There’s this old saying (which everybody incorrectly credits to Albert Einstein) that goes “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts.”
Someone named William Bruce Cameron actually came up with the quote in 1963, and people have been misattributing it to Einstein ever since.
Anyway, this adage does ring true for us marketers trying to navigate an entire ocean of data. And among the marketing tactics we use, there’s one that a lot of us struggle to measure: tradeshows.
I’ve worked with tradeshow exhibitors and organizers for years now. A common problem I keep hearing from them is that it can be difficult to measure how these events impact their overall marketing and sales results.
That’s a little surprising since tradeshows tend to take up the biggest chunk of a typical marketing budget. For such a key spending item, we need to make each dollar count.
My team and I put together this infographic showing the top 25 tradeshow KPIs to keep track of. These numbers cover crucial metrics to monitor at each stage of the event lifecycle and can help both tradeshow exhibitors and organizers better manage their end-to-end event marketing campaigns.
Let’s get into more detail about these 25 KPIs, plus look at ways for you to improve your event’s performance under each metric.
Before the Event
Of course, the main goal of the pre-event phase is to generate as many registrations and drive as much attendance as possible. But there’s more to the pre-event stage than monitoring registrations alone.
Here are nine metrics that help you build a fuller picture of your event before opening day:
- Total Registrations
- Confirmed Attendees
- Attendee Demographics
- Event Page Engagement
- Email Engagement
- Number of Pre-Event Reach Outs
- Scheduled Event Meetups
- Press and Media Coverage
- Sponsor Partnerships
Everyone who exhibits or organizes a tradeshow puts the number of registrations as their top priority throughout the months and weeks before the event. It’s a metric that tells you a lot about the potential success of your conference.
This KPI, however, needs to be drilled down further to uncover sharper pre-event insights:
- Compare weekly and monthly registration numbers
- Consider past event registrations
- Take possible seasonal factors into account
- Track the impact of different promotion channels on registrations
Having a multi-touch, multi-channel approach at promoting your tradeshow is a proven way to increase registrations. We’ll learn how it works later in this post.
This is the number of registered attendees who categorically say they’ll be coming to your event. It indicates potential turnout at your tradeshow.
We’ve already learned that engaging with potential attendees via various channels and at different points prior to event kickoff is an effective way to boost registrations. This strategy also helps you maximize attendance rates by leveraging the following:
- Start with a carefully-vetted attendee list
- Follow up immediately after each signup with a welcome/verification email
- Engage registered attendees on relevant online and social communities
- Use event telemarketing to assist potential attendees with registration
- Remind registered attendees via personalized emails and one-on-one phone calls at various points leading up to the event
It’s good practice to segment attendees and to personalize your event outreach based on these groupings. This allows you to tailor your message according to relevant factors and generate higher response rates.
That’s why you need to gather different demographic and firmographic data on your target audience including:
- Job title
- Size (total assets, revenues, or employees)
- Technographics (technology in use and tech maturity)
These data points are best gathered piecemeal throughout the pre-event stage, which helps avoid overwhelming your attendees. That’s why event promotions need to be carried out via different channels and at multiple touches.
Event Page Engagement
The event page or website serves as the hub of your tradeshow’s online presence. It’s the ideal place to make schedules, profiles, news, and announcements available to your target attendees.
That’s why how much engagement your event page generates is a good indicator of pre-event performance. These are the best metrics to gauge event page engagement:
- Click-through rates
- Bounce rates
- Average time spent
- Conversion rates
An effective event page requires the right balance between design, content, and SEO. It needs careful planning and preparation. That’s why for tradeshows with tight schedules, it’s highly recommended to partner with a reputable company that provides web design and SEO services.
Around 76% of marketers say email is their most effective channel for promoting live events. Emails drive registrations and attendance rates. They provide a targeted and personalized approach at connecting with attendees at each step of the pre-event process—fulfilling different roles such as invitation, confirmation, and notification.
Email engagement metrics are also good indicators of your tradeshow’s pre-event performance. KPIs such as delivery rates, inbox placement rates, open rates, CTRs, reply rates, and conversion rates shed some light into the potential turnout and level of interest from your attendees.
To boost registrations with pre-event emails, you need to:
- Build anticipation and exclusivity with your announcement email
- Choose an influencer or key decision maker as the email sender
- Showcase your exhibition and your speakers
- Encourage participation and feedback
- Use automated but personalized confirmation emails to handle RSVPs
- Schedule daily email reminders starting at least three days from event date
Number of Pre-Event Reach Outs
The average B2B marketer uses 5 marketing channels to promote a live event. These typically include emails, social media, online, phone calls, and direct mail (yes, direct mail).
All these channels need to provide a coherent conversion path that an attendee will follow from registration, all the way to check-in.
The number of pre-event reach outs counts the touches made with the different channels for each attendee. It shows how deep your pre-event engagement activities run.
Getting the most impact from a multi-touch, multi-channel pre-event program means being able to:
- Define and implement a robust pre-event nurture cadence that attracts and converts attendees
- Build an event marketing technology stack that covers registration management and contact management
- Integrate your event tech stack with your marketing automation platform
- Track and analyze critical analytics
Scheduled Event Meetups
More than 83% of B2B marketers cite increasing sales as their primary reason for participating in tradeshows. Tradeshows offer excellent opportunities to meet with potential customers in a suitable setting.
That’s why, going into the event, your tradeshow team needs to have a set number of scheduled meetups with attendees, especially those who are already showing a high level of fit and interest.
