You’ve heard the buzz among event professionals: Virtual events will never replace in-person events. That the future of the events industry is hybrid. We don’t disagree. But there is one aspect of meetings and events where virtual is coming out a clear winner: Data
Just think about it. Data has already shown us that compared to their in-person counterparts, attendance rates at virtual conferences and trade shows have skyrocketed. In some cases, our clients have reported increases of over 400%! This is fantastic news. But do you know what’s even more exciting?
Virtually everything (no pun intended) with online events can be captured, analyzed, and reported. Imagine being able track every movement, click, and action taken by attendees within a virtual event platform? Think of what it could tell us: Detailed demographics about our audience, which sessions, topics, and presenters were most engaging, social buzz, how long attendees spent with exhibitors, which sponsor ads were more effective, and much more. Such a goldmine of information to measure event success and ROI makes me feel giddy!
The only catch? With so much available data, it can be overwhelming. And maybe even a little intimidating. After all, not everyone has a BI data analyst available on their team to provide insights and feedback from all of this information.
Virtual Audience Demographics
It’s a given that we want to learn as much about our event audience as possible. But asking them too many questions during registration can feel invasive. If you make registration too arduous, your prospective registrant may abandon the process and that’s no good! Here’s how you can collect some of that additional information and improve your attendee experience at the same time: networking questions. To give virtual attendees a personalized experience and match them with meaningful connections, topics, and sponsors and exhibitors they may be interested in, ask them a set of networking questions during your onboarding, like:
- How long have you worked in the industry?
- What topics interest you the most? (Check all that apply)
- I would most like to improve in this area:
- I am interested in the following products and services:
- To which continent would you most like to travel?
Remember, one of the main drivers for people to attend events is to make new, valuable connections. So, you’d be amazed at what information your attendees are willing to provide when connected to their networking experience if they know it will help them meet like-minded people.
By collecting this type of pre-event data, you not only improve their experience during your event by making it more personal, but you now have a wealth of demographic information that you can input into your CRM and more effectively segment your audience after your event.
Virtual Sessions and Content
Unique Visitors - This metric tells you how many individuals attended a given session. Analyzing unique visitors can tell you what topics were most popular, which you may want to consider for future events. For user conferences, this can also give you insights into new products and services your audience may be interested in.
Dwell Time - This metric tells you how long an individual spent in a session. Knowing the average overall dwell time of participants in each session can give you real insights into you which sessions are most and least engaging for your audience.
Average Content and Presenter Ratings - Since they are not generally mutually exclusive, we’ll consider content and presenter ratings as they relate to each other. But first, I want to emphasize it’s essential that you provide your audience with the means to rate content and presenters while they are in a session instead of post-session. Remember, with virtual events, audience attention spans are shorter so you want to seize the opportunity to gather feedback while it’s relevant. Asking session participants to rate presenters and content during a session gives you more honest, real-time surveyed event insight into whether the content is interesting or the presenters are effective. If a presenter or topic gets high average ratings, consider them successful and use them for subsequent meetings or events. If a presenter gets low ratings, you may want to provide them with more training or exclude them from future line-ups. If a session’s content gets poor ratings, replace it with a different topic.
Public Chat - Monitoring any collective data on public chat messages during sessions can provide a wealth of information on what topics your audience is interested in. This can give you insights into new content. For example, if you see a lot of chatter around a common theme or topic, consider offering a training an in-depth session on that topic at a future event, possibly for an additional fee.
Virtual Attendee Engagement
With online events, there are dozens of ways to measure audience engagement. Below, we take a deep dive into some of the data you can collect to build your event’s engagement story. If you don’t have many virtual events under your belt, reach out to your virtual platform provider for some benchmark data so you can gauge how your event is performing by comparison.
Average Session Attendance - This is the average number of unique visitors who check into each session.
Dwell Time - Above, we associate dwell-time with how long someone stays in a session. In this case, we look at dwell time in terms of the average time your audience participated in your overall event. The higher this average compared to your overall event time, the more engaged your audience was. The formula to calculate this is:
% Dwell Time = Avg. Attendee Dwell Time ÷ Total Event Time X 100
Chat Messages - Measuring average chat messages per attendee can indicate how engaged individuals were in your overall event.
