The Ultimate Guide to Event Marketing Attribution


Event attribution is crucial for marketers. Event marketing attribution helps marketers understand and communicate how an event contributes to revenue. In this article, Alon Alroy, CMO and co-founder, Bizzabo, provides a basic guide to event marketing attribution.

Events are an essential part of any organization’s marketing strategy. And as we found in our recent “State of In-Person Events” surveyOpens a new window , 70% of event organizers have seen event budgets either stay the same or increase in the past year. But event budgets rise and fall partly due to marketers’ ability to show the value of their work through measurable ROI.

ROI and Attribution

Event ROI comprises the net value of an event for the net cost of producing it. But event value encompasses more than just event revenue. Value includes monetary gains like the revenue from registrations and long-term revenue aspects like sponsorships and partnerships, leads added to the sales pipeline, and the number of attendees and their engagement. 

In the same vein, event cost refers to the price of producing an event and the time and resources required to make it happen. While event profit is the difference between net value and net cost, the simplest calculation for event ROI is the net value divided by the net cost. 

ROI and marketing attribution go together like this: marketing attribution is how marketers assess the value or ROIOpens a new window of the channels — in this case, events — connecting them with potential customers. Attribution is a way to look at consumers’ multiple touchpoints before converting to actual customers. Event marketing attribution helps marketers understand and communicate how an event contributes to revenue. 

By incorporating marketing attribution tools and techniques into your event marketing, you can demonstrate the value of events as part of your broader marketing strategy.

See More: Data: A Key Element To Creating Better Event Experiences

Attribution Models

Marketers use four fundamental attribution models to determine attribution and better understand ROI. No matter which model your organization chooses, remember that the touchpoints you attribute value to will be most likely to see budget increases and continued support. In contrast, channels that appear to be less effective may suffer. While more complicated to implement, multi-channel attribution models offer more options to show value across channels and at different points during the customer journey, giving you the best chance of maintaining or increasing resources for your event marketing.

First-touch model 

The first-touch model attributes 100% of the credit to the marketing initiative that led a person to interact with your brand. So, if someone visits your blog, interacts with your event registration website, and attends your event, the blog post that initially brought them to your website gets credit for the conversion. 

This model is one of the simplest in theory but can be more challenging in practice. Digital tools can keep track of most online touchpoints, but offline interactions are harder to measure. And as is true of some other models, this one focuses on only one part of the marketing funnel. 

Lead-touch model

In the lead-touch model, all of the credit goes to the initiative that leads to conversion. This model is useful in assessing the effectiveness of a marketing strategy independent of what happens after the sales team takes over with a qualified lead. While it’s simple to implement and usually doesn’t require a complex marketing or event stack, the lead-touch model also focuses on only one aspect of the funnel. 

Last-touch model

The last-touch model gives all the credit to the action someone takes just before becoming an opportunity or customer. For example, a person submits their information to download a white paper from your website. Then, they watch an on-demand webinar and finally attend an event before becoming a customer. In the last-touch model, the event gets all the credit for the return generated. 

While this model is relatively easy to implement and useful for businesses with an extensive transaction database, it also focuses on only one funnel stage. 

W-shaped model 

While likely the most accurate and comprehensive for attributing event marketing ROI, the W-shaped model is also the hardest to implement. This model disperses credit to all the marketing initiatives that cause a contact to become a customer. Three touchpoints get 30% each: the first touch, the lead creation touch, and the opportunity creation touch. The other 10% is spread among other touchpoints.

For instance, a person visits your blog, downloads an ebook, converts by going to an event, and eventually becomes a customer. In the W-shaped model, 30% credit each is given to the blog, the eBook, and the event, while the last 10% is attributed to other engagement, such as social media posts. 

Because it’s the most comprehensive, the W-shaped model requires an advanced attribution platform. 

Custom models

While the previous four models suffice for most companies, larger organizations with extensive resources sometimes create customized models with a more complex structure to capture additional touchpoints. These more complex models include the linear multi-touch model, the U-shaped multi-touch model, and the time-decay multi-touch model, each with its own challenges and strengths.

See More: Managing Mental Health While Creating Event Experiences

Attribution Technology

Determining and attributing event ROI is no easy task, but several different tools can improve the accuracy and ease of event attribution.  

Marketing platforms

Marketing platforms include a broad range of functions, from marketing automation to email marketing management and content management. They can provide event marketers with a suite of tools for engaging and activating customers. Examples of marketing platforms include Marketo, Mailchimp, and HubSpot.


Customer relationship management systems (CRMs) are essential to the modern event marketer. Businesses use CRMs to manage relationships with current customers and prospects and track customer and prospect data and information. Chances are your organization is already using a CRM, but they might not yet be using it to measure event marketing attribution. With the right integrations, your CRM can give you insight into how events affect pipelines and where they fall in most prospects’ customer journeys. Some top-tier CRMs include Salesforce, Pipedrive, and ZOHO. 

Business intelligence platforms

In tandem with data-focused event software, organizations incorporate business intelligence platforms enabling them to track and make sense of valuable data to draw meaningful ROI conclusions. These platforms help marketers visualize the value of each of their marketing channels. By choosing relevant event metrics, such as the number of registrations, attendees, no-shows, and potential pipeline generation (depending on where the event falls in someone’s customer journey), business intelligence platforms help marketers measure event success alongside other marketing channels. Business intelligence platform options include Looker, 6sense, and Tableau.

Attribution platforms

As marketers navigate an evolving mix of digital and offline initiatives, attribution platforms can offer a top-level view of how various marketing campaigns perform and connect. Attribution platforms integrate with your other tools, pulling data to track multiple channels and using a combination of attribution models to assign value to marketing touchpoints. They should also offer visualizations of your data so you can see how initiatives impact a customer’s journey. A few attribution platforms include Full Circle Insights, BrightFunnel, and Google Analytics.

Integrations Make Attribution Insights Actionable

The right attribution model, coupled with the right attribution platform and powered by integrated, data-driven event management software, can reveal an event’s effectiveness and value within the overall customer journey. With your event management software at the center of your web of integrations, data flows easily from the tools sales and marketing use to the attribution and ROI platforms you choose. The result? Remarkable insights to help you communicate how your events are accelerating the pipeline, powering demand generation, and contributing to your overall marketing goals.  

Are you using event marketing attribution? Which attribution model are you using? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .

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