How to Measure the ROI of Your Trade Show Exhibit in 4 Steps

September 13, 2016

One goal, three letters: ROI. It’s one of the most important considerations when drawing a trade show strategy. But for so many, it’s also one of the hardest to measure.

However, there’s a solution. In fact, calculating the return on your trade show exhibit may be more straightforward than you imagined.

In just four steps, you could be on your way toward unveiling the true value of your exhibition. It’s information you can use to defend your trade show to key stakeholders, as well as data to inform your next showing.

Let’s dive in.

Step One: Define your goals.

Simply put, what is the goal of your trade show strategy?

Before setting up lead and conversion tracking for your exhibit, establish what you will be measuring. It could be one of several goals. But one thing it must be is measurable. If you can’t answer a clear “yes” or “no” to achieving your goal, it’s a no-go.

Here are some potential goals you could shoot for:

  • Lead generation (e.g. I want to acquire 100 leads at the conference)
  • Brand awareness (e.g. I want to increase brand awareness by 20%, and measure our success by the number of booth attendees and organic traffic online)
  • Publicity (g. I want coverage from 5 or more news outlets and/or blogs)
  • Sales closed (e.g. I want to generate $25,000 in sales over the show weekend)


Step Two: Track and label leads.

If you are defining success by the number of leads or post-show sales generated at an event, you’re going to need to keep track of and properly label these new contacts. And there are a few ways to accomplish that.

A custom trade show exhibit with digital lead capture is the best way to build this repository. If possible, either import newly acquired leads or sync them directly with your CRM.

Then, to accurately monitor if new sales are acquired from leads generated at a trade show, you will need to implement a naming convention. Give each new contact from the show a unique tag. This simple strategy will give you crystal clear insight into whether your trade show was successful in producing real, valuable leads.

Step Three: Calculate the lifetime value of your customers.

This step takes some time (and some existing data, too). But keep going – you’re almost there!

How much is your average trade show customer worth over their lifetime as a customer? And yes, the source of the lead matters here, as their value is often different depending on where it was acquired.

To calculate this number for a specific trade show, divide your total profit from a show by the number of leads tagged for that specific event. It’s that simple.

However, this process could take some time, especially if your business’s sales cycle is not instantaneous. If that’s the case, it might take a few months to determine the lifetime value of your customers for single trade show. But, in the end, you’ll have a much clearer picture of how much ROI your trade show efforts were worth.

Step Four: Keep measuring, and optimize accordingly.

As a marketer, optimization should be a word close to your heart. Now that you can better calculate the ROI of your trade show, it’s time to take that data and reach even higher.

Planning for a trade show is tough at any step. Executing the booth of your dreams is even harder. We can help. Contact us today to see how we can take your trade show exhibit to the next level.