An Event Measurement Checklist: Your Framework for Measuring Trade Shows, Conferences, and Sponsorships


This article contains a handy checklist you can use for the next event you want to measure. Use it alongside the Event Measurement Pocket Guide to organize and carry out successful event measurement. While measuring trade shows, conferences, and sponsorships are somewhat different things, the basic checklists for getting organized and doing them properly are not that different. So, here we use the term “event” to refer to whatever program you are attempting to measure.

For more in Paine Publishing’s series of convenient measurement checklists, check out:

Now, let’s tackle event measurement!

Step 1: Get consensus on goals and objectives for the event

As with any measurement program, start with establishing clear goals and objectives.

If the event is based primarily around commerce, the goals might be to:

☐ Get qualified leads

☐ Capture names to add to your “marketable universe”

☐ Bring in new clients

☐ Improve relationships with old clients

☐ Sell stuff

☐ Shorten sales cycles

If the event is for a new product or brand, the goals might be focused on creating “buzz,”  as in:

☐ Increase awareness

☐ Increase preference

☐ Increase consideration

☐ Increase desirable conversations around the brand or product

For established brands, service organizations, or government agencies, the goals might be to:

☐ Increase renewals/decrease churn

☐ Increase trust in the brand or the organization

☐ Increase understanding of a message or position

For nonprofits:

☐ Increase support for a cause

☐ Increase volunteers

☐ Increase donations

☐ Increase awareness of an issue

Step 2: Do a data and metrics assessment

Figure out what you don’t know and what data is available to you. You will probably need all or some of the following:

  1. An agreed-upon benchmark, i.e., to whom/what are you comparing results?

☐ Other events

☐ Other ways to get the word out

☐ Competitive efforts

☐ Last year’s results

2. Sales data

☐ Length of sales cycle

☐ Definition of qualified lead

☐ Average value of a sale

☐ Average profit from a sale

  1. Marketing data or any current research (so you can use it as a benchmark)

☐ Level of awareness

☐ Consideration

☐ Preference

☐ Engagement

  1. Event data

☐ Total number of people invited

☐ Total number of attendees

☐ Number of leads collected

☐ Ratio of qualified to unqualified leads

5. Engagement data

These days, “engagement” can mean many things, so if you are measuring engagement, make sure you get agreement on the definition. It helps to categorize event attendees by the degree to which they are engaged in your event. However, if you use levels of engagement, be clear up front about what constitutes “high,” “medium,” or “low” engagement. Here’s how to define the levels:

☐ Low: Just looking, may see signage

☐ Medium: Watching a demo, walking into the booth, enjoying the hospitality

☐ High: Having a conversation, interacting with your staff

Step 3: Define your specific metrics

If your goal is to change people’s opinions about you (e.g., convince them that you are in the market, or back in the market, or doing better), then your metrics will be:

☐ Percentage change in perceptions

☐ Percentage change in awareness

☐ Percentage increase in consideration

☐ Percentage increase in preference

☐ Percentage of attendees likely to purchase

If your goal is to sell stuff, then avoid trying to prove attribution. These days it’s almost impossible to isolate what makes people purchase (and, please never use “last click” attribution).

If you have good average sales and profit data then you can also make a calculated guess. You’ll need a method to capture leads and qualified visitors. A key question should be “How likely are you to purchase a product in the next six months?” Take the percentage of leads who indicate they are very likely to purchase and multiply it by the total number of visitors in your booth. That gives you the percentage of people who visited the booth who are likely to purchase in the next six months. You can now multiply that number by the average price and profit for whatever product(s) or services you are selling at the show to get an indication of the sales potential of the show.

If your goal is cost effectiveness, measure with:

☐ Communications cost per contact – Divide the event budget by the number of people who had the opportunity to see your brand, whether in the booth, via other media, on Twitter or wherever.

☐ Cost per lead – Event budget divided by the number of raw leads you collect.

☐ Cost per qualified lead – Event budget divided by the number of qualified leads.

☐ Cost per customer acquisition – Event budget divided by the number of actual customers made from the event.

☐ Cost per minute spent with prospect – This is a particularly useful metric if you are comparing events to direct sales activities. What does it cost you to spend a minute with a prospect at a show vs. the cost of a sales call (typically north of $300). You’ll need to count the number of contacts or demos your booth staff make and measure the amount of time an average demo takes. So suppose, for example, you do 1,000 demos and each one takes five minutes. That’s 5,000 total minutes spent talking to prospects. If your budget is $50,000 for the show, then the cost per minute spent with a prospect is $10. Compared to the cost of a sales call ($300) the show is clearly more efficient.

