Is your virtual event looking to reach new, international audiences? Generate new business? Or maybe create new revenue streams? Whatever your objectives are, there are a whole host of important metrics you should consider in order to measure the impact and success of your online events, as well as providing ROI for your sponsors and exhibitors.
Read on for some of the best ways to measure this success, and don't forget to reach out to our experts for additional guidance on virtual event planning and delivering your 2021 virtual events programme.
Key metrics to measure the success of your virtual event
Go back to your objectives
First thing's first - go back to your objectives. The KPIs you choose need to reflect exactly what you're trying to achieve and demonstrate the impact your virtual event has had in helping reach these objectives. This means you need to clearly define the purpose and format of your virtual event before deciding anything else.
For example, if your objective is to generate new business, a good KPI to use could be the number of new contacts generated through the event that you can later use for outreach. If your objective was to generate revenue, then a metric could be number of deals closed, or number of active enquiries made. If it was increasing brand awareness, measure social media following/engagement.
Once you've got your objectives set in stone and chosen the platform and technology you'll be using, you can select the metrics you'll use to gauge whether your virtual event was a success. We've listed some of the key virtual event metrics below.
Registration and attendance numbers
Many planners look at their total number of registrations as an overarching measure of success, but it's also important to look at the actual number of attendees who signed into the event on the day. It's all good and well having 100 sign-ups, but if only 30 log on then this is something you need to look at and try to work out why this drop off is occurring.
Tracking registration and attendance levels over time is also a useful metric for working out what content your audience prefers - it's like your very own window into your audience's mind!
A top tip is to keep an eye out for returning customers - attendees who have previously attended your past events is a very good sign. They clearly like your brand and are likely to be advocating your events to their networks.
Once your attendees are on your event platform, what are they doing? Who are they talking to? How many questions are they asking? Are they passively watching sessions then logging off? Channel your inner Freud to understand your attendees better and investigate how they behave during the day.
If your attendees have plenty to do, that is, if they can attend interesting sessions, join in on live polls, Q&A, live feed, networking, competitions etc, they'll stay at the event for longer and are likely to be engaging with other attendees and sponsors. You can read our tips for successful virtual audience engagement for more guidance.
Virtual attendee engagement is a really useful metric to understand how successful your event was, so don't underestimate its importance! Read our top tips for enhancing virtual audience engagement, as well as the best tools for the job.
A vital measure of the success of any company's event strategy is attendee retention. Most events form a part of a broader event & marketing strategy so keeping track of how many of your virtual event attendees are returning will 1) make sure that the events you are producing are valuable to your audiences and 2) keep your broader event strategy on track.
Website or resource visits
One of the most common metrics of success for any stakeholder in a virtual event is quite simply, how many people clicked through to the website or additional resource to find out more about your company. This showcases an active interest in your organisation and the services they provide, and although that prospect might not be ready to utilise your services, you will be top of mind when they are. Make sure to stay in touch with them and keep them engaged with your brand.
Number of sales leads generated
If one of your objectives is to generate valuable sales prospects for your brand, then this is a really important one. Of course all leads are important, but qualified leads (leads which are a particular target for your services) are what's really going to help you prove ROI to your stakeholders, especially when new pipeline opportunities have a budget/figure attached to them. Link these to your CRM so you can keep track and predict their lifetime revenue; this will be invaluable to you.
Social media engagement
Never underestimate the power of social media! Measuring the number of likes/comments/shares/impressions on your posts and the number of mentions that others are writing about your brand/event can offer valuable real-time insight into how attendees are finding your event, as well as provide you with a valuable way to extend the life of your virtual event.
This one is useful if your objective is increasing brand awareness - you could measure any increase in followers and also any increase in web traffic to get an idea of how successfully your event is reaching new audiences.
A top tip? Engage back. Your brand will gain much more credibility (and likeability) if you're replying back to your followers and joining in the conversation.
An extremely useful method of gauging the success of your event is by sending post-event feedback surveys. Attendees can anonymously and honestly relay their experience and give you invaluable insights into how you can improve next time.
