Return on investment is critical to business events. No matter the objective of your corporate event, you need to ensure it's delivering the results you're after.
In this article, we look at what constitutes ROI in the B2B space, and how you can measure and maximise it.
Creating a memorable business event is key, but you also need to ensure it was a success.
What constitutes ROI for corporate events?
ROI is a term that's used a lot in the meetings and events industry, though sometimes the concept can be vague. ROI comes down to the strategic objectives of your event. Whether you're a sales/marketing director who signed off on the event or the event organiser who'll be reporting on it to others in your organisation, you need to ensure you consider ROI in relation to those objectives.
Many B2B events still have a tendency to be assessed on attendee numbers - or even worse - gut-feel.
Writing in The Marketing Journal, Michael Piddock stated that many B2B events still have a tendency to be assessed on attendee numbers - or even worse - gut-feel. If you want to get specific about how your event went, you need to go beyond how many people were there and assess data that tells you whether you achieved the specific goals you set out to accomplish.
Focus on measuring what's relevant to your goals to determine the ROI for your B2B event. Sometimes, the ROI won't be obvious straight away. For example, if your goal was to improve employee engagement, the effect of the event on staff engagement levels won't be apparent until some time afterwards, so you'll need to check in regularly post-event with your people to find out whether this goal was achieved.
Set concrete and measurable ROI objectives so that you know for sure that you've gained a solid return, and going on how you think it went is never an objective way of determining success.
With this in mind, here are some key things to avoid to ensure that you set yourself up for success.
#1 Establish your return on investment from the outset
ROI needs to be considered right from the planning phase. Your ROI objectives should be a key factor in the whole decision-making process, through to the event production and creative elements. All of these things need to contribute to the overarching objectives to ensure you're maximising your chances of reaching the goals you've set.
ROI needs to be built into your event right from the get-go.
#2 Ensure your creative elements support your ROI goals
Concentrating on creating a magical event with 'wow' factor is vital - your delegates need to be impressed. However, in addition to thinking about delivering a memorable experience, consider how your creative choices will help you achieve a better ROI. Every touch point throughout your event needs to serve an overarching purpose. From the branding and web design to the guest speaker selection, decorations and entertainment - all these things need to convey a consistent message that is in line with what you want to communicate to attendees.
Ensure that all creative elements of your event are in line with a consistent, overarching strategy that serves your ROI goals.
Once you have your ROI strategy in place and have planned your event, you need to consider how you are going to measure it. According to a study by Special Events, the most commonly used methods for measuring ROI are:
- Attendee responses
- New client leads
- Overall attendance
- Client retention and
The way you measure ROI will depend entirely on the event goals that you have. Determine what success looks like to you, and the metrics you'll use to measure it. By having these goals clearly defined from the outset, it will be easier to measure them.
Here are some ROI goals and how to best measure their success:
1. Lead generation
Compare the leads generated from this year's event with previous years - not only in terms of number, but in terms of quality. If the number of leads significantly improved from last year's event, this indicates you've performed well in terms of achieving a lead generation objective. However, examine the quality of these leads as well. Are the leads generated likely to be of long-term financial value to your business? How much are these leads worth to your organisation in terms of the revenue they'll bring? How much will it cost to convert them into paying, long-term, loyal customers?
2. Brand awareness
This one requires careful measurement before, during and after the event. You need to know what levels of brand awareness were prior to the event taking place and the impact the event had on these. A good way to go about this is to incorporate apps or other forms of technology. During registration, you can distribute a survey to attendees to gauge their level of brand awareness, conduct another survey during the event, and then get in touch a week after it's finished to measure the changes. In order to maximise participation, you can gamify the process, which should encourage more people to respond.
Is your goal increased brand awareness? Make sure you measure this pre- and post-event for the most accurate results.
3. Employee engagement
This is another factor that requires measurement pre- and post-event. If the event is as exciting as anticipated, attendees will no doubt show signs of increased engagement during and immediately after the event. However, it's important to reach out to attendees at a time that has allowed for the initial excitement of the event to have worn off. If you measure their engagement levels a day after they've returned from a conference, they might still be buzzing from the sessions. Give it several weeks to ensure your results are as accurate as possible - how engaged are they once they've settled back into their daily routine?
Employee engagement will likely spike in the aftermath of a truly exciting event, which is why you should wait a while before measuring engagement levels to truly gauge whether your event has had a long-term impact.
How can you maximise ROI for your business meeting or event?
Here are some ideas on how you can maximise your return on investment, no matter what your event objective may be.
- Develop an ROI strategy before your event takes place, and incorporate your ROI goals into everything you do.
- Measure at various touch points from pre-event to post-event, as well as during the event itself, to give yourself valuable data to assess and compare.
- To maximise brand awareness ROI: Incorporate your brand (or re-branded product/service) into all event touch points, so that attendees are engaging with it consistently. Brand your registration pages, email communications, the set and staging, and ensure your keynote speakers are in tune with your overall messaging.
- To maximise staff engagement ROI: Ensure that the impact of your event will be felt long after it's finished. Don't just focus on the here and now; consider your long-term objectives. For example, craft sessions with valuable takeaways, where attendees can take something home with them to consult and revisit at next year's event to measure their progress or development.
ROI doesn't have to be a vague term with little meaning. Make it concrete, and take steps to measure and maximise it throughout your entire event planning and management process, from beginning to end.
Reach out to our team today to find out more about how to execute an event that will maximise your return on investment.