Gamification - With gamification, points can be awarded to encourage certain engagement attendee behaviors. This could include anything from checking into sessions, completing quizzes and surveys, visiting exhibitors, downloading content, or clicking on sponsor banners. Measuring the average points earned per attendee can indicate how engaged your audience was overall.
Social Activity - Check the number of messages on your event’s social wall to gauge overall engagement. Monitor messages around your event’s hashtag to see what your attendees are saying about your online conference or trade show. Look for common trends and actively respond to audience feedback.
Virtual Networking Activity
Awesome content and valuable networking experiences are what will keep your attendees coming back. Are you hitting the mark? Collecting virtual event networking data can help you deliver an even more valuable networking experience at future events.
Networking Session Attendance - If you want to know which networking sessions were most popular, look no further than which ones had the highest attendance. The exception to this would be if you limit the attendance in a networking session. In this case, you’ll need to look at a different metric.
Dwell Time - It should be no surprise by now that the amount of time your attendees spend in a session is directly related to how engaged they are with that session. The same rule applies with virtual networking sessions.
Valuable Connections - Are you helping your attendees make meaningful connections? Data on the total of one-on-one chat messages and video calls that take place during your event can give you insights into how effective your networking matching is and if you need to further refine your networking questions.
Virtual Sponsors and Exhibitors
Does your virtual conference or trade show depend on exhibit and sponsorship revenue? If so, it’s critical to provide your virtual sponsors and exhibitors with data to support ROI. Below is a breakdown of virtual event data that may be important for you to share with your event sponsors and exhibitors.
- Sponsor Page Sessions - If you offer sponsor pages within your virtual event platform, this data tells your sponsor the total number of times attendees visited their page
- Impressions - This is a metric of how many times your sponsor’s banner or content was displayed during your event, whether it was clicked on or not
- CTR - Clickthrough rate is the number of clicks that your sponsor’s content receives divided by the number of times it is shown on the right. CTR will tell your sponsor how effective their banner was at grabbing your attendees attention
- Cost Per Click - CPC is the total amount of your sponsor’s investment divided by the total number of content clicks
- Views - Relevant to video ads and interstitials, this is the total number of times attendees watched your sponsor’s video
- Avg. Watch Time - Similar to dwell time and relevant to video ads and interstitials, watch time is the average time attendees watched a sponsor’s video ad or interstitial per impression.
Now, let’s highlight some virtual exhibit hall metrics that are important for maintaining good relationships with current exhibitors and to showcase when attracting new exhibitors.
Virtual Exhibit Hall Metrics:
- Exhibit Hall Sessions - The total number of times attendees visited your virtual exhibit hall
- Exhibit Hall Unique Visitors - The number of individual event attendees that visited your virtual exhibit hall
- Exhibitor Booth Sessions - The total number of times attendees visited an exhibitor’s virtual booth
- Exhibitor Booth Unique Visitors - The number of individual event attendees that visited an exhibitor’s virtual booth
- Avg. Dwell-Time - Here’s that magic metric again. The amount of time visitors spent in a virtual booth is indicative of how interested they were in the company’s products or services
- Downloads - If an exhibitor offered downloadable content in their booth, this provides insights into how interested visitors were in that content
- Special Offer Clicks - Show you how many attendees clicked on an exhibitor’s special offer
- Session Follows - If a virtual exhibitor scheduled a product theater or showcase, this metric reflects how many attendees were interested enough to favorite it
- Leads - There is now doubt that obtaining high quality leads is the holy grail for exhibitors. Depending on your sponsorship agreement with an exhibitor, you may choose to provide them names of attendees who visited their booth for post-event outreach. Attendees could choose to “opt-in” to receive communication from exhibitors within their virtual event settings.
After your event, don’t forget to take the final step and get your attendee’s feedback with a virtual post-event survey.
When it comes to data, the metrics we cover above are just the tip of the iceberg.
Meetings mean business and virtual events offer a wealth of data to help you measure your event’s ROI.
Ready to harness the value of your virtual event data? Partner with MeetingPlay. We’ll help you collect the right data to measure your virtual event goals.