How to Measure the ROI of Inbound Marketing for Your Events

Measure ROI of inbound marketing for events

For those of you who’ve already read the eBook on the New Age of Event Marketing, you’ve probably already implemented many of the featured ideas into your next event promotional campaign to help you sell more tickets online.

(If you haven’t read it yet, you can download it here.)

One aspect we couldn’t cover in the eBook is how to measure the success of your inbound marketing campaigns, so let’s cover it here.

To make measuring the ROI of your event marketing easier, it’s best to segment your inbound marketing activities based on the goals you want to achieve.

Broadly speaking, most inbound event marketing goals will fall into five categories: awareness, audience engagement, demand generation, lead generation, and sales.

Here’s a quick overview of how you can measure each of them.

Awareness

The effectiveness and ROI of an awareness driven campaign is going to be measured by how many more people learn about your event than before you began your inbound marketing.

This could mean many things, including event recall, mentions on social media, PR, or new visitors to your website. It’s up to you to figure out which metric is most meaningful for your event.

For a concrete example, let’s use web traffic.  In this instance, we’ll assume your event website has been generating 1000 unique visitors each month, where 60% were returning visitors and 40% were new.

That means on average, you were attracting 400 new visitors to your site each month, who would learn about your event.

Now let’s say you start ramping up your inbound marketing activities and you invest $500 in driving awareness.

After an appropriate period of time – let’s say it’s been 2 months – you want to determine if your efforts are working.  So you check Google Analytics to see if traffic has increased.

Thankfully, Google Analytics is integrated with the Eventbrite platform, making it very easy to see if your traffic doubles from 1000 to 2000 uniques per month, and also whether you are seeing a higher percentage of new users.  In this case, let’s assume that traffic has doubled to 2000 and the % of new users has increased from 40% to 50%.

This means you’re now attracting 1000 new visitors per month versus 400 – a 150% increase.

This is great, because you can see some concrete results!

Even more compelling would be assigning an economic value to each of those new visitors.

Engagement

This can follow a very similar pattern to measuring awareness ROI.  First, pick a metric that defines engagement for your business.  It could be comments, email signups, whitepaper downloads or social shares.

To illustrate this example, let’s say you’ve figured out that for every 40 whitepaper downloads you get, one will turn into a customer within a month.

Now that you know that investing in producing regular whitepapers for download is a good investment – you’ve got a benchmark.  So you can start experimenting to optimise your inbound marketing tactics when focused on engagement.

Do 8-page whitepapers versus 20-page whitepapers increase or decrease sales conversions?  Do they affect the time to conversion, shortening or lengthening it?

With enough experiments and refinement, you should figure out the optimal formula, meaning that for every £ invested in producing a whitepaper, you’ll see n return on that investment within a month.

Demand Generation

Demand generation can be a tough outcome to measure, because it’s essentially about educating an audience on the benefits of your event when they’re not intrinsically aware of their need for it in the first place.

It’s most likely you will need this kind of inbound marketing tactic when launching an event focused on a brand new topic, or in an industry previously unfamiliar with the type of event you’re running.

For example, several years ago, B2B companies were probably not as enthusiastic about social media for marketing as B2C companies, so running a conference on how to use social media for B2B marketing would have meant quite a big focus on demand generation around its potential impact and importance.

But how would you measure the effectiveness of inbound marketing on demand generation?

One way would be to use surveys and market research studies to find out whether your target customers felt more excited by the topic than before you started.  However this can be expensive, although it probably the most reliable.

Another might be to target one specific vertical or demographic, and see whether you gain a disproportionate number of leads / sales from that vertical than others when the event takes place, indicating you created demand from your efforts.

Yet another is to use Google Analytics to see if there is a rise in organic searches and traffic to your event website, indicating that people are starting to search for your event, and therefore demand is increasing.

Lead Generation

Lead generation will differ from company to company depending on what you count as a lead.  For some event organizers, any download or email signup would be considered a lead, so you would follow the same pattern for measuring ROI as outlined under awareness and engagement.

Others might follow a more complex system for scoring potential leads, where only the biggest or most engaged visitors are considered a ‘lead’ worthy of pursuing by the sales team.

All the others might be put into a separate bucket like ‘organic acquisition’ or ‘marketing leads’ versus ‘sales leads’.

It may be that you focus some of your inbound marketing efforts on building sponsorship sales leads for your sales team to close.  Here, you might know that the average deal is worth $5,000, and your rockstar sales team closes 1 in every 2 qualified leads they get.

This would mean you can establish a budget for inbound marketing lead generation based on gaining 2 qualified sales leads for every $1,000 spent, if you’re happy with a 300% ROI .

This might allow you to invest in webinars (and their promotion), thought leadership pieces or original research reports, to position your event as the number one authority in the market, and a natural partner for leading solution providers.

Sales

Ultimately, all ROI needs to be understood in terms of sales.  You’re not really getting an acceptable return on investment if the activity isn’t growing your event’s top line.

However, it’s not always an easy relationship to prove.  Did a press mention lead to a 5% increase in sales?  Did a series of speaker interviews help you land that sales lead which converted into a $10,000 sponsorship?  And what is the lag between investment and return?

Generally speaking, inbound marketing is a long-term commitment, so you should not expect to see $1 invested in January show a $2 return in February.

This is why it’s good to try and break things down as granularly as possible – into goals, metrics or proxies where no direct correlation exists – so you have a better chance to measure the impact of different inbound marketing tactics within your overall strategy.

What you don’t want to do is invest heavily in generic content marketing for 18 months and see stagnant revenue, then throw the baby out with the bath water.  You may have missed that some of your efforts were bringing a wonderful ROI, but 30% were so bad they balanced out your wins. It’s best to review regularly.

By understanding your spend at this tactical level, you can cut out the unprofitable elements and focus on those that are helping you achieve your defined goals, whether they be awareness, engagement, demand generation, leads or direct sales.

This is where Eventbrite features like custom links that track your ROI are of huge benefit.

Eventbrite can help you track inbound marketing and its economic impact on your event by making it really easy to create and share customized links that will track how they perform, letting you see which channels are performing strongly, and which are not, based on ticket sales.

Want to learn how you can take advantage of inbound marketing for you event?  

Take a look at the eBook “The New Age of Digital Marketing” written by Eventbrite and Hubspot to help you grow and promote your events!