This article has been written by Kristen Bowie. Kristen is a marketing leader, forging the path with data-driven decisions. When she’s not writing for thought leadership and creating sponsorship proposals at Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two urban dwarf goats, painting, or is out watching a local band. 

Events are a crucial part of your overall marketing mix and while this may seem surprising, it shouldn’t be. Real life experiences have the unique ability to shape our perceptions and feelings in a way that we can’t quite explain, but it’s much more profound than anything we feel when confronted by advertising or anything we consume in the media.

Every business event has different needs, so the onus is on leaders to figure out which data points they need to measure data accurately and match it to the goals they need for their event. Every action you take as an event leader should be focused around building your push towards organizational goals. Make a list of the data that is most important to your organization and how it fits into your goals. This will help you with your ROI calculations later. Here’s a basic list of the data you’ll need:

  • Attendees
  • Leads
  • Qualified Sales Opportunities
  • Registrations
  • Sales
  • Social Mentions or Likes
  • Survey Responses
  • Event Website Referrals and Conversions
  • Search Ad Impressions and Clicks

At this juncture, it’s also crucial to track the performance of your ticket packages. Tracking things like the sales of an early bird, general, and VIP packages will help easily identify patterns with drivers of revenue and will also identify other gaps and problems in the funnel.

For example, do the early birds bring in money at the beginning of ticket sales, but present problems later on because they have a high refund ratio? Taking note of data anomalies like this will help you identify places where your team can improve, making event promotion and execution more focused and efficient.

Turning Your Event Into An ROI Super Star

Tracking all of these metrics is a great idea, but it can be difficult to make sure that all of your data points are connected properly in a meaningful way. Also, once you’ve got those numbers…how do you improve them? Let’s go over some tips that will turn your business events into the profit-generating unicorns they ought to be:

1. Define Objectives, Define a Starting Point

There are countless numbers of metrics to track, which makes it difficult to get a clear indication of where your baseline is before you begin making any necessary changes. Defining your objectives outline the metrics that you should track and defining a starting point outlines the baseline with which you can get the ball rolling on any metrics you’d like to improve, allows you to more efficiently maximize data touchpoints, and enable you to build inbound sales momentum.

2. Real-Time Optimization To Event Registration Funnel

We talk a lot about funnels, but are you actively testing and optimizing yours? As you explore any event registration data, you may begin to notice patterns in behavior. This could be Facebook ads driving traffic faster than any other channel- which is a clear indicator that you should allocate additional funding while pulling back on the budget on another lesser performing channel. Real-time optimization like this while registrations are coming in allows you to retain tremendous control over the success of your event.

3. Plan Ahead

Taking the time to calculate ROI and analyze the data you pull in will ultimately help you understand how your latest event performed and how it measures up against past events as a whole. Once you’ve established that cadence, it’s time to put it into action. This allows you and your team to plan future events confidently without ‘guesstimating.’

Using data to optimize your marketing will help you identify which experiences are most worth it for your particular organizational goals. Take a look at past attendee data- when the bulk of attendees have historically registered for your events and what drove actions in the past. You can then use this information to optimize your team’s marketing timeline.

4. Identify Event Benefits

Successful events are fantastic motivators for staff, giving them direction for future objectives. If your team feels that they participated in something special, they will carry that inspiration with them throughout the year.

As far as marketing goes, events get your company name out there and that alone is fantastic for morale. A great event allows your team to feel connected by the experience alone- which drives future success for your organization.

5. Secure Sponsorships Early

Perhaps the most immediate, simplest and fastest way to boost ROI is to spend less money and get the same (or even better) results. Acquiring sponsorships are probably the best way to do this. Develop a pitch deck, identify companies that would be perfect additions to your event. Don’t forget the smaller businesses locally as potential prospective sponsors.

6. Use Crowd-Shaping To Create Event Atmosphere

Crowd-shaping uses attendee wearables and mobile devices to help shape the way they interact, perceive, and experience your business event. Utilizing crowd shaping allows your team to monitor where people linger and observe their general patterns of engagement.

These tools give marketers the ability to gain insight into what attendees interact with, read, linger, and helps you convert more of those attendees into customers. You can use this data to drive decisions about everything from the placement of promotional materials to representatives from your company.

7. Social Listening for Live Feedback

While you are marketing for a business event, there should be a concerted effort to listen to your attendees on social media for real-time feedback. This allows you to address problems and any questions, enhancing the attendee experience and boosting your overall ROI.

8. Track All URLs

If you’re not setting up every channel promotion with its own URL and landing page, you’re losing valuable data. Ensuring that you’re tracking every URL used with the campaign doesn’t require expensive marketing tools and platforms. You can often do it for free.

Tools like Google’s URL Builder allow you to track pages in a way where you can see if your marketing efforts are working or not. If you find that it’s falling flat somewhere, you can try a different method or even just divert efforts to a marketing initiative that’s doing well.

9. Prevent Logistical Issues

There isn’t a single event attendee in the world that relishes long lines or missing out on interesting workshops because the rooms are too small to hold participants. Allowing your registrants to check in to the event, access scheduled aspects of your event like workshops, and even sign up for certain parts of your event helps to prevent negative experiences and creates a natural flow.

10. Communicate Results To Your Team And VIPs

Sharing any feedback to the event combined with overall take-aways is crucial. This is a vital step to ensure future investment in events and gives your team focus for achieving better results down the road.

The Take-Away

The message is clear: tracking data is the only sure way to have complete control over event messaging and gives you the information you need to stop guessing and start making actionable decisions that deliver clear value to your organization’s objectives.

Setting your company up for success now will help to drive future value to your event-marketing as well as clearly define changes that need to be made. Begin defining your relationships with your target market in a meaningful way by connecting the points in your data and utilizing the results in actionable ways to define future success.