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January 11, 2024

Why It's Not Enough to Measure Event Attendance

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Experiential marketing is an expensive, time-consuming strategy; if you’re just measuring how many people walk through, you only see a single piece of the larger puzzle. 

Think about it: what does event attendance mean in a larger context? Sure, you can see how popular the event is. But do you know with who? Or how the experience impacted your consumers or brought you closer to achieving your marketing goals? 

Event attendance is similar to impressions on social media; they’re nice to have but don’t tell you much. You’re not alone; we surveyed experiential marketers and found that  4 out of 10 marketers say event attendance is one of their main metrics, and they have trouble proving return on investment. 

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The big question is: if just event attendance isn’t enough, then what else is there to measure? We have a few options for you to consider adding to your roster and will explore how they can help you understand how and why your experiences are making a difference. 

What is Event Attendance?

As a metric, event attendance is how many people came to your event. It’s also called impressions, foot traffic, and even “eyes on product.” That’s, unfortunately, where it ends. Don’t get us wrong — it’s a solid metric for early experiences to see if the first few events are worth further investment. But after that, it edges more and more into the dreaded ‘vanity metric.’

Vanity metric - a metric that feels good but doesn’t actually prove success in a long-term way

Why can’t I just measure event attendance and call it a day?

Think about it like you’re an artist; you’re painting a still life of an apple. You go in, and you sketch the basic shapes. You draw the circle, the oval, the rectangle. But when you show it off to your friends and family, no one can tell you what it is. It’s just shapes. 

Event attendance as a metric is just shape. A painting needs shadow, composition, and color, just like experience attendees need to be fleshed out so you know exactly what you’re looking at and what these shapes can mean to your brand.

Additions to Event Attendance

What does adding detail to event attendance look like in practice? It’s all about understanding the consumer moving through their journey and seeing which data, when aggregated, can reveal key patterns and trends that can equip you to grow your marketing strategy.

Depending on your industry and your team’s priorities, this can mean anything from building better consumer databases to understanding what consumers feel when they leave your experience. 

Here are a few metrics that can help you round out your understanding and how to use them to scale and grow.

How Do I Encourage Information Sharing?

Many experiential marketers offer consumers a special gift, and in return, the attendees fill out a form with personal information (a value exchange).  

Brand Conversion Rate

This is a great metric if you’re already tracking NPS, since you need to in order to make this measurement happen. Brand conversion rate is the number of consumers who previously identified as detractors or passives, according to NPS results, but leave your experience as promoters. Detractors are those who think poorly of your brand and passives are more apathetic.

To find the brand conversion rate, you should include the question, ‘how likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend in the next six months?’ and ask for their email address. Then, after the experience, send another survey to their email and ask the question again. 

Your brand conversion rate is the number of detractors and passives who turn into promoters divided by the number of people multiplied by 100.

The score they give is their net promoter score (NPS). The rate of change is brand conversion.

How to figure out who’s a detractor, passive, or promoter

Here’s the breakdown:

Guest Location

Asking for zip codes or locations is a great way to add a new dimension to attendance. You can begin to group consumers by who’s willing to travel farther afield for your experience, or you’re more popular with the locals.

It helps you learn where your best consumer bases live and act as a pattern you can track to see where your next event can take place or even where you can increase your product distribution. 

Does asking for location actually work?

Sometimes the simplest metrics, when combined, are a powerful tool for growth. To show how that can happen, let’s introduce you to JUST Egg, a plant-based egg company that finds a lot of value in smaller data points and the bigger picture.

Here’s what they did to create their experience strategy:

  1. Market research helped them determine that 90% of consumers who try their product go on to purchase. 
  2. With that in mind, JUST Egg decided that eggs-in-mouth (product sampling) as their metric would have the most impact.
  3. JUST Egg used AnyRoad Live, our iOS app, and QR code-based data-capture platform, to get first-party data on-site (like zip codes, gender, and age) through product giveaways, followed by a pulse survey to attendees after the events.

