How to Measure Trade Show Effectiveness

Six Key Metrics to Measure Trade Show ROI

Strategy and planning for a trade show event can be time-consuming and exhausting, even for seasoned exhibitors. Whether or not you have a successful convention depends heavily on how much pre-show planning is done, from outlining your presentation to designing a trade show display.

Now, the big question: how do you know if the results you achieve after a trade show align with reasonable expectations? Measuring trade show ROI is necessary to determine whether the time, effort and finances you put into an event have paid off.

What is Trade Show ROI?

ROI, or return on investment, is a common method of evaluating how much you benefit from an investment and its efficiency. In the case of trade shows, you’re calculating the ratio of what you received in terms of leads, new deals, social media impressions, etc. versus how much they cost. The average ROI for trade shows can vary depending on the industry, the scale of the event and other factors. In best-case scenarios, though, ConferenceSource reports some organizations have reported as much as a 4:1 ROI from attending trade shows.

Surprisingly, however, many businesses still don’t keep track of this crucial performance measure. In the 2020 Sales Lead Survey conducted by EXHIBITOR magazine, 49% of companies reported tracking trade show leads and measuring what amount lead to sales. Although this is nearly double how many were in 2010, it still means more than half of trade show exhibitors don’t have a clear picture of what results they are getting for all their hard work. This is corroborated by data from Statista Research, which found in one study that 50% of respondents admitted not knowing what percentage of trade show leads become successful conversions.

To determine whether you’re getting the return you’re looking for, you’ll need to know how to measure trade show effectiveness. These six metrics can be used to better understand what progress can be expected for the efforts you are making. Some qualifiers will be more important to your business than others, but all of them play at least a small role.

This week’s featured article is by Stephanie Campanella on six key metrics to measure trade show ROI.

Tradesmen and businesses participate in various trade shows from time to time. Being part of a successful trade show brings benefits like business exposure, networking and learning — but trade shows are quite expensive to participate in. Therefore, a business must look for a measurable positive ROI that can be tracked. A business should, after all, be able to determine if trade show participation has been worthwhile.

Let’s look at some important metrics for analyzing the effectiveness of your trade show marketing efforts:

1. Average Cost per Opportunity

To get an idea about the success of your trade show participation, track the average cost per opportunity. To track this metric you will need to know the total amount of money spent on a trade show and the total leads generated through the show which got converted into opportunity.

Average Cost per Opportunity = total money spent on a trade show / total leads converted into opportunity.

In the beginning, your cost per opportunity will be high as it may take several weeks or even months before leads convert to an opportunity. If you need to evaluate and make decisions on marketing spend soon after the trade show, use the average cost per lead to determine the success of your participation in the show.

Average Cost per Lead = total money spent on trade show / total leads generated through the trade show

This metric allows a business to benchmark how cost-effective a trade show has been for them compared to other marketing channels. If you exhibit at multiple shows, the average cost per lead will give you an insight into the comparative effectiveness of each show.

2. Social Media Reach

The other metric to measure during and after your participation in a trade show is your social media reach. It is the number of people you influence or reach on social channels after being present at a trade show. This includes your Facebook fans, Twitter followers, email contacts, blog subscribers and more.

Social media reach is a vanity metric that gives no useful insights. But used with other social media metrics like social media engagement, acquisition, conversion, etc., it will give you an idea of whether it was worth your time and money to participate in a trade show. Use social media monitoring tools to track different metrics.

Also, identify the social channels that created more buzz after the show. Identifying which channels were more successful will tell you where you should invest the bulk of your resources.

3. Website Traffic

A professionally built website helps you know the number of visitors you attract. If there is any spike in the visitor count post a trade show, it is obvious that the demonstration of your business at the show was a hit.

There are two ways consumers reach your website: by directly typing your company’s URL in a Web browser (direct traffic), or by searching for your company name in search engines (organic traffic).

To determine the success of your trade show presence, you need to consider the traffic that comes to your website both ways. For this, you need to:

  • Count the number of average visitors your website received before the show.
  • Count the number of average visitors your website received during and immediately after the show.
  • Compare the two figures.
  • There should be an increase in direct traffic and organic search to your website after being present at the trade show.

4. New Leads

Raising brand awareness is one of the objectives of trade show participation for a business. To determine the success of your brand awareness campaign, measure the number of leads generated.

Using analytics and website tracking programs to monitor your leads is an absolute necessity. To create a tracking URL, you just need to add a parameter to the end of your website’s link so that your analytics system can identify and associate with the trade show. This will enable you to more accurately track visitors who otherwise look like they are coming from some other marketing channel.

Analytic tools also help you know different sources (social media, direct traffic, organic traffic, etc.) that these leads use to land on your website. You can also measure the leads generated from each source.

After gaining insights into this metric, you can nurture your leads using techniques for your lead management success.

5. New Customers and Incremental Business from Existing Customers

An important metric you will want to measure is the number of new customers your trade show presence generated. You can determine this number by implementing closed-loop marketing to track the number of leads converted into customers. Measure the revenue you generated from these new customers to measure the trade show ROI.

The goal of participating in a trade show should not just be attracting new customers, but also gaining more business from your existing customers. Businesses should, therefore, also measure the number of old customers who contacted them back for service during and after the completion of the trade show.

6. Demonstrations

One of the key metrics to measure is the number of demonstrations you gave during a trade show. Demonstrations in a trade show booth can reveal your success in presenting your demo or talking about your services. You should also keep an eye on the number of people who listen to or interact with you during demonstrations. Measuring and analyzing your trade show marketing efforts will tell you how successful you were and identify areas where you need to improve.

We hope you enjoyed this featured article on measuring trade show ROI. If you have questions about how to build a trade show display that helps you generate more qualified leads for your booth, we have solutions. There are many styles and sizes of displays that can be customized to focus on your brand’s marketing goals. Give us a call to discuss those goals and how to achieve them. Our exhibit experts are always happy to recommend the best display for your company’s needs.

The Monster Displays team can be reached at [email protected] or by calling (888) 484-3344. We’d love to put our experience to work for you.