How to track event ROI in your CRM

Alex Patriquin

As an event marketer, this situation may sound all too familiar...

Your next big event is just around the corner. You're buried in the middle of last minute logistics, booth setup, budgets, shipments, payment to vendors and making sure you’ve prepared the sales reps.
The last thing on your mind is how to compare this event to the last, or how you'll track ROI and answer your VP of Marketing when she asks, three months from now, "So, how many deals closed from our events last quarter?"

As event marketers ourselves we feel your pain, but hey, maybe there’s a big bonus or promotion for your stellar achievement this year... Or maybe not?  Many of us find it too difficult to see all our hard work in the field in the ROI reporting provided in our CRM.

Heck, we know it’s hard just to even find the reports!

The good news is you’re not alone. Lots of event marketers are waking up to the fact that they need better CRM tracking to get that next promotion... or even keep their job! According to LinkedIn, event marketers have one of the highest job title turnover rates in the US. We believe that a lack of demonstrable ROI from events is a key reason why.

There's good news, though. Since we’ve supported marketers in the planning and analytics of over 10,000 events here at EventGeek, from trade show exhibits to user conferences, we've gained insight into the keys steps that every b2b marketers should take to track ROI. In this post, we're going to share them with you.

Without further ado, here's the ultimate 5-point plan for tracking event ROI in your CRM.

1. Get event leads into your CRM, quickly

The business cards that your reps collect shouldn't end up in their suit jacket pocket, or worse, the drawer of their desk. In order for your event to get credit for driving quality leads, reps need to enter those cards into your CRM.

Badge scanners aren't enough. They usually attract the least qualified leads, the t-shirt and sticker seekers who don't mind trading their email address for swag.

But, hey, nobody likes data entry... so this crucial step often takes much longer than it should... or never happens at all. The first step to tracking event ROI in your CRM is to create a culture around using lead capture tools to send all leads to your CRM in realtime, even while reps are onsite.

2. Give your event due credit for driving leads

Getting your reps to enter leads into CRM is just the first step in the process. Now you've got to add your event as the attribution source.

In Salesforce CRM you can add leads as Members of Campaigns. In Marketo you can add them to Programs.

Either way, this step is crucial to getting your events into the reporting that will show where deals and revenue come from. It's not enough that the leads are in your CRM. They also have to be attributed to your event. Otherwise your events won't show up in ROI reports.

Note that you shouldn't use the "Lead Source" field in Salesforce for giving the event credit. Why not? Lead Source is misleading. As a single field, it can only represent one "touch" in the sales process, but most sales processes are multi-touch.

3. Get meetings in your CRM, as soon as they're confirmed

Your sales reps should be having great meetings at events, but without logging those activities into CRM, no one will ever know they happened.

If your reps aren't having meetings, why not? Our data shows that scheduling meetings before events is one of most effective ways to drive ROI. We recommend building likely attendee lists before every event.

Lots of meetings are impromptu hallway chats, not even on the schedule. Both types of meetings should go into CRM for your event to get credit.

4. Give your event due credit for driving meetings

Salesforce Campaigns for Inustry Events

Once again, reps may even be entering meetings into CRM, but without attribution your event will never get credit for helping to close the deal.

In Salesforce, you should add leads or contacts from meetings to the Campaign Members list. The Campaign should be set up just for your event.

5. Track progress toward your team's goals

While setting goals for events might seem obvious, not enough event marketers actually do it! Of course, there's always a good excuse. It is hard to set goals without a baseline. But you've got to start some time and there's no better time than your next event.

The first step is identifying your key metrics. (Check out our Event ROI Worksheet if you need help with that.)  Then you can build up your baselines by starting to track your next event.

Give your events (and your team) the credit they deserve

The beauty of goal-setting is that your approach to tracking event ROI, and not just your event's results, will get better and more accurate over time. Also, by setting event goals, your events team will align more closely with sales and marketing efforts.

In fact, the biggest "gains" in event ROI come from just turning on tracking and "lifting the veil" on all of the leads and meetings that events already deliver but don't receive credit for.

So next year when your VP of Marketing asks, "How did we do on this event?" you'll have an ROI report that gives full credit to your events, for all the leads and meetings you helped to drive, and the data to prove it.


How to track event ROI in your CRM

Alex Patriquin
Alex Patriquin


Event Metrics & Data
Event ROI
Event Marketing
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