Measuring Success: Metrics That Will Help You Understand Your Event’s Impact

You’ve likely heard the saying, “Plan for success.” And when it comes to determining if your event or meeting is successful, a little planning — including establishing and tracking key measurements and setting goals — can ensure you’re collecting the data and feedback to create a robust picture of event performance.

We’ve compiled a list of metrics that will not only help you plan your event, but also ensure you’re collecting the data that will show you the big picture and granular detail. Let’s dive in!

Measure Event Attendance

This is probably one of the most common event metrics to measure. Not only do you want to capture your current attendance; you can also use that data to track year-over-year for recurring events. Ideally, you’ll want to see attendance grow — or, at the least, stay steady.
And if you do see a dip in attendance, don’t panic. Take a close look at your event or meeting and see if you can identify a reason for the decline. Then, factor that input into next year’s planning and set a goal to increase registrations or tickets sold.

Track Social Sharing

Tracking the online conversation around your event or meeting is another important indicator of success. You’ll definitely want to gather analytics on any branded social channels and event or meeting hashtags. It’s also helpful to use dashboard tools like Hootsuite and search for key relevant terms in case attendees are chatting about your event and not using mentions or hashtags.

Ideally, your social channels will be active all year, but you’ll likely see a spike just before, during and just after your event or meeting. You can track the growth of your social channels and hashtag use, much like you would attendee registration, to ensure your event and brand messaging are gaining traction with your audience and you’re delivering an attendee experience worth sharing.

Monitor Event App Activity

If you use an event-specific mobile app, add your event app analytics to your larger repository of event data. How many people are using the app? And how are they using the app? Again, it’s important to not only analyze current activity, but also compare it with year-over-year app usage (or whatever recurring timeline syncs with your event schedule). Particular app metrics to watch and measure include:

  • Downloads and installs
  • Active users (daily and monthly)
  • Average daily sessions per daily active user
  • Average session length
  • App retention (how many users return to your app)
  • App ratings and reviews

Conduct Event Surveys

Your post-event surveys are treasure troves of attendee feedback and insight, and can certainly help you determine your event or meeting’s success. This is another area in which identifying event goals ahead of time is important because they’ll help dictate not just the event itself, but also what feedback you seek post-event. Common post-event survey questions include:

  • How satisfied were you with the event/meeting/conference?
  • How well were the content and agenda structured?
  • Did you leave the event having learned something?
  • Would you return to the event/conference?
  • Would you recommend the event/conference to someone else?
  • How could the planning team improve next year’s event?

Be sure to promptly send out your survey once your event has ended — or even collect feedback throughout the event — so that details are fresh in your attendees’ minds. Try multiple formats, too, to make it as easy as possible for attendees to submit their input, including via email and, if applicable, through your mobile app. Like other metrics that measure event success, survey data can be useful when compared to previous years’ feedback. You might recognize an opportunity to make meaningful improvements to your event that will have a big impact on your attendees and how they perceive the experience.

Track Expenses

Your event budget can absolutely serve as a success metric. Did you stay on track throughout the planning and execution? Did any unforeseen expenses arise? If you did see a significant difference from a previous budget, that’s not always a bad thing. Assess what caused the change—did you try a new venue? Add different event elements? Expand your programming or off-site activities? Then, you can go back to other data—survey feedback, for example, or social sharing—to determine if those new expenses were a hit with attendees.

Measure Attendee Engagement

We all want our attendees to be engaged before, during and after our events and meetings. Simply stated, “attendee engagement” can be a challenging goal, since you first need to qualify what that engagement looks like. What does it mean for your attendees to be engaged?

We’ve already discussed several metrics that can help give you a holistic picture of attendee engagement, including social media conversation and sharing, mobile app activity and survey feedback.

To ensure you’re doing all that you can to keep your attendees informed, entertained and active, take a three-part approach to your attendee engagement and be sure you’re focusing on attendee outreach and measurement before your event, during your event and after your event.

Before the event, you can help keep attendees informed about travel and other logistical details and generate excitement about what’s to come, including speaker profiles, sneak peeks of activities and locations and reminders to download the event app.

During the event, make social sharing easy by prominently displaying hashtags and account names. Enlist the help of someone on your team or a third-party contractor to monitor the conversation and respond accordingly. Consider shaking up your programming to keep attendees involved and give them a chance to share their own insights and questions.

And don’t forget post-event follow-up. This is a prime time to send a survey, but it’s also a great time to send a personal thank you note and a small gift, if time and budget allows. You can also share recaps and actionable takeaways to help your attendees continue using what they learned. That will also help keep them excited for your next event or meeting and more likely to recommend the experience to others.

By using some or all of these metrics, you’ll have a clear picture of whether or not your event or meeting is a success. Plus, by collecting this data, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about things you can change or add to make your event an even bigger hit.

Now, go forth and measure!

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