Key Metrics That Will Improve Your Event Marketing Program

How developing and applying standardized metrics from an event measurement program can provide key insights and improved decision-making.

Guest Blog by Joe Federbush, Exhibit Surveys. Inc.

The live event space has more data at its disposal than ever before, from both internal and external sources. Information derived from sources “internal” to the event space (registration, mobile apps, social media, and activity tracking) can be very useful in understanding the characteristics and needs of visitors. “External” resources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, Dun & Bradstreet, and CEIR, also provide valuable information about niche or overall market trends. To increase the analytic power of all of the available information, it’s best to link multiple data sources. Determining which data sources will derive actionable insights is the challenge. Following are some recommendations:

Start with the end in mind, and keep it simple
Before diving headfirst into data collection and manipulation, the business objectives driving the push for data should be clear. What issues are to be studied? What types of decisions are we likely to make as a result?

For example, let’s assume that the XYZ company had identified three key objectives going into Q1 2014. By using the data gathered by Alliance Tech’s lead retrieval system, and then combining it with a post-event survey and analysis from Exhibit Surveys, the XYZ company could assess how well it performed in achieving its objectives – either for each individual event or for its program that spanned multiple events.

The key objectives provide the framework for the types of information that must be gathered, as outlined here:

XYZ Objective 1: Provide accountability by measuring XYZ’s success in meeting its objectives (build awareness, position the brand, generate demand and grow the business by identifying net new sales opportunities).

  • Determine how many inquiries were generated at each event. Of these, how many did the exhibit staff actually qualify (i.e., as A, B or C leads)? 
  • Quantify any missed opportunities (failing to obtain more qualified leads). For example, were all inquiries rated (qualified) by exhibit staff? How can this metric be improved?
  • Examine Lead quality.
    • How many are current customers vs. new prospects
    • How many have purchase plans for these types of products, and within what time frame?
  • Assess the potential value of new revenue opportunities.
    • Average planned $ expenditure per lead (from XYZ and/or competitors).
    • Projected total $ purchases from leads with buying plans (from XYZ and/or competitors).
    • Calculate the average potential revenue to expense ratio.
    • Determine new revenue opportunities versus existing customers planning to increase their level of investment as a result of visiting the exhibit. Results were compared against Exhibit Surveys’ tradeshow industry benchmarks. 
  • Measure how successful the exhibit was in XYZ building brand awareness and communicating key messages. How does event differ?
  • Calculate XYZ’s Net Promoter Score® (a measure of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction). How does this compare to XYZ’s corporate brand study NPS and to Exhibit Surveys’ tradeshow industry benchmarks?

XYZ Objective 2: Measure XYZ’s exhibit performance to identify strengths and weaknesses that will lead to improved results in the future.

  • Calculate cost-per-inquiry and cost-per-qualified lead. What investment-level changes could have decreased XYZ’s cost-per-qualified lead resulting in greater ROI?
  • Identify primary reasons for visiting the XYZ exhibit across all events? Were visitors satisfied with booth staff, their helpfulness, knowledge, and the answers they received to their questions?
  • Determine demo performance scores compared to Exhibit Surveys’ benchmarks. Is XYZ missing opportunities to engage more visitors and reduce its cost-per-qualified lead by having more meaningful demos and engaging staff?
  • Measure booth attractiveness and design, the representation of the right products/solutions exhibited, the ease of finding what visitors were looking for, and theater presentations.

XYZ Objective 3: Provide feedback that will inform and enhance future strategic and tactical decisions (such as event selection and investment levels, event strategy development, objective setting, and tactical execution).

  • Based on the size of XYZ’s potential audience at each event, determine which events justify continued participation and at what investment-level.
  • Calculate cost-per-potential attendee. For each event, how was the alignment between the investment made and the size of XYZ’s potential audience?

These are only a small handful of the metrics for setting realistic and quantifiable objectives for future events. XYZ’s potential audience (target audience) needs to be being taken into consideration when setting objectives for qualified leads.

In the preceding example, two of the more common sources of measurement information were used: 

  1. Inquiry/lead data
  2. Post-event surveys among leads
  3. Booth exit surveys/personal interviews

Recommendations on additional sources of data depend upon an organization’s event and measurement objectives.

For more information about gathering and interpreting multiple streams of data, please visit