What comes after “Experiential Marketing?” Measuring Experiential ROI.


For the last decade, everyone connected to marketing and events jumped on the “experiential marketing” bandwagon. Why? Because marketing is something you do, while experiencing your brand is something your audience does.

You know longer host events — you host meet-ups with activations that engage and encourage meaningful if not viral exchanges. Your base isn’t customers and prospects; it’s a community that is nurtured.

Ten years into this trend, the 2.0 evolution has emerged: how to measure ROI on experiences.

That was my goal when I attended the annual Experiential Marketing Summit in Chicago recently, and a workshop called “The Event Measurement and Data University,” led by Ben Grossman, SVP, Group Strategy Director, Jack Morton Worldwide, and Steve Boyce, Senior Director, Digital Strategy, George P. Johnson provided the following advice:

  1. ROI defines the value of the event for the C-suite. The most effective strategy to gauge ROI is behavior pre- and post-event, with a control group. Your goal, as an experience marketer, is to demonstrate how those who participated in the event increased their engagement with your organization vs. the group who didn’t. How do you measure that engagement for the C-suite? Through a high-level cost per acquisition of new customers, retention of existing customers and pipeline value. But don’t neglect brand advocacy, or how likely they are to recommend you to another colleague, as well as cost avoidance, such as including a sales meeting as part of a user conference to make more efficient use of sales & marketing budgets.
  2. Key Performance Indicators define your experience goals’ success. Reports on these metrics are more for the VP level, and should get more granular with: numbers of attendees, conversion rates, net promoter scores, brand & message familiarity, satisfaction survey results, attendee quality, and social media sentiment.
  3. Insights are learnings to share with your team. Don’t confuse these with ROI. How was the venue? Time of event, and time of year? Quality of attendees? Number of activations? Food? Flow? These are more tactical and shouldn’t be a part of the metrics reported to the VP or C-levels.

One of the most compelling findings was that for companies that put data at the center of their marketing and sales decisions, there is on average 15-20% more ROI on events, but only about 11% of marketers use their own data to make important event decisions.

Clearly, as an industry, we’re lagging in a world awash with marketing data if we choose not to leverage it for our own – and our communities’ – better, more engaged experiences.

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