When it comes to marketing your organization, few things are more effective than holding an event. But how can you really tell if the event was a success? Attendance can be a sign of successful ticket sales, but it does not necessarily indicate a successful event. You will want something more than that, something that takes a deeper dive into the numbers and shows your return on investment. If you are not tracking the right metrics, how will you ever increase revenue and improve your events? Here is a closer look at 9 key metrics for tracking event success so you can grow your returns and create even better events in the future:
Tracking key performance indicators (KPI) should start before your event even happens. Obviously, one of the first things you will want to track for any paid event is ticket sales. Do not just focus on the overall numbers, dig a little deeper. Track sales by ticket type. Track early bird sales, VIP sales, and general admission sales. Having these numbers will help you see if early bird sales impacted regular ticket sales and whether or not VIP tickets were an attractive option or a waste of your efforts. It is also worth tracking where the ticket sales are coming from. If you know which marketing channels are generating the most sales, you can focus your marketing strategy accordingly.
Collect as much data as you can on your guests. If you can find out where your attendees are traveling from, you can get a sense of which geographical areas are expressing the most interest in your event. If you are hosting a conference, for example, knowing where the attendees are coming from will give you an idea of which locations should get extra attention from your marketing team while also giving you potential locations for related future events. This information can also tell you exactly where your marketing campaigns have been most successful. The location of buyers can be one of the sales metrics used to determine just how successful your event has been as a whole.
What is the conversion rate for your website? Using Google Analytics or some other tracking platform, track how many times your page has been viewed. This will give you an idea of how many people may be aware of your event. Then, take a look at the number of tickets sold or registrations received during the same time period to find your conversion rate. Your ticketing platform should have a direct integration with Google Analytics to automatically calculate your conversion rate. Understanding this number will help you to better understand the effectiveness of your website. If people are reaching your page but not buying a ticket, something isn’t right. This is especially true if sales are humming along through other channels. A large number of people visiting your page would suggest a big interest in your event. If your conversion rate is low, consider a redesign to make the page cleaner and more intuitive or use an event ticketing software to streamline the purchasing process. If buying tickets on your website is complicated, you can be sure people will take a pass.
Sending event-related emails should be a part of your marketing efforts, but those efforts will be lost if people are not engaging with your emails. These days, most people have a pretty full inbox so to make a dent, you’ll have to stand out from the rest. There are a couple of different performance indicators you should track related to emails. Take a look at open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate. On average:
If your open and click rates are well below these averages, it is worth taking another look at your email campaign and list quality. For a low open rate, consider sending your emails at a different time of day and create a sense of urgency in your subject line. If you are offering a limited-time deal, say so. If you can personalize your emails, put the receiver's name in the subject link. It is also a good idea to consider changing the name of your sender. If you have a well-known person who will be delivering the keynote at your event, see if they would be willing to let you use their name in this particular element of your event marketing. For low click-through rates, try moving those links to the top of the email. People may be distracted by lots of text and lose the plot before they even reach your link. Alternately, if the link is already near the top, try adding more links to the email. Consider adding a link to your event pages on social media, your event website, any landing pages you have created, and, of course, your event ticketing site. It isn’t necessary to add all those links but if each one eventually funnels your audience towards a ticket purchase, you increase the likelihood of a sale by allowing the email recipient to choose their own direction.
Social media activity should be tracked before, during, and after your event. Social media is an absolute goldmine for performance indicators. Obviously, leading up to the event, you will want to encourage as much engagement as possible. Marketers know that social media is a great way to attract attention, promote brand awareness, and create buzz for your event. Content marketing, for example, can provide valuable content which creates an opportunity for lead generation through social shares. Fortunately, social media metrics are not hard to find. You can use an outside app but for platforms like Facebook, a good portion of the analytics and insights you will need are right there. One way to build your brand through social channels is to create a hashtag. A hashtag can help you track what active users are saying and any user-generated content, like images and videos, they have posted. Resharing that content through your main handle can also generate increased interest. It is a good idea to track likes, shares, and comments. By monitoring these engagements, you have an opportunity to respond, answer questions, or thank attendees. These interactions will help further promote your brand and may lead to ongoing support. Social media can also be used to track engagement with your event sponsors. This data may be critical to keeping sponsors satisfied and prime them to partner with you again in the future. You can discover how people responded to mentions of the sponsor, how many new followers were generated, which posts performed the best, and how many times you mentioned the sponsor.
