Virtual Event Success: Use These 8 Free Metrics For Online Engagement

Virtual event success
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Whether you’re hosting a one-off webinar, three-day conference, or internal sales kick-off, how you measure event success should be top of mind.

Like hosting an in-person event, a virtual event should come with its own KPIs, sign-up goals, and engagement metrics.

In this post, we dive into what they should be throughout the process and how to measure virtual event success before, during, and after the event.

How will you measure the success of an event?

Split your measures into three sections: before, during, and after.

Before your online event, make sure you:

  1. Set virtual event attendance goals: even if this is your first online event, give yourself a target. For some, 10 attendees are plenty. For larger businesses, you might need to hit 100 to make it worthwhile.
  2. Compare event registration numbers: in the build-up to your online event, how many people have signed up, and what is your conversion rate? If you sent 100 emails and got 5 sign-ups, that’s a 5% conversion rate. Here’s your first event success metric.
  3. Benchmark a number of social shares: while you might think this is a vanity metric, getting people to sign-up for your virtual event is the hard part and other people’s social media is a big help.
Simple event registration will drive virtual event success
Simple event registration will drive virtual event success

At this point, you’ve got conversion rate and number of social shares. You don’t need to write these down as we’ll recap all the metrics for tracking virtual event success at the end of this post.

During your online event, make sure you:

  1. Capture your event attendance without impacting the joining experience: knowing your number of attendees will inform future virtual event success metrics. You can use Justattend to produce detailed attendance reports for your every session.
  2. Document your best-performing events or sessions: which speakers, topics, and style of session attracted the most attendees (and kept them interested)? Find the best performing and use as cornerstone content for your next online event.
  3. Measure the average time online: do most of your attendees leave after 10 minutes? Was there a common cut off time where people ran out of time and deemed they needed to be somewhere else?

At this point, you’ve got conversion rate, number of social shares, event attendance, best-performing sessions, and average time online.

After your online event, make sure you:

  1. Review website analytics to see which events drove the most engagement: you could try setting up custom reports in Google Analytics or use specialist event software like Justattend to do the hard work for you.
  2. Develop an ROI (return on investment) formula for determining event success: this will change for every business and should have monetary values applied where possible.
Custom reports google analytics
Custom reports in Google Analytics can be hard work

By the end of your online event, you’ve got conversion rate, number of social, shares, event attendance, best-performing sessions, average time online, per session engagement metrics,

As you track these measures for virtual event success, you should have some questions pop up at the back of your mind.

We’ll address a few of the most common next.

How long should a virtual event be?

Once you’ve secured your conference attendees, the next step is keeping their interest. During your online event, you’ll find out the average time people spent on your site.

Use this data to plan to drive virtual event success next time around.

For all day conferences, you must find the average time per session. You might have 10 sessions across the course of the day at one hour each.

If people dropped off at the 30 minute mark, this is an indicator that your sessions were too long. Adjust to your average time per session next time.

If people queued in the virtual lobby beforehand, find the average time people were willing to wait before you saw drop offs. Again, use this to inform how long you can hold someone in your lobby next event.

Virtual lobby queuing

If you’re running a smaller virtual event, like a webinar, apply the same logic here.

For example, if you allocated one hour for your webinar, with 20 minutes for a Q&A session at the end, check how long that Q&A lasted. If it only took 10 minutes, adjust your session for next time.

How do you calculate ROI for an event?

The key to calculating ROI for any event is to establish a formula.

ROI formula for calculating virtual event success

Like calculating content marketing ROI, create a formula for measuring your virtual event success.

Content marketing ROI formula

In the case of your virtual event, you can replace “content marketing” with “virtual event” to create your own forumla.

This is simple if your event drives people to sign up for your product or request a call with your sales team – as you can assign monetary values to these. A sign-up might be worth £100 and a sales call £500.

If your virtual event costs £600 and you gain one sign-up and one sales call, you’ve broken even.

In this example, your virtual event ROI looks like this:

Virtual Event ROI = (£600 – £600 / £600) *100

In a perfect world, the Return number must be higher than the investment to deem your virtual event a success.

From a monetary perspective, if you can attribute a higher return than cost (which includes salaries, tools, software, and promotion), you’ve had a successful virtual event.

Of course, there are intangible metrics that should be used when measuring virtual event success too.

Metrics for measuring virtual event success

Here’s a recap of all the metrics discussed in this post:

  1. Virtual attendance goals
  2. Conversion rate
  3. Social shares
  4. Event attendance numbers
  5. Best performing sessions
  6. Average time online
  7. Per session engagement metrics
  8. Virtual event ROI

Virtual event ROI is the major metric here. Ultimately, this is the one your CEO cares about the most. But don’t let that detract from the importance of the seven other metrics for measuring virtual event success.

As you run more virtual events, your process will become slicker, the user experience will get better, and you’ll get more data on what works and what doesn’t.

If your next virtual event will be on Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco Webex, or Google Meet, use Justattend to measure virtual event success.