The Importance of Proving Event ROI for Small Businesses event rsvp

Published Oct 16th, 2023 by   Nicolas Zenker

Let’s face it: events can get expensive…fast. They often take up a significant amount of both your team’s time and marketing budget. And just like any business expense, it’s important that you can prove a return on investment to justify similar, future marketing initiatives. 

Knowing whether or not an event was successful beyond “just a feeling” will help you to understand whether or not this type of marketing action is effective towards your goals as a small business or solopreneur. And, if you have the data to back you up, you can validate allocating more of your budget towards additional events — either virtual or in-person — down the road! 

So, how exactly do we figure out event ROI?

What’s Event ROI?

Total Sales Revenue or Results / Cost of Event = Return on Event (ROE)

Event return on investment (ROI) is a performance measurement that’s used to evaluate the profitability of an investment (a.k.a. this event in question). 

AddEvent Pro Tip: When calculating the costs, don’t forget to include the time you and your team have spent on the event — this will give you the most accurate true cost. 

It’s the ratio between the profitability — either financially or according to whatever goal you’ve set — and the costs associated with that event. Simply put, your event ROI is going to look totally different than other businesses’ because every organization looks at event success through a different lens. 

Now, let’s dig in and talk about calculating that return part of your investment.

Calculating the Return

There’s a simple set of steps that can help you to calculate an accurate return on an event (or ROE as we like to think of it). Set a goal, break it down to measurable objectives, collect the necessary data, and then analyze and adjust as needed. 

Step 1: Goal Setting

The first thing you need to do is set at least one goal — after all, you can’t measure what you don’t know. It’s difficult to measure a return on investment if there aren’t clear, calculable goals in place. 

Most of the time, an event is planned with that specific goal in mind right from the start, so be sure to identify your goal before you get too far into event planning. The purpose of the event will be to increase registration, ticket sales, or your attendance rate for any of the following objectives:

  • Driving sales revenue
  • Building the sales funnel with lead generation
  • Increasing brand awareness or website traffic
  • Retaining and incentivizing existing customers
  • Encouraging social and digital engagement

Now that you’ve established your overarching goal, it’s time to talk about measurable objectives that’ll get you to that goal. 

Step 2: Defining KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) offer tangible metrics to show how close you are to your goal at any given time. There are two types to observe: hard and soft metrics

Hard Metrics

These metrics are going to be quantifiable data.

Take a look at these examples: 

  • 200 registrations of tickets sold to the event
  • 175 attendees come to your webinar 
  • 1,000 clicks to your website

Soft Metrics

These metrics are intangible, but still impactful. 

Examples include: 

  • Improved customer or employee satisfaction
  • Positive post-event survey results
  • Social media shout-outs or good reviews
  • Actionable customer feedback

It’s important to have a balance between both types of metrics. Hard metrics lead the way with set-in-stone KPIs, and your soft metrics enable you to see what went right (or wrong!) with your event. 

Be sure to set an ambitious yet attainable goal, and to standardize this measurement so it’s consistent across future events for comparison purposes. 

Here are a couple of areas you might want to consider focusing on:

  • Attendance rate
  • Qualified lead generation
  • Customer satisfaction rating
  • Increased social media following and engagement

Step 3: Collect the Data

You’ve set some quantitative parameters, so now it’s time to collect the data. But what tools are you using to capture the data? 

When it comes to an event, the attendee experience is everything. If your event is easy to find, simple to register for, and offers a way to conveniently remind attendees of its date and time (both initially and as the date grows closer), they will be far more likely to join day-of. 

Using an event management platform like AddEvent is super important to not only provide the attendee with all pertinent event info but also to help your small business to capture their data during the RSVP process for multiple uses.  

Now, think through what you would like to know about users attending the event. 

When a user signs up for your event when using AddEvent, you can ask the user to enter customized data — by default, it asks for the attendee’s name and email address (which is mandatory). You can add an unlimited number of custom input fields to your RSVP form to collect additional information, but we always recommend keeping it short and to the point.

Find out how your users are interacting and engaging with your events by leveraging AddEvent’s analytics:

  • Event-Adds: The number of times someone clicks your “add to calendar” button or links to save your event on their calendar
  • Hits: The number of times your event or calendar landing pages are visited
  • Subscribers: The number of people that are subscribed and following your calendar(s)
  • Referring URLs: Where people are finding your events
  • Media: The breakdown of calendar vendors (i.e. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) your attendees are using

Make sure you’re properly capturing this data and adding it to your systems of record, such as a CRM or marketing automation platform like HubSpot, Salesforce, or Active Campaign

Step 4: Analyze and Adjust as Needed

You’ve captured your data, so now it’s time to look through it all carefully. Here are some questions to run through during your analysis:

  • What is the percentage of registrations/ticket sales versus attendees?
  • How many qualified leads did you gain? Unqualified leads?
  • How many new versus returning attendees did you have? 
  • How many new followers did you gain on social media? 
  • What were the scores from the post-event survey you sent out? 
  • How much new website traffic have you seen in the weeks leading up to the event? 
  • How much money did you spend versus make on this event?

Here’s the thing: the term “good event ROI” can be totally subjective. 

It all comes down to whether or not an event was profitable (not just financially, but also strategically) based on the goals you specifically set for your small business. 

Whether it’s your first event or your forty-first, there’s always room for improvement. Even if you didn’t meet your original goal for this event, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a waste of your business’s time or money. Instead, use it as a learning experience and find new ways to optimize future events. 

Plus, you can take that data that you accrued during the registration process and leverage it for promotion of future events.

Let AddEvent Help You Optimize Your Event ROI

See how AddEvent’s event management solution can help your small business to optimize your next event’s return on investment. Sign up for a free account and take us for a little test drive. 

Got questions? We’ve got answers! Let’s talk.

Let's create events together 😍

Please fill out this field