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Is your Trade Show delivering ROI?

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 22 Dec, 2014
Essential Essential topic

How to measure your Trade Show Marketing return on investment

Do you know the return on investment of your last radio marketing campaign? How about print media? While it’s easy to track the profitability of your marketing efforts online, accurately tracking your offline marketing ROI is tough.

With the right tools and techniques, measuring your trade show ROI is simple

Nowhere is this truer than at trade shows. Although many businesses are fully aware that their trade show marketing is profitable, we recently surveyed businesses and marketing managers and found that almost 50% don’t measure the ROI of their trade show activity.

Although it’s more difficult to track trade show ROI than it is to measure the ROI of a display advertising or social media marketing campaign, it’s still very possible with the right tools, techniques and metrics.

4 steps to measure your ROI for your Trade Show

In this guide, we’ll share a simple four-step strategy that you can use to assess your next trade show’s return on investment and profitability in both the short term and the long term.

STEP 1. Before the , define your marketing goals and metrics

How do you measure your marketing campaigns? Online, most marketers use cost-per-acquisition or net profit as a measure of whether or not a campaign has been a success. Offline, however, the metrics used to measure success are far less specific.

Far too many businesses go into a trade show with vague, unspecific goals. They set their goal as 'generate more leads' or 'connect with new prospects' instead of going in with a concrete, easily measurable goal.

  • Before you exhibit at your next trade show, define your metrics. Is your goal to make sales at the event? If so, use new deals as your key metric. Is your goal to meet more people and generate sales leads? If so, count using new names and phone numbers.
  • Once you’ve determined your metrics, work out your goals. Marketing goals should be concrete and easy to measure. They need to be answerable with 'yes' or 'no' and leave absolutely no room for discussion or debate.

 'Have we reached our target of 250 new sales leads?' is it a marketing goal that can be answered with 'yes' or 'no'. 'Have we connected with our target audience?' is not – it’s too open-ended to receive a concrete answer.

Defining your metrics and setting a concrete, closed-ended question to assess your performance makes tracking success or failure simple. Before each event you take part in, you should know how to measure success and where the goalposts are.

  •  Work out a simple, easily measurable metric that you can use to judge your success in the short term.
  • Set yourself a clear goal before the event that you can easily measure. Good goals are concrete and answerable with a 'yes' or a 'no'.
  • Never go into a trade show (or any marketing campaign) with a goal that’s open-ended and difficult to quantify.

STEP 2. Tag your trade show leads to make tracking progress simple

Not all leads are equally valuable. Even the warmest of trade show leads might lose interest after the event, while leads that seemed cool and disinterested may become more interested in your product or service as time goes on.

Since leads can grow or decline in value during the sales process, it’s important that you tag your leads as coming from a specific trade show so that you can track their performance not just at the event, but in the weeks that follow.

Tagging leads is simple, especially if you use a CRM application like Salesforce, Zoho CRM or Highrise. Salesforce includes an 'event tag' feature that makes adding a lead source simple; in Zoho or Highrise you’ll need to use the 'referrer' field.

Since leads can vary hugely in value, you should return to your CRM every month to assess their value. Some leads will take off immediately and start producing revenue right from the start, while others may need months to mature and warm up.

  • Create a unique tag in your CRM software so that you can measure leads from each event and assess their long-term value
  • Record your revenue from each lead in your CRM software to establish an 'average customer value' for future trade shows
  • Monitor your leads every month to see if their value has increased over time as more leads mature and interact with your company

STEP 3. Over time, establish an 'average customer value' for trade shows

Your company’s first trade show is always the toughest to measure. Since you have no past data of how trade show leads can perform, it can be tough to know if warm leads are worth tens, hundreds or thousands of pounds in revenue.
After you’ve exhibited at several trade shows and measured the performance of the leads in your CRM, however, you’ll be able to establish an 'average customer value' metric that tells you exactly how much each lead is likely to be worth.

Average customer value isn’t a perfect metric – many of your customers won’t live up to expectations and others will exceed them – but it’s a simple measure of what you can expect from the leads you generate at future trade shows.

Once you understand your average customer value, you’ll be able to predict the ROI of future trade shows immediately after the event, instead of waiting for months to see which leads pan out and how much revenue they produce.

  • By measuring the revenue produced by leads from previous trade shows, you can work out how much each lead is worth on average
  • Not all leads will live up to your revenue expectations, while others might be worth significantly more than you anticipated
  • Your average customer value metric will become more accurate over time, as you generate more leads and track their long-term spending

STEP 4. Keep monitoring your trade show leads to improve your metrics

Every trade show is different. Even the same event can vary hugely in performance from one year to the next, making it essential that you continue measuring your ROI even after you’ve established an accurate customer value from several trade shows.

The best marketers are constantly improving their metrics and tracking their trade show ROI. Let your past statistics guide your strategy, but never stop measuring the profits you generate from each trade show or event individually.

As time goes on, you’ll begin to spot differences between events that, on the surface, look identical. Some will produce an excellent ROI, while others may barely produce any profit at all for your business. The more you measure, the more profitable your trade shows will become. Tag and track every event, no matter how big or small, and you’ll always know exactly how much (or how little) each trade show you take part in produces for your business.

  • The more data you track over time, the more accurate your success metrics will become and the better your ROI will be
  • Over time, you’ll begin to discover differences in ROI and customer value between similar trade shows and events
  • The most effective trade show marketers monitor every trade show’s ROI over a period of years to accurately track customer value

STEP 5. How profitable was your last trade show?

Although tracking the ROI of your trade shows is far tougher than monitoring your online marketing metrics, it’s still worth doing. The closer you monitor your trade show ROI, the greater your understanding will be of each event’s value.

How profitable was your last trade show? Start measuring your trade show ROI and you’ll know exactly how much each event, each lead and each customer is worth for your business, giving you a greater understanding of each trade show’s true value.

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By Expert commentator

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