Event Marketing ROI: A Roadmap to Prove User Conference Experience ROI

By: Anna Boggs
event professional analyzing user conference attendee data
Do you have data? You undoubtedly do. And I’d bet others in your organization do, too. There are so many sources and places for data to be generated—including registration, apps, event marketing campaigns, CRMs and more. 
While your organization likely has analysts looking at some data, can you definitively say they’re looking at all of it through your event lens? From what I continue to see and hear, they do not. And that’s a shame. There’s data-rich information to be leveraged such as actual event registrations, expo floor traffic patterns and on-site engagement, to name just a few.

Related: Armed with the right information, you can create a meeting and event program that is ready to emotionally connect with your attendees.

What does it mean to your organization when you align all of this data together? An event ROI story that is truly powerful and meaningful to all leadership levels.

Focus on the moments that matter. They may seem like small moments, but over time, as your attendees experience these moments that matter, they can add up to something powerful: shared convictions, meaningful connections and desired behaviors.

First, think about your event objectives. How you want your user conference to resonate with attendees? Align your team? What motivates your audience? What behaviors do you want to grow or change as a result of attendees coming to your event? Ultimately, you need to decide the question(s) you want answered. For example, “What can we do [at the event] to drive sales?”

Once you prioritize, try and understand the correlation between attendee behavior and your ideal outcome. What moments, combination of experiences, or other factors are most likely to provide the ideal outcome? What deeper insights can be gleaned from the data?

While I can't tell the future, I do dig into data to read existing clues. There is so much to learn! Data can inform what the event planning team should do going forward, including content changes or areas to adjust investment.

Digging into the data is an ongoing process; something we’re going to keep doing—over and over and over again. We’re not going to just do it once, make a few changes then forget it. We’re going to make intelligent changes with confidence based on what the data is telling us, and continue this iterative process for more improved results.

Throughout the course of your user conference, which engagement moments—including things like content, communications, activations or experiences—had the most impact on your ideal outcome? Which ones had zero?

For example: When doing deep dive analysis of recent virtual event engagement we found the biggest factors influencing attendee engagement were time commitment, daily session type variety, content personalization and content application. Attendees crave stories from their peers, ways to apply what they learned, and sessions that are split between enterprise content and role-specific content. 

That sort of information is the needle in a haystack we’re always trying to find.  

A data assessment identifies these impactful moments, and it also informs how to maximize resources. Prove to your c-suite current and potential event ROI. And then plan future content, budget and event experience for even more substantial outcomes. We do this through manual analysis and machine learning to apply the data to make sure the full event—including ancillary events and other related components—is the most effective.  

When desired outcomes are analyzed through the lens of the entire user conference experience,  you can start to see patterns of what moments have more value and which ones don’t; what to invest in and what to discard or modify. 

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed by an ocean of data? Hear more below about shrinking your data into a pond. Check out the recording below in which I share more about why getting all your data talking together is so important.
Anna Boggs
Anna Boggs

Anna graduated from Purdue and has 13 years of experience in the industry. Eight of those years have been with ITA Group split between the Event Operations and Analytics and Decision Support teams. Solving puzzles with data is her jam, using the lens of operations and industry knowledge as a guide. She’s passionate about creating new things—currently making homemade bread and quilts from her home in Minneapolis are top of the list.