Measuring the success of your event is a key step in evaluating your effectiveness and determining which elements of your event worked well and which came up a little short. At a physical event, it is easy to scan the venue and look at attendance numbers or monitor body language for attendee enjoyment. You can even count cash on hand for quick insight into ticket revenue. But, how do you measure the success of a virtual event?
Without obvious social cues or visuals, how will you know what is happening in the virtual event space, whether or not people are enjoying themselves, and whether or not they are engaging with the content? Fortunately, virtual events and virtual event platforms provide a lot of valuable information (even more than a physical event!) which can be used in tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and helping you fully understand your event’s success.
To fully understand if you’ve hosted a successful virtual event, you need to take a dive into event data and analytics. Here are just a few KPIs that can shed some light:
The number of event registrations is one quick way to ascertain your event performance. A large number of registrations will speak to the success of both your content curation and your marketing efforts. If event registration is low, it may mean that you should revisit your event marketing strategy to redefine your target audience or increase your spending strategically across certain platforms. Your virtual event platform will allow you to analyze data from your website and email campaigns (more on those later!) and make adjustments when you need to.
For example, you can explore how people are reaching your ticketing page. Did they come through email? Social media? Organically from your website? These data points can help you narrow down where you should focus your marketing efforts.It is also a good idea to track registration by type. Did early bird sales impact general admission sales? Were VIP tickets popular or were they largely ignored in favor of general admission?
For your virtual event to be successful, you need to have an engaged audience. But, more often than not, this engagement must be planned for. Certainly, it is possible to have a keynote speaker of something as part of your virtual conference or event that naturally excites the audience and will foster attendee engagement. But, more often than not, you will have to work it into your programming. By using features like event gamification, interactive polls, quizzes, Q&A sessions, and live chats can help you increase engagement. In real-time, you can use participation levels to judge the audience’s engagement with the material. The more engaged the audience is, the more relatable your content.
Attendee retention can be assessed in a few different ways. If you are hosting an annual event, attendee retention can be determined by the number of people that have returned from the previous year. The more returning guests, the more successful you are. If you are hosting a multiple day or multiple session event, it is important to see if you are retaining attendees through the days/sessions. If you have a big turn out on day one for the morning sessions and then attendance drops off as the event progresses, you may need to take a closer look at your content in the future. It is possible that you planned the biggest draw for that first day or maybe the rest of your content wasn’t as interesting to your target audience. When gauging these numbers, look closely at attendance during specific sessions but also at traffic to virtual exhibit booths and sponsor booths. The higher and more sustained the engagement is, the more successful your event.
One of the key steps involved in virtual event planning is launching a branded event website. This site is a place where you can direct online marketing and sell tickets or registrations. By using Google Analytics, or another tracking tool, you can find out how often your page has been viewed. This will give you a sense of your web traffic. Once you know traffic numbers, you can look at the number of registrations or ticket purchases that took place during the same time period to learn your conversion rate. If you have a lot of web visitors but no discernible conversions, you should take another look at your website. A lot of traffic to the page would indicate a high level of interest in your event. But a low conversion rate means that there is some obstacle in the way of making an actual purchase. Clean up your website and try to make it more intuitive. If visitors are making it to your purchasing page and not following through, consider using a ticketing platform to streamline the process.
Sending email invitations and using email marketing campaigns to reach prospective attendees and keep confirmed attendees informed is a very effective strategy. Millions of people access email every single day but you cannot just assume that they see your messages. You need to track email metrics to determine the success of your efforts. Look at your open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. On average:
If your open and click rates are lower than the average, and your unsubscribe rate is higher, you need to take a closer look at your emails and your overall strategy. For a low open rate: Consider sending emails at a different time of day and creating more urgency in your subject line. If you are offering a deal for a limited time, say so. If you have the ability to personalize your email correspondence, consider putting the recipient’s name in the subject line. Another idea is to change the sender. If you have a big industry name conducting a keynote address or giving a presentation, ask if they would be willing to have their name attached to the invitation. If the message comes from someone recognizable, it is more likely to be opened. If you can A/B test subject lines, do so. This can provide great insight into which subject lines are the most impactful for your audience. For a low click rate: Consider moving the placement of your ticketing link or call to action (CTA) to the top of the email. If these links are at the bottom, people may stop reading before they get to it. If the link is already at the top, consider adding more links to your email. You do not want to overload readers but it is possible that your email copy doesn’t provide quite enough information about your online event to entice a sale so include a link to your website or a landing page you’ve created. Links to social media pages can also be useful. For a high unsubscribe rate: If you are seeing a lot of people unsubscribe from your event email, consider easing up on your frequency. It is possible that you are a little overzealous and people feel as though they are being spammed. Try to limit your email invitations and updates and space them out where possible.
