The 4 Most Important Metrics for Measuring Your Trade Show Marketing ROI

Okay, so your company just made an appearance at a trade show. Now how do you determine whether or not it was worth it? You need to know whether you are getting a good return on your investment. The biggest part of determining whether or not your trade show presence was successful is measuring your results. You should walk away with not only contact information from people you met, but specific data that can help you figure out what worked and what didn't. We'll take a look at the 4 most crucial metrics for analyzing the effectiveness of your trade show marketing efforts.

Generating Leads

Before we dive into measurement techniques, let's take a couple steps back and figure out how to generate leads from trade shows to begin with.

Companies that attend trade shows have the primary goal of getting leads that they can eventually convert into customers. It is up to you to decide what particular strategies to use to get these leads, but regardless of the specific techniques you choose, the first key step is to set up a dedicated landing page where an interested prospect can fill out a form with their information.

Once you have this landing page ready, promote it through social media, and create a hashtag so visitors to your booth can see these promotions more easily. You can also put QR codes that lead to this landing page on all your materials. It's important to make the experience of collecting leads interactive. For example, at the Dreamforce conference, HubSpot used an iPad app to give visitors free consultations, and then collected their information to send them the results, thereby converting them into leads. Figure out what makes sense for your company to make the experience engaging.

Measuring Your Results

1. Direct Traffic & Organic Search

Part of having a successful trade show presence is making sure your company generates a lot of brand awareness. One effective way to measure this metric is to look at the direct and organic traffic to your website.

Direct traffic measures how many people directly type in your company's URL in a web browser, and branded organic traffic consists of the visitors who arrive on your site by searching for your company name in search engines. A trade show should positively impact both categories. As more people encounter your brand and calls-to-action, you should see an increase in direct traffic and organic search to your website.

Track the landing page to which you send your visitors, and look at how much traffic you have to that page before and after you promote it at the trade show, then calculate percent change to see if there's a significant difference. This will help you figure out whether or not your promotions that directed to the landing page were successful.

Quick recap:

  • Decide on or create a landing page to send your visitors to
  • See how many visitors you have to the landing page pre- and post-event
  • Calculate percent change and determine significance

2. Social Media Reach

Another key result to measure is whether or not the trade show helped you meet your social media goals. Have you noticed an increase in the number of followers you have on different social networks? After the trade show, take a look at which channels were the most successful. See if there was a noticeable spike in Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and members of your LinkedIn page. Did engaging with prospects through social media during the trade show drive more visitors to your website? Use social media intelligence tools to track these analytics and see how your reach changes over time.

Identifying which channels were more successful is important for figuring out the most effective places to invest your efforts. Checking analytics and testing certain channels over others at the trade show is a great way to get the most out of your time and become better at prioritizing your efforts for the next event.

Quick recap:

  • Look at the number of times your Twitter hashtag was mentioned
  • Look at the number of times you received an @ reply on Twitter
  • Plot the tweets on a graph to see what parts of the day were most popular
  • Look at the number of Facebook posts you received
  • Check to see if the trade show generated an increase in Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and LinkedIn group members

3. New Leads

If the goal of your trade show marketing efforts is to expand your database of leads who you can then nurture with lead management techniques, you need to make sure you're measuring that number of new leads generated. If you are using marketing software with analytics tools, you should be able to easily identify which of your submissions are new to your system.

For instance, at HubSpot we look at our individual landing pages to evaluate their performance based on total number of new leads. Here is an example of an offer that has performed very well:

By tracking this metric closely, you can identify which types of offers and content attract and convert the most leads.

Quick recap:

  • Set up a tracking URL on the landing page to differentiate the leads that are coming from the trade show versus other promotions you are doing
  • Track the number of net new leads from your landing page
  • Track your visitor-to-lead conversion rate
  • Determine the different sources that leads used to find your landing page and website (social media, direct traffic, referrals, etc.) and measure the leads generated from each unique source

4. New Customers

The fourth crucial metric you'll want to measure is the number of new customers that your trade show presence generated, since your main goal is to drive more business for your company. You can determine the number of new customers by looking at the life cycle of event registrants. You'll need to implement closed-loop marketing in order to look back and track the evolution of registrants into customers. Take a look at the list of people who originally came to your landing page and filled out your form, then track how many of those leads ended up buying your product or service. This will help you figure out a key component of your trade show's ROI.

Quick recap:

  • Keep track of the number of customers you convert that originated as leads from your trade show
  • Measure the revenue you generated with those customers

Keep in mind that, although your initial investment in the trade show may be rather sizeable, your long-term results may outweigh the costs by driving more business for your company. Use these 4 key metrics to calculate your trade show ROI, and if the results are impressive, you'll have quantitative proof that attending the trade show was worth the investment, and you can rightfully call it a success.

Photo Credit: Chantal van der Ende-Appel

About the Author: Rachel Sprung

Rachel Sprung is an Events Coordinator in the Marketing department at HubSpot. Her responsibilities include managing the speaking program, media relations and planning Inbound 2012, formerly known as the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS). As part of the Brand & Buzz team, she also works on creating a distinct brand for HubSpot and writing for the inbound marketing blog.


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