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Julia Manoukian


December 10, 2019

11 Experiential Marketing KPIs To Drive Campaign Success

Julia Manoukian

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“How did the event go?” When business leaders ask that, what they really want to know is: “What benefits did the event bring to the organization?”

Although the answer involves brand reputation and customer perception, it should not be entirely subjective. Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate value and break down exactly what the event did for your organization based on hard data.

Even as marketing has become more data-driven, live events have traditionally been especially hard to pin down in terms of attributable impacts. How do you measure the warmth of a handshake or the sincerity of customer enthusiasm?

You can’t (yet), but you can set up technology that assesses the value of key performance indicators (KPIs) for live events and experiential marketing campaigns at each stage along the customer journey. Before, during, and after the event, there are plenty of definable moments and measurable actions that indicate customer intent and sentiment.

Here are KPIs for experiential marketing at each of the 5 stages of the typical customer journey. So the next time an executive asks you how the event went, you can nonchalantly break out the data visualizations.


Stage 1 - KPIs for Awareness

Before the event, your top goal should be getting the word out with maximum breadth and urgency. People can’t attend the event if they don’t know about it.

The quality and dedication your team puts into the upfront promotion can make all the difference in how well attended the event is. Word of mouth tends to be the most motivational factor, but registrations tend to act as a good running indicator on how much people are talking about it offline.

  • Unique Visits – Comparing this to the total visitors can tell you whether the marketing content works the first time or if people are returning to the site more than once before they make up their minds to attend the event. Also unique visits cover a specified time frame so comparing these KPIs over time can tell you when targeted ads are the most effective.
  • Traffic sources – You need to know which channel your target audience prefers for messages that impel action. This will be the source for your next level KPI measuring effectiveness within each traffic source.

Stage 2 - KPIs for Evaluation/Consideration

Traditionally, the most obvious measure of success for an event was the attendance. That’s not good enough anymore. What really matters is the customer experience at the event. You want to discover where your brand ranks on their priority list and then move the needle in your favor.

  • Average session duration – This is equivalent to dwell time for in-store events. Generally, more time on the site is good if they are gathering information, but if they leave without converting it could indicate that the flow is not intuitive or the offer isn’t engaging enough to secure their commitment.
  • Click/hover heat maps – In coordination with the above metric, this will tell you how confusing vs. convincing the argument you’ve made is for the potential customer. From here you can modify and improve the sign-up page to strengthen your message.

Stage 3 - KPIs for Decision

  • Event check-ins – The absolute number of people who show up is still important as a measure of success, but only as it relates to the KPIs below. You want to be sure that the people who attended the event walked away with a favorable association with your brand.
  • Conversion rates -- Free events are normally plagued by no-shows, but the number of sign-ups vs actual attendees contains important information no matter what the ticket price. If you have a high no-show rate, you will need to make the offerings at the show more exclusive or strengthen your promotion of social mentions for those who did attend.
  • Overall event ROI – This is another of the most common KPIs that the C-Suite wants to see, but there’s no single metric that tells the whole story. ROI can be measured by revenue post-event, interactions, or absolute number of impressions across channels, depending on your strategic goals.

Stage 4 - KPIs for Retention

  • Crowd count over time – Whether the event attendance was front-loaded or the crowd only showed for the main event, this gives you a better view into what your customers care about most.
  • Photos taken – People take pictures when they want to remember an event, even if they never see those digital photos again. This is a de facto measure of excitement or significance in the lives of the attendees.

Stage 5 - KPIs for Advocacy

  • Brand mentions/hashtags – The true value of the event is what people continue to talk about after it’s over. Hashtags make it easy to follow the conversation, but they tend to degrade while you should expect to see brand mentions increasing.
  • Follower growth rates – Although follower counts are not an indication of brand favorability, they factor into the amplification of your messaging. That’s why a small but active following is far more valuable than one that is simply very large.

What customers really want

There will be a great deal of variation in what you decide to measure based on top level strategic goals: market share, wallet share, modifying the brand identity, revenue diversification, etc. The critical takeaway is that new leads are not the only or the most important KPIs you should take away from experiential marketing campaign. 

The real measure of success could be customer experience related, ROI-related or social-related. It depends on the goals of the campaign, who you're reporting to, and if you are reporting on an event, a campaign or the entire channel of experiential marketing.

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