Using B2B event metrics to plan and execute great events

In the dynamic world of B2B marketing, physical events still stand out as the most effective tactic to forge a meaningful connection between a brand and its prospects and customers. Events are not merely occasions for networking; they are powerful opportunities for demonstrating what a brand stands for and how it differentiates from competitors.

With 40% of marketing budgets in the B2B sector allocated to physical events, plus conferences and events being rated as the top human interaction by B2B buyers, the importance of events in the marketing mix is undeniable. It also puts extra emphasis on the need to look at measuring the impact of events.

Measuring the impact of events is frequently discussed, but any events marketer will tell you that it’s a topic that remains difficult to implement consistently. Often the real impact of an event is only to be seen in the months after the event, and the debate about business metrics and vanity metrics plays a role in this discussion. Vanity metrics are those metrics that may look impressive but do not show business impact and are not actionable.

In this overview, we will give an overview of what types of metrics can be used to determine the impact of the events, and how are best used.

Introducing the 3 Types of Metrics for B2B Events

Metrics are not just helpful in determining the success of an event, they also help us with the planning and the execution of the event. Metrics can offer a clear, quantifiable measure of what’s working and what’s not, enabling marketers and event organizers to decisions and adjustments where needed.

We can broadly distinguish three primary types of metrics here: Return on Objectives (ROO), Signal Metrics, and Business Metrics. Each type has a unique role to play in the event evaluation and planning process, offering insights into different aspects of event success.

What is Return on Objectives and How Does It Work?

Return on Objectives (ROO) represents a strategic or qualitative measure of how well an event achieves its set objectives. Unlike traditional ROI, which focuses on financial returns, ROO assesses success in terms of meeting specific, often intangible, goals such as brand awareness, customer engagement, and satisfaction. The process involves setting clear, measurable objectives before the event, using SMART criteria, and then evaluating success by comparing actual outcomes against these goals post-event.

How does the use of Return on Objectives work?

Step 1: Determine what you want to achieve

For example:

  • Launch a new product
  • Open-up a new market
  • Gain access to key decision makers or influencers
  • Drive new demand
  • Progress existing opportunities
  • Increase adoption
  • Improve retention
  • Improve brand recognition for selected audiences
  • Identify new partnership opportunities

Step 2: Make your objective is specific

For each objective, set out clear, measurable goals before the event. These goals should be specific, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

For example: Increase brand loyalty, aiming for a 25% improvement in Net Promoter Score (NPS) among existing customers within one year.

Step 3: Verify if you have met your goals

After the event, check how well you did via comparison of results, survey results, engagement levels, follow-up actions, etc.

Signal Metrics: Keeping a Pulse on Your Event

Signal metrics offer early indicators of an event’s direction and potential success. They help marketers stay on course or make necessary adjustments during the planning and execution phases. These metrics, which range from pre-event registration numbers to at-event participation rates and post-event engagement levels, provide a “pulse” on the event’s health and are invaluable for communicating with stakeholders and gathering directional feedback. 

Keep in mind that while these signal metrics can help you stay on course during the planning and execution of an event, they are often not the indicators you are looking for to assess the impact on the business.

Signal metrics that can provide a "pulse" on the event's health

Pre-Event

  • Registration numbers
  • Traffic to event specific websites
  • Engagement with pre-event campaigns
  • On-site meetings booked
  • Numbers pre-registered for workshops, presentations, or networking events
  • Social media engagement
  • Returning registrations

At-Event

  • Attendance and attrition rates
  • Walk-in numbers
  • Attendee participation (especially for virtual events, e.g., chat, reactions, poll)
  • Meetings held
  • Leads from event activities
  • Interactions with existing leads
  • Feedback from prospects and customers
  • Event app engagement data
  • Social media engagement

Post-Event

  • Attendee and registration numbers
  • Traffic to event specific websites
  • Engagement with pre-event campaigns
  • On-site meetings booked
  • Numbers pre-registered for workshops, presentations, or networking events
  • Social media engagement
  • Returning registrations

Business Metrics: Measuring the Impact on Your Business Goals

Business metrics are the quantifiable indicators of an event’s impact on a company’s objectives, spanning brand reputation, lead generation, and revenue. These metrics help complete the post-event reporting puzzle, showcasing the event’s contribution to the business. From the number of registrations and attendee engagement rates to pipeline influence and net event profit, business metrics offer a comprehensive view of event performance and its alignment with broader business goals.

Key business impact metrics for B2B events

Awareness Phase

Metrics that relate to brand and brand awareness.

  • Number of registrations
  • Attendance rate %
  • Engagement rate %
  • Media mentions
  • Social media engagement
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Consideration Phase

Metrics that relate to demand generation.

  • Leads to Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) %
  • Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Leads from Target Accounts (ABM)
  • Leads from existing opportunities
  • Sales Accepted Leads
  • Follow-up Sessions Planned

Decision Phase

Metrics that relate to realized sales and revenue.

  • Pipeline influenced or sourced from the event
  • New sales influenced or sourced from the event
  • Net event profit
  • Renewals and expansion influenced

Closing Thoughts

Metrics are more than just numbers; they are the keys for us to unlock the full potential of B2B events. By understanding and leveraging the power of Return on Objectives, Signal Metrics, and Business Metrics, marketers can ensure that their events not only achieve but exceed their key objectives and provide a more impactful, engaging, and rewarding experience for all involved. If you would like to discuss how these insights can be tailored to your unique context, we would love to hear from you.
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