We all recognize that events can be huge lead generators, but not every lead is a good lead. An attendee shows up at our booth and we scan them in exchange for a t-shirt. Are they interested in our product or do they just want the shirt?
Weeding out the qualified leads is the key to getting a return on your event investment, but the process has taken a lot of time and legwork in the past. That has changed with the emergence of virtual events. Because of the new set of tools built into virtual events, your next conference, trade show, or summit can be a huge data generator, producing tons of qualified leads, determining which elements of the event were most successful, guiding future sales and marketing efforts, and more accurately calculating an event’s ROI.
How do we do that, you ask? This blog will examine five key areas to measure that every conference planner should consider at their next virtual event.
1. Cover the basics.
Virtual events may be fairly new, but some of the traditional metrics are still important and should not be ignored. Look at the basic metrics, the ones we’ve always used to measure an event’s success.
- How many people registered?
- What percentage of registrants attended?
- What sessions or events were the most popular?
- What topics were the most popular?
I know this is the kind of thing that shows up on every top five list, but that’s because these measures are a good place to start calculating your return on an event investment. This basic, high-level data informs the more granular metrics that we’ll examine next.
2. Map the attendee experience to make it more valuable.
A lot of times when we're at in-person events, we know who showed up to the event, recognize which sessions had the fewest empty seats, and have some idea what the hot topics of conversation were. But do we know what people actually did while in attendance?
On site, it’s cheaper and easier to measure satisfaction with the box lunches than attendee reaction to the event itself. Tracking movement with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or radio-frequency identification (RFID) is imprecise and expensive, not to mention that many participants recoil at the feeling of being watched by Big Brother while in attendance.
Fortunately, no one bats an eyelash at being monitored while online during a virtual event. You can map the pathways that attendees take when they log into your event to compare your intended audience journey to where attendees are actually heading. Did you have a featured or sponsored session on the main page, but attendees aren't clicking on it? By mapping pathways you can see where they are headed instead and make adjustments, such as making the featured session a pop-up or overlay.
3. Measure audience reaction to meet their needs better.
There are a couple main data points to look at for this. The first is the standard, which sessions were most popular. See, we told you that those basic stats were important. From this you can get a general sense of what topics are exciting your audience and what topics are not. You can get an even better sense by looking at how long people are staying on each session page. If a breakout is 30 minutes long, but people are only spending a few minutes before heading somewhere else, that is a sign that something is wrong. By keeping an eye on this, you can act quickly to right poor experiences, and highlight exciting and engaging ones.
But to really drill down, you need to get more information from your attendees. The easiest and first method is to simply ask. This can be done easily through real-time evaluations. If you want some sample questions to ask in that evaluation, check out our guide to a Data-Driven Virtual Event. If sessions get particularly bad reviews you can flag it and go to see why your audience wasn't happy. And finally, you can monitor the session chats. This takes some more boots on the ground and is best used when these other measures flag something for deeper investigation. But by taking the time and effort you can more accurately see the specifics of what your audience needs and create targeted solutions.
Capturing and measuring this data gives us a better understanding of why attendees make the choices they make and adjust the content menu to meet their needs. We can also communicate with participants about why, making them feel listened to and heard. That is a conversation that can continue even after the event!
4. Help your sponsors qualify leads.
The first step to help your sponsors qualify their leads is to create a diverse experience, full of interesting sessions, downloadable content, and plenty of experiences to meet with experts and fellow attendees. That's a whole other topic that we don't have time to get into here, so you can head on over to this playbook to get strategies and tips to make this happen. The reason this is important is a diverse experience allows you to give more detailed and segmented info to your sponsors. Instead of handing your sponsors a list of 100 people who wanted free t-shirts, imagine telling them John from Hubb is keenly interested in data visualization and you should call him.
By measuring participant interaction constantly, you generate data about why they’ve attended in the first place and what they are interested in, all of which is valuable to sponsors. Some of the things you should measure and provide to your sponsors are: what content they are consuming, what tracks they are in, what experts have they met with, what sessions did they attend. And of course they should have all the info about leads that visited their booth. Did they watch your video, what did they say in the booth chat, did they download any of your materials, etc. Each participant creates hundreds of data points you can easily map to determine their areas of interest and qualify them.
5. Measure your goals (ROI)
Each planner has different goals in planning and hosting their virtual event. And the data that will determine if you reached those goals varies. But let's talk about a couple of things that are fairly common to every event. Whether we’re talking about an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event, the critical post-event question is: How many dollars did you influence on behalf of your company? Once you’ve plugged every contact from every organization that came to your event into your CRM, can you go to your boss and say, “At this event, we influenced a $100 million of pipeline for our company?” So make sure you have the data and info you need beforehand in order to measure this.
Another common goal in hosting an event is to promote your brand and create more brand awareness. There are a multitude of ways to measure this, but the most concrete and easiest way is to ask your attendees. Before the event, potentially as part of registration, have them rank your brand on a scale of 1-7. You can ask questions like, is my company a leader in the industry, is my product or service trusted, etc. You ask those attendees the exact same questions after your event and measure the difference. Then you can clearly show to your stakeholders, "Our event increased our brand awareness and trust by 12%." By measuring these shifts in perception you can get hard numbers on an otherwise difficult thing to measure.
Virtual events are full of data, and you can measure basically anything you want. But with these 5 things, you will be well on your way to both creating the optimum experience for your attendees and showing a strong ROI for your event and sponsors. To learn more about data-driven virtual events, visit our site or check out this ebook.