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Regardless if you’re a B2B or a B2C marketer, event marketing is probably a part of your growth strategy. In fact, a recent Demand Gen report shows that 64% of marketers (higher than any other category) state that in-person events lead the pack among demand gen tactics for B2B marketers. If you’re not thinking about incorporating more events into your strategy then that statistic alone should make you reconsider.

That said, the flip-side of the event marketing coin is that it can be incredibly expensive. Forrester Research noted that “In-person trade shows, conferences, and events” can easily take up the largest percentage of your marketing budget.  So how do you decide which events to attend, which events to go back to, and how to make improvements throughout the course of your event marketing program?

Why should I care about Event Program Management

Enter event program management software and okapi ROITM. Most of the time, event managers are winging it…trust me…I know…I’ve been there. It’s an incredibly challenging position. So much of your time and effort is spent getting everything ready prior to the event and handling all the onsite activities that by the time the event is over you just want to show the tent in the bag and peace out. But doing a post event recap is a very important opportunity reflect back on your efforts and see how you (and the event) performed.

Depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, your ability to measure success could be more challenging. In the B2C world, you’re probably not collecting email addresses from every consumer you interact with and you’re definitely not able to track whether that person bought your product at the local corner store. In the B2B world, tracking ROI tends to be a little easier (but not that efficient). Collecting contact information for each prospect at your event then watching them through the CRM to an eventual “closed-won” deal is definitely possible. But my question is are you doing that for every event (large and small) that your company attends? Probably not because you don’t have a very good tool to handle all your event based data collection.

So let’s say you did have all the data from your event programs in your CRM. Will that software help you measure event ROI from each event? What about each type of event? What about each activity you did at each event? Will it tell you if you’re closing more leads from smaller, regional events, or are you generating more revenue from large national events? Those are the questions event program management software can answer.

What is okapi ROI and How Does it Work?

okapi ROI was specifically designed to help event, experiential, and field marketers make smarter decision faster and estimate event marketing ROI. For instance, if you have a 12 month sales cycle and need to decide if you if the early-bird discount for next year’s conference should be a part of your future event planning, you can’t wait for last year’s leads to close before you make that decision. You need a way to estimate the success of this year’s show based on historical data. Enter okapi ROI.

okapi ROI is part of a suite of features built right into our experiential software platform that helps marketers use historical event marketing data and compare that to every event you’ve attended. Here’s how it works:

First, we add up the total number of prospects or consumers you engaged with during your event. For example purposes, let’s say that’s 1,000 people.

Next, we use okapi to “survey” a portion of those prospects. Surveys can come from any numbers of places. They could be from a guerilla marketing activity, signing up at your booth for the free headphones of swag you’re giving away, or even one of the speaking engagements you’re doing at the conference. Next we break those surveys down into two major buckets:

  1. What’s the average number of prospects surveyed who said they’d be interested in using your product or service?
  2. What’s the average number of prospects surveyed who said they’ve never used your product or service before?

The combination of those two averages represent the number of potential new consumers you’ve interacted with at your event. So if 75% of prospects said they’d be interested in doing business with you and 25% of them said they’ve never used your product, we take those two percentages times the 1,000 people you interacted with and get around 187 new potential customers.

The final calculations we’ll factor in is conversion rate and lifetime customer value. Out of those 187 potential customers how many of them typically convert to a customer? 20%, 30%…this is typically a number you can gather from historical data or the leader of your sales team. So for our example let’s say that number is 30% which gives us 56 new customers. If we take that number and multiply it by the total lifetime value of a customer (let’s say $1,000) and divide it by the number of years that customer will do business with us (let’s say 5) we end up with an event that potentially generated $11,200.

To convert that to an actual ROI figure we take the event cost (let’s say $5,000) subtract that from our projected revenue ($11,200) then divide that number once more by the cost of the investment. Therefore, (11,200 – 5,000) / 5000 =  124%…in theory this was a successful event that produced positive revenue.

Imagine if you had to do that for every event performed by multiple teams every week? #ugh

okapi ROI is a Strategic – not a Financial – KPI

So you might be thinking to yourself. Great! okapi helps me make-up ROI but that’s not something I can give to my CEO or CMO because it’s a fake number. Honestly, that is 100% correct. In fact, we tell okapi users to start using okapi ROI as a strategic number, a “canary in the coalmine” if you will. The okapi ROI number of 124% in our above example isn’t so much about proving we generated $11,200. The power of okapi ROI comes when you compare event number 1 to event numbers 2, 3, 4…100.

Then, if you add-in demographic data of your prospects or events (i.e company size, age, household income, gender) you begin to see patterns develop that indicate where your tribe is gathering. You could also look at other comparison points such as market (does my program perform better in New York City than it does in Boston?) or regions (Why I am doing better in the Southwest than I am in the Northeast). Once you start seeing statistically significant differences in the okapi ROI numbers you’re looking at the next question you have to ask is “WHY?”. Why do I perform better in one region over another? Why is one of my teams performing far below the average of the rest of my teams? These are the questions that help shorten the feedback loop of your entire event program. These are the results that will help you decide where to spend your money in the upcoming days, weeks, months or years.

Event and Experiential Marketing Software

Most event and experiential marketers work hard every day on the planning and execution of their events. They’re so busy shipping the booth off to the next event that it takes a lot of effort to analyze the successes and failure of previous events. okapi is the perfect tool for event and experiential marketers because it not only collects the data you need, but can help you manage your team and analyze the data from every event you attend. If you’re a B2B marketer okapi can also take each lead you generate, automatically drop it into your CRM system, then watch that lead close and assign the value back to the event it came from. This level of integration helps measure “actual ROI” to a point we can begin adjusting the formula of okapi ROI to even more closely match reality.

To watch okapi ROI in action, take a look at the Blueprint video below.