Clive Morris, Research Director at Explori, shares his thoughts on measuring event success and how to turn the numbers into valuable action-led insight across your organization.
As an organization that deals in event data and performance, we often hear "yeah, we measure the overall performance of our events, we get the Net Promoter Score".
Well, that’s wonderful, but ultimately, it’s just a score. Understanding what’s driving that score, how it differs between your key segments, how it compares to your other events and your competitors that is prized macro data insight you can use to inform the strategic direction of your event.
At the heart of this is benchmarking.
Benchmarking applies to survey data and any other quantitative metrics collected by your business where there is a broad data pool that enables comparison and contextualisation.
This could include, but is certainly not limited to:
- Registration to attendance conversion – or indeed any aspects of the marketing funnel
- Attendee event dwell time
- Engagement with online platforms, pre and post event
- Exhibitor and Sponsor re-book rates
- Attendee demographics – e.g., % who have purchasing authority
Benchmarking in practice
77% of event organisers said they would like to benchmark events across their organisation but only one in five are currently doing it.*
Let’s take NPS for example. You’ve just run your event, conducted the post-show survey and after the survey has closed, the results show that you have an NPS of +10.
Cue fanfare in the building at the positive NPS!
But what if the score last year was +20? And that over the last five years, there’s been a downward trend from +30 through to the present +10?
Comparing the event against its previous iterations is the first level of benchmarking and applies to all quantitative metrics that, year-on-year, are being collected in a consistent matter. Put differently, what can the survey and other quantitative metrics tell you about the trajectory of the event – improving, declining, flatlining, or a bit like a rollercoaster?
Although it is very important to understand an individual event’s trends, this doesn’t give any wider context. A given show may have an NPS of +10, and be on an upward trend – but how does this compare to others in that show's portfolio, and across the organisation more widely?
The power of benchmarking across your business
Understanding how your data compares to the average performance for an event in your organisation (the ‘company benchmark’) gives event teams access to insight that can help them make better decisions on event delivery.
At a more strategic level, these key insights can help demonstrate the role events play in achieving wider business goals, improving customer loyalty and navigating an uncertain future.
A key tool is to implement a company-level dashboard to ensure that all key metrics, from all the company’s events, can be seen in one place with easy access to, and visibility of, the data. For larger businesses or those with an extensive programme of events, this could be further split by portfolio so that both company and portfolio benchmarks are shown.
When benchmarking across company, or portfolio, an important consideration here is that you are comparing like-with-like. The benchmark shouldn’t be a mix of trade shows, consumer shows and conferences - there should be separate benchmarks for each.
Audiences also need to be treated separately, with different scores for attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors.
How do your score compare?
Understanding how your event compares to others in the industry, and more specifically in your sector, can be particularly illuminating and provide even more context.
Valuable industry and sector benchmarks include:
- If you are a trade-show, vs. all other trade shows
- Running a global event – a comparison vs. all other events run across the globe
- On a regional basis – e.g. vs. all other US / EMEA events
- On a sector basis – e.g. if you run an event in the healthcare sector, vs. all other events in this sector.
Through these industry and sector benchmarks, you will be able to address how your events really stand up against the competition, the targets required to ensure a better standing against the competition, and the reasons for any inherent differences in event performance.
For industry comparisons, you'll likely have to rely on your survey provider, and choosing one that is dedicated to events is important. A platform that isn't set up to establish those benchmarks, either because it doesn't prioritise collecting the right information or because it doesn't track it at an industry level, is going to ultimately force you to do that legwork yourself, and it's not an easy task.
At Explori, our industry benchmarks are based on thousands of post-show surveys across multiple sectors over the last nine years taking data from over 3 million responses.
Data in isolation lacks the context needed to fully understand it and to help event professionals act on the results appropriately.
To be able to fully comprehend what event success looks like, you need to have an understanding of what 'good' looks like.
Benchmarks are your window into this, enabling you to compare, not just with other event editions,, but also across your business and the industry at large.
They will help you recognize excellent performance and spur action on your poor performance. And they will also stop you from blindly cheering your NPS of +10...unless of course your know that the benchmark is -10.
Like this? Download a copy of the Event Impact Playbook - a key tool to help you become a better, more data-centric event professional.
And why not embark on the PCMA Event Data Strategy Certificate produced by Explori. Find out more here
*ICE Insights Report