Not only is feedback useful, but the number of attendees who filled out the survey in the first place is helpful too - if they've taken the time out of their busy lives to fill out your survey it probably means they were incredibly impressed (unless they're complaining!).
Top tip: Make sure to include Net Promoter Score questions in your feedback surveys, as this will provide a good benchmark for attendee satisfaction. An example of an NPS question is: "How likely are you to recommend this event to a friend or colleague?"
Key metrics to measure for sponsors and exhibitors
Whilst it's important that your virtual event reaches your own objectives, it's just as important, if not more important, to make sure your event delivers for your sponsors and exhibitors too.
After all, sponsorship is a great way to monetise your virtual event, so you need to ensure they're satisfied with the result and that they'll come back for more. A great starting point when working with any sponsor is to understand their objectives and determine measures of success for these. This way you can make sure you are providing an opportunity that is valuable and data that helps them really understand what they've achieved.
So how can I deliver ROI to my sponsors you ask? We've listed below some key metrics that might be useful, but these will vary depending on what your sponsors objectives are.
Providing lead capture data is probably the most essential part of delivering ROI to your sponsors. They need to know exactly how many leads they generated, who they are and how they can reach them. The beauty of virtual events is that this type of data is easily captured and there's no risk of losing it! You could integrate lead capture with your CRM so that sponsors get a neatly-packaged little report delivered straight to their inbox.
Top tip: Make sure you have complied with all GDPR requirements when attendees register to your event. You must make it clear when and why their data may be shared with third parties or you may be faced with a fine. There are certain types of data (ie, not personal identification data) that you can share without prior consent but any contact details must have consent to share with third parties.
Another useful metric for sponsors is click rate. How many attendees are clicking through to their booth or website? How many have downloaded their brochure? This type of information is invaluable for them to understand the audience demographic and whether it's worthwhile for them to exhibit next time.
It's also down to you as the organiser to make them as visible to attendees as possible - at a virtual event, exhibitors tend to feel hidden away and not as front-and-centre as they are at physical events. Encourage them to take up branding opportunities to get their logo on the homepage, to host a session, to host the networking etc. The more visible they are, ultimately the more traffic they'll get (and the more revenue you'll make too).
Number of meetings booked
Having lots of visitors to the booth doesn't necessarily mean that attendees will book a meeting when they get there. Again, sponsors should provide enough material on their booths that entices attendees to book a meeting and potentially open an enquiry. Demos, showreels, virtual brochures, imagery; all of this will help attract customers to book a meeting.
As the organiser, this is your responsibility to ensure that the sponsors are best-equipped in order to receive the traffic they want, and at the same time ensuring that your attendees are having valuable experiences and meetings.
If your sponsors have opted for hosting content sessions as a means of positioning themselves as experts on a particular topic or simply to get more exposure, they will likely want to know how many people tuned in to their content session and how engaged they were.
Most platforms will allow you to gather feedback on a session in real-time, increasing uptake of providing feedback and providing valuable data for the sponsors. You can calculate metrics of engagement for particular sessions by looking at viewing times, Q&A and polling uptake and live chat activity. If the sponsor provided supporting materials, you can provide data on how many downloads they received or clicks through to their sponsor booth.
Content is certainly one of those marketing tools that can be hard to quantify at times, so focus on activity based data at all stages to make sure that the sponsors can understand what's working and how to maximise the impact of their event.
What all of the above metrics come down to is the number of enquiries (or prospective customers) the sponsor closes at your virtual event. Sponsorship is often pretty pricey, so if they can leave having generated actual revenue, then they're more likely to be happy customers and will sponsor your next event too.
Don't forget - having sponsors could mean the difference between making money from your event or not, so look after them and provide them with as much data as possible to keep them coming back.
As you can see, there are a plethora of ways to measure the success of your online events, both for yourself and for your sponsors.
If you need any guidance, please do get in touch with our Virtual Event Experts and book a free consultation below; we'll be happy to help.
Next, read our Ultimate Guide To Hybrid Events, and if you're looking for an excellent virtual events platform to help you achieve ROI and meet your objectives, look no further than Arena. A fully brandable, infinitely scaleable and super affordable alternative to many other platforms out there, Arena offers all the best tech features without the extortionate price tag.