While the shift to virtual events in 2020 was challenging, event planners quickly discovered loads of useful data that a digital format can provide.
More than physical events, virtual events provide organizers unprecedented insight into attendee demographics and behaviour. This information can be used to create bigger and better future events. But this data is only useful if you know what to collect and how to analyze it.
Event and Session Attendance
Your virtual event platform enables you to see the number of people that have attended each event and session. This can give you a high-level overview of the content people were most interested in consuming when they registered.
If hosting a virtual conference, for example, it can be difficult to determine what is driving registrations. The entire program may be appealing or it could be that a single speaker is generating all the interest.
By tracking overall event attendance and specific session participation, you can determine the content that’s most attractive to your target audience.
Your virtual event platform also provides access to real-time data about registrants and ticket buyers. Through the platform’s dashboard, you can track all sales and their origin.
With this, you can gain insight into exactly ‘who’ is registering for your event, allowing you to make shifts to your event marketing strategy, if necessary.
You can also share this information with your virtual event sponsors and exhibitors to maximize their investment and lead generation.
Speaker and Session Participation
Event and session attendance is important but those numbers alone do not tell you how people interacted with your content.
Fortunately, when hosting a virtual event, you can better track what people are doing once they attend a session. You can see if people stayed in the session until the end or left partway through. You can also track document downloads, video views (and for how long), chat engagement, quiz/poll/questionnaire engagement and more.
Virtual Booth Engagement
When hosting a virtual trade show, it’s essential to understand attendee engagement with virtual booths.
At physical events, this data can be challenging to collect. If you want this information, you are more or less at the mercy of each exhibitor to share what they gather. It can also be difficult to keep track of every person that comes through a booth, so this data is often incomplete.
With a virtual show floor, attendee movements can be tracked through your digital event space. You can see which booths were visited, any materials downloaded, including how often, and even lead and sales data.
Data collected on attendee demographics can provide sponsors with more in-depth insight into their target audience. Going a step further, you can track how the audience interacted with sponsored sessions, sponsored content and displays, and even offer social media impressions and engagement data for sponsored posts.
How to Leverage Event Data
While all this data is great, you need to apply it properly to improve your virtual events.
Every event marketer knows that sometimes you need to make unexpected adjustments to your strategy.
When monitoring sales through your virtual platform, you will be able to see where your audience is coming from. This can be done by tracking traffic origin and geographic origin.
By determining how people arrive at your ticketing page, you can properly focus your digital event marketing. If you are getting a lot of traffic through social media and not organic web searches, you might consider shifting your focus to the underperforming area. Alternatively, this information may lead you to focus all your efforts on the best performing channel to maximize that reach. This traffic data will allow you to better use marketing funds.
Virtual events have the potential for a global audience but your subject matter and sponsors may be better suited to a particular location or region. In this instance, understanding your registered attendees’ locale can help put your advertising money into the places you most wish to reach and monitor the effectiveness of these efforts.
Some of the most important bits of information you can collect from your virtual event can be found in your post-event survey. This will give you direct feedback about what did (and did not) work for event attendees.
When creating a post-event survey, ask attendees:
- How they would rate the event on a scale of 1 to 10;
- About the virtual experience and the use of the platform;
- How they heard about the event;
- What they hoped to gain from the event;
- What they enjoyed most;
- What they disliked, if anything;
- How likely they would recommend your event using a scale of 1 to 10; and
- If they would attend one of your events in the future.
It may also be useful to send post-event surveys with tailored questions to event sponsors, volunteers and staff, as well as invited presenters and speakers. The more feedback you can collect, the clearer you can evaluate your event and improve on your shortcomings in the future.
Net Promoter Score
Calculating the net promoter score (NPS) will help you determine whether or not you’ve hosted a successful virtual event.
This score gives insight into what people thought of your event and its value in an easy to understand number.
Once you have collected your post-event surveys, you can calculate the NPS. (Remember having attendees rank the likelihood of recommending the event on a scale of 1 to 10?)
These ranked answers can be categorized as detractors, passives and promoters. Detractors score the event between 0-6, passives between 7-8 and promoters between 9-10.
Tally how many fall into each group. Then use the following equation:
NPS = [(Promoters – Detractors)/(Attendees)] x 100
If you have 100 attendees and 10 are detractors, 30 are passives and 60 are promoters:
NPS = [(60-10)/100] x 100
In this example, your NPS is 50.
A score greater than zero means your event was well received and most people would recommend it. A score greater than 50 means your event was a resounding success. A negative score means most people would not recommend your event.
Knowing how to leverage virtual event data to improve your event offerings is an integral part of the process.
Collecting information and data around who your attendees are, where they come from and what they did during the event can help you understand what sort of content and experience people are looking to have.
Jon Kazarian is CEO and founder of Accelevents, a leading virtual and hybrid events platform. As CEO, Jon is focused on leading the company’s vision and helping event organizers and marketing professionals transform their events through innovative technology solutions. Prior to launching Accelevents, Jon led business development at Windham Capital Management, an independent asset management firm focused on risk-based investment solutions.