Getting Started on Event ROI

Event ROI is an elusive goal for many event marketers as they seek to design campaigns to align with the financial realities of the business. Generating measurable customer demand from their programs and improving ROI calculations have moved from “nice to have” to “must have” metrics. Even though corporate leaders want marketers to become more ROI-focused, demonstrating business-driving results can be a perplexing challenge.

What’s the best way for event marketers to raise their ROI game? Follow these guidelines for measuring top and bottom-line results for events.

Start Small

Pick one event. Start with the approved budget for the event and use your existing process for capturing actual expenses. The goal is to make sure all actual expenses are captured. Knowing what you spent, not just what was budgeted, is the first step to gathering the information you need in the ROI calculation process.

Rinse and Repeat

If the trial does not work, take the next event and follow the same process. You need to get into a routine of reconciling your event budgets. Depending on how your meetings and events group is structured, you can use this same approach against a tier or category of events rather than just a single event.

Checklist of Benefits

There is a wide range of benefits for every event, both tangible and intangible. Tangible benefits include:

  • Direct revenue
  • Attributed revenue
  • Attributed sales pipeline
  • Sale of products

Every marketer should know how these concrete dollar values are impacted by events.

Intangible benefits are a bit more elusive to measure, but are important for a full ROI calculation. These include brand equity, customer loyalty, training, and knowledge exchange. If you can put a revenue impact to these intangibles, you’re that much closer to a full ROI calculation.

Range of Costs

Similar to benefits, event costs fall into several buckets. Direct costs cover line items such as venue, travel, entertainment, and hotel. Indirect costs are more complicated and include expenses such as staff salaries, overhead and shared services contracts. Opportunity costs are even more complex. An example is staff time and resource spent on a particular activity versus how this work would be handled otherwise. 

ROI is a Process 

The ability to adopt an ROI mindset and incorporate measurement into your events program is a process that will take time. Even for a company like Cvent, it has taken several years for us to gain a more complete understanding of the costs and benefits with events.  Again, it helps to start small and build from there to formulate an ROI strategy.

For more information on how to get started on the process of capturing event ROI, Cvent’s webinar, “Defining ROI (and what’s different about ROI for events)” can provide further detail here.


Julie Haddix

Written by Julie Haddix

Julie Haddix is the Director, Enterprise Marketing for Cvent, Inc. She has worked for Cvent for 11 years helping to build the company’s Enterprise sales and marketing divisions, including its approach to Strategic Meetings Management. Julie has also been a part of the planning team for Cvent CONNECT, Cvent’s annual user conference, which has grown from 150 to 3,000 people in 5 years, leading the event marketing and content development efforts. Outside of work, Julie is learning a new role, Mom, to Christopher, and enjoying the daily challenges that job brings.