Keep a close eye on social media before, during, and after your digital event. Social media platforms provide a golden opportunity to grow your event brand and they can provide great insight into how that brand, and your event, are perceived. Track data like shares, likes, comments. Some platforms allow you to track link clicks as well. By monitoring these engagements, you can get a real sense of what people are thinking and take the opportunity to respond. If someone has shared a post related to your event, like it. If someone has left a comment, positive or negative, respond to it. This creates a human element to your event brand and is likely to increase engagement and positive feelings towards your event. Given that people will not be physically attending your event, they need that online interaction. They need to know that someone is actually paying attention. Social media can be a great way to track audience engagement with sponsors as well. Track the likes and comments when you mention a sponsor, the reach of any post mentioning a sponsor, how many new followers were created from that post, and how many times, overall, you mentioned the sponsor. Providing this sort of information can help sponsors understand their event ROI and may be enough to encourage them to participate again in the future. Social media profiles can be used to track engagement during the event as well. Consider creating an event hashtag and encouraging attendees to use it. This will make it easy for you (and them) to see what other people are posting about the event. Encourage them to upload images or videos of themselves attending from home or interacting with event features. Using the hashtag, you can find these posts and then repost them (with credit) to your main page, further boosting interest and engagement.
One of the most important indicators of event success will be the responses to your post event survey. How can you truly know if you hosted a successful event if you do not ask the people who attended?Ask questions related to the virtual event platform, the event content, features like gamification, speakers, overall impressions, and the likelihood that they would recommend the event to someone else. These responses will help you better understand what parts of your event worked, and what parts should be improved upon in the future. And, these responses will help you calculate your net promoter score (NPS). To calculate the NPS, ask attendees: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this event to a friend/family member/colleague?The responses can be categorized into three groups, Detractors (score between 0-6), Passives (score between 7-8), and Promoters (score between 9-10). Once you have tallied the number of attendees from each group, you can plug them into the following formula: NPS = [(Number of Promoters – Number of Detractors) / (Total Number of Respondents)] * 100 An NPS greater than zero means the event was well received. An NPS greater than 50 means you were a smashing success!
Finally, the easiest and most obvious event success metric: ticket revenue!At the most basic level, if you made money from ticket sales, your event wasn’t a failure. But, of course, as indicated by the items listed above, revenue is not the only driver of success. More than just adding up ticket sales, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of your expenses and any revenue streams unrelated to ticket sales. If there were vendor options at your event, merchandise sales, or other add-ons, you need to make sure they are accounted for as well. One of the best ways to understand revenue as a success metric is to determine what success looks like for you in the planning stages. What does success look like for you or your organization? Is it attendance numbers or ticket revenue? Is it awareness of your brand or a particular cause you are supporting? Defining these successes in advance will allow you to allocate resources towards achieving that end and help you understand which metrics you need to be focusing on. Awareness as a goal, for example, will require you to pay more attention to social media impressions and attendance levels above generated revenue. Obviously, all event planners want to be in the black at the end of the day. But, defining event goals will help you better qualify revenues and provide the larger picture that is required for understanding event success.
When it comes to measuring your event’s success and specific KPIs, using a comprehensive event platform is critical. Accelevents offers the flexibility and integrations you need to fully understand how you are faring at all times. With Accelevents, you can easily sell tickets and registrations, create a fully branded event website, promote the event through social media platforms, integrate with email managers like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to simplify email marketing campaigns. With real-time analytics, you can track website traffic and conversations, while keeping an eye on overall ticket sales and funds raised. All of this information can be shared with your sales and marketing teams to ensure that everyone is operating on the same information. If it is necessary to reevaluate your strategy midstream, this data allows you to determine where to go. In our increasingly online world, it can be hard to understand if your virtual event offering is a success. By setting event goals early, and tracking the above KPIs, you can get a clearer sense of your offering and determine what, if anything, needs to be addressed before you host a future event!