Live events have long been a mainstay in many industries. At trade shows, brands can launch new products and increase brand awareness. Conferences are ideal for sharing information or continuing education. While you can’t physically meet attendees at virtual events, a professionally designed, immersive 3D online event can replicate almost every other aspect of a traditional event—and do some of them better!
Online events are much more accessible on a global level. Anyone with an internet connection can attend, without the expense of travel or accommodation. And demos, sessions, and presentations can be saved and played back at a later time. For attendees, this means the chance to attend events that might otherwise be off their radar. For exhibiting brands, it’s the opportunity to find whole new markets.
When it comes to data collection, the wealth and quality of the data virtual events provide may even top what you can expect from the physical events you’re used to. According to Event Marketer, 81% of event professionals say capturing attendee data is extremely important for their event ROI. Just 20% feel their organization is effective at gathering event data. Hosting virtual events or hybrid events—where physical and virtual elements work in sync—could change that. The very nature of a virtual event lends itself to capturing and analyzing data. It could help your organization gather valuable attendee data you’ve been missing. This improves your event ROI and gives you a deeper understanding of your audience, helping you tailor future events to them.
Why Virtual Beats Live in Data Collection
Online events data collection is a game-changer for one simple reason: It’s far easier to track an attendee’s movements through a virtual event than it is to track them at a traditional physical event.
As a result, virtual events have the potential to provide more data than physical ones. For instance, both events can tell you how many people register for a presentation. But virtual data can tell you how many people watch that presentation all the way through and how many people stop before it’s over. It can even tell you exactly when they stopped watching and what they did instead, providing valuable feedback for presenters. This kind of activity is simple to track for a virtual event but very difficult at a physical one.
At traditional events, there are several ways to track people. One is to issue each attendee a badge they can swipe as they enter key locations. Another is wearable tech that uses RFID to track the wearer’s location. Yet another relies on smart mats that use pressure sensors to measure foot traffic. The trouble is, most approaches rely on attendees to opt-in. They don’t work well if few people remember to wear their badges or wristbands. And while sensors can measure foot traffic, they don’t provide demographic information.
With virtual event data collection, none of this is a problem. Registered attendees are unique within the system, which means their event activity is easily measured. Once they’re in the virtual event space, each click they make is recorded. This means it’s easy to track a single attendee throughout the entire event, and to group data according to specific demographics. Because you can examine this data during the event itself, you can make changes in real time. For instance, if engagement is low during a speaker session, you might spark interest with a viewer poll or by asking for question submissions.
Virtual Events Data Collection: How Does It Work?
The Key: Registration
For both live and virtual events, registration is an opportunity to gather valuable data. It’s here that you can gather crucial details, such as:
- Email address
- Job title
It can even be followed up with a post-registration survey to gain more information.
This data alone provides useful insight into your audience. And, adding event data into the mix makes your demographic data even more powerful. Registration is key because it’s the element of an event that provides those essential demographics. When you’re hosting an online, it’s easy to match up demographic data with the individual’s corresponding event data.
For instance, demographic data can tell you what percentage of attendees are in management-level positions. During the event, you’ll be able to track attendance to determine which speakers and brands are the most popular with attendees. By combining demographics and event data, you can find out which speakers and presentations are most popular with managers, and with which brands or products they interact most.
During the Event: Engagement and Networking
Engagement: Even engagement is easier to track online than it is at a live event. Registration numbers can tell you how many people plan to see a certain speaker. But they won’t tell you how many people actually show up, or how many people leave before it’s over. Instead, you rely on people to opt-in to whatever methods you choose to track traffic.
At a virtual event, people opt-in when they log into the online event space. Once they’re logged into the event, the site records what they click on and how long they stay on each page they visit. It can record their engagement with presentations and speakers via live polling and Q&A sessions. It can record click-throughs to sponsorship pages or exhibitor pages. Integrate social media into the event site, and this can provide another engagement indicator.
Networking: Networking is an important part of physical events for many people. It may not provide much data, but it encourages attendance and participation. At traditional events this can be achieved through dedicated networking sessions. People also tend to network organically, as they wander exhibition halls, watch demos, and listen to speakers.
For virtual events, networking requires spaces and activities that facilitate it. One solution is online spaces where people can chat. You could integrate a discussion board or messaging app into the event site. Messaging apps like Slack and Discord can provide both public and private channels for discussion. Another option is a private LinkedIn or Facebook group for registered attendees. These provide places for people to talk between sessions and have the kinds of spontaneous chats that happen at live events. Ensuring each live session allows for audience participation is also vital. This can help encourage interaction amongst attendees too.
Demographic data can be used to help attendees find people with compatible interests or goals. For instance, an event app might group attendees and exhibitors into different industry interest lists, based on their survey answers. People can use these lists to find attendees or exhibitors that are relevant to their interests. They can then send private messages using the event’s website, app, or messaging channel to start conversations.
Once the event is over, it’s good practice to send out post-event surveys to attendees. These can help you gauge attendee satisfaction once they’ve had time to reflect. Following a virtual event, a post-event survey adds an extra layer to your data, as individual survey results can be tied to attendee activity. Via email or registration matching, you can correlate an individual’s pre-event survey, event activity, and post-event survey. That data can then be used to look at, for instance, how event engagement level influences post-event satisfaction or how people’s pre-event survey answers relate to what they do at the event.
Improve Your Marketing Efforts Through Online Events Data Collection
Whether it’s live or online, hosting an event is an effective way of learning more about your attendees. Because every touchpoint of a virtual event is online and trackable, it has more potential for gleaning useful data. This can tell you more about your attendees, your audience, and your event too. In this way, virtual events data collection improves your events, your relationship with your audience, and your ROI.
Looking for ways to boost your event data collection? XtendLive has the experience and expertise to help. Contact one of our experts to talk about how we can help make your virtual event as valuable as possible.