How To Measure The Success of An Event: Our Guide
Nobody puts in the time, investment (and, let’s be honest, pressure) of organising an event without the intention of the it being a success.
Whether you want to carve an excellent reputation or plant the seed for more events in the future, you’ll need something tangible to prove that your event was a success – and therefore worthy of future investment.
It’s great to be a goal-chaser, so you’ve definitely started on the front foot. But how do you measure ‘success’ and make sure that it’s measured appropriately?
Let’s dig in and see…
What does a successful event look like?
It seems like such a simple question, but the answer is hugely subjective. If your idea of success is different to that of your higher management, you could be destined to fail, despite your best efforts.
So, make sure everyone is on the same page before you get started. By defining the goals for your event and having them agreed by all key stakeholders, the whole team can be laser-focused on the end result and greatly improve your chances of victory.
How do you accurately quantify the success of an event?
Even when you agree what ‘success’ looks like, it can still be tricky to prove it.
Thankfully, there’s a number of tried-and-tested methods to get the proof you need, depending on the goals that you define.
If you’re using guest satisfaction as a success metric, digital surveys will help you to see how well you fared, albeit with some caveats.
Your guests are likely to be busy folk, so don’t make the survey seem like a chore (or you may find yourself with few respondents).
You can sweeten the pill by offering multiple choice answers (or a ranking system), with the option of adding more detail if they choose. Assuming the survey will be sent out by email, you can also highlight that it won’t take long to complete (“How did we do? Please help us by answering five quick questions – It’ll only take a couple of minutes”).
Feedback can create a learning opportunity, even if it doesn’t immediately tell you if the event was a success on the whole. However, it’s important to only ask questions that your guests are qualified to answer, such as “do you have greater understanding of the topic after X presentation?”, or “would you return to a future event?”.
Open-ended questions where the respondent doesn’t have the information needed to make a fair judgement could leave you with lots of information that you simply can’t act on, or overload you with so much irrelevant data that you can’t focus on the key metrics.
Usually conducted via an app and while the event is still in play, live polls can often attract more engagement than a post-event survey. You’ll be catching your attendees while the event is front and centre of their minds, which should result in a higher volume of responses – as well as comprehensive and relevant answers.
Social Media Monitoring
Social media activity is a good gauge of the buzz around your event, both before and after it happens.
Increased interaction with posts, growing follower numbers and plentiful mentions are all indicative of an event that your delegates are excited about. Furthermore, if you’re not sure how to keep track of these conversations, creating a specific event hashtag that you promote in your marketing can help you to find relevant activity – wherever it happens on a given platform.
If traffic to your website suddenly surges after your event takes place, you could attribute the event to longer-term business impact. Your delegates are increasing in awareness and interacting with what you have to offer.
Conversion attribution from specific pages on the site – such as a page used to promote your event – could also prove that it was a lead-magnet and created some all-important revenue.
All of this information will be available on Google Analytics, so be sure to chat to your digital marketing team if this isn’t something you are familiar with yourself. They should be able to create a report that clearly breaks down this data for you.
Sales Numbers & Attendance
For this particular metric, it’s important to set a target for both registrations and attendance. Ticket numbers don’t always turn into physical attendees so, if you find that you have record-breaking registrations and still a host of empty seats, you’ll have an opportunity to analyse your strategy and see if you could nurture potential delegates a little better.
It’s helpful to keep track of your returning attendees, too. If delegates keep coming back for more, it’s a positive indicator – but if they come once and never again (despite being local and on your hitlist), it might be a red flag to explore.
Sales Leads & New Opportunities
First and foremost, it’s vital to decide whether you are focusing on the quantity, quality or value of new leads. If your sales team get 50 new leads as a result of your event but none of them are worth pursuing, it might not be considered a win; similarly, can you consider one high-value lead to be worth more than 10 smaller ones?
Once you define what a qualifying lead looks like, you can work out how to calculate their total value. If you don’t already have a method in place to do this, consider creating a points-based system, where each type of lead is assigned a certain number (such as one point for a supplied email address, five points if they request a meeting) – then set a fixed goal for how many points you’d like the event to obtain.
Return on Outlay or Objectives (ROO)
Return on Investment (ROI) can often be tricky and costly for event managers to measure accurately – particularly for internal events. To get a truly accurate figure, you need to consider every expenditure, such as the cost for staff to travel to an event and the loss of revenue that occurs while they’re there. On the whole, the process can be convoluted and costly to do well.
For this reason, Return on Outlay or Return on Objectives (ROO) are often a preferred solution. ‘Outlay’ refers to the initial investments needed to run your event and should be far easier to quantify; you’ll already be working to a budget, after all.
“Objectives” are the goals you set at the beginning of your event planning journey – if you see a positive return on your goals whether they are financial, lead generating or community building, the event can be measured against these.
If you’re trying to secure success for your next event, UKSV could be just the partner you’re looking for.
For even the savviest event managers, working with an event agency can mean the difference between success and failure.
When brought in from the early stages, an event agency can sniff out the best opportunities and guide you towards prosperity – without making avoidable mistakes, wasting your budget, or coming unstuck when the unexpected occurs.
At UKSV, we believe that all events should be captivating, and it is our mission to make your events truly unforgettable.
- An award-winning events agency
- Specialists in live, virtual and hybrid events
- Experts in every stage of events management, from conception to delivery
- Well-established, with over 150 years collective industry experience.