Events Marketing

10 essential KPIs in evaluating the success of a B2B event

KPIs, or key performance indicators let you assess the impact of your B2B marketing strategies on your overall business goals. B2B events are no exception. We don’t organize them because they are fun or because everybody else does. We organize them with specific business goals in mind that we want to achieve such as customer retention, increased event revenue, sales acceleration, and investor relations or brand awareness. The KPIs you choose to track and measure such goals for a particular event will determine the event efficiency in the marketing mix, and will offer an objective base for your company to invest in them in the first place.

1. Attendance rate – from the planning stage of your event, you will have a target number of participants. This KPI will help you understand your efficiency in promoting the event as well as the event’s value proposition. You can attach to it a scale of success in percentages, like, for example 60% attendance rate as a minimum required, 120% for maximum success with some levels in between. It’s up to you to design the percentage according to your expected outcomes and financial investment, but don’t forget about the quality side. The sheer number of the participants may be a false indicator if it is not correlated with the next indicator.

2. Attendance rate per target audience – not only how many, but WHO is coming is equally important, sometime even more so. According to your business goals your audience may be segmented on seniority level, decision making level, and technical versus non-technical, or on the type or size of the company attending. Measuring the attendance on these is very important. You may have a fully booked venue, but, if the participants are not the ones that can help you achieve your business objectives, you will not have a good event ROI. Reversely, you may have a lower general attendance rate, but with high level decision makers that can generate deals big enough to make your expenses worthwhile.

3. Sponsor partnerships – Even if you organize the event exclusively for your existing and potential customers, under your company name and brand, it’s almost always a good idea to partner up with other companies. Not only you will save some money from your marketing budget, but, if you do it correctly, you will offer more value to the participants. If this is the case, the number of sponsorship deals you make are a good KPI to measure. The amount the sponsors are contributing and the quality of their brand should be another. Having as partner one of the top Fortune 100 companies can worth more than 10 sponsors nobody have heard of, so keep that in mind as well.

4. Number of sales leads – Arguably the most important KPI of any B2B event, this indicator is the most easiest to associate with the company’s business goals. You’ll want to evaluate at least how many attendees decided to follow up after events or bought your products or services. Keep track of the numbers of leads collected, but also of their type. If your business already have KPIs for marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads or leads related to any other stage of the funnel, then the leads generated by the event should be assessed in the same way.

5. Cost per acquisition – Any event comes with an associated cost, and most of the times with leads so the general tendency is to calculate how much money were spent to attract a new attendee or on a generated lead. If you choose this KPI to track, be mindful that it is not too relevant just by itself. You should ask other questions as well. What is the amount of revenue generated by the said leads? How much were other event goals met with the same costs? Were there any savings in other expenses due to the organization of the event? Did other departments benefit as well? Weigh in all of the extras before calculating the cost of acquisition.

6. Attendee satisfaction rate – None of your other KPIs are useful if you don’t score high on this one, especially if you organize a recurring event. Try to gather as much data as possible by asking your audience, both with surveys and in person. Be specific and make sure your data is clean and quantifiable. Try to find out what exactly did they like (or not) and why. This KPI may not be directly associated with revenue generation, but it plays an important role in customer retention, future sales and next events success.

7. Rate of recurring participants – if you are organizing series of events for the same audience (like an annual conference or tradeshow), the number of repeat attendees will give you an idea of the value that you are creating for them. A high number of returning attendees is an indicator that you’ve found the right format. It will lower the cost per attendee acquisition and it will allow for better personalization of your event. It will also help you making a better case in convincing your sponsors to support you.

8. Speaker/performer engagement – for every speaker or performer or general section of the event you should measure how many people found them useful or engaging. You can use the attendance survey to measure that or use live polling after a session or performance to measure attendee satisfaction. This is not only very valuable information for you about how to improve your future events, but also an insight in what your audience is really interested in.

9. Event promotion – while not an indicator of the event success per se, if people are not showing up, then you will have nothing to measure after all. Promoting an event is key in the event marketing strategy, and it is usually a whole project in itself, therefore deserving its own KPIs. You should group your promoting and selling activities in a separate funnel and assess the success on every stage of it. You could evaluate your e-mail marketing open rate, assess the click-through rate to see how many people actually reacted to your call to action in your e-mails or other ads and you should do it often.

10. Efficiency in planning your event – If you spend too much time to handle tedious event logistics or use too many people or waste resources due to poor planning, these are all costs that will influence your ROI. Track and measure them all and consider how you can do better next time. If your own performance is not being evaluated by your boss with this one, it is at least a good source of savings for future events.

Key Takeaways

There are plenty of ways to formulate KPIs for a B2B event, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Choose those KPIs that align most closely with the business goals of your company and your department.
  • Always think both in quantity and quality term when formulating a KPI. Also, all event goals should be specific and measurable. Make sure all team members understand these goals and know how to track them well before the event start date.
  • Be aware that most KPIs will give you a better image of the success if assessed in correlation with each other.

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