Ask a group of marketing executives how they measure the return on their events, and you’ll get all sorts of interesting answers. They can tell you exactly how many people staffed the booth, how much the booth space cost, how many pens they ordered and how much they spent on travel. But press them on how the event helped them build reputation or create demand, and the answers usually are much less specific.
The difficulties with event measurement revolve around the facts that sales and marketing have not come together to create a set of metrics that impacts both functions, and have historically tended to focus much more on measuring costs – in order to justify cutting them – than results. In this brief, we discuss a core group of results-oriented metrics that we believe can be applied in different combinations depending on the event in question.
We have classified events into five categories including trade shows, live events (pre-sale), live events (post-sale), channel (hosted and attended), and sponsorships. Due to the cost, time commitment and personnel required for each of these event categories, pressure has grown significantly to demonstrate their benefits. Before we get to specific metrics, let’s first review three basic principles of event measurement:
Putting together a formula for event measurement is entirely dependent on choosing the right variables. We believe the following seven categories are the most powerful choices to determine whether an event has positively impacted reputation (R) demand creation (DC), or both:
At a baseline, the event category will determine which of these metrics is more or less appropriate. When you overlay your own goals for these events, you can further refine the recommendations in our SiriusDecisions Event Measurement Matrix (see below), eliminating those metrics that are not appropriate given your event strategy.
While it is certainly informative to report measurement statistics, only the utilization of those statistics to inform actionable strategy will result in a steadily increasing return. Performance measurement is only the first step in this direction and should be followed by more informed portfolio planning and the design of customer experiences that achieve the desired goals. At a time when squeezing more business from existing customers and doing more with less are critical, emphasis on measuring and comparing tactical marketing investments is becoming more important than ever.