23 Important KPIs for Measuring Event Success
Event KPIs (key performance indicators) are the best way to track and measure your event’s success. In this article, we’ll walk you through 23 KPIs and how you can apply them to your event.
When determining KPIs, your goals and desired outcomes are the best places to start. Goals will guide what you should measure to determine event success. Whether your main objective is to increase audience engagement, maximize revenue, or obtain more event sponsorships, this list will help you gauge event success.
In addition to your event goals, there is another variable to keep in mind when determining your event’s best KPIs. Event types and event formats matter when deciding what to measure. For example, a virtual conference will have KPIs that its in-person counterpart doesn’t, such as session attendance, virtual applause, and chat activity
1. Event Check-ins
This key metric directly indicates the number of attendees who have checked in at the event. Comparing the number of event check-ins with the total number of registrations is essential.
In an ideal world, everyone who registered would attend your event. Realistically though, that will not be the case. We analyzed proprietary data from almost 2,000 virtual events in our Virtual Event Benchmarks Report. The report shows a high average conversion rate (50%) from people who registered to those who attended virtual events in 2020. This number is pretty impressive, considering 80% of virtual events are free.
Now that you have a baseline, if there is an unusual discrepancy between the registrants and check-ins, this would be something worth looking into—why are you losing people between registration and check-in? Do you need more promotion leading up to the event to build excitement?
2. Event Surveys
The most immediate way you will know if attendees enjoyed the event is by asking them. Event surveys allow you to get into the attendees’ minds and help you understand attendee satisfaction by collecting feedback. These surveys can be deployed before, during, or after an event. Before an event, survey attendees about what they are looking forward to or what experiences they are interested in.
Here’s an example from one of our webinars in which we had pre-event survey questions built into registration:
During the event, send a short survey daily to gauge what is working well and what experiences are falling short. You can use this data in real-time to make adjustments for the next day. For example, if attendees felt they did not have enough time to ask questions, you could extend the time for Q&A the following day based on their feedback. If you found in your post-event survey that attendees felt rushed between sessions, you could extend the break time between them for future events attendees giving attendees more downtime.
No matter what part of the event you decide to survey, use the responses to create future events that exceed expectations. Be specific with your questions and, when possible, offer numeric response options and comment boxes to elaborate. You will draw deeper insights if your data is clean and quantifiable, but it’s essential to allow room to expand.
3. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Though this KPI also falls under “event surveys,” the NPS (net promoter score) deserves its spot on this list. This score asks the simple question: On a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that you would recommend this event to friends?
- Scores of 9-10 are considered “promoters” who will act as loyal enthusiasts for your event brand.
- Scores of 7-8 are “passives” who are satisfied attendees but are still vulnerable to competitive offerings.
- Scores between 0-6 are considered “detractors” who risk damaging your event brand through negative reviews.
Here is how to calculate NPS:
% promoters – % detractors = NPS
This score is a key indicator of how much value your event brought to attendees, which all major stakeholders will want to know.
“We look at feedback, for the most part, we look at audience feedback, we do a survey of course, like every other event, but I personally speak with probably hundreds of attendees in the run-up to, at the conference, following the conference, and some who attend every year.”
Head of Communications
4. Active Community Members
This metric allows you to see which types of attendees are most active. It also helps track activity levels within the community. You can spot an active community member by the number of pages viewed, the time spent in sessions, or the number of chats sent. Data like this is helpful in optimizing the event experience and finding the best ways to engage attendees within the platform.
5. Messages Sent
The number of messages sent among attendees can help prove if your event networking tools were sufficient. Developing relationships is one of the critical components of any event, and measuring this metric will demonstrate if the platform helped facilitate connections.
6. Speaker Engagement
The audience ultimately determines a speaker’s performance. If the speaker doesn’t resonate with the audience, the presentation wasn’t a success. You can gauge speaker interest by measuring the number of session views or session ratings. Additionally, provide ways in which attendees can engage with the speaker, such as live polling, live audience reactions, or surveys after the session.
7. Session Analytics
Drill down into each session to see which were a success. Session analytics will show the overall session ratings and feedback. You will also see how many attended, average view duration, page views, and if the audience was tuning in virtually or in person. Analyze this data to determine which sessions were a success. You can then look for common themes in the top-performing sessions, such as topics, tracks, or length of session, and use your findings when deciding sessions for your next event.
8. Top Performing Topics
How do you determine what topics your attendees are interested in? You can track when anyone engages with your agenda by starring or favoriting sessions. That data can be collected and aggregated to help better understand which topics are a success.
You do this by tagging sessions and content. For example, if you have a session “How to Create Pipeline With LinkedIn,” you could categorize this session with “social selling,” “sales,” “lead generation,” and so on. Finding popular themes allows you to double down on what topics your audience wants to hear.
9. Live Polling Response Rate
With the right event app or virtual event solution, you can have attendees vote in live polls during an event session. This response rate will indicate the attendees’ engagement levels and help event organizers understand which sessions were most successful. Polling is one of the most underestimated of the KPIs for event success, but it can tell you a lot about how successful a session was, provide info on what folks thought of the speaker’s content, and give you ideas for future sessions or ways to enhance your event.
10. Social Media Mentions
Social media mentions are when users directly give a “shout out” by using a handle or hashtag within their comment/tweet. During the event planning process, make sure your event handle and hashtag are simple, unique, and shareable. Keeping track of mentions will help you better understand your event’s success and attendees’ social media savviness.
