An important part of any event is making sure you're using the right metrics to determine whether or not your event was successful. A common misconception is that event attendance alone determines whether or not your event was successful. Although attendance is indeed a useful piece of data, there are many other aspects of your event you should also measure.
What to Measure From Your Next Event
Metric #1: Number of Twitter Mentions
At the beginning of any event, it's a good idea to choose a hashtag and share it with attendees to use in their event tweets. This will make it easier for people who are at the event to have discussions with other attendees. And because it's common for people to follow chatter from live events on Twitter using hashtags, you may also notice others who are not physically at your event chiming in on the conversation. Finally, the use of hashtags is a great way for you to retroactively track all the event-related conversations that took place the day(s) of your event.
When selecting a hashtag, make it short and sweet. Keep in mind that your attendees will want to tweet a lot about your event, but that they have a 140-character limit for each tweet. Choosing a long hashtag will take away from the content of the tweet and take up valuable tweet real estate. Some great hashtag examples include #HUGS2011 , #futureM and #4sqday .
Metric #2: Survey Data
It's important to create a survey to distribute to attendees after the event has occurred. You most likely won't generate a 100% response rate, but any feedback you receive will prove helpful. In the survey, ask questions like how they heard about your event, what convinced them to attend, what they liked or disliked, and what else they'd want to see in a future event. These questions will help you assess what content was or wasn't useful to your attendees and if your promotional strategies were effective. Then, you can modify your strategy for future events to make them even more successful.
Metric #3: When Did Attendees Register?
In addition to your survey data, you should track when attendees initially signed up for your event. Did they register using an early bird special? Did they sign up after you published a blog post? Did they sign up after seeing a Twitter chat about the event? Did they register during a contest you held to promote your event?
When you are promoting an event, timing is everything. Tracking the different promotions will show you when certain messages and media were the most effective with your audience. If one particular message worked extremely well at a certain time, it can be tweaked for a different type of promotion. This information can also help you plan for future events when developing your promotional strategies.
Metric #4: How People Registered
Be sure to monitor people's activities as they sign up for your event. Did they click a link on Twitter after hearing about your event? Did they sign up after reading an email you sent to promote your event? Were they referred by someone else? You can measure all of these variations by creating tracking URLs for each promotion. While promoting your event, monitor which ones are more effective. You may need to adjust how much you are tweeting and emailing potential registrants. But by monitoring it, you will ultimately generate a higher success rate for future events.
Metric #5: Number of Attendees
Although I said this should not be the only metric you use, it is still a very important one. When you were in the planning stages, hopefully you set goals for the number of attendees you wanted to attract, especially if you were looking to profit from your event. An event that grows in attendance from one year to another shows it was successful and people were talking about its value and generating buzz for future events. You should have a goal in place to increase attendance for an annual event, so make sure to keep track of the number of people who actually attend (which will always be different than the number of people who just registered).
What other metrics do you measure when you plan an event?
Photo by Ben (Falcifer) .