Defining Metrics that Matter for Event Marketing Success

Hamilton Hamilton

Event marketing is one of the most impactful channels a brand can invest time and resources into. 

The opportunity to connect with customers face-to-face (or screen-to-screen) can facilitate strong customer relationships that provide long-term value to the brand. So how do event marketers measure the success of their efforts to prove their worth and identify opportunities for improvement?

HME-April-Blog-20210505 (1)Measuring the success of your event marketing strategy looks a little different for each brand, since specific KPIs and other metrics of success should be tied to brand or trade show-specific objectives outlined in the initial stages of a brand’s event planning. However, there are some key questions event marketers can ask themselves to hone in on the metrics that matter most to define success.

With a better understanding of what metrics your brand should be measuring, you can improve your event marketing performance by identifying areas for growth at your next event.

To get started, let’s take a look at the questions you can ask yourself now to begin defining what success looks like for your brand.

Asking the right questions

Think of event marketing as a journey with the final destination being success and valuable business impact. Much like Indiana Jones and Bilbo Baggins, you’ll need a map to guide you along your journey. For event marketers, this guide comes in the form of some key questions you should ask at the start of your planning. Your answers will act as a north star throughout the process of building event-specific strategies and help to create an impactful and effective integrated marketing campaign.

Why are you attending the event?

Finding your “why” is often the hardest question for event marketers to answer. Understanding your reason for participating in an event requires you to think through critical goals and objectives, but this is perhaps the most important step in the event planning process.

Event marketers need to clearly outline their purpose for participating and then create concrete objectives to guide their work before, during, and after the event — either virtual or live. These “why” objectives act as an important marker to evaluate event marketing performance and optimize your efforts going forward. Defining your “why” puts the goalposts in place so you know what you’re working toward, making it an ongoing process that should be an integral part of everything you do.

What do you want the attendee to take away?

Now, that you’ve outlined your objectives, it’s time to refine your message to bring what is most important to the forefront of your event marketing efforts. Your objectives act as guardrails for your company at a corporate level, but what objectives are you setting for event attendees? Knowing what information you want attendees to walk away with or what action you want them to take can help inform your event marketing strategy.

Much like answering your “why,” take the time to outline the goals and objectives for what you want attendees to learn by interacting with your branded experience and defining what the desired outcome is. These details will help you decide the functionality of any upcoming event, establish budget parameters, and understand your messaging hierarchy to improve the attendee experience and boost business results.

How will you measure success?

As we mentioned earlier, success metrics look a little different for each company, as they should reflect the individual goals and objectives of your event marketing. But let’s take a look at some common metrics you’ve probably seen before and discuss how you can fit them into your success measurement strategy.


Return on investment, or ROI, is one of the most popular measures of success, but it can be ambiguous, especially in the event marketing world. Your “return” can take on many different forms depending on what your brand’s goals are, so clearly defining your objectives is critical to measuring your ROI.

For example, if sales are not the primary goal of your event marketing, your return might be something like the number of leads collected or positive reviews of your business. There are many ways to frame ROI to align with your marketing objectives and measure success with your event marketing.


Like ROI, brand awareness can mean a lot of things, and metrics will change based on individual trade show goals. Ultimately, though, awareness boils down to recognition and perception.

Event marketers can measure things like foot traffic in their booth, the number of conversations had with attendees, subsequent website visits, social media growth, and even pre-show and post-show engagement. With these tactics, you can measure brand awareness, perception, and brand lift derived from your event marketing efforts.

Connections and Networking

One of the biggest benefits of attending major conferences or trade shows is the ability to connect with customers, prospects, and other business leaders outside of traditional marketing channels. Understanding how to measure the value of these connections can be an important factor in measuring your success and demonstrating the effectiveness of your event strategy.

The easiest measure of your networking efforts is totaling how many high-value connections you interact with at an event. Listing any potential suppliers, investors, influencers, prospective employees, or anyone who has the potential to make your business better can help demonstrate event marketing success.


Perhaps the most common metric of success is sales or sales-qualified leads. For many brands, closing deals is the ultimate marker of event marketing success. However, many brands fall short by only taking into account sales in the short time during and immediately after the event ends.

Instead, think of sales success measurement as a long game. You’ll likely leave an event with hundreds, if not thousands, of leads that you can follow up with to initiate the sales process. In many cases, a brand’s product or service offering requires a longer customer journey, meaning that only tracking sales immediately after a trade show won’t account for later sales success you may have because of connections made during the event.

For this, measuring your sales or ROI in terms of your investment per lead will help you better evaluate success and could even forecast potential revenue based on long-term customer relationships and lead engagement after the event is over.

Creating your measurement strategy

With your objectives defined and your metrics selected, creating a data and measurement plan is the final piece of the puzzle. By setting benchmarks and analyzing key metrics in your event marketing, you can gain valuable insights into attendee experience, lead data, messaging performance and retention, and optimization opportunities — all of which are necessary to grow your event marketing and establish a standard of success.

Start by setting programmatic and event-specific goals. These goals act as the backbone of your event marketing efforts and provide a foundation you can turn to for guidance at any point of the event marketing journey.

Next, you’ll want to conduct a competitive analysis so you can understand how you compare to your competitors. At Hamilton, we use a competitive analysis framework to compare your design, engagement, staff, and overall experience to top competitors. This may include mystery shopping at industry shows, on-site interviews, attendee surveys and data capture, post-show lead surveys, as well as competitive exhibit design/impact primary and secondary research. We then use this information to create actionable next steps to help your brand optimize your event program strategy and booth presence at future events. 

Lastly, you need to consolidate and elevate your lead management approach to ensure attendees are receiving a seamless end-to-end experience. With Hamilton inSIGHT, we offer comprehensive lead management that allows your brand to capture key information from attendees within a GDPR compliant framework. With the ability to capture lead information and report across multiple events, you can create more robust attendee profiles and collect better data to measure success.

A guide to success metrics

The list of success metrics you can use to measure event marketing performance is robust, with each number representing only part of the larger picture. To help you get started on your success measurement strategy, we’ve compiled a list of commonly used metrics to evaluate different aspects of your event marketing.

  • Educate Attendees

    • Pre-Show Established Appointments (Prospects and Current Customers)
    • At-Show Appointments Kept (Prospects and Current Customers)
    • Total Customer Conversation
  • Capture Prospect Lead Information

    • Prospect Lead Captures
    • Digital Literature Requests
    • Post-Show Follow-Up Connections
  • Understand Booth Traffic + Engage Attendees

    • Booth Visits / Return Visits
    • Length of Visits
    • Number of Leads Generated
    • Amount of Time Spent at Engagement Activities
    • Engagement Technology Interactions
    • Booth Staff Interactions
    • Survey Results
    • Message Retention
    • Message Understanding
  • Generate Sales

    • At-Show Sales
    • Post-Show Sales
    • Number of Orders
  • Build Brand Awareness

    • Pre-Show / At-Show / Post-Show Survey Impressions
    • Social Media Impressions
    • Site Landings / Engagement
    • Search Demand
    • Digital / Social Engagement
    • Social Channel Metrics (Shares, Likes, etc.)
    • At-Show Appointments Kept (Prospects and Current Customers)
    • Total Customer Conversation

Interested in learning more about tracking event marketing success? Reach out to a Hamilton rep today to get the conversation started for any upcoming event or trade show.