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Event Marketing
5 April 2019 

10 Events That Generate Huge ROI

Jacob Thomas
10 Events That Generate Huge ROI

Maybe you’re wondering, “Can events really generate positive ROI for my company?” The answer is a resounding YES! Take a look at the 10 events listed below and learn valuable tips for turning your events into profit centers.

Return on investment (ROI) is the name of the game in event marketing. After all, if your company doesn’t experience any benefits from hosting a conference, expo, or similar gathering, why do it?

Fortunately, event marketing stats show that hosting events is a great promotional strategy. The 10 events listed below are proof. Each has generated massive ROI for the companies that put them on. Keep reading to learn how!

What is Event ROI?

Let’s start with the basics, what is event ROI? Contrary to what you might think, it’s more than just a monetary figure. While the goal of most events isn’t to lose money, an event that does isn’t necessarily a failure — as long as it still generates value.

Value is the key word here. And it can mean many different things. For example, value could refer to the revenue generated by an event. But it could also refer to the number of leads gained, partnerships made, brand awareness raised, and more. It could even refer to all of these things combined.

So in a nutshell, event ROI is the value generated by an event, divided by the cost to host it, and expressed as a percentage. As long as the value an event generates is more than the time and monetary cost it takes to put it on, an event should be considered ROI positive.

How is Event ROI Measured?

Because event ROI measures value and not just revenue, it can be hard to measure accurately. But it’s not impossible. Start with your event goals. What were you hoping to achieve by hosting your event? Were you able to accomplish what you set out to do?

This will give you a baseline idea of the success or failure of your event. But we want more than just a baseline idea. So we need to dig deeper. The next step is to choose your ROI model. There are three, each with varying levels of complexity:

  • The “Return/Investment” Model: Simply divide event revenue by event costs. This model is very simple to use but doesn’t always accurately represent an event’s true profit.
  • The “Incremental Revenue” Model: Subtract your event’s expenses from its revenue. Then divide the outcome by the event’s expenses. This model is also fairly simple to use and does account for event profit.
  • The “Incremental Margin” Model: To use this model, find your event’s gross margin by dividing its revenue by the cost of goods sold (COGS). Then, subtract your event’s expenses from the gross margin and divide the resulting figure by the event expenses. This equation will provide you with a detailed event ROI picture, but it can be difficult to calculate.

As you can see, measuring event ROI isn’t always a straightforward process. But by assessing the goals you have for your event and then choosing an ROI model that aligns with these objectives, you’ll be able to accurately calculate ROI.

We should note that this whole process is MUCH easier with event marketing software. This kind of tool will allow you to easily track both the value your events generates and the costs they incur. You can then use this information to quickly calculate ROI.

10 ROI-Mazing Events

Ready to dive into our list of 10 events that generate huge ROI? Us too! The following event marketing examples will help your company host more successful gatherings.

1. Dreamforce

Dreamforce - Events That Generate ROISource: Whatfix

Let’s start with one of the biggest software conferences in the world, Dreamforce, an event put on by B2B tech giant, Salesforce. If you’re not familiar, Dreamforce is four days of amazing inspiration, fun, and learning. It welcomes thousands of attendees every year and features keynote speeches from some of the most notable business minds around.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: Dreamforce does a lot of things right. That’s why they’ve been able to grow so successfully. But there are a few KPIs, in particular, that help showcase this event’s incredible ROI: it’s attendees, social media response, and revenue.

Dreamforce first launched in 2003. 1,000 people attended the first gathering. In 2018, just 15 years later, the conference hosted over 170,000 folks from all over the world. And each of them had a great attendee experience, as evidenced by the thousands of tweets confessing their love for the conference. Search #dreamforce on Twitter and you’ll see what we mean.

So we know that Dreamforce has displayed incredible growth and has a giant horde of raving fans. These are good signs that the event represents a massive ROI for its parent company. But let’s talk revenue. While we don’t have access to exact numbers, here’s what we know: full conference passes in 2019 cost $1,899 each and Dreamforce sell sponsorship packages, some of which cost over a million dollars. Add it all up and you’ll quickly realize that this conference brings in a TON of revenue.

