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According to Forrester, events accounted for an average of 12% of B2B marketing budgets in 2019, but only 18% of marketing teams were able to calculate the ROI for their events.

In today’s corporate world, measuring the impact of your event operations to justify your investment is essential. In this article we offer you a method to calculate the ROI of your events.

What is Event ROI?

The return on investment (ROI) is a performance measure used to evaluate the profitability of an investment.

It is the ratio between the profit of an operation and the costs incurred for this operation.

In the case of an event:

The value is defined according to the objective of the event: sales, revenue, or any other performance indicator.

The event ROI is therefore a measure of the effectiveness and impact of an event.

Why calculate event ROI ?

Events often represent a significant investment in an organization’s marketing budget.

Measuring events ROI fulfills two key objectives for the organizing teams:

Justifying event investments to management

For management to grant the requested budget for an investment, a demonstration indicating tangible and measurable results will most likely be asked.

In the context of events, this demonstration can only be done by a forecasted ROI objective, and then by a measurement of the results achieved.

Measuring the efficiency of marketing action

Calculating the ROI and analyzing what worked and what didn’t will allow you to make informed decisions for your next events.

How to calculate Event ROI ?

Calculating the ROI of an event can be complicated as its effects and impacts aren’t always immediate nor easy to measure.

The positive effects of an event will sometimes be felt in the long term: the reputation of your brand, the notoriety and image of your organization, the first commercial contacts that will materialize several months later, etc.

No need to panic though! Even if the approach can’t be 100% extensive and has to focus on elements measured with certainty, there are ways to monitor the ROI of your event.

We recommend a 4-step method:

Step 1 – Defining the main objective of the event

The first stage is defining the main business objective of the event.

Based on whether you organize tradeshows as a business, free congresses to share knowledge, or branded events to generate leads, the context, challenges, and objectives of your event won’t be the same.

BtoB events can be categorized into 4 big business objectives:

  • Increase notoriety and develop brand image
  • Generate qualified business leads
  • Inform and retain customers
  • Generate partners satisfaction and increase their notoriety

Step 2 – Defining KPIs that will monitor this objective

After having defined the main objective for your event, you’ll need to determine the indicators that will measure and verify that the objective has been reached.

Brand image and notoriety

 Sub-goal to be measured  KPI
 Maximize Event registrations  Number of registrations
 Maximize the number of qualified registrations  Number of targeted registrations / Number of total registrants
 Maximize media coverage  Number of media placements
 Maximize social media presence  Number of social media impressions
 Maximize event visibility  Number of views/visits on the event site
 Bring traffic to your website  Number of visits to the organizing brand’s website around the event period / average number of visits during a period without events
 Develop positive brand image  Level of satisfaction of participants

Generation of commercial leads

 Sub-goal to be measured  KPI
 Generate leads  Number of generated leads contacts
Generate leads  Number of opportunities created
 Maximize the quality of generated leads  Number of qualified leads created / total number of actual leads created
 Generate pipeline  Value of the generated commercial pipeline
 Win new accounts  Number of closed deals after the event

Inform and retain customers

 Sub-goal to be measured  KPI
 Maximize the use of the product/service by customers  Number of active users after the event
 Increase the scope of use of the product/service by customers  Number of demos performed
 Maximize customer satisfaction  Level of customer satisfaction
 Retain existing customers (upsell and renew)  Number of business meetings with existing customers
 Build and federate a community of customers  Number of networking meetings between customers
 Retain existing customers (renew)  Number of renews

Generate partners satisfaction

 Sub-goal to be measured  KPI
 Maximize perceived value of partner packages  Number of contacts made per partner
Maximize perceived value of partner packages  Number of leads generated per partner
Maximize perceived value of partner packages  Number of networking meetings per partner
 Maximize partner visibility  Number of views on partner pages
 Maximize partner satisfaction  Level of partner satisfaction

Step 3 – Collect necessary data to track these KPIs

Once you’ve defined the main objective of your event, as well as the main KPIs, the next step is to gather data that will allow you to monitor these indicators.

To do this, you need to choose an event management technology platform that allows you to collect and track all event data in real-time, like inwink.

Check out our article: What data can you collect from your events?

You may then connect your event management solution with your CRM, or your marketing automation tool, to pull up this data and merge them with other indicators.

Step 4 – Analyse and understand the results

You’ve received results for the defined KPIs for your event and now it’s time to analyze and understand them.

This step consists in comparing all the costs generated to organize the event with the actual results.

Since your KPIs aren’t always convertible into euros, your ROI ratios will not give an immediately interpretable percentage.

You can however manage to correlate your evaluation to ratios such as:

  • Each qualified lead generated on the event cost XX euros;
  • Each press mention following the event cost XX euros.

To analyze these results, there are several options:

Compare several editions of the same event

First option: compare results between several editions you have organized of the same event.

Compare several events formats

Second option: compare the results of two events where you were the organizer but that didn’t have the same format (length, speakers, participants, dates, etc…).

Compare the benchmark of your industry’s events

Finally, you can compare the results of your event by a benchmark of what competitors and parterns from your industry do.

In conclusion, in a business context where each action has to be justified by tangible results, it is essential to calculate the return on investment of the events you organize. This is also a great way for the organizer to bring out lessons learned for future operations.

By following these 4 steps, you’ll have the necessary framework to successfully and systematically carry out this challenging task!