For the longest time, calculating ROI was the thorn in the side of experiential marketers. For such a subjective and emotional marketing channel, it was difficult to quantify exactly how much (or how little) success an experiential marketing campaign had achieved.
Today, due to advances in both technology and the field of experiential marketing, there are many accepted metrics used to determine the ROI of a campaign. This article will outline those metrics, as well as, the goals they are measuring, how to capture the data required and a few tips to help you navigate what can be a tricky process.
Calculating Experiential Marketing ROI
The process of calculating the ROI of an experiential marketing varies greatly from campaign to campaign. Therefore, it is important that we first contextualise it in a way that is universally applicable. For this, we employ a model similar to the scientific method:
- Set Goals:- What is it that your brand hopes to achieve through experiential marketing.
- Hypothesise:- What effect do you believe your actions will have on your chosen metric, and how will that help you achieve your campaign’s goal.
- Plan:- Plan out what actions your brand will take and how you will measure them.
- Execute:- Carry out your planned actions.
- Report:- Collate all relevant data gathered during the campaign into an easily accessible, easily understood format e.g. Excel spreadsheet.
- Analyse:- Break down the data to find out what it says about the success of the campaign.
- Improve:- Use findings to develop future campaigns and cut out less successful elements.
Before the first email is sent, you must clearly define the goals you plan to accomplish through experiential marketing. Doing so not only gives all team members a universally agreed target, it also decides what metrics will be used to measure your ROI.
Common campaign goals include; sales uplift, lead generation, increasing awareness, customer education etc. Essentially, whatever your brand is hoping to achieve by undertaking experiential marketing.
These goals define your ROI. A ‘hard’ ROI is measured in monetary value. Whereas, a ‘soft’ ROI includes more subjective measures like brand affinity, intent to repeat purchase and their likelihood to recommend.
It is important to remember that whilst these are subjective metrics, you must make them quantifiable in order to analyse them. Either create a scale to measure against or use existing measures like brand affinity score.
Strategy or tactics?
The next step is to ask:
“Do we require strategic or tactical planning?”
Strategic planning is long-term oriented and typically used for goals which aim to improve the brand’s image in the eyes of consumers, re-branding and customer education are good examples of strategic goals. Strategic planning often occurs as part of a larger integrated campaign.
In contrast, tactical planning is short-term oriented in the hope of creating an immediate response in the form of sales uplift. Tactical activities like sampling or voucher drops often have an immediate monetary return but do little for strategic goals. Tactical planning is commonly used for standalone events that are simple and easily replicable.
Now we understand what we aim to achieve and how we aim to get there, we must decide which metrics measure this most effectively? I.e. Which metrics can demonstrate that your problem has been solved.
(Be aware that this list is not exhaustive, there is a huge number of potential metrics by which you can measure campaign ROI!)
Social Engagement:- A vital metric in an integrated campaign, measuring social engagement allows brands to quantify their digital reach. This is made especially easy as most social networks now offer free native analytics. If your brand plans to use influencers to increase the reach of the campaign be sure to collect their analytics data
A word to the wise:
Not all social engagements are meaningful. Likes, shares and impressions are important to measure, but do not prove that consumers have engaged with the content. Always prioritise genuine engagements such as cross-channel shares and comments over these potentially hollow metrics. Similarly, engagements through influencers are often more valuable, as they are a trusted source of information for their fans.
Samples distributed:- Number of samples distributed is an easily measured indicator of engaged reach. In order to define the exact ROI of product samples, this metric must be paired with another which measures the result of the campaign e.g. brand affinity score or sales uplift.
Reach figures:- Reach indicates how many consumers have been exposed to your campaign in one way or another. We have already touched on social reach, other forms include those exposed to PR, word-of-mouth promotion and both engaged and unengaged reach at the event. Reach is a useful metric when goals are brand awareness, or in some cases education.
