 360 experts to chat about how we can support your event programmes.
Get expert support
Bring our team on board to help strengthen and expand your events programme