2020 transformed the definition of audience engagement at events.
Virtual events opened up new opportunities for data that event organizers could use to measure audience engagement to the last detail. But with the flood of data, the question at the top of every event organizer’s mind is which metrics really matter? And how can you tie these back to your ROI goals? If you are serious about measuring audience engagement at virtual events, this guide is for you. You’ll get to learn about:
A quick note before we get started. The guide covers 50 audience engagement metrics to track. Consider this a reference guide to bookmark and come back to whenever you need it rather than memorizing every single metric.
Get to Know These Emojis
You will find the following emojis at multiple places in this post. They indicate how you should interpret a particular metric. And here is what they mean:
💬 Consider this metric in combination with other metrics to derive maximum value
💡 Metric is lesser-known and rarely utilized by virtual event organizers
👀 Metrics to watch closely
💰 Metric is closely related to virtual event ROI
🤓 This is a pro-tip
6 Categories of Audience Engagement Metrics
All the audience engagement metrics relevant to virtual event engagement can be grouped into six broad categories.
1. People Information
Let’s start with some basic audience engagement metrics to track. These metrics are simple, straightforward, and a good place to get started with gauging virtual event engagement.
While these are basic data points you want to measure, you do not want to use these in isolation. For example, while registrations are important, getting plenty of registrations doesn’t guarantee event success. A successful event measures both engagement and experience. You should, therefore, track these metrics in combination with other related metrics that are discussed in the following sections.
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Content is a critical part of any event. So, you definitely would want to track audience engagement with respect to your speakers.
🤓 Here are some effective ways you can use the insights derived from this data. Identify:
2. Audience Engagement in Your Virtual Event Feed
Many virtual event platforms have a social feed section. This is a space that event attendees can use to post their thoughts, comments, information, or simply say hi to fellow attendees. Most of the metrics associated with the event feed may not have a direct impact on the ROI. However, these metrics become a good litmus test if you want to get a sense of people’s pulse. Some metrics you want to look out for in this section include:
As event organizers, the aforementioned three points can provide early insights into the audience engagement levels at your virtual event. The higher the numbers, the higher is the level of engagement.
Here’s an idea that almost always works if increasing audience engagement is your goal. Throughout the event, do an open poll and take responses in the chat section instead of using the poll feature. These polls should be about your attendees. Ask them how they feel? Which city are they logged in from? What were their favorite sessions so far? Because here’s the thing, people like talking about themselves. And people like being heard. So if you see digital fatigue setting in then you know how to tackle it.
Looking for more such tips? Here’s a complete list of proven methods to increase audience engagement.
3. Audience Engagement in Networking Areas 💰
This set of audience engagement metrics apply to the networking areas at virtual events. Engagement metrics from the networking space are an effective way to measure the success of your event.
But before that, let’s quickly define how audiences engage in virtual networking areas. There is an option to just view an attendee profile and bookmark the profile for reference. Apart from that, the various ways the audience can engage in the networking area of virtual events are 1-on-1 chats, 1-on-1 meetings, or group meetings in the lounge area. Virtual platforms typically support group meetings with video for a higher level of engagement.
Here are the audience engagement metrics you’ll need to account for in your event’s virtual networking area.
Knowing your most engaged attendees can help you take the ROI agenda forward. And the above metrics are great indicators of the level of engagement. For example, as a membership-driven association, you can identify the most engaged attendees who are non-members and target them with emails specific to membership enrollment post the event. The likelihood of conversions from this list is higher. Another example would be Identifying your most viewed product specialist profile at a launch event can help you initiate further discussions with potential clients.
After a virtual event, the metrics above can provide useful insights to start relevant conversations. This enables organizers and exhibitors to curate relevant communication for attendees. Also, it increases the probability of converting each conversation into a business opportunity.
🤓 You can make your sponsorship deal more attractive by providing exhibitors with this and similar other information.
