When you attend a business event, you focus on the experience and how good or bad it was for networking, learning and overall feel. When you are on the other side and you put a lot of effort and a chunk of your budget into planning and hosting an event you should also focus on what’s important to your guests. But to see the real return on investment, you need to take a look at additional factors which indicate your event’s success.
Before you start planning your event, it’s essential to set your objectives – anything from brand awareness to real new customers. Without a goal and plan, you will be shooting in the dark, while spending a lot of money and time on organising an event that people will enjoy but will hardly help with future business.
To start, here are a few factors to consider:
1. Your RSVPs
The number of people who accept your invitation is a very good indication of your event’s popularity. But it’s important to remember that on average you will lose around 40% of those who accepted prior to the event. It’s annoying, but you should not forget about those who cancel at last minute or don’t turn up to your event – accepting an invitation is a strong indication of interest and should be followed up on just as you would with those who attend your event. Checking your response rate including those who simply ignore you is an objective indicator of your event’s relevance to the recipients and will help you to improve what doesn’t work and do more of what gets people to respond.
2. Your attendees
The ratio between the number of people you invited, who accepted, declined and didn’t show is the most relevant indicator of your event’s success. Look at your overall event cost and divide it between your attendees – this will give you a good idea about your cost per lead. Some people will extend your invitation on to their peers or suggest that you invite someone else in their place – track these individuals because a referral is even better than an invitation.
3. Your follow up meetings
Following up with your attendees and no shows after the event is just as important as your event itself. What you need, is a relevant message which follows up on the interaction you had with your guest at your event and suggests that you continue the conversation over a coffee or lunch. If your guests had a good time and are potentially interested in your products and services, they will be keen to talk about potential cooperation in the future.
4. Social listening
According to recent research, 77% event marketers use social media to promote their event and 61% uses social listening during and after the event. People talk on social media and it’s a very effective way to find out objectively what they think about your event – not only will this show you the positives and negatives, but also allows you to engage in a live conversation. Make the most out of the power of social listening by keeping track of online conversations, learn from them and follow up on them as you see appropriate.
5. Follow up surveys
To learn from your event hosting experience, ask your guests directly – they are the best judges of what worked and what didn’t. Take this opportunity to ask them a few short questions about their opinions about key factors and ask them about their interests for the future – it will make your future interactions much more relevant.