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Is any metric better than no metric?  Well, not really.  Like many things in marketing, it’s not quite a black and white issue, a bit more gray.  What truly defines a company is whether or not it can understand its core value.  Essentially, what is the company’s one key metric?  Having one per business unit makes marketing sense.  This one key metric or “OKM” term was coined by Mixpanel’s CEO, Suhail Doshi, and it rings true even for events.  In fact, it is especially true for events.  But we’re going to break the mold (only slightly) with three OKMs.  Here are three OKMs we use to evaluate the success of any event from an event professional’s perspective.

1. Did your event grow?

Was one of your goals to grow your attendance or increase bookings from the previous year’s event? Did you know airlines intentionally oversell seats because they know statistically, a certain number of people do not show up and miss their flight?  While a multitude of factors can keep attendees from actually attending, it’s important to understand whether or not growth is even important to your event.  If it is, did you reach your minimums and maximums for the event?

Across more than 200 events with internal company data, we’ve seen that event growth (from a previous year) around 7-8% is a solid indicator of the success in terms of reaching critical mass on social media.  The critical mass is the tipping point in achieving “social reach.”  The term is one we use to evaluate the “socialness” of the event.   With easier social reach, your event will acquire new attendees, simply by virtue of your attendees networks.  For example, in the UK, Event Tech Live 2014 was an event that had tremendous growth, hovering just under 29% in terms of social media acquisitions that were a direct result of registering via social media.

So, ask yourself, what is your OKM for growth? Is it 2, 5 or 10% growth?  It’s important to be both realistic and ambitious.

2. Was there a targeted amount of buzz surrounding the event?

Did you have enough buzz around your event?  How can you tell?  It all depends on how you promote your show, but but most shows can (and should) at least use Twitter.  This makes it easy to gain insights by establishing a show hashtag and including it in all of your marketing materials.  Think of something simple and memorable.  Then, simply search on your hashtag for the number of tweets.  Estimate the social media component of your event by totalling up all of your social media channels and dividing that by the number of people who did the social media actions.

Total Social Media Buzz Numbers / Total Number of People Who Completed Social Media Action: See the spreadsheet here under “Social Media Buzz.

3. What was your cost per visitor acquisition?

Attendee values vary widely depending on the event. Think about it, the natural demographics associated with the show and whether or not the attendees are tech savvy or not, along with other important factors like the estimated value of business being done per attendee, marketing budgets, etc. all impact perceived value.  So how do you make sense of all this info?  How can you accurately ascribe value to an attendee?  In the simplest of terms, your Cost Per Acquisition is something along the lines of this:

Total Ad Spend / # of Actual Attendees = Cost Per Acquisition :See the spreadsheet here under the sheet “Cost Per Acquisition – Attendees.”  Comparing this amount year over year will give you insight into whether or not your costs are increasing or decreasing.

Target, Measure, Improve

Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to be a man of success.  Rather, become a man of value.”  Although he was talking about being an indispensable person, the quote easily applies to events.  It underscores the fact that every single event is different.  Your event needs to become one of value, one that is indispensable. It’s not just more metrics, but the right metrics, specific to you, your company, your show, your targets, your previous years’ performances, and your industry that will allow you to improve your event year over year.  It’s how you measure the success of your event that will undoubtedly lead you to a more comprehensive understanding of your event’s value.

Find your OKMs, measure and improve.  Your OKMs are supposed to serve the purpose of asking the hard questions.  The hard questions are not comfortable, but that’s the point.  Mixpanel’s CEO, Suhail Doshi is imperative about this.  Use data and use it well, but have it serve the higher purpose to target, measure and improve the value of your event.  You’ll be on your way to knowing the true value of your event.

This is a guest post by Joe Marshall, a self proclaimed marketing hack who loves a good story, DIY projects, experiencing music and making his own.  Always an early adopter, if it’s new, Joe’s into it, on it, and signed up for it, and in fact, probably moved onto the next piece of internet event tech.  Joe serves as the Director of Marketing at InGoInGo is a social media event marketing company that empowers event organizers and attendees. InGo serves the largest event companies in the world such as Reed Exhibitions, Emerald Expositions, Hanley Wood (now Informa) and UBM.  InGo provides event marketing solutions for varied industries such as tech, fashion, construction, media, film and more across the globe.  It has been in business since 2013 and has served over 180 events in the U.S., Australia, Germany, Columbia, Nigeria, the UK, Turkey, Japan and Russia.  Discover how InGo can grow your event.

“Image source – Flickr, usage under Creative Commons license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)”

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