2. Gainsight Pulse

Gainsight Pulse - Events That Generate ROISource: Gainsight

Gainsight Pulse is the world’s premier customer success conference. Attendees have the opportunity to learn from “industry luminaries,” network with their peers from around the world, and enjoy legendary afterparties.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: What started as a small, 300 person conference in 2013, has since exploded. The event hosted over 4,000 people in 2017 — that’s an attendance growth rate of 13x in just five short years. But it gets better. At the 2017 event, Gainsight booked 600 meetings with potential clients. How’s that for event ROI?

3. Unleash by Outreach


Unleash is “The Sales Engagement Conference for the world’s most innovative and fastest-growing companies.” It’s put on by Outreach, a highly-rated sales engagement platform. At Unleash, attendees learn top sales advice from leading experts at companies like Twilio, LinkedIn, and Amazon.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: The Unleash conference has been experiencing rapid growth. The 2019 event sold every single available ticket — two times what it sold last year. That adds up to 1,146 attendees.

All these ticket sales translated into a huge jump in revenue as well. The 1.25 million dollars it grossed in 2019 was five times greater than the previous year. And because the event team was able to secure so many sponsors (26 of them to be exact), the event cost only one-third of what it did prior. Higher revenue and lower out-of-pocket costs equal great event ROI.

4. INBOUND sponsored by HubSpot

Inbound by HubSpot - Events That Generate ROISource: Media Junction

INBOUND is a large experience sponsored by HubSpot. It brings together 24,000 attendees from 104 different countries to learn from best-selling authors, CEOs, and Hall of Fame athletes. But it’s not all about education. Event-goers also have plenty of opportunities to network and have fun.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: One great way to tell if an event is producing positive ROI is to look at its sponsors. First, does it have a good amount? And second, do the sponsors feel like their investment in the conference was worthwhile? If the answer to both of these questions is “yes,” then we can assume that event ROI is strong.

INBOUND had a total of 62 sponsors last year including big companies like WeWork, Vimeo, SendGrid, and SEMrush. But these companies didn’t just throw money at the conference, they really benefited from it. Because of this, INBOUND can expect a lot of repeat sponsors next year and even more interest from new companies in their sponsorship opportunities.

5. Web Summit

Web Summit - Events That Generate ROISource: Irish Times

This Lisbon-area conference has been described by Forbes as “The best technology conference on the planet.” High praise! But what makes Web Summit so spectacular? Simple: it’s a collection of the world’s leading founders, CEOs, and politicians that discuss where technology is headed next. The insights shared each year are invaluable.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: Besides the amazing press reviews from quality publications like Forbes (mentioned above), The New York Times, The Atlantic, and more, Web Summit also has other signs of huge ROI.

For example, attendance to the first ever conference in 2009 was under 400. This year, the event expects to welcome over 70,000 people. They also regularly have celebrities such as Tony Hawk, Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, and Bono speak at their conference rather than the local entrepreneurs they originally hosted in the early years.

6. Ramp by InsightSquared

Ramp by InsightSquared - Events That Generate ROISource: InsightSquared

InsightSquared is a relatively new conference. The first event was held in 2017, but they’ve been able to grow at a steady pace and become a leader in the revenue ops industry pretty quickly. In 2019, event planners expect to welcome over 500 attendees to the Revere Hotel in Boston, MA.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: The biggest sign of ROI exhibited by InsightSquared is the expansion of their audience. In 2017, the conference catered exclusively to sales folk. In 2018, the event content focused on all revenue personnel. Now, in 2019, Ramp is also offering conference tracks for marketing professionals. This allows the event to promote itself to more people, see higher attendance numbers, make more money from ticket sales, and market the InsightSquared product to more potential customers.

