You’ve got loads of time to figure out ROI on the business back burner. You’ve got day in and day out to figure out traffic patterns, generate content, and restrategize for the next month. However, ROI is a whole different ball game if you’re primary business involves event marketing. Here you’ve got a short window of time for prep work, an exacted time for the live event, and an even small time frame for looping back through post event. So how exactly do you calculate ROI in event marketing?

You can start by squeezing the pre-event marketing sponge. Pretty much everyone charges you for a booth or a table at an event. However, they don’t all do you the favor of letting you know about the event logistics. You should be asking event coordinators key questions like:

  • What’s the expected event traffic? What were last year’s numbers?
  • What’s the audience demographic?
  • Are there any sponsorship opportunities?
  • Can I get an event map to gauge neighboring brands/competition? Can I also get a listing of what signage can be expected so ours isn’t dwarfed out?

Event marketing coordinators are marketing YOU for your business, so make sure you ask all the questions you need to get the most value for your investment.

As for the actual event marketing ROI strategy, there are a few reasons why this should be a core focus around which you plan your event.

For starters, according to an Event Marketer White Paper, notes that while “event marketing has the inherent ability to bridge advertising messages with your marketing goals…events don’t happen in a vacuum. The assessment of your marketing mix based on an established set of metrics that you create will serve as the foundation to determine the return on investment (ROI) of your event.” The ROI factor is critical since, as Global Experience Specialists and BtoB Magazineidentified in an infographic entitled Event ROI and Measurement Trends. They noted that a whopping “60% of respondents are less than satisfied with measurement of their event.” They go on to add that “most everyone collects metrics but not everyone is measuring the right thing.”

In order to gauge your event performance, event marketers have recommended a new framework to precede ROI – and it’s called ROO [return on objectives]. This makes perfect sense since you can’t measure return until you have a concrete idea of what you’re objectives where. Surprisingly, here its more than just about how many people visited your booth, how many business cards did you exchange, or how many email sign-ups did you gather. Instead the three pivotal questions are:

  • What are you setting out to do?
  • What concrete data do you have?
  • What steps do you have in place to use data to improve future performance?

Offering an onsite (and preferably online) survey is one of the best ways to gather concrete data. People love an opportunity to engage, and are also more likely to offer their opinion if they’ll be entered into a drawing for a cool freebie, like free tickets, company products, or hot gadgets. You can also use the opportunity to offer a quick digital sales pitch they have to watch before being able to fill out a quick survey (of all multiple choice answers). This allows you to test the perception shift before and after they’ve learned about the company or had the chance to engage with it somehow.