Some things are meant to go together: bread and butter, cheese and wine, events and sponsors. Finding a good sponsor can give you extra financial security, extend your reach, and boost the experience of your in-person and virtual audience. But like any good relationship, it needs to benefit both parties. No matter how good it looks on paper or how much effort you put in pre-event, both you and your sponsor need to see a good ROI (return on investment). This is where sponsorship evaluation comes in — it enables you to assess the value of your partnership.

Once the dust has settled on your event, your sponsors are going to want to discuss their investment. So, thinking about sponsorship evaluation and how to measure event sponsorship ROI is something you need to plan sooner rather than later. It’s important that you collect as much information as you can to give your sponsors the right impression. Luckily, our guide will take you through the key steps in identifying, preparing, and presenting information that will get your sponsor coming back for more.

Why is it important to evaluate sponsorship?

Supporting your event can be an attractive proposition for sponsors. It can raise their visibility, help identify a new audience, and improve their credibility. You’re giving them direct access to your in-person and virtual audiences, and that makes great business sense. Sponsoring your event may be a more cost-effective alternative to other forms of marketing and advertising, but at the end of the day, it’s only financially viable if they get their money’s worth. The same can be said from your perspective. Why invest your resources and time in a partnership that’s not going to give you a good ROI?

Your sponsors’ investment in your event means that you are accountable to them. You also want to make yourself more attractive to future sponsors. And let’s not forget, if you know how well your event worked, you can use that information to make your next one even better. So, where should you start? To accurately assess event sponsorship ROI, you’ll need to do an accurate sponsorship evaluation.

How do you measure sponsorship for an event?

Prepare your data

When you think about how to measure sponsorship success, one element is crucial — data. Data can tell you how well your marketing strategy is working and can help sponsors see the benefits of your partnership. You need to know where to find data, ways to measure it, and what to do with it.

Agree on what success looks like for both you and your sponsor, then collect the data to prove your worth. Does your sponsor want you to raise brand awareness, or do they expect direct sales at your event? Are you only interested in numbers through the door or do you want a high virtual presence, too? Remember, for your sponsor, supporting your event is a marketing expense. They want to see the same feedback they would get from any other campaign. The more data you can provide, the better. And to do that, you need to use a variety of metrics:

  • Attendance: You need to be specific here about what you are counting. Attendance can mean different things to different people, so you need to break your data down. Does your sponsor want to know the total number registering for your event or only those who attended? Do you have the numbers for early bird sales, last-minute registrations, and tickets bought at the door? How many of your attendees had free admission or were staff and volunteers? What about figures for ticket sales to your virtual audience? When calculating the income generated via ticket sales and onsite purchases, make sure your attendance data is comprehensive.
  • Impressions: To assess the value of your event, your sponsor needs to see data on how much coverage your event and their brand, in particular, received across various media channels. Provide data on the level of coverage on social media pages, on your website, and on your event pages. Include radio and TV coverage, mentions in newspapers or newsletters, and interviews or podcasts. You need to gather as much data as you can regarding where your event was visible. The more coverage your event had, the more people that have been made aware of your sponsor’s brand, and the higher your sponsor will rate your event.
  • Social interactions: This shows how your event audience responded to your event and your sponsor’s brand. Look at social media channels and web traffic to collect data on interactions. Did people retweet your event or comment on Facebook? Did they like your event on Instagram? What were they saying about your event, and was your sponsor directly referenced? Was your partnership with your sponsor viewed positively or negatively? How many new registrations came from social media callouts?
  • Email open rate/click-through: Your email open rate tells you how many people found your event emails relevant enough to open. The click-through rate tells you how many people were engaged enough to click links, whether they’re links to your sponsor’s website or to your event page. These metrics are useful in the evaluation of sponsorship and are relatively easy to measure, especially if you use Eventbrite’s email campaign functionality.

Gather feedback

Measuring the success of your event isn’t just a numbers game. What about your audience’s thoughts about your event? How satisfied did they feel, and did it meet their expectations? Check out online comments and testimonials or ask attendees for direct feedback via post-event surveys or focus groups. Look at what people are saying about particular aspects of the event and any direct references to the sponsor’s brand.

It’s important to get feedback from anyone who is particularly vocal about what they liked or disliked. This quality-based data can highlight aspects that the raw data might miss. For instance, simply counting attendees won’t tell you what a fantastic time they had and how much they’ve been singing your praises.

Let’s talk about event sponsorship ROI

Simply put, event sponsorship ROI is the amount your sponsor made from your event compared with how much they invested. The higher the ROI, the more your event is worth to them. For most sponsors, this is the bottom line. No matter how much they love your proposal, there’s little point in investing in a partnership unless it makes money. COVID-19 has made managing sponsors’ expectations even trickier. So, how can sponsorship ROI be used as a positive tool to prove your worth?

  • Be clear about expectations: Not all sponsors are happy with the same ratio of ROI. Some want 2:1 or 3:1, while bigger names might expect 4:1. Shop around and be realistic about what you can deliver.
  • Show that your event aligns with their values: Give your sponsor as much information as you can, including the type of event, where it will be held, audience demographics, opportunities for merchandising, and how you will include virtual attendees. Share any ROI data from your previous events or similar events in the marketplace. Sponsors love pre-event data.
  • Agree on the level of sponsorship: Some sponsors want exclusive sponsorship deals; others want to spread the load. Negotiate sponsorship fees that benefit all parties and agree on the expected ROI required for brand placement, mentions on social media channels, number of attendees, etc.
  • Value your assets: To understand how much you are worth to your sponsor, calculate the ROI of all sponsor activations, such as email signups, extra sales, and new customers. Our tools make this much easier to analyse. For example, if you calculate that your activations are worth £20,000 and you’re asking for an investment of £10,000, your sponsor is getting an ROI ratio of 2:1. Showing your value puts you in a stronger bargaining position.

Figure out your pitch

Proper presentation of information plays a huge part in the evaluation of sponsorship. It’s the best way to prove you fulfilled your promises and delivered the goods. Your sponsor wants clear evidence of a high ROI plus total value gained, and being honest with them is crucial. They aren’t stupid, and it will harm your relationship if you don’t own up to your shortfalls. Maybe attendee numbers were down, but can you show that engagement was high? Maybe mentions were lower on some social media channels, but did others exceed expectations? Don’t forget to include any relevant data you’ve collected from your virtual audience.

Produce your post-event report with a focus on the positives. If your event attracted 600 attendees instead of the predicted 500, let your sponsors know. If online sales of merchandise were through the roof, get that in your report. If you had a significant impact on brand awareness, show it. Never assume your sponsor is already aware of your successes — sometimes, you need to point them out. Producing a comprehensive fulfilment report shows your sponsor you are serious about building a long-lasting relationship.

It’s all in the details

Working with sponsors makes perfect business sense for you and them. But finding the right sponsor and meeting their demands requires good preparation. When it comes to sponsorship evaluation, you can’t cut corners. Demonstrating the value of your partnership involves comprehensive data collection, a good understanding of how to measure event sponsorship ROI, and accurate reporting. Eventbrite has the event management and marketing tools to help you do just that.