What happened: With the goal of products in hand, JUST Egg’s Director of Field Marketing had a metric to hone in on and adjust his activation strategy towards. With our live feedback and pattern surfacing, he noticed that although the event was in Washington, DC, many visitors had  New York zip codes. 

So, he added New York to the agenda and converted an entirely new consumer base to JUST Egg. 

Marketing Opt-Ins

In a world full of digital noise, trying to develop a relationship with your consumers can be hard. I mean, that’s why you’re planning experiences, right? So why not piggyback off the memories you’re creating with your attendees and ask for marketing opt-ins

Capturing opt-ins from attendees opens the door for future communications, which help you build long-term relationships with consumers and even grow revenue.

We’ll let you in on a little secret: our data shows that consumers who already have a relationship with a brand have more resonance with their activations and events. 

Consumers that brands already have a relationship with (meaning who exist in their marketing database) have a more dramatic change in brand perception than attendees who don’t.

How exactly do existing marketing contacts have a more dramatic perception change?

On average, a consumer with an existing brand relationship’s net promoter score starts higher than those without a prior connection at 79 vs. 70 and below. They come in with a positive perception already, and post-event, they see a 15% increase overall — 5% higher than even those who agree to marketing opt-ins for the first time! Those who encounter a brand for the first time start at an average of 70 NPS, boosting to 77. Their second time joining a brand experience, they jump all the way to 91!

If you want to see why and more trends like this, you can dive deeper over here.

Purchase Behavior

What’s more valuable to a brand than understanding how consumers buy their products? Experiential marketing is a great way to learn more about the habits and behaviors of your targeted demographic. This includes, but is not limited to, how they:

  • Buy your products
  • Where they buy your products
  • Buy from the market in general

This is incredibly important for a few reasons. On the most basic level, it lets you flesh out a full consumer profile that you can use as a model of your perfect target audience for general strategy. You can also use it to better determine distribution, ad spend, and even their lifetime value. 

Thinking about what questions to ask to get this information? Hop over to our favorite list of post-event survey questions that you can ask your consumers to learn more about this metric.

What Next? 

Now, you see how a diverse range of metrics can help you better understand the consumers you’re building experiences for and how their behavior and opinion can change your strategy

Adding another metric to your event attendance opens the door to new ways of seeing the full painting and potential of your experiences. Metrics and patterns offer you the tools to scale, grow, and make more impactful decisions in the long run in a way that stakeholders and your team can get behind. 

So whether you add opt-ins, brand conversion, or location to your palette, you’re already painting a picture that anyone would be thrilled to invest their care and budget into.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Scheduling Software Needs

Before researching online booking systems, evaluating your business needs is essential. After all, you don’t want to overspend on bells and whistles when you only need an online form. For newer events looking to scale, a more sophisticated system might be the goal but not the starting point.

Consider the type and size of your business, the nature of your services, and the volume of transactions you handle. For instance, if you run tours and tastings, you should look at solutions meant for high-volume enterprises that can include add-on shirts, beer steins, and more.

Scheduling Software Flowchart

We made a helpful flowchart to help you decide if you’re ready to invest fully in online bookings or look into a free scheduling app, like Google Forms, as a better starting point.

As someone trying to make smart investment decisions, you don’t want to buy a booking and ticketing solution that doesn’t meet your needs. Use our guided questions to determine where you are in your investment journey.

Booking System flowchart
Use the flow to gauge where you are on your journey!

2. Compare Booking Page Features and Pricing

Booking Page Features

Once you have a clear idea of your business needs, you can compare online booking systems that meet your criteria. Have a list of your most essential needs and what would be nice for you to have. Some features you should consider including on your list include:

  • Website integration
  • Branded booking page
  • Configurability to match your brand
  • Payment processing and add-on sales
  • Automated reminders
  • Automatic data analysis
  • Feedback collection and analysis
  1. Website integration
  2. Branded booking page
  3. Configurability to match your brand
  4. Payment processing and add-on sales
  5. Automated reminders
  6. Automatic data analysis
  7. Feedback collection and analysis






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