5 Tips for Measuring Engagement at Your Next Live Event

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David Saef
David Saef



“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

event engagement

This adage from W. Edwards Deming sounds simple enough, but its value seems to be lost on many professionals when it comes to measuring attendee engagement at live events.

Events are a critical component of any brand’s marketing strategy because face-to-face is the best way to engage a brand’s current and prospective customers.

Events give your clients the opportunity to create a unique brand experience that turns their prospects into customers and customers into brand advocates. Plus, events can be used for gathering intelligence on key industry trends, recruiting, and building thought leadership.
5 Metrics for Measuring Engagement

Many people understand the importance of live events but fall short when it comes to correctly measuring engagement to determine an event’s success.

When agencies fail to track attendee engagement, there’s no way to objectively measure whether the event was successful. It’s also impossible for your client to follow up with current and potential customers if no data was collected during the event.

Here are a few metrics you should measure at your client’s next live event:

  • The number of qualified leads: During and after the event, review the number of appointments set, email addresses collected, or potential customers the brand has added to its sales funnel.
  • A change in perception: What percentage of attendees is more willing to try the brand’s product or service after the event? Did staff interactions improve brand perception? These are all great questions to ask attendees during or after the event.
  • An increase in brand awareness: Tracking the percentage of attendees who learned something new about the brand or the brand’s product line is a great way to demonstrate the effectiveness of the event.
  • The percentage of attendees willing to give the company an opportunity: Track the number of current or prospective customers who said they would be willing to include the brand in an upcoming RFP or give the brand another opportunity.
  • An approximate ROI: Calculate the ROI of the event by determining the expected monetary value of new customers (in addition to the value of existing business), divided by the total monetary investment in the event. Follow the leads through to sale and recalculate a more exact ROI six or nine months post-event.

We recently worked with an international marketing and management firm with revenues between $150 million and $200 million. After that client’s recent trade show, we conducted an independent survey to measure our client’s competitive position in relation to other exhibitors. We found that awareness of the client’s firm increased by 21 percent, 16 percent of visitors overall said they learned something new about the firm, and 41 percent of non-customer visitors were either likely or very likely to consider the firm after the show.

These are powerful insights that showed the client just how successful the event was, but we would have had no way of knowing if we hadn’t agreed upon specific metrics to track before the event.

How to Increase Event Engagement

Setting clear objectives and measuring success is the first step toward mastering live events, but agencies looking to garner higher engagement for their clients can try a few tricks my staff and I employ before an event to increase engagement among attendees.

  1. Create mock interview responses.
    Write down hypothetical quotes about the event experience from the target audience’s perspective. Once you’ve determined how you’d like attendees to describe their experience, circle all the vital elements within the quote, and make those your top priorities.
  2. Focus on the details.
    When planning an event, think about the details in the “before,” “during,” and “after” stages. Consider how you can use each touchpoint to make attendees feel important and foster a positive brand perception. This may include reaching out to attendees by phone or writing personal notes. Low-tech tools can often be the best (and most personal) ways to connect with attendees.
  3. View the event from the attendees’ perspective.
    Look for small ways you can improve the event from the attendees’ perspective. For example, would it be easier to pick someone up at the airport or provide a shuttle service? Try to customize the event experience to each attendee because personalization always helps the brand stand out.

On the surface, live events seem to be about the brand. But in reality, events are all about the attendees. Agencies must find ways to measure attendee engagement before the event and think through the details that will make the brand more memorable. A well-planned event can have a lasting impact on ROI and brand perception, but it must first make a lasting impact on the attendees.

Topics: Event Marketing
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