As an event professional, you probably have a good feel for if an event was successful or not. But, with the ability today to measure metrics and pinpoint specific results, it’s essential to be able to show how event marketing efforts were successful. After all, marketing is allocated a considerable portion of the budget, and we need to be able to show evidence that marketing investments are worth the money spent. Not only that, but measuring what event marketing efforts were and weren’t successful, can help you establish a plan for improving marketing efforts for your next event.

Set goals before event marketing commencement

You would know that you need to set goals when creating an event marketing plan to ensure you plan and execute an event that is in line with those goals. But, did you know you also need to have goals in mind for measuring the success of event marketing efforts? There are a few things to consider when setting these goals.

Understanding quantitative and qualitative measures

Firstly, you need to realize that there are both quantitative and qualitative ways to answer the question of how to measure event marketing success. Quantitative results are all about numbers. Shortly, we’ll be explaining how registration metrics and event ROI use quantitative means to determine if your event has been a success. On the other hand, qualitative results, are related to event goer perception. That is their perceived value of the event, brand positioning and awareness. Shortly, we’ll be looking at using apps, social media and surveys as tools to measure your attendee engagement as a more subjective means of how to measure event marketing success.

Given that these are the two ways for how to measure event marketing success, that means your goal setting should determine the data you will need for each of the quantitative and qualitative methods. Choose the specific metrics you’re going to be tracking from the commencement of event marketing, so that you have the data you need before, during and after the event. To get a complete picture, you will need to start tracking some of this data before your marketing campaigns begin. After all, if you don’t have the right starting point, how can you claim your results are accurate?

How to set goals to measure success

“Success” is in itself a subjective term. After all, what you categorize as success for one event, could look very different to the next. In fact, success will likely never look identical for any event you plan. That’s why it’s important to define key performance indicators (KPIs) for what the success of each event actually is. Those benchmarks should relate to your intended outcome for the event, according to both your expertise and client expectations.

How will you define marketing success for this event? Will it be an increased social media presence to translate into building better brand awareness? Will it be winning new accounts to drive increased sales revenue? Or maybe you hope to expand the number of users of a specific product, to feed an overarching goal of delighting your customers.

Why you should only set SMART goals

Most importantly, when setting effective goals for event marketing success, you need to make sure they are SMART goals. If a goal is too lofty, you will fall short. You will be disappointed, your clients may be disappointed and all for no good reason. If goals are too low, there is nothing worthwhile to reach for and you will only manage to achieve mediocre results in your event marketing. For those not familiar with the idea of SMART goals, the acronym stands for:

Specific: goals should be well-defined with a particular target. For example, setting the number of new registrations you want to achieve from a particular email campaign.

Measurable: being able to track the results via metrics using quantitative or qualitative attributes.

Attainable: setting a goal that can be achieved is a way of making you (and your client) happy when you do reach it.

Realistic: make sure you’re honest about your and your team’s capabilities and any hurdles you may face. Budget is often a constraint when it comes to keeping goals realistic.

Time-bound: deadlines are an integral part of goal setting. Your event marketing success should be measured per event and with an end-date, not as something you might achieve some day.

Measuring quantitative marketing efforts

Use registration metrics to determine if your targeted message was received well

Want to know whether your campaigns are giving out the right message to potential attendees? You should evaluate the conversion rates from each event registration source, whether that’s email or social media for example. Registration is the most important metric to consider as the precursor to overall event marketing success. After all, a successful event relies on attendees! Look at peaks in registrations and determine if those times correlate to any particular marketing effort that might have kicked off beforehand.

As well as outright registrations, look at the performance of invitation email open rates. Compare ‘sent’ vs. ‘opened’ vs. ‘RSVP’. As you go, it might be worthwhile A/B testing different factors to see if they influence registration metrics. Those factors might include ‘from’ fields and the subject line. Finding the right subject line could improve your open rate, which will, in turn, impact your RSVP rate too.

We suggest you monitor and measure:

Number of event registrations

The main registration sources

When peak registration times occurred

Date and time of marketing blasts

Once the event has happened, you can compare the RSVP numbers to your number of actual attendees. This conversion rate helps you ascertain how successful your marketing efforts were after registration and leading up to the event. We hope you have marketing efforts in place to continue nurturing those potential attendees who have signed up! After all, you still need to make sure they walk in the door!

Survey event-goers with an event app

An event app is useful for surveys too, because you can receive feedback in real time throughout the event so that you may address issues as the event proceeds. What does this mean for how to measure event marketing success? Well, you don’t just measure the level of success, but you have the chance to improve it too.

Try to generate short surveys periodically during the event. That could be at the end of each session or when there is event downtime. If the survey reveals any issues for event goers, you can take steps to resolve those issues. Then, you can report on the steps you took. And you can send follow up survey questions relating to how you addressed those and report on (hopefully) a better outcome!

Waiting until the event is over to issue a survey can still be useful, but it is a more inferior method in terms of being able not just to measure, but influence overall results. We discuss this idea further in our article on crowdshaping.

How to measure event marketing success? Final thoughts:

Setting goals and measuring both quantitative and qualitative marketing efforts is essential to determining the overall success of event marketing. It’s important to remember that it is a collaborative approach – you shouldn’t just use one method to define success. Instead, use particular techniques to assess how certain marketing approaches performed. Like, as we mentioned earlier, using the ‘sent’ vs. ‘opened’ vs. ‘RSVP’ numbers as a measure for email marketing success. By following these measures, not only will you be able to show your results and justify the marketing budget, but also find where you can improve marketing efforts for future events.

Do you use any other methods for measuring event marketing success? We’d love to hear them – so please, share in the comments.