The metrics you need to measure the success of a live event are well-established. But what about virtual events? Do the same standards apply when your event is held online?
Yes! Some of the same metrics do apply to live, virtual, and hybrid events. But there are additional virtual event metrics that are also important to investigate when measuring the success of your online event.
Virtual Event Metrics to Measure Your Success
1. Registrations and Ticket Sales
These are fundamental figures that are useful both before your event and afterwards. Beforehand, keeping an eye on ticket sales can help you measure how effective your event marketing campaign is. Along with sales figures, also look at when people are buying tickets. Are there lots of early-bird sales, or are people waiting until event day to buy their tickets?
After the event is over, your sales figures will be needed to calculate other KPIs, including revenue and ROI.
Another thing to look at here is if there are any big differences between registration, sales, and attendance numbers. If lots of people register on the website but don’t buy tickets, then it’s important to figure out if there’s a particular reason why.
2. Website Visits
The number of visitors to the event website before, during, and after the event is another useful virtual event metric. Google Analytics and other tools can help you determine how people find your site, what landing pages are most effective, and what website information is getting the most clicks.
3. Post-Event Content Views
If you make any event content available on-demand after your virtual event, this is a good long-term metric to monitor. If your content stays popular for a long time afterwards, it’s a great indication that you’ve created some truly useful, evergreen content.
4. Social Media Metrics
The event’s social media channels should also be monitored before, during, and after the event. Here, you can look at things like:
- Numbers of shares, likes, and comments on event posts
- Social media mentions of your event on other accounts
- Use of the event hashtag
These figures can tell you how much interest there is in your event, as well as providing a way to generate website traffic.
If possible, it’s also useful to have someone review all the comments on your social media content. This can be a time-consuming job for large, popular events, but it’s a good way to gauge sentiment and find out what people are actually saying about the event you hosted.
- In the lead-up to the event, test out different kinds of content to see what people respond to the most. This can help increase your reach and get more eyes on your event content.
- During the event, social media content can help keep interest levels high.
- After it’s over, wrap-up content and highlight reels can keep the buzz going for longer.
5. Virtual Event Retention
How long do attendees spend logged into your event? Do you have a high percentage of people who attend the entirety, or are you losing people part-way through?
If your event retention figure is on the low side, it may be an issue with content, or it may be more of an engagement problem.
For instance, you may notice that low retention figures are combined with low viewer numbers for event content, or that lots of people stopped watching content part-way through a session. When this happens, it means your content hasn’t met the audience’s expectations in some way. This may mean you haven’t targeted the right audience segment, or simply that you haven’t quite figured out what kind of content your audience wants to see.
Another possible issue is simply that while the content itself is good, engagement levels flag during sessions for other reasons. For instance, the sessions may be too long, or your speakers might be unfamiliar with virtual audiences. Consider breaking up long sessions, or add extra interaction features that help keep the audience’s engagement level high.
6. Event Engagement Metrics
Some metrics, such as revenue and ROI, help you measure the success of an event. But those figures don’t tell you the “whys” of that success. Looking at virtual event engagement and activity are two crucial ways of measuring the success of a virtual event. Depending on the kind of event experience you’ve created and the activities available, this might include:
- What are the most popular sessions and presentations?
- How many people attend each session?
- Of those who attend, how many watch the whole way through?
- If any people stop watching, at what point do they stop?
- How many people livestream content versus watching on-demand at a later time?
- How many people visit the sponsorship booths?
- How many people participate in Q&A sessions?
- How many vote in live polls?
- How many use voice chat, text chat, or informal breakout spaces?
- How many people actively participate in gamification elements?
- What do engagement levels look like across the timeline of the whole event? For instance, is engagement consistent throughout, or is there a point where participation in live polls and Q&A sessions slows down?
- How many people download the app?
- How many use it at least once?
- How many use it multiple times?
- What app features and activities are the most popular?
7. Net Promoter Score
When companies want to know what their customer base thinks about them, net promoter score (NPS) is generally the go-to metric.
For this virtual event KPI, it means asking one question: “How likely are you to recommend this event to others?” Respondents give their answers on a scale of 1 to 10. A score of 9 or 10 is positive (Respondent is likely to recommend.), 7 or 8 is neutral, and 6 or less is negative (Respondent is not likely to recommend or may speak negatively of the event.).
To calculate NPS, take the total number of detractors from the total number of promoters. Then multiply the result by 100. The final number is the NPS. Possible NPS range from -100 (all detractors) to +100 (all promoters).
There are two ways to use NPS as a measure of success:
- Compare your NPS with others in the industry.
- Look at how your NPS changes over time. For instance, if your NPS gets a boost after a particular event, that can be considered one mark of virtual event success.
8. Revenue and ROI
Revenue and return on investment (ROI) are difficult virtual event KPIs to track because these figures aren’t solely dependent on ticket sales. In particular, ROI may also include long-term goals that can’t be quantified immediately after a show. And for some companies, the true benefits of holding a virtual event aren’t in the revenue, but in less tangible benefits such as brand recognition or industry influence. When this is the case, it’s important to remember that virtual event ROI is only part of the big picture and that other ways of measuring your success may be equally important.
For a virtual event, revenue typically includes ticket sales plus any other income generated by the event. To calculate ROI, divide revenue by costs, then multiply the result by 100 to express the result as a percentage. Positive ROI means the event made money; negative ROI means it lost money.
But remember that because some forms of revenue are hard to quantify, ROI is by no means the whole story. Even if an event runs at a financial loss, you may be making significant gains in brand recognition that have strong positive effects over time.
9. Sales-Focused Virtual Event Metrics
If your event is sales-focused, there are a few extra virtual event KPIs that you need in order to get the full picture.
Close rate: This one is important if one of your event objectives is to generate qualified leads that result in purchases. Close rate is the total number of sales divided by the number of qualified leads, multiplied by 100 and expressed as a percentage. Note that this metric isn’t one you can determine right away, as it depends on the length of your sales cycle.
Cost per lead (CPL): This metric calculates the cost of generating individual leads. To find your CPL, divide your total event costs by the number of leads generated. Alternatively, divide by the number of qualified leads generated to determine cost per qualified lead.
10. Projected Business Value
Projected business value (PBV) is an alternative or addition to ROI. It’s particularly useful for sales-focused events where a long sales cycle makes it hard to determine ROI. PBV is a measurement of how much value an event generates in the long term, in comparison to other methods the company uses.
To calculate PBV, you need to know the number of qualified leads (QL) gained from an event and the company’s average historical close rate (CR). In addition, you need to know the added business value (BV) for the event. This is the average difference in value between clients who attend the event and clients who don’t.
Multiply QL x CR x BV to find the projected business value for the event. This final figure is an estimate of the value the event provides, that wouldn’t otherwise have been gained.
Keep an Eye on Your Virtual Event KPIs
All events generate lots of data, but virtual events generate much more than live ones, simply by virtue of being held online. Having a set of virtual event metrics to focus on is an important way to help organize the data and find out what it all means. Over time, as you gather virtual event KPIs from each event you hold, you’ll glean even more insight into what makes your events work and how to make them better.