How to measure Event ROI

Event participation can be expensive. More and more, sales and marketing must justify event budget allocation by measuring return on investment (ROI). ROI is:

(Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment)/ Cost of Investment*

Using this formula, you want to get a positive number. And, the larger the number you get the more successful your return on investment. A negative number means that you spent more on the event than you received in return.

To properly measure the success of your event participation, you must begin by determining what your business goals are for the event. Common event goals can include lead generation, sales and customer engagement.

Lead generation is often a goal of event participation. But, the generation of quality leads is key. For example, you may have 10,000 leads as a result of entries into a prize drawing. But, if the entries are not from your target audience or from qualified decision makers, those leads may not result in actual sales.

As your leads will follow your average sales cycle timeline, you won’t be able to determine ROI immediately following the show. However, you can estimate your revenue with this formula.

# Qualified Leads x Average Close Rate X Average Sales Value = $ Estimated Revenue

You can then use your estimated revenue to determine your estimated ROI. If you ultimately want to measure ROI from your leads, you should utilize a CRM program to track all qualified leads from your event. Continue to have sales work to convert the leads into sales. After your average sales cycle timeframe has passed, review the actual sales attributed to the event and determine your ROI.

Sales can be the fastest and easiest figure to use to calculate ROI. However, this measurement is only useful immediately after an event if you want to the measure on-the-spot purchase at your event. Otherwise, you are tracking qualified leads until they become sales.

Engagement can be the most difficult area to measure with a traditional ROI calculation. Your goal may not be leads or sales; you may want to generate media exposure, launch a new product or create brand awareness. That doesn’t mean that you will be exempt from measuring your success. Below are a few measurements to use to capture engagement.

  • Website traffic- Develop a custom URL and landing page for specific events to help capture traffic unique to specific events. To get the most from your custom URL, incorporate it into all pre-show marketing, giveaways, booth design, sponsorships, etc. Measurements can include unique visitors, click-through rates, impressions, etc.
  • Emails- Use pre and post show emails to measure engagement with open-rates, click-through rates and sales.
  • Social media- Incorporate a distinctive tag to collect specific posts on your participation in the event. Develop groups via sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or twitter and invite event guests to join.   Did you gain any new followers? How many mentions or comments, likes, re-tweets or shares, did you get? Some businesses prefer to assign a point value to social interactions to give high-value interactions more importance in reporting.
  • Customer retention- How many current customers were you able to meet during the event? Where you able to resolve any issues that may have resulted in cancellation? Did you have any cost efficiencies by meeting with the customers at the event vs travelling to their offices?

You may find the most accurate (and favorable) approach to measuring your event success to utilize a combination of measurements from above. Accurate measurement of event success can help you justify marketing budget allocation and prioritize event participation.


* NOTE: When determining your Total Cost of Investment, it’s important to include all costs. This total should incorporate all event expenses including registration, marketing costs, booth logistics (shipping, carpet, electricity, etc.), giveaways, food/beverage/entertainment, sponsorships and travel expenses.