After your business has hosted an event, you’ll need to determine whether it was a success in terms of supporting your marketing goals.
Does your company produce events for your customers, prospects, employees or other stakeholders? Are events a key component of your business and marketing strategies? If so, how do you know they are achieving the results you desire?
Events – such as seminars, conferences, workshops, awards programs, roadshows, study tours, exhibitions, product launches, gala dinners and cocktail functions – can positively affect your business in many ways. However, companies that facilitate such events often fail to accurately evaluate their impact.
Here are five useful criteria you might consider for assessing the success (or otherwise) of the next event run by your business.
The first, and simplest, measure to consider is the number of people who register for, and turn up to, your event.
If you promote the event well, the number of people who register to attend can be impressive. Its ultimate appeal, however, will be proven by the number who attend on the day – especially if it’s a free event.
You can begin by comparing the number of people to whom you promoted the event with the number of ticket sales. Then compare ticket sales with actual attendance figures. The ratios can be revealing.
For recurring events, it’s also valuable to track these numbers and ratios year-on-year – or even month-on-month for more frequent events.
In addition, it pays to gauge the quality and status of attendees. The best way to do this by asking for their details at the time of registration. On your website registration page, you can include a drop-down list of professional categories (this will help you segment attendee profiles). And by asking “Where did you hear about our event?” you can gauge the success of different marketing channels.
Your event will not have been a success if most attendees did not value the experience highly. So, how can you assess participants’ satisfaction levels?
Speak with as many attendees as you can during the event to get their feedback in detail. You can ask for their overall impressions and pose specific questions about the quality of the event’s content, timing, venue, catering and relevance to their specific needs.
Attendee feedback can be solicited in many ways, such as paper forms (with a give-away prize), a short survey via email, and through platforms such as sli.do. Ask for opinions in your social media updates.
When attendees have enjoyed your event, they are likely to return to similar events you run in the future. They are likely to consider your brand, business, products and services in a more positive light than they may have before.
Attendee feedback can also help you to identify problems. This will assist your planning for future events.
The volume and quality of social media engagement in relation to your event provides a useful indication of its effectiveness in generating brand awareness for your business.
In the months, weeks and days before an event, it’s worth using social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to create interest and promote ticket sales.
On Twitter and Instagram, create and publicise the event hashtag as frequently as possible. Create a custom hashtag that hasn’t been taken and ensure that your social media handle and hashtag can be seen easily by attendees. You can even have dedicated social media screens at the event showing all the posts that have tagged your handle and hashtag.
On the day, you can achieve considerable traction with your Twitter audience by live tweeting about the highlights. Include on-the-spot photos to accompany any written messages.
In the days after, you can post social media updates to thank participants and sponsors, and to promote further, upcoming events.
Throughout this process, engage with anyone who posts updates about the event on the same channels. Monitor responses (likes, shares etc) to your updates and, where possible, respond to the responses.
If, after all this, the social media buzz associated with your event is active and positive, that’s a good indication that your event has been a success. If the buzz is negative or non-existent, you may need to re-think your event strategy.
While you’re at it, keep an eye on any coverage your event receives in traditional print or broadcast media. If, for example, it is mentioned positively in your industry’s trade magazine or newsletter – or in a mainstream newspaper article, a radio program or television news – you can have some confidence that it has gone well. To that end, be sure to invite influential media representatives to the event.
One of the main reasons businesses host their own events is to position themselves as thought leaders and innovators in their industries.
When your business facilitates an event that features well-known industry experts, and addresses the most topical industry issues, participants are likely to view your brand as a leader in the market.
You’ll know your event has been a success in bolstering your brand’s reputation if, in the days and months afterward, you are contacted by industry commentators and journalists for your opinion on relevant topics.
Other potential benefits of enhanced brand positioning may include an improving trend of your customer acquisition and retention figures improving, and unsolicited sales enquiries increasing.
Events are also great opportunities to generate and nurture sales leads among attendees who may be prospects. There may even be a chance to close deals at the event, or to up-sell and cross-sell to existing customers.
At the very least, an event should enable you to accelerate the sales cycle with a selection of attendees.
By measuring the number of sales leads, and sales, that you secure at an event, you can evaluate its success or failure as a business development vehicle.
Before you decide to host a business event, you should first determine your specific objectives. In the aftermath, you can measure your success against them. The clarity of your metrics is directly proportionate to the clarity of your objectives.
If, for example, you promote a presentation by an influential international commentator in your industry, with the objective of attracting senior industry decision-makers, you can easily gauge success by the number of (pre-identified) decision-makers who attend, and their relative status.
Likewise, if the primary objective of your event is to generate brand awareness, you can measure its success by monitoring the amount and quality of exposure it receives on social media and in traditional media outlets.
The clearer you are about your objectives, and the more rigorous you are about measuring your event’s performance against them, the more effective you will be in assessing the value of the event for your business.