Success rarely happens at random. Whether you’re building a piece of software, entering new markets, or organizing your next large-scale event, you need to have the right systems and data in place in order to double-down on what’s working, change what isn’t, and keep tabs on where you are in achieving your goal.
When it comes to event management, having clearly defined key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you track the right data before, during, and after your event to see if you accomplished what you set out to do. And considering that the event industry is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 13.48%—and expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2028—there’s a lot to be gained if you do things right.
Bear in mind that not all events will have the same KPIs; it’ll depend on your goals, the type of events you run, and their delivery method. Here, we’ll look at how to narrow down the event KPIs you need to focus on, as well as some of the most important KPIs to consider when planning your next event.
How to choose the right event KPIs?
While we all want to have highly-attended events with high engagement rates, not all events will have the same end goal in mind. For example, if you’re running a thought leadership webinar you may want to increase the authority of your brand.
In this situation, you’ll probably want to track things like:
- Website visits
- Content downloads
- Newsletter signups
In contrast, if you’re organizing a commercial event where the end goal is to increase your revenue you may look at things like:
- Tickets sold
- Number of sales post event
- Spend per attendee
Things may also differ based on the delivery method of your event. For example, about 40% of events in 2022 are expected to be fully digital, while 35% are expected to be in-person. And while you may care about attendance and participation for all of your events, with your digital events you might also want to track things like drop-off rate, sponsor website visits, and attendee networking via your event app. So, before you go down the rabbit hole of tracking all possible event KPIs, and just bury yourself in data, determine which ones make sense for you and put tools in place to collect the right data.
Keep your eye on these ones
Let’s take a look at the top 8 event KPIs most event planners are looking at, and how to go about tracking them.
If your events are of commercial value you’ll want to know how many ticket sales you’ve made. Breaking it down further, you’ll want to know how many of these sales came from early bird promotions, your normal ticket sales, or last chance offers.
Having this info will help you calculate your average sale price, but also see if you need to change elements of your pricing or timing of when you launch each ticket promo. For instance, if most of your tickets come from early bird promos and you had very few from your regular or last chance tickets, you might want to reduce your early bird promo and offer the regular tickets for longer.
When it comes to events, this is a crucial KPI. Unfortunately, not all registrants show up on the big day. A study by ON24 has found that only about 55% of webinar registrations convert into attendees. This number will also vary based on whether or not your events are free.
Being aware of these variables can help you put a strategy in place in order to reach your attendance goals. For example, if you want to have at least 500 attendees at your event in order to consider it a success, and you know that your usual attendance rate is about 30%, you’d need at least 1670 registrations. Now, say that two weeks before the event you have only 1000 registrations. This indicates that maybe you should ramp up your marketing activities and open up new promo channels in order to reach your goal.
Marketing channel conversion rate
Your ticket sales and attendance are directly linked to how well you leverage marketing. Regardless of whether you’re organizing a charity event or working on a large-scale industry trade show, you’re probably using several marketing channels to promote it. This may be a full-blown social media strategy that you launched months prior to the event, or a slick email marketing campaign that nurtures your contact list toward an event registration.
Whatever the event type, understanding which marketing channel worked best is key in informing your promo strategies in the future. For example, the average conversion rate for a landing page is about 2.35%, although some high performers can reach rates of over 5%. In this context, take a look at your impressions across channels, as well as the click-through rates and how many of those actually registered on your landing page. Did most people come from LinkedIn or your emails? Did people who came from LinkedIn convert at a higher rate than those who came from Facebook, or vice versa?
These insights can point directly to the changes you need to make within your marketing strategy in order to reach the right audience, whether that means content, time of day you post, or frequency of posting.
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
If the goal of your event is to populate your sales funnel with a healthy batch of new leads, then tracking the number of MQLs is a good event KPI to watch. What constitutes a qualified lead will depend on your company and the type of products and services you sell, but it’s a great metric to track if you want to grow your sales. For example, imagine you’re a B2B software company selling a data analytics tool for the drinks industry. Your ICPs are CCOs or Heads of Operations at distilleries and beverage producers.
Now, imagine that you’ve thrown a great event and have generated about 5,000 new leads. But, if you dig deeper you may see that only about 120 of those are from your target audience. Having this data can help you tighten your efforts in the audience you attract in the first place and how you position your event overall.
Research shows that 46% of speakers at hybrid events find it difficult to engage a virtual and in-person audience simultaneously. Whether that’s because the audience behaves differently, or because they need to use different tools at the same time, as an event organizer you can drill down into how speakers and attendees engage, and what changes you need to make in order to facilitate better interactions.
For instance, you can look at the numbers of questions asked during the session, the attendee drop-off rate, or and even things like how many times that speaker’s name was shared on social media. You can also conduct a poll during the session or after the session to gauge people’s interest and satisfaction. This can be a tough event KPI to track, but engagement is crucial, so make your best effort.
Social media mentions
If your goal is to increase brand awareness and maybe create a hype around something else you’re doing in the future, social media mentions matter. Here, you need to have easy-to-use event hashtags that attendees can use across platforms.
If you have an event mobile app, you can promote your hashtags via the app and encourage people to use them as they attend sessions, mingle or enjoy their break. Once the event is over, take a look at how many times your event was mentioned on social media across platforms. What type of info did people share the most? Was the raffle something people talked about a lot, or perhaps they loved the gamified corner where attendees could interact with your sponsors?
Social media can be a great and easy way to leverage the networks of your attendees to further increase the visibility of your brand and the work you’re doing. However, in order to benefit from this you need to be prepared, intentional and proactive.
Sponsors are particularly important if the bulk of your funds for organizing the event comes from them. You want them to have a good time at the event so that you nurture your relationship and, hopefully, win more sponsorships from them in the future.
In this context, it’s really important to give your sponsors good ways to capture leads, whether that’s through holding raffles, providing them a lead scanner tool, or simply tracking how many people visited their sponsor page and signed up for trials/demos via your event analytics. This is an excellent way to demonstrate your value to them and encourage future sponsorships as well. The best event KPI when it comes to sponsors? Them signing up again for your next event.
After all is said and done, did you achieve what you set out to do? Did you meet your projections and estimates? Calculating your event ROI doesn’t necessarily need to be solely monetary.
For example, let’s say you’re launching a new energy drink and you want to let your target audience (college students) know about it. You organize a large-scale event on campus with music, drinks, and food where students can enjoy your new energy drink for free. If you look at your ROI from purely monetary value, you’re probably losing money.
However, if you look at it from the perspective of how many new emails you’ve gotten, how many people came to your booth, or how many website visits you got straight after the event you may be getting a completely different picture.
If you are measuring your event ROI strictly in dollars and cents, check out our guide on how to get all the right numbers in all the right places.
Data is your friend
Planning and executing an event requires exceptional organizational skills. Whether you’re hosting a small fundraiser, a music festival, or a large tech conference you want to make sure that your guests, speakers, and sponsors all have a great experience. That’s the only way you know you’ve done well as an event organizer.
Having a clear vision of your goals, and the data you need in order to reach those goals, can remove a lot of the mental effort that goes into planning an event. Defining clear and measurable event KPIs well in advance before your event starts can give you the roadmap you need to reach your target audience, drive engagement and increase event ROI. And let’s not forget that your work doesn’t end on the last day of your event. Post-event polling and engagement with your audience is just as important to see how you did and how you can do better next time. So, get crackin’!