Promotion engagement:- This is the number of times a promotion, whether it be a voucher, online code or a deal exclusive to the event, was redeemed. This is the perfect metric to use when monitoring sales uplift as it shows the direct impact of the promotion on sales.
Competitor comparison:- Whilst not a specific metric, competitor comparison is handy as it shows where your brand stands in the market. Conducting competitor comparison, on relevant metrics, pre and post event shows the effect that event had on the “power rankings” of the market.
This can be deepened by comparing event performance. The data generated can then be used to focus on which elements of competitors’ campaigns were successful and which areas of your own need improvement.
N.B. Deep competitor data can be hard to find, as it is often not publicly available.
Demographic shift:- This metric is vital when attempting to rebrand or reposition a brand, It shows how profile of your consumer changes as a result of your event. Demographic shift is typically associated with strategic activities.
Certain metrics require post-event follow-up investigation to learn the long-term effects of the event. According to Eventtrack, 64% of marketers reported they used post-event surveys or interviews to help gather data for calculating ROI. This is often the case with strategic goals which are typically long-term oriented.
Long-term purchase intent:- Long-term or repeat purchase intent is a valuable metric as it determines how many repeat customers a campaign has created, rather than one-time buyers. The goal of any brand is to generate loyal customers who are happy to use the product as often as necessary. Follow-up email surveys are an easy means of monitoring long-term purchase intent.
Net Promoter Score (brand evangelism):- Medallia defines net promoter score as: “an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others.” This metric is useful when trying to gauge changes in consumers’ brand perceptions. NPS is calculated by an 11-point rating system which should be included on surveys pre and post event to monitor change.
Brand Affinity:- The balance defines brand affinity as, “a metric that lets market researchers make predictions about how a consumer will behave.” This is influenced by factors like NPS, customer satisfaction and ease of product availability. Improving brand affinity leads to customer loyalty, brand preference and brand evangelism.
Measuring The Measurements
Now we understand the kind of metrics involved in calculating experiential ROI we must discuss the tools used to capture them:
Online reach and engagement:
Social Reporting:- When collating social media data, social reporting tools, like hootsuite, or native analytics tools make the process quick and simple, many will let you export data direct to Excell.
CRM software:- Similarly if you’re augmenting your campaign with direct email, CRM software facilitates fast, smooth and easy gathering of engagement data. Here at eventeem we use infusionsoft, however there is a wealth of choice in this area.
Web Traffic:- To monitor traffic driven to your website as the result of an event, Google Analytics is the perfect tool. The geographic and demographic data provided gives the added bonus of consumer insight. In the same vein, tools like Moz’s mention calculator will allow you to see all online mentions of your brand’s campaign, when used correctly.
BA interactions:- Asking your brand ambassadors to take note of the number of interactions they are involved in at an event gives a strong view of the engagement levels. This can be tailored to fit any relevant metrics, brand or event perception for example.
N.B. Be aware that this data is open to human error.
Data capture pre, during and post event:- As previously mentioned, data capture is the number one way of quantifying subjective metrics like brand affinity and evangelism. Data capture can range from iPad surveys at an event, to follow-up email questionnaires, to direct mail response forms.
Eventtech:- As well as these methods, the field of event technology is progressing rapidly. Tools like Admobilize’s Ad Beacon Camera, which records metrics including viewing figures and footfall, are becoming increasingly frequent. Be sure to research thoroughly, any technology which may benefit your brand’s reporting procedure.
By now you should have an understanding of: what goals to set for a campaign, the process of event reporting, the metrics from which ROI can be calculated and the tools used to measure them.
We haven’t included a specific formula for event ROI calculation as it can be so nebulous and personal to a campaign. It is important that, after reading this article, you figure out what your goals are and what value to ascribe to certain metrics, once complete, calculating ROI becomes simple.
For example: A high-spec PC brand generates 60 leads at an event, 50 of which continue to purchase at £750 each. The event itself cost £15,000, therefore the hard ROI = (£37,500 – £15,000) / £15,000 = 1.5