How to measure event ROI & impact

  • 28 March 2022
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This content, written by Caitlin McCarrick, was initially posted in Looker Blog on Sep 12, 2018. The content is subject to limited support.

Analyzing offline marketing activities is crucial to understanding the return on investment (ROI) and impact of these tactics. In particular, offline events like trade shows and road shows are notoriously difficult to track, measure, and calculate ROI. Doing so requires:

  • Extensive tracking of online and offline marketing efforts
  • Mapping and attributing these efforts to offline conversions
  • Tying in qualitative data to quantitative data to understand what & why

And, last but not least, we also need to pare down the plethora of data available to the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the influence of offline events to multiple points along the buyer’s journey.

So when we decided to take on the road for the first time, we knew we needed to create a killer event management dashboard. For , we wanted to make sure we were on the right track. As a road show that required a ton of resources from a huge team of people, we had to be able to justify JOIN The Tour as a worthwhile investment for the company.

Our goal was to understand the data so that we could determine which tactics to pivot and optimize and which tactics to continue to expand.

Ultimately, what we found provided us insight on how to continue driving the value of offline events in our overall marketing strategy, understand the behavior and habits of different regions, and how to plan and market future events.

Step 1: Determine offline events success metrics and KPIs

While we wanted to know just about everything about how these events were performing, the key to getting the insights we needed required the right metrics.

Before we started creating the event management dashboard, we first needed to determine what success would look like for an event.

  • After much discussion within the team and with stakeholders, we focused on:
    • Number of registrants
    • Number of attendees
    • Number of no-show’s
    • Attrition rate (percent of non-attendees to registrants)
    • Event ROI
  • Audience was also important to understanding the success of an offline event. To analyze audiences, we decided on geography of the event and size of company as our segments.
  • To help us better calculate event ROI, we used pipeline created or influenced to give us a dollar value for offline events.

Step 2: Event success metrics to include in your dashboard

Calculate event registration by city

Choosing the right place for your event is as important as the event itself. The goal of JOIN The Tour was to bring the JOIN conference experience to cities all around the world. However, we had to face the challenge of making sure there was interest to attend an event like ours in the cities we chose.

Registration volume, along with each city’s share of registrations, were the event metrics we chose to measure demand. It also helped us to plan resources as cities with a high volume of registrations had a higher likelihood of requiring more staff, budget, and time to plan and execute.

Calculate event registration by company size

Along with geography, company size plays a key role in how we plan and staffed the event. We wanted to make sure that each attendee could talk to someone from Looker who was intimate with the unique data challenges and needs specific to their company, in size and industry.

Monitoring registration by company size also allowed to us plan accordingly in how to best staff each city’s event so that we could be sure each attendee could connect with a Looker who could best address their needs.

Calculate event attendance and attrition by city

Since it was the first time we did an event series of this magnitude, we wanted to make sure we kept a close eye on attendance in each of the JOIN The Tour cities. After the day of the event, we closely monitored the number of attendees vs. non-attendees and attrition rate to determine an event’s success.

This report gave us insight into how likely registrants are to attend another event. Once we layered in qualitative data which was specific to the culture of each city, we were then able to come up with future plans on how to run a truly successful event in each city that would enable higher chances of turnout.

Calculate pipeline attribution models for event ROI

Finally, we get to the holy grail of offline event marketing: event ROI. Here at Looker, we examine a tactic’s impact through both first-touch and multi-touch attribution. Some tactics have a much stronger influence when they are the first interaction someone has with Looker (first-touch), while other tactics are better suited for those that may already be familiar with Looker (multi-touch).

To understand the ROI of offline events immediately after they occurred, we analyzed the potential pipeline generated through these events by comparing first-touch attribution against multi-touch attribution. This gave us insight on how best to tailor the event experience based on the likelihood of whether or not someone had interacted with Looker previously.

Step 3: Gather key learnings for offline marketing strategies

The final product of our event ROI dashboard was empowering. One of the best feelings is knowing the data you are analyzing is correct and that you can take direct action from it.

Thanks to our JOIN The Tour dashboard, we now understand the percentage of people who would show at an event thus making future event planning easier. The attrition rate also prompted us to change outreach to figure out why a registrant didn’t attend.

One of the most important parts of creating this dashboard was how we made sure to understand the attribution of an event to pipeline based on different models. Using the , we compared different attribution models so we could better understand the differences in influence and impact of events in each city.

Our attribution metrics became one of our major success markers. We uncovered regions where events could have high impact on brand awareness and engagement. We are also now better enabled to plan effectively for future events as we could now confidently allot more event budget for specific regions since we had the data to back it up.

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