There’s far more to measuring event success than just looking at the number of ticket sales. You need to look at multiple key performance indicators (KPI) in order to get a solid idea of how well the conference as a whole turned out and how it will affect your company moving forward.
Here is a short list of event management KPI for gauging your success. These are the KPIs that we personally use when measuring our client’s events.
Acquisition in this sense refers to the number of people who registered or RSVPed versus the number of people that actually showed up at the door.
You may have a high initial registration rate, but if a good number fail to show up, then that is something that needs to be addressed. This is a common problem with events with free admission.
We also recommend that you look at the number of walk-ins, which provides some degree of buffer if many people end up being a no-show. Another point to look at is the number of people who indicated “maybe” in the RSVP that actually showed up.
This follows from the previous point. How many people actually attend? We have hosted events where turnout was roughly half of the number of registered guests.
You should have a target number in mind, which is separate from the registration or RSVP target number. Did the turnout meet or exceed the target number? If not, what remedies will be taken to meet those goals?
The attendance number can also be broken up and categorised.
- How many of the guests, for example, are first-time attendees?
- How many were VIP guests?
- Finally, what is the number of prospective customer’s vs non-prospective customer’s?
The former refers to people actually interested and involved in the industry, while the latter usually pertain to family and friends that are just tagging along and otherwise uninterested.
3. Attendee Satisfaction
A high turnout isn’t an automatic indicator of a successful event. In fact, a hefty turnout can even be a negative if the event was largely met with dissatisfaction.
We have seen events that were vastly disorganised and littered with guest complaints. Attendees later made their dismay known via social media, thus spreading the word.
Gauging attendee satisfaction is a must. You can achieve this by sending out post-event surveys. Ask simple questions for various aspects of the event using a one-to-10 scale. If certain questions are rated below a five, ask why.
A few sample questions are highlighted below:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, did you feel the speaker effectively delivered his message? If below a 5, please explain why.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, did you feel the staff adequately catered to attendee needs and enquiries? If below a 5, please explain why.
You should average the score for each category and set a benchmark number. Don’t take it as a failure, though, if scores fell below average. Just use the feedback for improvement for future events.
Another event management KPI we always recommend clients use is loyalty.
Loyalty in this sense refers to guests who have completed one or more of the following:
- Have attended multiple events
- Have brought guests
- Have participated in pre-event activities, such as social media contests
- Have generously provided user generated content
- Have actively used your event hashtag
Loyal attendees are far more valuable than a one-time attendee or guests merely attending because they were accompanying a colleague or friend. What is the number of loyal guests vs non-loyal guests?
Even if you have a high turnout, the numbers may not translate to long-term success if the bulk of the guests belong to the non-loyal or low-prospect category.
5. Sponsor Recognition
It’s not just the attendees you need to satisfy. You also need to worry about how your sponsors interpreted the event.
Sponsor impression is an event management KPI that is almost always overlooked and one we always have to remind our clients to measure.
Part of your post-event activities should include a sit-down with your sponsor. Review the event and get their perspective.
- You may have viewed the event as a success but does your sponsor feel the same way?
- Did they feel like they got out of it what you promised?
- Can you count on your event sponsor to have your back again for the next conference?
An internal review from your department should include a list of what went right and what can be improved. Have your sponsor submit their own review with the promise to take the feedback into consideration.
6. Social Media Activity
We always stress to our clients that they aggressively use social media to promote their event before, during, and after the event. They also need to closely analyse their metrics to determine how often are their followers engaging.
Essentially, you should be monitoring your social networks for the following:
- The click through rate of your paid ads
- Website traffic and enquiries
- The number of times your event hashtag has been used
- The number of likes and comments on each event-related post
- The participation rate of social media contests
Any good event marketing guide includes a multi-path approach when it comes to conference promotion. Diversify your methods and measure the numbers each method yields.
7. Follow-Up Activity
Ultimately, the purpose of an event is to create more brand awareness that will hopefully lead to more sales, program signups, and referrals. This is precisely what you need to measure in the days and weeks following an event.
Here are some follow-up activities to measure:
- The number of new referrals
- The number of signups for programs and services
- The number of purchases (both the launched product and products in general)
- Social media, is there an increased activity on your social networks?
- Event hashtag – yes, you need to continue to measure your event hashtag even after the event
Measure the above activities at set intervals. We recommend 24 hours after the event and every 24 hours after that for the next seven days.
8. Press Coverage
This may not pertain to every company. Some companies, though, may be interested in generating media coverage, at least at a local level. If this is the case, then how many media outlets covered it? This includes outlets from different mediums, such as radio, print media, television, and online publications.
Also, be sure to measure the amount of traffic each outlet generates for you. If your event was covered in an online news site, how many views, shares, and comments did it get? You can also contribute to the traffic by linking to those sites on your social networks.
To get press coverage, send out a press release several weeks out. You should also submit a media advisory to local outlets, not to mention contacting reporters directly and inviting them to the event with a free pass.
9. Revenue vs Overhead
How much overhead did you spend compared to the sum total of money brought in from ticket sales, product purchases, and service signups? We always advise our clients to try to spend less compared to their last event while retaining the same level of quality.
The end goal is to raise more brand awareness and acquire high-quality leads, but it doesn’t hurt to have a secondary goal of earning additional revenue directly from the event. If this is the case, then look for areas where you can save, while also looking for ways to make more money through item sales.
Have a benchmark for revenue earned after you account for all overhead spending.
We certainly hope you found this article useful. Event management KPI is something we can’t stress enough. Without it, how would you know if your efforts yielded fruit?
On the subject of events, here are a few good conference venues in London that exceed our personal expectations. Also, be sure to contact Ultimate Experience for corporate event planning services.
Do you have a conference venue you particularly like or hope to secure one day? Please share your favourite event venue or KPI measurement strategy by tweeting to @UltimateExp.