11. Total Registrations
Indeed a metric that is already top of mind, the total number of registrations is one of the most immediate ways to measure event success. It is also vital to track registrations monthly to have a clearer understanding of sales performance over time. Which month had the highest registrations? Why so? The more detailed you can become with this metric, the more clarity it will provide when evaluating your event.
“We’re seeing that events are still the primary driver of marketing results. Events touch almost every single opportunity that progresses and ultimately closes. It’s a great place to be, and it’s a great way to lean in and provide business results.”
Vice President, Global Conferences, and Events
12. Registration by Ticket Type
Registration by ticket type is another way you can be more granular with your registration data. By dividing registration performance into ticket type, you can gain a better sense of which ticket types and price points were most appealing to attendees. If you’re using an in-person strategy with a virtual component, this will also help you understand the percentage of attendees joining in different formats. Such data will help organize your next event, allowing you to be more targeted in your ticket offerings.
13. Gross Revenue
Many would argue that gross revenue is the main KPI for event success. It is an important metric to measure against your initial revenue goals, and the difference between the two will indicate how realistic you were about the benchmarks set. Gross revenue is also an important barometer for the demand for the event within the industry.
14. Cost-to-Revenue Ratio
Gross revenue is not an insightful metric unless you compare it with the total cost of the event. This ratio helps to understand how much profit (or loss) your event has generated and how you could continue to improve this ratio for future events. This is a KPI that stakeholders such as sponsors and investors would want to see.
15. Revenue by Promo Code
Understanding where your revenue stream is coming from and what campaigns effectively can help you measure your event success. Promotional codes give you data surrounding who your attendees are. Analytics such as how many times people used specific codes tells a unique story. You can see which promo code sold the most tickets, and, the campaign, platform, or business that brought the attendee to the event with their promo can also help you determine which marketing efforts were successful.
For example, if a promo code was distributed on LinkedIn and brought in the most registrations, you would determine that the social platform was a great place to reach your event audience and may want to direct more spending on LinkedIn ads in the future.
16. Sponsorship Satisfaction
Virtual events often have a lower ticket price, and therefore rely more on sponsorship. In fact, 80% of virtual event registrations are free. This is a significant change from years past. Ensuring sponsor satisfaction is a key metric for measuring event success. It’s also a way to gauge the likelihood of future sponsorships. You can measure satisfaction through surveys, NPS scores, or post-event debrief meetings. Truly listen to your sponsors, ask them what worked well for them, and what areas they would like to see improvements in. Record this data for planning future events.
17. Returning Attendees
Chances are that your team organizes recurring events, whether that be monthly, annually, or even biannually. An interesting stat to record is the number of repeat attendees who come to subsequent events. Returning attendees will show whether your event content is resonating with the targeted audience and will give you an idea of the value that you are creating for them. A high number of returning attendees is an indicator that you’ve found the right formula.
18. Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
If your event is meant to generate prospects for your sales team, measuring the number of qualified leads is a leading indicator of event success. The definition of a qualified lead will be specific to your company, so make sure you have detailed criteria before measuring this KPI. A qualified lead may be from a certain industry, be in a managerial position within his/her company, company size, or demonstrate a clear need for your company’s service/product.
19. Pipeline Generated
This metric complements the number of qualified sales leads – especially in the B2B world of events. If revenue is a goal for your event, linking new lead generation/ open sales opportunities and their estimated dollar value is an important metric to identify and measure. Your sales team will be able to raise this number to you as long as the proper attribution is tied to a contact or opportunity.
20. Accounts Influenced (ABM)
In an account-based event marketing strategy, identifying the target accounts influenced by events (and other marketing activities) is an important metric to track for event success. ABM is typically a strategy used by B2B organizations familiar with longer sales cycles and multiple touchpoints. Understanding how an event influences a target account is key in quantifying your ABM strategy’s value.
21. Customers Acquired
After collecting qualified leads from the event, the logical next step would be to measure the number of customers acquired. Here you have to make sure the event marketing attribution is clean and that these customers were indeed acquired due to the event. There are multiple channels through which a lead can become a customer so you must identify the lead source as the event itself. Having the right event data integrations setup will go a long way to helping you out.
“Everything we do has goals and metrics tied to it to ensure that we are creating opportunities to close business for the company. The hyper-focus is growing revenue for the sales team within all of the activations we have.”
Lindsay Niemiec McKenna
VP of Revenue Marketing
22. Cost per Customer Acquisition
This metric is most relevant for companies that sell a specific product and are organizing events to acquire more customers. Though the number of acquired customers is a key metric, arguably, a more critical KPIs for event success is the cost per customer acquisition. Being aware of the amount of time and budget required to close an event-sourced deal is an essential indicator of your event’s impact on the bottom line.
23. Audience Reactions
Lastly, don’t underestimate audience reactions! You can gain powerful insight into meaningful moments throughout your event by analyzing audience reactions. If you notice one speaker’s remarks receive a lot of reactions or virtual applause, you can take those quotes and repackage them for post-event content to share on social media. Or, you may notice that certain attendees are getting a lot of reactions on the chat channels. In that case, you may want to reach out to that participant and leverage their skills or comments in another way or at a future event.
Wrapping Up: Take Action on KPIs for Event Success
Defining and measuring event success is a specific and personalized process. Which KPIs are important to you will depend on what goals you have set for your event. However, having these 23 KPIs in your toolkit will help you better understand which metrics are most relevant to your desired event outcome and how you can start measuring those numbers.
For more info on important event KPIs and data points, check out our previous article about event metrics or our recent report on event data by clicking the below button.
Editors Note: This article was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for relevancee.