From promoting brand awareness and creating a sense of community to increasing revenue and staying on top of the competition, there are several reasons why people host events.
To ensure that you’ve met or exceeded the expectations of your attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and other stakeholders, you’ll need to be able to measure the success of your event.
While there’s no single master number that determines how successful a particular event is, you can use several key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure event success.
Read on to learn more about the different metrics and methods you can use.
Defining key performance indicators
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable and measurable metrics that are utilized to evaluate the overall performance of an event. With a performance assessment based on KPIs, you’ll identify the things that went well, things that did not, and whether the event resulted in a positive ROI.
Establish three to five event KPIs that are relevant to your event goals. Examples include social media engagement, qualified leads generated, and attendance rate. Note that getting a low score in one KPI doesn’t automatically mean event failure. Even if you have a low attendance rate, you can still have a good number of qualified leads.
Using a Mix of Qualitative & Quantitative Success Metrics
To develop a deeper understanding of event success, you should use a combination of quantitative and qualitative indicators. The former gives you clear numbers, while the latter lets you see areas for improvement.
Examples of quantitative indicators include event check-in and registration rates. You’ll know whether you need to increase your marketing efforts, and you can easily compare present and previous numbers to see trends.
Meanwhile, examples of qualitative indicators include social media comments and feedback from surveys. Through these methods, you’ll get honest and detailed responses, so you’ll know which aspects you did well on and which you need to improve on in order to exceed attendees’ expectations.
Check out our quick catalog of popular quantitative and qualitative KPIs…
1. Post-event surveys
Surveys offer a valuable tool for measuring your event’s success and gathering feedback from your attendees. These let you know their level of satisfaction with the event and the reasons behind it. To encourage participation, offer incentives like vouchers and early-bird discounts for your next event.
Formulate questions that measure attendees’ likelihood of participating in your future events or purchasing your products. Moreover, keep the survey short and direct. Post-event surveys could also be anonymized. What matters is you get honest feedback, which you can use to prepare your future events more strategically for better results. .
2. Social media activity & engagement
Social media allows you to build excitement before, during, and after your event. Given how connected people are in the digital world, event metrics like social media activity can almost be a real-time indicator of event success. By monitoring social media activity, you can understand your attendees’ experience and gather authentic feedback.
To measure engagement and event success, use metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and retweets. You can also let the audience use a specific hashtag for the event. This way, you can easily determine the number of times the hashtag has been mentioned and shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms.
3. Sales numbers and event attendance
Sales numbers and attendance are clear metrics of event success. These are often the first event marketing KPIs that event planners check when measuring success. With these metrics, you can identify who attended the event, like first-timers or repeat customers. You’ll also know whether you are providing value to the attendees and determine how much you’ve piqued their interest in your product, service, or brand to convert them into loyal customers.
You can also compare the number of people who purchased tickets and the number of people who participated in the event. Measure other metrics, too, such as free trial usage and newsletter sign-ups.
4. Revenue vs. overhead cost
To determine the financial success of your event, measure your revenue against anticipated and actual costs. Comparing them will let you determine how much profit or loss you’ve had from the event. You can also use these event metrics to track future events’ success and help improve the ratio. Stakeholders like investors and sponsors would love to see these event KPIs, too.
Understand, however, that high costs do not necessarily mean failure, provided that the revenue outweighs the cost. Events can be seen as investments, and many businesses treat them as profit generators.
5. Event app usage & integration
Event success metrics should also include using an event app. You can easily send notifications and relevant information to your attendees, and they can also have access to a personalized schedule. Moreover, you can use the app to send surveys and ask for feedback during live events and presentations as well as after the event.
The event app also makes it easier to link to your social media pages. You can determine which content received the most engagement and which activities or sessions had the highest attendance. Urge attendees to use the app more by offering incentives, like vouchers and meet-the-speaker privileges.
6. Sponsor recognition
Similar to your attendees, sponsors play a crucial role in your event, so their feedback is also valuable. Take the time to listen to your sponsors’ concerns, commendations, and recommendations. Showing them how much you value their feedback can lead to more collaborations in the future.
Note that event goals and sponsors’ goals may differ. Hence, understand their goals and how they measure success to align these with some relevant parts of your event. You can also give them opportunities to engage with your attendees and highlight their product or brand. Acknowledging their contributions and sharing the event’s results can help you build a positive relationship with your sponsors.
7. Speaker engagement
Engaged attendees are likelier to answer polls, engage with speakers, and check the event app to learn more about the speaker. Since they’re using the app, it’s a perfect opportunity to measure attendees’ engagement and preferences through polls. Determine the specific sections or sessions of the event that they enjoyed and appreciated the most.
Moreover, the number of comments and posts that attendees left, the number of segments viewed, and the length of time that attendees spent on the event app will let you determine what caught the audience’s attention and what did not.
8. Live polling response rate
To understand attendees’ engagement in real-time, use live polling, and measure the response rate to know how attentive the attendees were. With this metric, you’ll know how interesting your event speakers were and how interested the audience was. You can also use the numbers to determine which sessions and sections of the event were most successful.
To help prevent attendees from getting distracted or inactive, you might want to poll your attendees regularly, such as every 20 minutes or so. If it’s an in-person event, the host can directly interact with the guests and ask questions through the polls to help increase engagement.
9. Number of returning attendees
One clear indication of event success is a high number of returning attendees. They enjoyed their previous experience and discovered value from your event. Collect and evaluate your event data and use it to understand which particular event sessions resonated the most with attendees.
You can also use such data as a reference to further improve your upcoming events. If people aren’t coming back, then perhaps you should revisit your strategies and come up with new offers and opportunities. Even with a good number of returning participants, you should continue to present something new when hosting future events to keep their loyalty.
10. Sales leads and new opportunities
The key to motivating sales teams to generate new opportunities is competition. Offer incentives to encourage them to build such opportunities. Afterward, measure the number and quality of new opportunities created at the event, and determine the potential monetary value of these opportunities.
Defining event metrics like sales leads generated varies per organization. Before measuring this KPI, set clear criteria. Qualified leads can come from a specific industry, hold a certain position in their organization, or show a need to purchase your product. Whether it’s a done deal or just a prospect, you stand to turn a profit.