Skip to main content
Event Planning

A Comprehensive Guide to Event ROI

A2Z Team February 13, 2024
Table of Contents
9 min read

Events provide a powerful medium that allows small businesses, corporations, non-profits, and associations to create meaningful connections with their audiences. In a largely virtual world, events provide a more intimate, meaningful avenue for building brand awareness, driving leads, and increasing member or customer loyalty – especially when those events provide face-to-face or one-on-one opportunities.

While conferences and annual get-togethers are common events organizations use for these purposes, many different types are also effective.

However, it isn’t enough to plan and produce an event. It does little to your organization if you aren’t measuring and monitoring your event ROI.

And that’s where you find out if all the effort you put into your event achieved your desired outcomes.

What is Event ROI?

Return on investment (ROI) for events is the measure (approximate) of the profitability of an investment. That investment can be anything from real estate to a marketing campaign or conference.  Event ROI takes into account the costs associated with an event and its revenue and arrives at a figure that provides an approximate picture of the success and profitability of the event.

Value Factors in Event ROI:

When thinking about event ROI, remember that not all markers for “profits” are necessarily monetary. You may not be able to put a price tag on some of these, but that doesn’t mean you should discount them. They are still vital to determining the ROI of your event. Some of these include:

Event revenue – Earnings directly related to the event, including registration fees, event-associated package purchases, and sales made at the event.

Number of Attendees – The number of people who attended the event can factor into the event’s success in several ways. You can determine the “sign up and attended ratio” and determine what percentage of attendees made purchases at the event and the average purchase per attendee.

Lead generation – This can be leads for new customers, clients, vendors, or sales, all of which impact your ROI.

New customers or clients – Getting new customers or clients can lead to new sales and evolve into more new clients from word-of-mouth advertising and client retention.

Partnerships – Forming new partnerships can increase customer base, audience, resources, and sales.

New members – New members who join your association and new memberships in your rewards programs or other types of programs translate to increased return on your investment.

Attendee education – When you give your attendees something of value, it often forms relationships, but it can also increase their knowledge about your products or services and your company, which can encourage customer loyalty.

Brand awareness – Increasing your brand awareness will attract new prospects, get you new customers, instill customer loyalty, and even reach customers who once worked with you but, for whatever reason, haven’t in a while.

Sponsorships – Very important in the non-profit arena, sponsorships can help to fund projects and keep programs operating.

New donors – Signing on committed donors means a cash flow you can count on regularly.

Networking – Networking allows you to make contacts that can prove to be profitable later on.

Media coverage – Media coverage is free PR. If you can get the media invested in your event, you can count it as a return on investment when you get customers, donors, and even talent as a result.

Attract new talent – Finding good people to join your organization can consume your time and money. However, your profits rely on the skill and ability of the talent you hire. When your event attracts new talent without a huge headhunting investment, that’s a win.

Educational growth – Educating your employees will better represent your company. The more effective they are, the more successful your company will be.

Each of these impacts the overall ROI of your event so it is important to consider them when you are doing your calculations.

Cost Factors in Event ROI:

When determining the costs associated with an event that should be factored into your event ROI calculation, think of all the expenditures. Nothing should be considered too small or insignificant to be omitted because those can add up quickly.

Some of the cost factors that contribute to event ROI include:

  • Venue rental
  • Equipment purchase or rental
  • Flights or travel
  • Add-on experiences
  • Accommodations
  • Labor
  • Event booth or stall
  • Food and drink
  • Entertainment
  • Breakout meetings
  • Time
  • Swag

In order to calculate an event’s ROI accurately, it is absolutely vital that you understand the net cost of that event.

Importance of Evaluating Event ROI

Analyzing your event ROI is essential in keeping your organization moving forward. It drives transparency, growth, and continual optimization by showing you what works and what doesn’t. It can help you identify areas where you can improve which helps you plan and operate more strategically.

Measuring your event ROI is also affecting in quantifying value, justifying what you pour into it in time, money, and resources, and showing a viable return. It can help you create budgets that are more effective and build transparency by conveying the financial health of the event to employees and the public.

What’s more, it can help to strengthen stakeholder buy-in by providing solid data that can ensure future events garner the support of leadership.

Evaluating your event ROI opens the door for more efficient benchmarking, allowing you to identify trends, spotlights, and other important data. This can drive key strategies to maximize the future success of your event.

Measuring Event ROI formula:

To determine ROI, you subtract the investment’s initial cost from its final value. Divide that figure by the investment cost and multiply by 100.

The formula looks something like this:

While the measure is approximate, ROI does give you a good idea of how profitable your investment is or was. It can be a very valuable tool for determining the success of an event such as a conference or trade show.

Data Collection for Measuring Event ROI

There are several data points that should be collected at each stage of the event. These can be analyzed later and used to create a much more accurate ROI.

