Jennifer Hawkins
Jennifer Hawkins

Measuring return on investment (ROI) has long been the key factor in determining the success of any type of campaign. Being able to demonstrate just what you have achieved as a result of your financial commitment is not just common sense, but also human instinct.

As technology continues to shape the way events are delivered, it brings with it new ways to monitor ROI. However, like any new development we must first learn how to use the technology and interpret its results.

Having lead the way in the development of event-specific software – including bespoke apps for some of the world’s leading events – DoubleDutch is a company well-placed to offer advice on how to measure event ROI.

Event Industry News invited the company’s Director of Marketing Jennifer Hawkins to a Q&A session on the subject.

What is event ROI?

Event ROI is a buzzword we hear a lot, and essentially it’s a quantitative way to measure event success. Return on your event investment should be determined based on your event goals. For example, if the goal of your event is lead generation, then ROI would be measured based on the 1) true investment cost (not just the venue, but also the people cost, etc), and 2) the quantity and quality of leads captured. If you generated lots of new leads, but none of the leads were revenue drivers for your business, then it may not be positive ROI.

If the goal was to actually make money from sponsorships or exhibitors, then ROI would be measured based on the revenue that was brought in after all event expenses are accounted for. Event ROI becomes a little bit trickier when the goals are less quantitative. That’s where an app like DoubleDutch can be extremely useful. For example, many conferences might be focused on educating attendees on a given topic, so ROI for an event like this might be based on whether attendee engagement and retention of the content. And then, of course, whether or not people show up is a universal metric for ROI; if you invested time and money in an event and people didn’t show up, then you might want to reevaluate.

What tools help to measure event ROI?

There are several tools that can be useful in measuring event ROI – once again, it is dependent on the event goals. Using a registration system like Eventbrite can be a useful tool to used to drum up visibility, track social lift, and ultimately increase registration, which impacts ROI. DoubleDutch and other event apps may be effective tools in measuring event ROI. Every tap and gesture made within the app is captured, providing event organizers with important insights into the attendee experience and their level of engagement. If the event goal was education, you may find that post-event surveys, session check-in data, and speaker ratings will inform event success. If you work with an inherently data-driven app vendor, you may have a number of new ways to quantify things that were previously unquantifiable.

What key metrics should I be measuring?

There are no one-size fits all metrics for events, but there several key metrics that organisers should be measuring:

  1. Registration: How well do I market / sell / advertise my event?
  2. Attendance: Is my marketing message and event draws good enough to get those that registered to actually attend?
  3. Engagement: Are people engaging with your brand and your event? How engaged are people with the content, speakers, and other attendees? This will likely determine whether they attend future events or recommend it to their peers and colleagues.
  4. Satisfaction: Are people happy? What is causing that happiness?

Are there any success stories?

Yes. We have seen many DoubleDutch customers successfully measure and increase event ROI based on the goals they set for their event using our event app.SAP: 60% of SAP’s revenue globally is a direct result of their proprietary events. Therefore, they wanted to use the DoubleDutch app to measure and increase ROI by generating more value from their events. They wanted the ability to tell salespeople which attendees are interested in which products and to what degree, all based on event app engagement data.

By gathering attendee feedback from in-app surveys and taking it to heart, SAP ensured their prospects were happy and receptive to future events, exploring new products, and more. As attendees engaged with the app during the event, robust app engagement data was compiled.

Post-event, SAP was able to see which topics, sessions, and speakers were most influential and well-received. That data was then attached to the lead records in SAP’s CRM (customer relationship management system) to better educate sales representatives on the lead’s interests and stage in the lifecycle. Based on this data, SAP was able to match their sales reps with attendees. The sales reps then knew in advance what the prospect was interested in at the conference, which helped to better tailor their conversations and target them with appropriate products and services.

Because of this addition, SAP was able to increase closed deals significantly compared to events with no event app. The average deal size of event-sourced leads increased, as well. These results made a monumental impact on event ROI, and raised the bar for future events. (Read the full case study here)

TFM&A: UBM Live for TFM&A is the U.K.’s most established event for marketing professionals, and their goal is to provide marketing professionals with the opportunity to network, connect with exhibitors and learn about the most innovative technologies in the marketing space. They wanted to use the DoubleDutch app to measure their ability to engage attendees and facilitate these interactions.

The app was a tremendous success; attendees used the attendee list to meet with other marketing professionals they would not have been able to connect with otherwise, and exhibitors were able to leverage the app to find and attract the right people to their booths. Many of the attendees also reported back to UBM that the app helped them navigate the show and organize their agendas, and UBM was able to use DoubleDutch’s analytics to track their success and measure event ROI both in real-time as well as post event. (Watch the video here.)

What does measuring ROI mean for my event business, my exhibitors and sponsors, my attendees?

For your event business: It means you are able to use defined metrics to measure event success.

For your exhibitors and sponsors: It means they are able to measure their visibility and lead generation and gauge whether exhibiting at or sponsoring your event was worth the expense.

For your attendees: It means an event that is worth their while. If an organizer is able to see – often in real-time – what is working and what is not, they are able to improve everything from the music to what they serve for lunch.

What happens if I don’t measure ROI?

If you don’t measure ROI you miss a tremendous opportunity to determine the success – and failures – of your event. Once the venue doors open and your event begins, you have no reliable way of knowing if your exhibitors are generating leads, if your sponsors are reaching their target audience, or if your attendees feel that the event has been worth their time and money. It’s like walking around in the dark.