Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Metrics, Metrics, Everywhere (Which one(s) do you use?)

I recently read a thread of marketing executives’ input regarding which metrics they utilize to measure the success of events – and was struck by the variety cited. Part of this is perspective: pending your involvement and responsibility – whether your role is as an Event Organizer (driving attendance & sponsorship sales), or Event Sponsor (driving marketing/booth activities), ‘a successful event’ can intuitively have different marketing metrics. My take is that the metrics for “success” should align across both marketing roles (event organizer and sponsor) and functionalities to ensure delivering an event with a high-quality value proposition for all involved.

In the above-noted thread, there was a consensus from Event Sponsors that lead generation is the top metric. Which is understandable – investment and participation as an Event Sponsor is a business development activity. From this agreement, however, thoughts deviated: Event Sponsors noted tracking leads/qualified leads, conversion, information requests, booth visits, revenue, and, ultimately, ROI as metrics. These are interrelated, yet separate ways to measure and evaluate success at an event. (It should be noted that the format of event – whether a trade show, seminar, or Webinar, for example, comes into play regarding the metric used.)

Interestingly, there was nominal mention from these Event Sponsor marketers referencing pure event volume. This is a disconnect: volume is a key metric for an Event Organizers’ marketing team from a revenue perspective. The drive to volume is augmented, in general, by the Event Organizers perception that their Event Sponsors want volume, volume, volume. From the comments I read, however, this is simply not the case. Event Sponsors are looking for volume only as a numbers game – the more attendees, the more opportunities for qualified leads.

A couple of marketers noted using revenue (and/or ROI) as a metric. This is the truest consistent metric for both Event Sponsors and Organizers – but it is also the one requiring the most coordination and alignment to establish. As one person noted, “There can't be finger pointing about marketing giving sales good leads they don't follow up, or sales saying the leads were really no good.” In other words, a strong sales and marketing relationship is essential. (An additional challenge is how to factor re-sign revenue – a traditional Event Organization metric for sponsor sales – within ROI calculations. The thought here is that while it is a KPI for the current year, the revenue would count toward next year’s ROI.)

There were and are other metrics noted in the discussion – reputational/press activity, site activity pre/post event, word-of-mouth activity and measurement being some. While fluctuations in these factors can be indicative of participation in an event, these are softer measures – and more challenging to develop.

In short, metrics for a successful event are more than a numbers game – it is an activity, from the Event Organizers’ side, of generating quality attendee volume (with re-sign and cross sell potential) and sponsor revenue (with renewal potential) – with the measure being ROI (either against the marketing spend or all costs). From the attendees generated, the Event Sponsors’ metric is more than lead gen and conversion numbers – it is the revenue generated from these leads measured against investment in the event. Again, this all requires alignment and coordinated interdependencies – but will ultimate deliver positive results for all parties.

Feel free to add your thoughts, best practices (and things to avoid!) in establishing and measuring your mertics - keep the dialogue going!

Good luck!



  1. Actually the implementation of a metric system is around one key: the outcome of the activity (either an event or anything else). That means you have to start with the definition of your desired effect of the activity.
    The rest are support metrics: input (i.e. how many sponsors have you got), process (how many people participated), output (how many contacts have you established).
    But what matters is the intended outcome. The metric definition for your outcome is part of defining the out come and is specific to your needs.

  2. Hi - agreed. You can measure just about any activity as long as the goals and measurements are well defined up front. As far as ROI is concerned, one has to make sure that the variables are agreed to so that everyone is measuring the same things. If it is about leads, it is vital to meet with sales/inside sales prior to the event so that they receive the data in a format that they can use. Also helpful (but difficult) to do is to receive reports on how far along the leads collected are in the sale cycle so that the event gets credit for it's ROI.