But what if you’re trying to decide which show to go to? Compare the efficiency of the two events. If, for example, a different conference costs the same amount to do, yet there were only 500 visitors at the booth, then the cost per minute per prospect goes up to $20.

If your goal is to shorten the sales cycle, use:

☐ Percentage change in length of sales cycle — If you know the average length of time it takes to make a sale, using your CRM system, you can track the length of the sales cycle for the attendees at the event to see if the event itself has shortened the sales cycle.

If you survey your attendees afterwards to determine whether in fact they plan to purchase your products and how soon, you can compare the results show-by-show to your overall company average.

Step 4: Choose a measurement tool

There are four types of tools used for event measurement. You may only need one, or you may need all four, depending on your metrics. Here are the options:

Counting tools

☐ A clicker – Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to just stand in the booth and count bodies. Use a regular clicker and count the average number of people in the booth at the top of the hour. Repeat at random times throughout the day and take the average.

☐ Show or conference registration data – This may help you determine what share of the audience you were able to attract.

☐ Number of attendees or RSVPs to your event.

☐ Number of coat hangers used – Seriously, for one winter event the client couldn’t find the clickers and they needed a count of how many people were there. Fortunately the venue knew how many hangers they had put out, and we approximated the attendee count by noting how many were used. Event people are nothing if not creative.

Survey tools

We recommend pre- and post-show surveys, rather than on-site assessments since what you really want to know is what they remember when they return home. Options are:

☐ Survata (charges $1 a completed survey)

☐ Qualtrics

☐ Survey Monkey

☐ Benchpoint

Sales tracking tools

You will need some form of database or customer relationship management tool if you want to track people from a lead to a customer. Options include:

☐ SalesForce

☐ Sugar

☐ FileMaker

Web analytic tools

Whether you’re an ecommerce company or just drive people to your website for more information, you need to determine whether your activities at the show are helping engage your potential customers on the web. So create a unique URL for your event to which traffic should be directed. You can then see how much traffic comes into that specific URL and where it goes once the person is done on the event site. Do they bail? Or do they go elsewhere on your site for more information?

Options are:

☐ Google Analytics

☐ Omniture


Content analysis tools

If you want to track what people said about your event, both before and afterwards, you will want to scan the media, social as well as traditional.

If you had your own hashtag: Separate out your own self-manufactured buzz – tweets, Facebook page, blogs, SlideShare, etc., from the ones that other people have put out there.

If there is an event hashtag: For each item, note the medium, the data, the author, and if possible the source. Was it from a speaker, an attendee, or a competitor? You’ll also want to note any or all of the following elements:

☐ Share of hashtag: What percentage of the conversation included your brands?

☐ Share of conversation: Measure the extent to which the products you featured at the show appear in the conversations. Don’t forget to benchmark to determine if your brands or products show up more prominently or visibly than the competition.

☐ Messaging/positioning: Does the conversation position you in the marketplace the way you want to be positioned?

☐ Key messages: Are they there at all? If they are there, are they fully communicated or only partially or — God forbid — inaccurately repeated? Were attendees so engaged that they amplified your messages?

☐ Quotes: Did you have thought leaders speaking at the event, were they followed, were they retweeted, are they amplifying your key messages?

☐ Visibility and Prominence: Were your announcements covered in headiness or were you a minor mention? Did photos appear?

Tool options are:




Prime Research


Step 5: Analyze results

Using a combination of your web analytics and CRM system you should be able to get a good profile of who was at your event and what they did as a result. If you use a follow-up survey, then try to get as much information as possible from them about:

☐ What made them attend?

☐ What was memorable?

☐ What they plan to do with the information they gleaned?

☐ What specific elements engaged them in your brand?

☐ What specific part of your marketing program helped them decide to attend?

☐ What elements were most memorable?

Don’t just compare events, examine the big picture. Are events the most efficient way to get your message across, or to get new leads? Compare online virtual events to IRL (In Real Life) events. Don’t forget to factor in the costs of attending. Travel budgets are severely restricted these days and a small change in the price of a ticket can make a big difference. ∞

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