Not everyone who registers will show. It is almost a guarantee that a few people will be unable to attend your event. But, if you see a big difference between ticket sales and actual event check-in/attendance, it may signal a problem. If this is the case, it is possible that your marketing campaigns were a rousing success but the event itself failed to capture enough interest to encourage actual attendance and participation. Some of the reasons people may fail to attend your event include:
One key performance metric worth tracking is customer satisfaction. What is the best way to find out how someone feels about your event? Ask them. A Post Event Survey is an effective way to gauge the success of your event. Be sure to ask questions about the venue, the event agenda, the speakers, the catering, the theme, overall impressions, and the likelihood that someone would participate in or recommend a similar event in the future. The responses to these questions will provide valuable insights into your event success and help you identify any shortcomings or areas you can improve for future events. A post-event survey will also enable you to calculate the net promoter score.
The net promoter score will help you determine how valuable your event was to attendees. Luckily, calculating this promoter score is pretty simple. On your post-event survey, ask attendees: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this event to a friend/family member/colleague? Once you have collected the surveys, you can categorize the answers into the following groups: detractors, passives, and promoters. Detractors will have scored their answer in the 0-6 range, meaning they are unlikely to recommend your event. Passives fall in the 7-8 range, meaning they might recommend. Promoters are in the 9-10 range and are enthusiastic about sharing your event. Once you’ve tallied the numbers, you can plug them into the net promoter score equation.
NPS = [(Number of Promoters – Number of Detractors) / (Total Number of Respondents)] * 100
For example, if you have 120 attendees that break down like this: 15 detractors, 40 passives, and 65 promoters, the math will look like this:
To help put this score in perspective, a score greater than 0 (it is possible to get a negative score!), means your event was generally well-received and most people would consider recommending it. A score greater than 50 indicates a resounding success!
As was made obvious by this list, revenue is not the only measure of event success but it is certainly one of the easiest to figure out. If your event made money, it probably wasn’t a failure. Understanding the returns earned through your event requires more than just adding up ticket sales. To find out the return on your investment, you’ll need to subtract your expense from your ticket sales. It is important to remember that ticket sales may not be your only revenue source. If you have vendors on site, do not forget to add in their fee and include any merchandise sales or sponsorships. One of the best ways to understand the revenue generated by your event is to set goals in the planning stages. What does success look like for your event or organization? Is it a dollar amount or an attendance number? Once you have defined these goals, you can allocate projected costs and revenues in your budget. If the goal is brand awareness, you need to consider factors like web traffic and social media engagement. This means you’ll have to budget for marketing, for example, on top of all the other event-related expenses. Clearly defining your goals will give you a clear path forward in planning the event and give you clear metrics for tracking your success. When the event is over, you can input the real numbers into the budget and see how you fare. Obviously, if you’re in the black, you’ve had success!
Using an app like Accelevents can not only help you sell tickets easily, it can also help you build a quality website and promote your event through your social channels. Accelevents even integrates with email platforms like MailChimp to help you send branded event emails with ease. And when it comes to tracking your event’s success, make sure your event system can provide you with real-time insights and analytics including ticket sales, funds raised, and web traffic (including the location of the traffic!). These 9 key metrics will not only help you understand the success of your current event but will give you the data you need to justify expenses, target advertising, enhance sales team performance, satisfy sponsors, and improve upon your events in the future. How you define success will be based on the goals of your organization or event planning team. Using these 9 key metrics will help you clearly understand what is working and what is not so you can offer the best product to your target audience.