Recently we were catching up with an old colleague. He is a senior marketer and in our correspondence he made the comment that “ROI and ROO for events can always use a closer look, as uncomfortable as that may get for those who don’t particularly want anybody measuring their lack of effectiveness.”
We’re not ready to opine on why some people and some companies resist measurement – after all our job is to determine the effectiveness of their work. But we did write back to say that we encourage our clients to measure ROO – Return On Objectives and ROI – Return On Investment separately.
In this three part series we are going to take a look at when to apply each type of measurements, then look at how to make them work together.
Return On Objectives, ROO, is a very flexible approach to event measurement because it is based on a specific set of event objectives.
We believe that the foundation of a successful measurement program is a crisply stated set of objectives.
It is not always easy to get people to articulate their objectives.
Defining the objectives should always involve the senior stakeholders and the event sponsor. While it seems incredibly obvious, it is necessary to state that objectives must be written in a way that can be measured.
That is to say, it should be apparent what success looks like, and perhaps what behaviors take place when each objective is met.
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Once the heavy lifting is completed, a research instrument (or instruments) can be designed to measure progress against each objective.
Not everyone who attends an event is there to buy something!
Often event attendees are in early phases of the funnel (or purchase cycle if you prefer). This is reflected in marketing driven event objectives which typically focus on building awareness, ensuring consideration and reinforcing brand preference. Other events target customers whom attend to implement or optimize their existing investment. The objectives for this type of audience are characterized by efforts to build long term brand loyalty.
These kinds of objectives cannot be readily monetized, making it very difficult to relate them to ROI.
When reporting ROO findings, the event content and the event itself can and should be thought of as an extension of the sponsor’s ongoing advertising and PR initiatives. Properly executed, an event is one more thing that pays dividends over time.
The “event effect” is the purest form of ROO measurement.
In our opinion, a properly designed pre-post survey is the most accurate way to determine if the event was successful in meeting its objectives. Because of the timeframe within which we execute these surveys, we consider the pre-post delta to be directly attributable to the event. We describe these findings as the “event effect.”
In a situation where multiple events are to be measured (e.g. a road show to multiple cities), the same objectives should be measured at all of the events so that the effect of the event on multiple audiences can be compared.
ROO measurement can be executed on a timely basis.
Because ROO measurement is developed and implemented to measure the success of a specific event, this type of research can be conducted by the sponsoring organization without the need for additional data from other groups.
Note that this is often a two-edged sword since an overly parochial approach often results in findings being ignored by other stakeholders…
But the event sponsor or manager can set a reporting timeline and very quickly report the success of the event to senior management.
Where ROO and ROI overlap…
It is worth noting that many clients seek to measure the impact of attending the event in generating new opportunities at the top of the funnel. This is characterized by a question like “as a result of attending are you now considering a product or products that you were not aware of prior to attending the event…”
How many of these “considerations” actually become leads, or lead to sales, takes us from a discussion of ROO to our next installment in which we will address ROI.
Are you measuring both ROO and ROI? What are the biggest challenges you are facing? What is working?
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