Knowing the number of scheduled event meetups will help you gauge the potential pipeline value you can generate from your event.
- Compare your ideal buyer profiles with attendee demographics
- Assign preliminary lead scores and update the values throughout the pre-event phase
- Tailor your pre-event cadence to maximize scheduled meetups with highly interested attendees
Press and Media Coverage
For live events which are geared more towards branding, the amount of media coverage is a good indicator of how successful you’re able to promote the tradeshow. This is especially true for coverage received from sources related to your industry.
Media coverage can include paid and earned channels, and this is typically measured using the following metrics.
- Volume of attention: How many sources mention your event, product, brand, or company
- Audience reach: How many people have the chance to consume the sources that feature your brand
- Share of voice: How your media mentions compare to those of your competitors
- Message resonance: How well your key message penetrates media coverage
Some live events involve a great deal of sponsorship and idea pitching activities. Knowing your events’ performance in terms of its ability to attract sponsors is also a key indicator to keep track of. That’s why the number of outside partners that grabbed your sponsorship opportunities is a crucial pre-event KPI.
During the event
Once the event gets underway, the priority shifts from the quantity of registrations to the quality of engagement. These eight KPIs best measure how well you meet this goal.
- Event Check-ins
- Attendee Engagement
- Speaker/Presenter/Exhibition Engagement
- Completed Meetups
- Social Media Engagement
- Networking Results
- Opportunity in the Room (OITR)
- Repeat Attendees
The number of event check-ins represents how many registered attendees actually showed up. But there’s more to this metric than simply the crowd size or the number of badges you scan. Event check-ins are best evaluated when:
- Expressed as a percentage of registered attendees and confirmed attendees
- Compared across different attendee demographics
- Plotted against your previous events and tradeshows
- Adjusted for late RSVPs or unregistered attendees
Attendee engagement covers a broad set of metrics, which can include a number of specific actions that show attendees’ interest such as:
- Event page views
- In-app activity
- Forum/community participation
- Session attendance
Although this is technically part of attendee engagement, there are some special KPIs you should monitor that directly relate to how your event audience interacts with your guest speakers and reps at your booth.
These metrics measure a deeper level of interest which can be hard to pin down with just generic attendee engagement KPIs.
A few examples of speaker/exhibition engagement metrics include:
- Speaker profile page traffic and conversions
- Direct messages to speakers or members of your tradeshow team
- Inquiries and hand-raisers
- Booth traffic
- Community members and activity
This is the number of scheduled meetups that actually take place. This KPI is very useful for tradeshows with sales as the primary goal.
Completed meetups should be compared to the total number of scheduled event meetings you determined prior to the event. A wide gap between the two figures can indicate poor engagement and low conversion potential.
Social Media Engagement
Closely related to attendee and speaker interaction, social media engagement involves an entire set of KPIs to track. These numbers include:
- Likes, comments, and shares
- Audience growth rate
Social media forms a core component of attendee engagement during the event. It provides a convenient way to communicate with attendees on the topics and communities that revolve around your exhibition or show.
Exhibitors and organizers often plan B2B matchmaking opportunities for their attendees. Networking opportunities add more value to your event, and the results of these networking activities help you gauge how well your event enables attendees to interact with each other.
Some of the ways to boost networking results include:
- Encouraging an active online community
- Making it easier for attendees to mingle (through name badges and session activities)
- Matching attendees based on relevant factors
- Organizing group-based tasks
Opportunity in the Room (OITR)
This is an event KPI introduced by events planning software SocialTables. It represents the anticipated total sales pipeline value of your tradeshow attendees.
There are two ways to calculate OITR:
- Raw OITR: The total number of RSVPs multiplied by the average deal size
- Projected OITR: The raw OITR adjusted for conversion rates (attendees to qualified leads, leads to proposals, proposal to closes)
The OITR gives you an early feel for your event ROI. This is especially useful for marketers who follow a long and complex sales cycle (where event ROI can take a while to realize).
If you’re organizing a recurrent (monthly, quarterly, or annual) event, then you also need to track the number of repeat attendees your tradeshow generates. This metric indicates how well your events resonate with your core audience.
A high or increasing number of repeat attendees can mean that your main audience is getting genuine value from your events. Otherwise, you may need to reconsider your tradeshow strategy.
After the event
As you know all too well, event marketing activities continue long after you pack up and head home. During the post-event phase, the primary goal changes from engagement to conversion. The following KPIs are the most suitable yardsticks for measuring post-event marketing performance:
- Qualified Leads
- Customers Acquired
- Cost per Lead/Customer
- Speed and Depth of Follow-up
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Brand Impact
- Gross Ticket Sales
- Cost to Revenue Ratio
Going into your tradeshow, you already have a clear idea about who your most promising attendees are (based on attendee demographics, firmographics, etc.). During the event itself, you narrow down this group further using the level of interest they show and additional information they provide.
Now that you’ve learned everything you can about your most promising attendees, it’s time to find out which ones have a good chance of actually turning into customers:
- Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs): Attendees who meet your definition of an ideal lead but still need further nurturing
- Sales-qualified leads (SQLs): Attendees who represent your ideal buyers and are ready to face your sales reps
This is the number of tradeshow-generated leads who actually turn into customers. Of course, depending on the length and complexity of your sales cycle, it can take you a while to find this out.
In order to maximize the value of leads you acquire from your event, it’s often a good practice to focus on nurturing and closing opportunities, instead of following up each attendee.
That’s why I highly recommend outsourcing part of your post-event conversion process to an agency that specializes in handling B2B event promotion and follow-ups.