When you decide to put the time, money, and effort into marketing through trade shows, it only makes sense that you would want to know whether all that you put into the show is worth it! While you can walk out of any show with a list of potential leads, contacts are not the only measure of success — you need to take a hard look at results and your return on investment. Data can help you discover what worked, what didn’t, and what you should change next time. Here are five of the most important metrics for measuring your trade show marketing ROI!

Leads gathered

One of the primary goals of many companies that attend trade shows is to collect leads, and one of the most important metrics you can measure is the number of leads you gathered each time. The easiest way to do this is by utilizing a lead capture app during the show (rather than relying on customers to write down their own information). That way, you’ll know exactly how many leads you gather, how well they qualify, and how to personalize your post-show follow-up strategy.

Meetings Held

Getting face to face with potential clients is one of the reasons trade shows provide considerable value. Measuring how many meetings are held gives you empirical data on how you’ve taken advantage of live selling opportunities. You may even consider looking at the sales stage advances.

Pipeline Value Created

In our experience with SMB to enterprise clients, we find that a number of them measure ROI, not by leads, or sales closed from a show, but pipeline value created from each event. Generating opportunities and large ones at that is what they value in their marketing or revenue departments. Once the opportunities are created and in the pipeline, it’s just a matter of time and math until sales drop out of the other end.


Once you know how many leads you’ve gathered, you can divide your total cost of trade show attendance with this number to calculate your “cost per lead.” This is one of the most tried-and-true methods for gathering show lead data out there – it’s reliable, and can give you a pretty exact idea of how much each lead cost you.

New customers gained

While traffic and leads are great, the most important thing you can achieve from your time at a trade show is gaining new customers! The best way to do this is to follow the full “life” cycle of all your trade show contacts. One simple measurement is to compare the number of people who registered with you using your lead collection app to the number of individuals who later go to your landing page to the number of people who then became customers. When you determine exactly how many leads wind up working with your firm after the show, you’ll have a good idea of what your ROI is.

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Lifetime Value Created

Companies who really know their business intelligence will know their Customer Lifetime Value or CLV. Building on the sales generated measurement, you can extrapolate how much value that trade show has generated by multiplying the number of customers acquired by the CLV. (If you are an event manager looking to prove your worth and justify your budgets, this is a great way to communicate value to the C level.)

Digital traffic

Another essential thing you’ll want to monitor is digital traffic to your website or landing pages. If you don’t already measure this metric, you should be! It’s an easy way to see if there are any changes to your traffic post-trade show.

Two ways that people find your website is through direct traffic and organic search (i.e., typing your name into the URL bar and searching for your company through Google or other search engines). Measuring the changes in both types of traffic is important. Also, if you create a landing page specifically for your trade show visitors, you’ll want to track visits to that URL too.

Social media influence

A trade show is a terrific way for you to build your reach on social media. Once you have wrapped up your trade show, it’s a good idea to look at each of your social media channels and see which have shown an increase in traffic and/or engagement and by how much. Facebook makes it pretty easy to track the numbers yourself with various on-site metrics, or there are several free and paid tools available that can make it easier to dive into the numbers and see exactly how effective your trade show was at building social media influence.

Once you’ve figured out your ROI from trade shows, you can decide how useful this method of marketing is for your business! After you’ve gathered your data, it might be time for you to book a few more shows in the coming months, or perhaps for you to retool your methods of connecting with attendees.

For more trade show tips, visit our other blogs; or check out our list of trade show services!