Pre-Event Registration

  • Individual data which includes name, contact information, company name, title, and industry.
  • Categorizing info such as demographics and preferences
  • Referral (where did they learn of the event?)
  • Authorization captured for future communication, privacy policy, and other needs

Pre-Event Analytics

  • Email open rates
  • Email click rates
  • Sign-ups
  • Unsubscribes
  • Event page views
  • Event page conversion
  • Declined RSVPs

Event Data

  • Check-ins
  • No-shows to RSVP
  • Registrations at the door
  • Session attendance data
  • Event surveys (on site)
  • Newsletter engagement
  • Social media engagement
  • Press coverage and mentions

Post-Event Analytics

There may be some analytics that may be specific to your organization. Make sure to include all that are relevant.

Event ROI Goals for Event Planners

Your expenditures in your business or organization must be measurable so that you can determine whether or not you are getting your money’s worth. Setting ROI goals is an essential part of your event planning because they allow you to look at the financial side of the event and analyze the data to make sure you aren’t wasting money and are indeed turning a profit.

While ROI goals may vary from organization to organization, a good rule of thumb is to set a goal of making more than what you spent on the event and marketing campaign.

Other metrics that can help you verify “good ROI” will likely vary due to industry, current trends, distribution channels, your marketing strategy, and even your organization’s culture.

Examples of Event Goals & Event ROI Metrics

Some common key event goals that you, as an event planner, would likely set, measure areas of attendance, satisfaction, and participation. This includes:

  • Event registrations and attendance – The number of people registered versus how many actually attended. Also, the number of people who showed up on the day of the event without prior registration.
  • Event attendee satisfaction – This data can be captured with surveys sent to registrants and attendees before, during, and after the event.
  • Exhibitor satisfaction – These are the organizations or companies who participated in the event by having a booth or a display. Areas to measure their satisfaction include the number of people who visited their booths, the number of leads they generated, and overall impressions and feedback regarding the event. This can usually be captured in a survey.

Event Marketing Goals and ROI

Event marketing goals and ROI are specifically geared toward how the event was marketed. Event ROI looks at the event itself while the event marketing ROI looks at the marketing campaigns and strategies that garnered interest and drew in people, encouraging them to attend.

Many event marketing goals will be consistent regardless of industry and event type. This makes it a little easier for event planners to create measurable goals for gathering data that helps determine the success of the event marketing campaign.

Common event marketing goals include:

  • Email goals
    • Open Rates
    • Click through rates
    • New subscribers
    • Unsubscribes
  • Event Action goals
    • Website visits, including pages visited and time on page
    • Registrations generated
    • Information requested
  • Event Social Performance goals
    • Engagement – likes, comments, shares
    • Mentions
    • Impressions
    • Clicks
    • Press mentions

Capturing this information will provide a good view of how effective the event marketing campaign was. However, setting marketing campaign goals will draw an even clearer picture because your goals set the bar for the campaign’s success.

As an example, if you wanted 1,000 registrations and got 1,500 within the first thirty days of the campaign launch, that gives you more specific feedback because it is customized to your event and what you wanted to accomplish as opposed to noting 1,500 registrations without any point of reference for success or failure.

Event Marketing Attribution

Measuring the ROI of your event is crucial. Measuring the ROI of your event marketing is also important. Event marketing attribution bridges the gap between the two by showing you how it actually contributes to revenue.

There are four well-established models that are used to track event attribution:

The First Touch Model

A seemingly simple model but can be very difficult to track. It tracks the first activity someone engages in that leads to a conversion. It happens prior to the conversion which makes tracking it a little tricky.

For instance, if a person visited a blog post and from that post went to your site where they registered for your event and attended, the First Touch Model gives all the credit to that first blog post that brought them to your site.

The Lead Touch Model

The most popular model for event marketing attribution, this model is very simple yet effective. It looks at the first marketing initiative that attracted a person and led them to conversion. For instance, a person visits your website and downloads a digital asset like a report or white paper you offer.

They fill out the form, making them known to your company. You reach out to them and invite them to your event. They attend and become a customer.

The Last Touch Model

This model looks at the action a person takes right before they convert and become a customer or partner. This too is an easy model that is easy to track and use. For instance, a person downloads an ebook after submitting a form on your website.

This makes them known to your company. They view your webinar and later attend an event. Eventually, they convert to a customer so the event is given the credit for this conversion.

The W-Shaped Model

This model is considered to be highly accurate, more so than the others, and provides the most comprehensive information. However, implementation is quite difficult. This model looks at each point of contact as well as the marketing schemes throughout the contact’s journey, including the one that initiated the conversion.

It provides three touches to which it gives 30% attribution each: first touch, lead creation, and opportunity creation as well as highlighting other various touchpoints that make up the last 10%. For instance, a customer reads your blog post, views your webinar, and attends an event where conversion takes place. Under this model the attributions are

30% – Blog post

30% – Webinar

30% – Event

30% – other interactions such as social media engagement

These models are very useful in looking at how your event marketing campaign helped your event ROI.


Event ROI gives you a good picture of the success of your event and sets the standard for future events. You can use it to assess your ROI but you can also use it when planning your next event by reviewing lessons learned and letting it guide you by seeing what worked and what did not.

Are you planning an event and want to grow your event ROI? Check out A2Z’s Event Management Software by visiting our site or reaching out to one of our friendly, knowledgeable representatives. We’ll answer your questions and help you integrate it into your organization.