Top Metrics for Virtual Event Success

June 8, 2022

Rachel Stephan

Rachel Stephan is one part creative, one part entrepreneur, a four-time mom (Sensov event marketing, Charlie, award-winning #eventtech Snöball word-of-mouth marketing platform, and Grayson) and an event industry speaker. Rachel helps event professionals grow their attendance with results-driven marketing strategies.

You’ll find tons of metrics and insights reported across all the virtual event marketing platforms you use. They can help paint an overall picture of your virtual event’s success, but some are much more telling than others when it comes to event evaluation.

Navigating this deluge of data at every stage of your virtual event marketing campaign can be challenging. In this blog, we’ll explain how to measure the success of a virtual event using just a few powerful key performance indicators.

What are the best virtual event KPIs for each stage of your event marketing campaign?

  • Early-bird period: scan your social media engagement
  • Pre-event: track rate of first-time registrants
  • Live or virtual event: track rate of attendance
  • Post-event: measure your Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Let’s dive deeper into our favorite methods of event evaluation.

Early-Bird: Take the Temperature on Social Media

During the registration period, it could be difficult to gauge how your audience is feeling about your virtual event. Many speakers tend to delay their abstract submissions to the last minute, making it quite stressful for virtual event planners trying to get a sense of this year’s potential success. Sure, your virtual event is still months away, but there are ways you can structure your campaign to ensure that it stays top-of-mind for your prospective attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors.

Make sure to keep anticipation levels high by steadily revealing keynote speakers, releasing great content that directly involves your influencers and stakeholders, and posting regularly about your new event features and highlights. Make sure to get your attendees involved too! They should all be working on your behalf to drive the conversation and engagement.

As you do this, you’ll be able to monitor one of the best event metrics out there: social media engagement. True engagement should not be confused with vanity metrics. While impression numbers are often very impressive looking, they don’t account for actual interaction with your brand and content. In many cases, they simply indicate that someone scrolled by your post in their feed.

Takeaway: Clicks, likes, reshares and conversions can give you a snapshot of what people are excited about during this crucial time.

Pre-Congress: First-Time Registration Numbers Are a Great Event KPI

You’ll have most of your registrations ironed out as the regular registration period comes to an end. Your ultimate goal is to maximize the number of butts in seats, of course. But a more interesting metric for event evaluation may come from your number of first-time attendees. 

Since your virtual event has a lower barrier to entry than an in-person event, you’ll naturally attract people who were interested before but unable to make the commitment. Use this number to find out how many people you’re adding to your audience. 

And if your numbers are looking a little low, try an influencer marketing campaign that makes it easy to spread your message to a host of prospective attendees. Make sure you’re leveraging your audience networks to capture those first-timers!

Takeaway: If you notice a strong surge of new attendees, your event is on the right track. If you’re primarily retaining your old attendees, make sure that you’re doing enough promotion to new audiences.

During the Event: Rate of Attendance

Compare the number of people that sign-in with the number of total registrants you collected. Small differences are ok, but larger discrepancies need to be looked into to understand why you’re losing attendees. You might even want to try adjusting your paid vs. free strategy

For those attendees who are present, ensure you have a way to track where they’re checking in. This includes monitoring your event hashtag on social media to see what people are raving about and collecting participation data across all sessions. This should give you a great idea of what kinds of topics people are really looking to learn more about, discuss and share.

Takeaway: It’s great to collect a high number of registrations, but it doesn’t mean much if no one shows up. If you’re noticing low sign-on rates, consider a quick-acting campaign to all your registrants on both email and your virtual event platform.

Post-Event: What’s Your Net Promoter Score?

There are many ways to structure virtual event satisfaction surveys. You most likely already have several burning questions you’d like to pose to delegates. But are your surveys suffering from low response rates?

Why not counter this by asking one very simple question off the bat: On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend this virtual event to a friend or colleague?”

This kind of question will provide you with what’s known as a Net Promoter Score. It’s currently being used by two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies as a way to measure loyalty and can be correlated with revenue growth. It’s a great tool for event evaluation!

How it works:

  • Those that enter a score of 9 or 10 are called Promoters, while those who answer 0 through 6 are labeled Detractors.
  • Your score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters.
  • What about the 7s and 8s? They fall somewhere in between and simply count toward your total number of respondents.
  • A final score above 0 is considered good, while achieving 50 or more means your event is firing on all cylinders! If you receive a negative score, a serious revamp is in order.

Takeaway: Add the NPS question into your virtual event platform, so that you know you’re reaching the folks that attended. We highly recommend adding an open-ended follow-up question to the NPS so you can glean some specifics regarding what can be improved.

Bottom Line

Virtual Events have a completely different set of metrics that we need to evaluate if we’re to optimize and improve them over time. If we’re going to be successful in creating amazing virtual spaces, we need to start ensuring we’re looking at the right KPIs.

NPS remains a tried-and-true method for evaluating attendee attitudes post-event, but the new registrant-to-attendee ratio and first-time attendee numbers have become critically important benchmarks during the pre-event and live-event portions of the show.

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