The events world is currently buzzing with talk about ROI – Return On Investment – and not a moment too soon. Certainly in the advertising & marketing sectors, event budgets are often being cut in favour of digital marketing and advertising campaigns because traditionally, event ROI has been seen as difficult to measure.
Event ROI, or more specifically Return On Event (ROE) is largely made up of non-financial indicators, such as people and their interactions with a brand and how meaningful those interactions are.
The first question Superglue asks when getting involved with an event or venue project is what the objectives are. If they can be clearly articulated, it makes the task of setting the ROE goals so much easier, otherwise we work with clients to define the objectives, suggesting goals in areas such as brand engagement, marketing, sales and training.
In choosing your ROE indicators, here are some points to bear in mind:
- 1. Timeline. Indicators can change over the lifecycle of an event. Consider ticket sales for an exhibition. You may expect a surge when tickets are initially offered for sale, but sale data the week before the event date, or event after an exhibition has been running for a day or two would give valuable insights into how the event has been marketed directly and virally.
- 2. Quantification. Indicators need to be reliably measurable. There’s no point in setting criteria unless the data is available. For example, the success of a particular food stand at a venue may be defined as being less about how much they sell and more about hashtag analysis (or vice versa.)
- 3. Decision support. Once the event has taken place, what decisions will need to be made and what information is necessary to help. If a conference is launched to test a market, what would a success look like? A specific level of profitability, or ability to garner further sponsorship, for example.
ROE indicators can only be used effectively if they are known before the event itself. ‘A larger market share’ is only meaningful if you know what your market share is prior to your project.
Another point is that successful events have a lifecycle beyond when the event is actually running. A conference might be considered a success if it leads to delegates attending the following year’s event, for example. So measuring ROE indicators is important during an event, but that activity needs to continue beyond that immediate timeframe.
Recent technology developments enable you to collect information like never before – for example, RFID badges and iBeacons can track how people move around a venue and QR codes can be tracked and analysed – but old school techniques like survey and ticket sale information are also still a great source of data.
Gathering all this information often has other benefits. Much of it can be monetised, plus it comes in very handy when attracting sponsorship for subsequent events.
We’ve proved that events and venues can hold their own against other business development campaigns, but as an industry we have to dispel the perception that events ROE indicators are intangible. It’s certainly possible to define real world measures and show that we can deliver against them.