This experiential-marketing checklist is designed to be used side-by-side with the articles “A Step-by-Step Timeline to Find the ROI in Your Event or Experiential Marketing Program” and “Your Event Measurement Cheatsheet: Objectives, Metrics, Benchmarks, Tools, and Cost Estimates for Every Type of Experiential Marketing.” Together they provide a practical handbook to get you off to an excellent start at designing and completing your measurement program. This Checklist provides detailed and task-oriented descriptions of what you need to accomplish.
Step 1: Get consensus on goals, SMART objectives, and parameters for the event
As with any measurement program, start with establishing just what you are doing, and what success means to you and senior leadership.
If the event is based primarily around commerce, the goals might be to:
☐ Get qualified leads more cost effectively
☐ 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 and understanding of the brand positioning
☐ Increase preference for the brand
☐ Increase consideration of the brand
☐ 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
☐ Increase support for a cause
☐ Increase volunteers
☐ Increase donations
☐ Increase awareness of an issue
☐ Increase activism around an issue as measured by petitions signed or volunteers signed up
Typical SMART Objectives
SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Timely) include targets and are time-defined. Some examples follow, but you will want to define your own for your specific situation:
☐ Increase percentage of attendees more likely to purchase by 5% over last year.
☐ Increase attendees who remember, consider, or prefer the brand by 10% compared to pre-event numbers.
☐ Increase ratio of qualified vs. unqualified sales leads generated by 5% by the end of the quarter.
☐ Increase conversion rate of attendees by 5% compared to last year.
☐ Increase total potential sales = [number of attendees] x [conversion rate] x [average sale] by 5% by the end of the year.
☐ For press events they might include:
☐ Increase the percent of attendees writing or quoted on the issue by 5% before the end of the quarter.
☐ Increase total exposure of key messages in resulting press by 5% before the end of the year.
☐ Increase share of desirable (positive + neutral) voice on a particular issue vs. the competition by 5% before the end of the year.
Write down the following and get agreement in writing from leadership:
☐ Who is the target audience?
☐ Where do they get their information?
☐ What are their concerns or interests relative to this project?
☐ What is the event budget?
☐ What is the measurement budget:
Step 2. Agree on a benchmark
To whom or what are you comparing results? Put another way, who cares how “great!” your event was if your competition drew ten times more people? Or if your email campaign got three times as many qualified leads for less money?
The key point to remember is that you always need to compare the data from your event to the data from some other time or event. Here are a few suggestions:
☐ Your awareness/preference/consideration levels before the event took place
☐ The same event in a prior year
☐ A competing event
☐ An event put on by the competition
☐ A different type of event
☐ Other forms of customer outreach
☐ Other forms of communications
For all of these potential benchmarks you’ll want to at least estimate the costs and compare the costs to the results. Either on a cost-per-contact, cost-per-lead, or cost-per-minute-spent-with-prospect/customer basis. You want to be prepared to compare the cost effectiveness of your benchmark(s) with the event or experiential marketing you are doing now.
Step 3. Figure out what data is already available and what you’ll need to find or pay for
If you regularly do brand awareness/preference surveys:
☐ When was the last survey done? Can it be used as a pre-test prior to your event?
☐ Is there another survey scheduled? Can it be timed to act as a pre-test for your event?
☐ Do you have conversions set up in Google Analytics or whatever you use to track web and/or social analytics?
☐ Do you have data on social sharing for other events so you have a benchmark for your results?
☐ Do you have a way to monitor and collect conversations (in social and traditional media) around your event?
If your goal is sales or sales leads and you need to quantify ROI, then you will need the following:
☐ Definition of “qualified lead”
☐ Average value of a sale
☐ Average profit from a sale
If your goal is to change people’s minds about your brand, then you’ll also need to know the levels of awareness, preference, and consideration prior to your event.
Check to make sure you know or will know the following event data:
☐ Total number of people invited
☐ Total number of attendees
☐ Number of leads collected
☐ Ratio of qualified to unqualified leads (if your organization differentiates between the two)
These days “engagement” can mean many things. So, if you are measuring engagement, then 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 are going to use or compare levels of engagement, be clear up front about what constitutes “high,” “medium,” or “low” engagement. Here’s an example of how to define those 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 4. 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 pre/post event
☐ Percentage change in awareness pre/post event
☐ Percentage increase in consideration pre/post event
☐ Percentage increase in preference pre/post event
☐ Percentage of attendees who indicate they are likely to purchase within six months of your event
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 don’t even mention “last click” attribution).
☐ Estimate potential sales: If you have good average sales and profit data then you can make a calculated guess. You’ll need a method to capture leads and qualified visitors. A key question on your lead capture form 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? 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 (typically north of $300) the show is clearly more efficient. But what if you’re trying to decide which show to go to? You need 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, you can use your CRM system to 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 they plan to purchase your products and how soon, you can compare the results show-by-show to your overall company average.
Step 5: Choose your measurement tool(s)
There are only a few basic types of tools used for event measurement. You may need one, or you may need several, depending on your metrics. Here are the options:
Raw numbers data
☐ 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.
☐ Event 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: I recall one winter event at which my client couldn’t find the clickers, but 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.
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.
Sales tracking data
You will need some form of database or customer relationship management tool if you want to track the customer journey through your sales funnel.
Whether you’re an e-commerce 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?
Media content analysis
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? Then you’ll want to track the following:
☐ 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 vs those of the competition. 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 headlines or were you a minor mention? Did photos appear?
Step 6. 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 respondents 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. ∞