Contrary to popular belief, organizing an event doesn’t end after the day of. There are events and there are successful events, and the only way you can achieve the latter is if you can evaluate the effectiveness of your events.
Because no two events are the same, it can be hard to pinpoint your criteria for success. For starters, you could revisit your event goals, which will allow you to come up with some key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring whether or not these goals were met.
Even then, it’s important to remember that your goals might not be the same as other similar events in your industry, or even one of your past events.
Examples of common KPIs include--among many others--social media activity, event attendance, sales, attendee satisfaction, matches, and press/media mentions. In this guide, we go over what each KPI means and how you can use it to shape a successful event.
1. Social Media Insights
Social media platforms can be terrific for communicating with your potential attendees, allowing you to create an event brand and build publicity. It’s no surprise then why social media activity is a reliable indicator for gauging event awareness and customer impressions of your brand.
One of the simplest ways to track mentions and comments involving your event is to use an event hashtag, which you can easily verify on the insights dashboard of your social media pages (Check Facebook and Twitter’s Insights systems).
While this quantitative data makes it hard to figure out what your followers feel about your event, it does give you a good idea of how visible your event brand is on say, Facebook or Twitter, based on the number of impressions, mentions, likes, and shares your posts are getting.
2. Event Attendance
It’s important to note that social media activity does not necessarily translate into ticket sales—don’t be surprised if the number of actual day attendees differs from your followers. This is especially common with paid events, which require that you show real value to encourage people to buy tickets. However, it should also be noted that free events also have their own caveats.
Actual day attendance is perhaps the most fundamental metric for assessing the success of your event, especially if you have a certain number of attendees as your primary event goal. Certain event management software can gather real-time data through capture points on your event floor, allowing you to measure your event turnout—live.
This is also useful if you want to evaluate the ROI o your event marketing by comparing your ad spend with the actual number of attendees, which should give you a general idea of your cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
3. Customer or Attendee Satisfaction
Having event attendance as your only goal tends to be a one-dimensional approach for assessing event success.
• Did your attendees even enjoy the experience?
• Did they get anything of real value from the experience?
• What could have been better about the event?
These questions highlight just how important it is to evaluate your attendees’ event experience. Knowing if they had a positive experience lets you know if you're heading in the right direction in terms of event brand management, or conversely, if you need to change things up.
Perhaps the simplest way to measure attendee satisfaction is through survey forms, which you can send to attendees through email, or better yet, through your event app.
If one of your primary event goals is monetary gain, you can always compare your revenue before, during, and after the event. If you noticed a spike in profits (revenue minus cost), it’s a good sign your event was successful in promoting your products and services.
If your event is an exhibition with vendors and retailers, you can meet with your exhibitors to discuss revenue goals and check after the even if these were achieved. Besides sales, you should also consider leads and prospects generated from your event.
5. Press and Media Mentions
Positive press and media coverage is vital to any business, more so for events, which rely so much on audience awareness and trust. Whether it’s before or after events, any kind of positive mention by the press can go a long way in helping boost your event’s brand recall in the minds of attendees.
Media coverage also creates opportunities for sponsorships, with sponsors feeling much more confident placing their money in an event significant enough to be covered by the press. Be sure to focus on content publishers (offline and online), as well as radio and television.
If your event’s primary goal is to create networking opportunities between attendees, then you need to look at how many successful matches were made between event participants.
Fortunately, matchmaking software makes this easier than ever, giving you all the relevant stats on how many successful matches were made, how many matches were initiated, and even how many unplanned matches happened.
Events are investments, and like any investment, it’s important to get an idea of your ROI. Measuring your event success also gives you the much-needed direction for steering your future events towards event greater heights. These KPIs should help you improve different aspects of managing events, from the way you reach out to attendees, to managing the event on the day itself.
Written by Tabitha Naylor
Looking for a great way to add guaranteed value to your next event? We've got a guide for that! Our latest guide on matchmaking at events walks you through the nitty-gritty details of using data to create matches and value at your next event.