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One of the biggest challenges in marketing is, and always has been, accurately measuring if your efforts are working. In this age of analytics, many CMOs and other business leaders want to know (as close to exactly as possible) what their marketing investment yielded.

Digital marketing channels such as Google Ads and Email sending platforms make this fairly simple. A landing page here and a code snippet there and suddenly all you have to do is head to a dashboard to see your spend versus revenue calculations.

Unfortunately, the ease of measurement sometimes comes at the cost of sacrificing efforts that would provide a greater yield, but not as quantifiable when it comes to reporting. For example, event marketing activations where the engagement is in-person and not on your website.

Wouldn't it be great if you could have both? A broader mix of effective marketing strategies AND quantifiable reporting? Well, I've got some good news for you.

Below are five ways you can use real -- not abstract -- metrics to determine the effectiveness of your live events.

Five Ways to Track Your Live Event Success

1. Event Interactions

Let's start with the most obvious one. Just like any digital marketing campaign, a live event strategy should include a call to action and desired outcome. That could be email list signups, food samples distributed, on-site purchases, or something else. The point is, all of these things are easy to track post-event if you have a tracking method in place going into the event.

Even better, use multiple "conversions" for a better read on your audience engagement. For example, if you're creating a pop-up shop to sell sneakers, you'll obviously want to track those sales as a primary success metric.

But, does not getting a sale mean an individual person was not engaged? Not at all -- if you gave them the opportunity, they might have signed up for an email list or taken some branded swag that would keep you fresh in their mind for days or weeks to come.

2. Brand and Event Searches

Here's where we start moving into the online metrics. A good brand event spreads awareness, whether it's for the event itself or the brand in general. And the more awareness you generate, the more people will come looking for you.

You may already know that many tools, such as Google Search Console, can quickly show you how often people are searching for you by name on Google. If over the six months before your event you see an average of, say, 500 brand searches per month, and then in the 30 days following your event you see 1,000, it's fair to say about half of that is event-related, assuming you didn't also launch other campaigns simultaneously.

Likewise, you can use the same tools to look for searches for the event itself, both leading up to and after the event date.


3. Geographic Lift

This follows a lot of the same logic as #2 above, but for larger brands, there's often enough data to add this additional layer of analysis.

Staying with Google Search Console for a moment, you can filter the data noted above by country, to look at your brand and event lift specific to the country where your event took place. Then, you can jump over to Google Trends and look at a measurement of interest in your brand or event specific to a state or even a specific city.

Example: Check out when interest in “world series” peaked in Georgia.

Back in point #2 I mentioned that launching other marketing campaigns at the same time as a live event can possibly obfuscate the reading on the lift you gain from the event independently. Using this geographical specificity, you can A) look at the gain in the market where your event took place, and B) compare that gain to other, unrelated markets at the same time to help you isolate the impact of *only* your local event.

4. Social Mentions and Hashtags

We all know that finding the Return on Investment of social media is a beast unto itself, especially when we're talking about "organic" social (i.e., the regular posts, not the ads/promoted posts). But this strategy isn't about what your brand is posting; it's about what your event audience is sharing.

If people have fun at your event, they're more likely to post about it, and often that's done in real time while at the event. There are three basic levels to measuring your brand mentions on most social platforms:

1) being tagged

2) hashtags

3) untagged mentions

The first one is simple to track: the platforms make that easy to find and third-party tools can aggregate it from multiple platforms. The second - hashtags - are also easy to track, but require a bit of diligence to make sure you're finding all related hashtags and ignoring use of those hashtags that is unrelated to your event. And the untagged mentions (when someone refers to your brand or event without tagging your handle in the post) just require a bit of creative searching or the help of those third-party tools that can sniff out brand mentions fairly easily.

5. Total Web Traffic Lift

We started with the most obvious way to track event ROI in #1, and we're ending the list here with the second most obvious.

Whether you're an e-commerce brand or not, it's pretty likely that a lot of your customer engagement and sales process takes place on your website. Various aspects of a live event can generate traffic to your site (promo codes for online shopping, event landing pages, general brand awareness and interest, QR Codes, etc.), so increased website traffic, even if not your primary objective, is a definite indicator of event success.

And as opposed to some of the other points above, I encourage you to keep this measurement very simple. When you look in Google Analytics, as most of us marketers do, the temptation is always to focus on the digital channel (i.e. Organic, Paid, Social, etc.) that we think the relevant traffic is coming from. Well, between different individual behaviors and the lack of perfect accuracy of GA, that traffic could be coming from anywhere -- including and especially the dreaded "Direct" channel, which is Google's way of saying, "We have no idea where this is from."

Simply look for a notable lift in your total traffic, whether it’s short-term or sustained, around the dates of your event.

Finding Your Event ROI: Crunch the Numbers

The five points listed above offer ideas on what data you can access in an effort to calculate your live event ROI. But the numbers don't calculate themselves, which means you need some kind of formula to produce an actual ROI estimate.

A basic way to calculate ROI (for any investment) in a percentage format is:

Profit / Investment * 100

Investment, of course, is going to be what you spend on your event. Profit might be simple if you're doing on-site sales, but for the other attendee engagements and awareness metrics, it takes a bit more finesse.

Here's an example. After your event, you notice 10,000 incremental* impressions and 2,000 incremental clicks in Google Search Console for user searches containing your brand name and/or event name. What are those worth?

If you use branded keywords in your Google Ads account, you can get an idea of your conversion rate for branded search traffic on your website. And if you're an e-commerce brand, you can also get an average order value. So, if you typically get a 10% conversion on branded search, and the average conversion is worth $50, then those 2,000 clicks you got from the event are worth (2,000 * 10%) * 50 = $10,000. That number gets included in your "profit" for the ROI variable.

If you're not an e-commerce brand, don't fret. You can still use your conversion rate the same way; you just need to estimate your per-conversion value. (Yes, more math.) If your conversion is an email list signup, and you know that your email subscribers typically have an average lifetime value of $20, use that. If you got 1,500 email signups at the event, then 1,500 * $20 = $30,000.

And if you're tracking multiple types of engagements and conversions, make sure you calculate their value separately and then add them together for the Profit part of your ROI formula.

*Incremental, in this case, refers to those impressions you're able to attribute as a result of your event, based on the general logic described in point #2 above.

Plan Confidently and Ask for Help!

The decision of whether to move forward on a major event marketing effort can be a long process, and many a brand has given up on it simply due a lack of confidence in how to prove the value of the investment.

It's okay if when you read through the info above, you're still a bit uneasy about how it will work, but know that it can be done! Work with an experienced event marketing team like Moderne Communications to create the event, and feel free to reach out to me or visit for additional information on getting your tracking (and math) right!

Post by Mike Kupfer
Dec 6, 2021 11:00:00 AM