Measuring Event Success? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

By: Anna Boggs
event planner reviewing event metrics

When it comes to measuring the success of an event, it’s imperative to plan ahead.

If the purpose of your event is to increase product knowledge, you can’t determine whether it was successful or not if you don’t gauge product knowledge before the event.

Not only will effective event measurement demonstrate achievement of goals and objectives, it will also give you invaluable insight as you begin to strategize the design of your next event.

That is, of course, only if you’re measuring the right success factors. Ask yourself these five questions to identify the true metrics that guide your event toward success and prove event impact.

1. What event objectives are you planning to measure?

The objectives you’re planning to measure should directly relate to the overall goal of your event.

If the purpose of your event is to launch a new product, you’ll want to measure objectives related to brand exposure and product knowledge. Or if the purpose is to motivate your sales team, you’ll want to measure objectives related to event engagement and feelings of inspiration.

Here’s a list of potential key event success metrics to keep in mind—before, during and after:

  • Unique registrations
  • Qualified marketing and sales leads
  • Registrant conversion rate
  • Attendee conversion rate
  • Participant satisfaction
  • Training scores
  • Incremental sales
  • Engagement metrics (website visits, shares, likes, etc.)

2. What tools and systems can you leverage to support your event measurement plan?

Sales are the backbone of every business. And sales are also involved in many strategic events. That’s why it’s more important than ever to tie your customer relationship management software (CRM) to support your measurement plan. A CRM or marketing automation software will prove invaluable in securing the data your event needs.

But data is gathered through more places than just marketing and sales. Tech-centric tools and features, such as apps, RFID tracking, interactive attractions or other immersive experiences can not only give your participants an incredible experience but collect valuable data about their preferences that can be used to optimize the event.

3. When and how often are you going to measure event impact?

If you just measure progress once or to key event goals only, you’re missing out on some incredible data. To best collect that data, make measurements at periodic intervals, rather than just once.

For example, if you measure pipeline growth or sale lift post-event, you may not be seeing the complete picture of growth as a result of attending the event. This is because sales take time. However, if you do the same measurement immediately following the event; again six months later; and, again nine months later, your data confidence and ability to segment sales data and differentiate lift between attendees and non-attendees exponentially increases.

Whatever intervals you choose, make sure they’re standardized from event to event. This will provide more accurate benchmarks for the future.

4. How will you learn about what your event attendees liked?

You can’t just guess what it is about your event that your attendees really enjoyed. You need to figure it out.

And the best way to do that? Ask. Don’t underestimate the power of polling. Create a quick email survey and ask your attendees what they thought. Example questions include:

  • How satisfied were you with the event?
  • How useful did you find the information presented at the event?
  • Would you recommend it to a friend?
  • Are you likely to attend in the future?
  • How much have your professional skills improved because of this event?
  • How would you rate this event’s organization?
  • Was the event better, worse, or about what you expected?
  • What sponsors do you recall seeing at the event? (This question helps quantify and justify sponsor participation)

Survey and simply ask your attendees what they thought. What worked? What didn’t? You’ll be surprised at what you find out.

5. How will you repeat event success in the future?

Whatever you do, make your event measurement a cyclical process. Planning for after the event can feel like miles down the road but be ready to act upon what you’ve learned.

After you’ve identified your goals and measured throughout the event, don’t let those results rot away in an Excel document. It’s time to act with them.

How? There are two major avenues:

  1. If you’re lucky enough to avert problems while on site, alter elements before they become a problem. (Did participants have questions left unanswered on one topic you featured in a mainstage presentation? Invite the speaker to come back up on the mainstage to respond to questions on Day 2. There’s nothing like feeling heard to make attendees feel like they belong.)
  2. If you catch problems after your event is over, use what you learned to guide the strategy of your next event. (Do your attendees dislike/like the keynote speaker? Take their feedback and find someone new next time.)

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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.