As an event organizer, you would agree that the higher the number of meetings, the higher would be the success index of the event. In extension to this line of thought, here are some meeting metrics you must watch like a hawk - during the event and after it. 👀
Why do these metrics matter? Let’s take an example. At a virtual job fair, more meetings mean more job interviews and a higher number of candidates hired by companies (a.k.a exhibitors). So, if at any point you see that one of your exhibitors is not setting up as many meetings you might want to offer support. Enabling the process would help in driving a higher success rate. In this case, it will mean an increase in the number of candidates hired.
4. Audience Engagement During Sessions
Primary Metrics 💬
Apart from the social feed and networking space, sessions are a great place to measure audience engagement at virtual events. Registrations, views, ratings, replays, likes - all reflect the level of audience engagement reached during every session. However, it is best to read these metrics in combination with the following metrics instead of in isolation. If interpreted in isolation there’s a chance you might fall prey to vanity measures.
Insights like notes per session, most viewed sessions, chats, and QnAs will help you understand the depth of engagement. You’re also likely to chance on a gold mine of information from the conversations and questions during each session. 🤓 Another way to gauge audience engagement during sessions is through surveys. The secret key to successful surveys is the questions you ask. This list of survey questions will definitely help you get started and get some valuable responses from your audience.
5. Audience Engagement at Virtual Booths
Virtual booths are to virtual events as shops are to a shopping mall. They bring life to the event, contribute generously to the revenue stream, and very often are one of the main reasons attendees register for the event. Together this makes virtual booths and audience engagement at these booths an extremely important aspect of any virtual event.
Here are some metrics to track to ensure audience engagement at virtual booths.
These would be important to track in real-time during multi-day events and measure in hindsight after a one-day event. During the event, it would help to reorganize the booth page to put out more relevant content or change banners to make it more attractive to the audience. After the event, it helps to analyze reasons for high or low numbers on these parameters.
Advanced Metrics 💰 👀
The next five audience engagement parameters are the most important from an ROI standpoint. These must be on every event organizer’s tracking list.
🤓 Keep a close eye on the last three as it would help you move fast and take the required action. For example, at a product launch event, you should keep a close watch on people viewing your product or downloading files. This makes connecting with them faster and proactive. Alternatively, if you are planning a virtual exhibition you can work out a commercial structure for virtual booths that takes into account these data points. Lastly, organizers can send notifications to attendees to inspire them to visit certain virtual booths that are seeing low engagement.
6. Audience Engagement in Virtual Rooms
Carefully curated rooms are almost always a powerful tool to drive audience engagement. Say, for instance, you’re in the business of marketing automation software and you’re hosting an event for clients/prospects in the finance and insurance sector. In this case, you could plan for a virtual room customized solely for your banking clients with the objective of increasing product adoption. How are breakout rooms different from lounges? Breakout rooms facilitate more focused discussions. The topic of discussion would typically be decided by the owner of the room. The lounge tables on the other hand are open for any type of discussion depending on the attendees who have joined the table.
The following engagement metrics can be used to gauge the success of these customized rooms.
🤓 Since a lot of effort goes into organizing virtual rooms, here are two things you can do during the event or suggest your exhibitors do.
Measure. Learn. Iterate. Repeat.
All the insights you gain by measuring audience engagement with the 50 metrics we discussed will help you iterate and refine your events strategy. Now you are ready to tackle the metric monster head-on.
With the right virtual events platform, you can only amplify the impact of this list further. An effective platform will empower you with all the audience engagement metrics mentioned above and enable you to access them with just a click. Here's a virtual event guide that will not only help you identify the right platform but will also provide you with every last detail you need to be aware of while planning a virtual event.
Don’t fret if you can’t commit everything to memory. Bookmark this link for easy access and revisit whenever you need to. We’ll keep it up to date for you with the latest metrics to track.
Are there any metrics you measure that I have missed? Write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, what you do, and the missing metric. I’ll add your suggested metrics to the guide and attribute them to you as well. 😃