Tips on Running a successful conference: Measurement of ROI on a conference

ROI on events is notoriously difficult to measure. Here are some pointers on how you can set the KPIs which will determine whether your event has been successful or not.

B2B Event Management

In this blog we will follow on from the previous tip where we looked at setting Objectives for ROI to review the measurement of ROI objectives, incorporating different  levels of ROI Methodology used to measure ROI of an event.

As mentioned in the previous tip on setting objectives for ROI which is another way of expressing the contribution to profit made by an event.  The profit is the net value created by the event minus the event costs.  ROI is the profit expressed as a percentage of the cost of the event.

Measuring Level 0, Target Audience

  • The target audience should be the right people attending the event.  They are the ones with the greatest learning and behaviour gap in the potential participants.
    • The target audience is therefore defined by a method of deduction from desired behaviour (level3) and required learning (level2)
    • Measuring that have the right target audience, the…

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Measuring ROI in a brave new (social media) world

In his book Socialnomics, Erik Qualman asserts that the only ROI on investment in social media you can count on is that your business will still be around in a year’s time.  It’s a tough concept to grasp for organisations used to measuring their marketing efforts by the 400% rule.

Social media has turned much of traditional marketing thinking on its head, particularly in organisations used to single rather than multi-stage marketing.  It can leave marketing and management teams, particularly those operating in the events sector, scratching their heads on how to measure success vs effort.

The difficulty lies in our ability to measure internet marketing efforts in a consistent and meaningful way.  Although this is now easier than it once was, it still relies on other people’s algorithms and an understanding of the errors that will inevitably be part of a process that is generalistic and mechanised.

One of the most frustrating aspects of this measurement process is that it is often impossible to see the results of efforts as they are happening – other than on a live twitter feed or by constantly running a report or refreshing a browser.  And, despite appearances, social media is constrained by the same mechanism that has been a restrictive factor for traditional media: the fact that someone else owns the environment in which you are publishing. Once again brands and individuals find themselves limited to measuring those actions which the technology providers have decided are important rather than those which are meaningful to a particular organisation.

An essential tactic is to decide which metrics are the ones which are going to give you the best feedback and a springboard to move your brand messaging forwards enabling you to continually tweak and refine your messaging and your products.  The key is in creating a positive feedback loop that delivers information which you can action quickly and visibly. While facts and figures are reassuring, real ROI can only be delivered if there is also a plan in place for drawing visitors, fans and other participants further into your community once you have initially caught their attention.

Finally, remember that since your audience can change direction many times in one campaign, let alone a 12 month-period, your measurement processes must now be measured in days and hours rather than weeks and months.

It’s WHAT you know, not who you know, that is important

Data is probably the single most important asset available to the modern marketeer.  Online or offline, data helps you understand your audience, target appropriately, and evaluate what you have achieved.

Marc Michaels, Director of Direct Marketing and Evaluation, COI

For every organisation, there is an imperative to measure: be this HR statistics, i.e. attendance, satisfaction, billable hours; sales and marketing efforts vs returns; key customer behaviour; client satisfaction; website activity… you get the picture.  For publishing and events companies in particular data underpins almost everything they do, as well as being their most transferrable asset and how this data is managed and used is as important as the brands themselves.

Having established that data is incredibly valuable, and can really drive a business or organisation forward, how come most of it sits gathering dust at the bottom of a drawer or stored somewhere  on an individual’s hard-drive? Why do organisations make the same mistake over and over again, despite conducting annual satisfaction surveys or presenting monthly figures to the board?

Is part of the answer that once an organisation has collected some data they consider job done,  and haven’t established a clear mechanism for acting on the results?  Or is it because there is such a lag between collecting the data and delivering the results that by then the business has moved on and believes it is already addressing issues highlighted in the retrospective research (when in fact it isn’t)?

Of all these factors, time lag has to be the most important.  Receiving a visitor list a month after the event fails to capitalise on the momentum of a live experience; it leaves visitors wondering why you didn’t contact them earlier and your sales team have already moved onto something else.  Spotting a need to deliver another specialist session at a conference can only happen if you are either a) there in person and able to listen in to all of the chat; or b) able to view what everyone is talking about around a specific topic as it happens.

Even in the corporate sector, the ability to capture data about what is important to your staff or the customers they are talking to is nothing unless it is available in real time, in a format that can be interpreted easily and acted upon.

Virtual experience platforms go a long way towards achieving this.  Built correctly and with the right technology in place, they are able to tell you what your audience really wants to know, where they are going to find out about it, what they expect to receive, who they want to interact with them and how long they are willing to do it for.

Valuable information that is available instantly.