ROI isn’t something to consider ‘after the event’

Despite our deepening relationship with digital, pixels have not yet totally replaced people and place, and a well-executed event can still add real impact to your marketing mix. Freshwater’s events team share their insights on demonstrating the value of events and reporting a positive return on your investment.

It can’t be denied that events demand investment in time, money and resources. But with marketing budgets under scrutiny it can be a challenge to secure buy in from colleagues for that innovative road show, awards ceremony, conference, product launch or stakeholder tour. The trick is to underpin your rationale for an event with a set of performance indicators that are closely matched to your business goals and will help you to track the impact made by your investment.

When considering an event, first think about what you want to achieve. It is vital to have clarity on what type of return or impact would be valuable to your organisation and set clear deliverables and objectives for your proposed event. Pinning down some of the seemingly intangible returns of an event can be seen as a difficult task, but with prior preparation and due focus at the start of the event planning stage, it can be a simple and often interesting process.

Here’s a useful framework that can be used to shape early discussions about whether an event will add-value to your marketing mix:

What is your immediate business need?

  • to increase awareness of your brand / cause / product?
  • to change perceptions of what you do?
  • to build relationships?
  • to generate sales leads / orders?
  • to grow / maintain membership?

What specific targets would you like to set for your event to deliver?

  • the number of people who attend?
  • specific people / groups?
  • media coverage of your event?
  • sales orders?
  • revenue through ticket sales or sponsorship?

What experience do you want your delegates to receive?

  • do you want to reinforce existing relationships? Build new ones?
  • to educate your attendees?
  • what value do you want your sponsors to receive?
  • are you delivering staff training and development?
  • building customer loyalty?
  • creating a community?

Having answers to these types of questions will help you to devise a list of clear, measurable objectives for your event. Once you are really clear on your objectives (which needless to say must be realistic!), you can start to formulate suitable metrics and benchmarks to measure them. As an example, you might want to increase membership to your cause; you should measure your starting point, and then establish a metric to measure at regular intervals. This might be as simple as the number of new members or it might be something like the number of people who have requested membership information. Or even better – both! Measuring during the whole lifecycle is very important too as it allows you to be flexible and respond to the current situation, tailoring your offering accordingly.

Technologies such as social media tracking, website analytics, customer relationship systems, email management and mobile apps have become key tools that can facilitate the whole process and give you up-to-the-minute information in easy-to-use formats.

It is important to analyse the results of your deliverables and ensure that the insight and information that emerges can be fed back into your marketing and business data and be used to inform future events.


Freshwater has extensive experience in delivering client events, including product launches, exhibitions, conferences and awards ceremonies, across the UK. To find out more about this service, take a look at our events page.


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Impact Report 2017

Impact report 2017