Participating in an event or trade show, for exhibitors is a part of their marketing mix, just like buying ads in on- and offline media or doing social media campaigns. While most event organizers are convinced that F2F (face-to-face) communication is important, and I don’t disagree on that, it mustn’t be the only valid reason for a company to participate. The event must deliver ROI or ROE : Return on Event.
One of the analytic metrics most used by exhibitors to judge the ROI is the cost per lead analysis. Typically a cost factor which is considered to be low, by event organizers.
There is however a wide gap between the assumed cost per lead, when you ask organizers, compared to what you get
if you ask exhibitors. This can be explained because of a lack of measurability, especially considering the other channels mentioned in this comparison. Any of the better scoring channels in terms of cost per lead, will typically offer a dashboard on the results of your investments, even many of the technologies used in these channels that are free of charge. And that’s all it takes to get a better subjective score. I deliberately say subjective because I’m convinced that for all channels alike, it can be quite difficult to exactly calculate your ROI. Since you’re using multiple channels at a time there’s sometimes no way you can tell which channel to directly connect to a sales. On top I believe many organizers are still comparing to rogue outbound sales prospecting, when they estimate the cost per lead of event participation. But still perception is everything, and as the graphic demonstrates, it’s not favorable to trade shows.
My believe is the event-industry will have to step up and deliver more and better metrics to their exhibitors in order to help them make a more objective ROI analysis and maintain or improve the trade show’s ranking in terms of cost-to-lead compared to other channels.
So what are the most important metrics to collect and share with your exhibitors ?
1. Gross attendance figures
Not just the total amount of visitors, but also numbers per day, per hour, a comparison with previous editions, totals per hall, totals per visitor profile including interests, age, position. Highlight the specifics that vary from the universe statistics. One could be that you attract a lot more big company reps than the average size of companies in the database universe. That’s a highlight you must emphasize since it means you had really interesting potential at your show.
2. Dwelling time
Tell your exhibitors, sponsors, how long people stayed on the show. Again detailed per visitor profile. It will give them an idea of how much opportunity they had to meet the interesting people.
3. Heat map
Use whatever technology you want to track where attendees went on your event. Wifi, bluetooth, GSM-signal, GPS,… Whatever fits your type of event and location. It helps you as an organizer to show again the conversion potential every exhibitor had. On site and real-time it allows you to manage the crowd and spread it more evenly over the halls or specifically pointed in time towards that great demo you planned or the expert speaker you invited.
Afterwards it could also be one of the aspects you take into account for a new pricing policy.
4. Stand visit numbers
Encourage your exhibitors, sponsor, partners to digitally track visitors on their booths. Scanning the visitor badge allows them to keep a digital track of “who visited me” and allows swift and accurate lead follow-up. It should also give you as an organizer individual numbers on where people went. The great solutions on the market provide a myriad of solutions from dedicated scanning hardware to mobile device app to scan visitors and access the scanned data real-time on site and off-site in the offices to be used in marketing actions.
A workshop or seminar area is also a stand and you owe it to your valued speakers to provide them details on who attended. Each attendee is an interesting contact for the speaker. Furthermore it provides you information on your conversion success from passers-by to attendees in the room, thanks to a combination with the aforementioned heat map.
A non-exhaustive list of available lead tracking solutions can be found on the blog of Michael Heipel.
5. Buying power
Provide figures on your attendee’s buying intentions in terms of timing, investment size and their buying decision power. It demonstrates the value of the average lead you provided to your exhibitors. Derived from the exhibitor/partner survey you could ask for average spent on the contracts signed by leads from the show. Combined with your figures on buying power, you could actually go and objectively, yet approximately quantify the value of each lead.
Compile a “after show analysis” report with all these numbers, of course presented in a comprehensive way with ample use of compelling graphics and useful interpretation.
This will make for your most influential sales tool for the next edition of your event. And provides you a touch point to help your under-performing exhibitors do better next time.