Measure Events ROI
Research Intelligence

Can You Measure Event ROI?

April 11, 2016 | Updated June 22, 2022

Wouldn’t it be so cool if this post had a really witty opening paragraph? Well, it doesn’t. On the other hand, it has all the tips and tricks I have on how to measure event ROI.

Did She Just Say ‘Measure Events ROI’?

Girl, girl, get that cash

Yes, she did. While there’s a notion that events are a brand tool and brand awareness is notoriously hard to measure, that’s not how we roll at Similarweb. We are a data-driven company, and so every decision we take needs to be justified with data. To that end, we built a framework that allows us not only to measure event ROI but also to plan ahead based on very clear KPIs.


  1. Rate all your leads on-site to help prioritize
  2. Put all event leads into a designated SalesForce campaign
  3. Push them down the funnel quickly and effectively
  4. Track won opportunities and pipeline value
  5. Get your BI peeps to analyze key metrics
  6. Use collected data to benchmark and plan ahead

Event EOI - Actual Cost vs Return


Get your SalesForce on

The first task at measuring event ROI is identifying the leads that came from events. We went with creating a SalesForce campaign for each event, allowing us to track the leads as originating from events. Each event campaign has as its attributes the event name, location, date, and actual cost. Lately, we also added geography — allowing us to measure event ROI per region, and type (SMB / ENT) — giving us better visibility into the different behaviours of different prospects and improving our optimization of the post-event funnel.


If you got a big funnel, let me optimize it

I’ve mentioned before that events are a cross-company game. In the post-event funnel, the major players are SalesOp, SDR (Sales Development Reps) and Sales.

SalesOp are in charge of getting the lead data collected from scanners and business cards during the event, cleaning it, and making sure all leads are actionable. Then, once they are satisfied with the quality of the input, they upload it to the SalesForce campaign we created and route them for a follow-up to the SDR team.

Our SLA for this process is pretty short. We try to get all the leads in the system by the next Sunday after an event is over, so we can follow up on them while they are fresh. Once all the leads are in SalesForce, I send an email to SDR and Sales letting them know they should start getting leads from the event and providing some context.

The SDR team is in charge of making first contact, qualifying the leads, and moving the right ones down the funnel to Sales. This is a critical and time-sensitive process and we try to optimize it by attaching as much data as we can to each lead during the event. The most important piece of data we can attach to a lead is rating — how hot is the lead. That helps the SDR team prioritize the follow-up and get to the best leads first. Eventually, we aim at having it down pat so the hottest leads will go straight to Sales.

Sales do their thing, and throughout the sale cycle, we make sure to keep an eye on how many opportunities we have in the pipeline and what’s the value we are expecting to get out of the event within a year. Once an opportunity that originated from an event lead is closed-won, its value is added to the event ROI.

A new thing I’m going to start trying is quarterly meetings with salespeople working on event-related opportunities. I want to make sure I have a good grasp on the pipeline and that we’re not missing any won opportunities in our ROI measurements.

Measuring & Visibility

Gimme all your numbers, so I can show ya


<A short pause for a much-needed k-pop animated gif>

That’s what you get for searching ‘BI’ in Giphy

That’s what you get for searching ‘BI’ in Giphy

The lovely people in the BI department have the thankless task of making sure we can actually see and use all the data we collected. They run their pretty queries on all the event campaigns in SalesForce and extract from there all the relevant metrics. For us it’s mainly cost vs. return, number of leads, number of opportunities, won opportunities, and pipeline value.

Over the last year, we iterated through different rules on what counts as event ROI. Right now what works best for us are 2 use cases:

  1. A won opportunity that the first contact in it was from an event
  2. A won opportunity that opened before the event, but one of the last contacts in it was from an event

The insights are presented either as a Tableau dashboard or an excel sheet. This is the main tool we use on a day-to-day basis to make sure post-event funnel is on track as well as in making future decisions and improving performance.


Put your metrics down, flip them and reverse them

A year into running our events machine, we now have enough data we feel good about to start benchmarking. We have a good idea as to what the lead-to-opportunity conversion rate is, as well as the opportunity-to-won conversion rate. These 2 data points are magic. They let us work back from the revenue business goal of the company and understand exactly how many leads of each type we need to bring from events.

From there, the decisions of which events to go to and how much money to invest in them becomes almost too easy. We will attend events where our investment will bring us the right amount of leads that will most likely convert to won opportunities.

Oh and also — following this method will bring us as close as possible to 100% ROI. Oh, you heard me right. 100% ROI.


Can you work it?

Our biggest challenge today is finding an attribution model for event leads. Especially for Enterprise leads with a longer sales cycle, when a conference might be just one of many touchpoints with a company, it’s hard to say what was the effect and how it should be counted toward ROI.

Following up on leads in a timely manner was also quite the challenge, but it seems that we are managing to slay this particular dragon with a concentrated team effort of all players.

Personally, my biggest challenge is that it’s never perfect. I need to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to make mistakes and work with imperfect data, as long as we learn and improve with every iteration.

And Finally

Ti Esrever Dna Ti Pilf Nwod Gniht Ym Tup I

A word from Missy

Feature Image credit: Neil Cummings
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