7. PLAY by Brightcove

PLAY by Brightcove - Events That Generate ROISource: Brightcove

For over eight years now, Brightcove has hosted PLAY in Boston, MA. The conference is all about video. It exposes attendees to the latest and greatest technology tools, teaches them how to get the most ROI out of video marketing for their businesses, and gives them the opportunity to network with their peers. The list of 2019 speakers includes professionals from Best Buy, HP, and Fox.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: PLAY started as a small conference in Boston, MA. Less than 200 people attended and every single one of them was a Brightcove customer. Today, the event hosts 1,000 attendees. And 20% of them are prospects, not customers, giving Brightcove the opportunity to market their platform to new potential buyers.

Brightcove also does a great job of repurposing the content created at their event. Since every session is recorded, the company can then use the videos as content marketing pieces throughout the year. This helps them achieve massive ROI for every event they host.

8. Consensus by CoinDesk

Consensus by CoinDesk - Events That Generate ROISource: CoinDesk

Consensus is the conference where everyone who’s anyone in the world of cryptocurrency comes together. Since 2015, it’s taught attendees about the future of the industry and the technology (Blockchain) that it’s based on. It also gives crypto-pros a chance to connect and meet each other.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: In 2018, Consensus welcomed 8,500 attendees. Since tickets cost roughly $2,000 each, a quick bit of math tells us that the event pulled in at least $17,000,000. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not the only benefit. The conference’s parent company, CoinDesk, also has an excellent opportunity to promote its brand at the get-together.

9. C3 by CallidusCloud


Source: Twitter

C3 was a conference hosted by CallidusCloud (now SAP Sales Cloud), an enterprise-level sales software. We say “was” because the event was last held in 2017. Since that time, CallidusCloud was bought out by SAP and the company (C3 conference included) has been integrated into it’s new owner’s ongoing plans.

But that doesn’t take away from what C3 accomplished during its time! Every year the conference team would welcome 1,500 people through its doors. And past speakers included ex-professional football player, Peyton Manning, and former astronaut, Mark Kelly.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: Since implementing a strong event marketing plan, C3 has seen registration numbers increase by 40%. More importantly, their cross-sell pipeline has exploded by 30%. That’s a huge potential boost in company revenue and it’s all thanks to their C3 event.

But CallidusCloud isn’t the only one benefitting from the conference. Throughout the years, attendees have taken to social media to voice their excitement and appreciation for the event.

10. CouchCon by Wistia


Source: Twitter

Finally, we have CouchCon, a completely free, virtual event hosted by Wistia. In its first year, the conference brought together (virtually, of course) nearly 1,700 attendees to learn from marketing experts at companies like Buffer, LinkedIn, and Intercom.

KPIs Worth Mentioning: CouchCon is a great example of an event that produced positive ROI without making any direct revenue. The conference was free, after all. So why was it such a success for Wistia? Well, for one thing, 1,700 people from all over the world tuned in. Not bad for a first-year event!

Also, the social media response was amazing. Many attendees took to Twitter and other networks to announce they were watching and share what they learned. Wistia even received messages about entire teams gathering together to watch.

So, while they didn’t make money from CouchCon, Wistia still profited via increased brand recognition and customer goodwill.

Key Takeaways: Increase ROI at Your Next Event

We’ve just shown you 10 B2B event marketing ideas that will help your organization generate huge ROI. Here are the key takeaways to remember:

  • Grow Your Attendance: Focus on steady, year over year attendance growth for your events. One of the best ways to increase ROI is to simply host more paying customers.
  • Secure Quality Sponsors: Attendance alone isn’t enough. The events producing the most ROI have a lot of quality sponsors. This helps financially and builds credibility.
  • Provide a Great Attendee Experience: Do your attendees love your event? They should! A great attendee experience will ensure they return and invite their friends.
  • Get People Talking: Events that generate huge ROI get people talking. Media outlets can’t wait to write stories about them. And attendees are constantly posting on social media about their experience. Your events need to create this kind of excitement.

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