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How to Leverage Data to Improve Your Virtual and Hybrid Events

Steven Yellen |

event professional analyzing virtual event metrics to improve the performance of their future eventsOne of the most important benefits of virtual events is that, much like any other digital marketing activity, they generate a wealth of valuable data about attendee engagement and more. This information is far easier to capture when events are held online since every action is trackable. That said, it is also important to collect offline event data in the case of hybrid and in-person events. But, regardless of how you collect event data, the challenge lies in demystifying it to drive smarter decision-making and determine event ROI, and that’s where virtual event metrics and analytics come in.

What Data Should you be Collecting?

There are many ways to collect data during virtual events from the moment you start planning and marketing to long after the event itself. This data comes from a wide range of sources like social media, landing pages, promotional posts, and, of course, video conferencing platforms themselves. These data sources are often integrated with customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and other systems.

virtual event metrics

When it comes to collecting virtual event data, contact information is just the start. You should also have a way to understand how your attendees engage with your event from the moment they register to how they follow up afterward. Equipped with this comprehensive view of how attendees interact with your event, you can gain valuable insights into ways to improve your events and reveal new business opportunities along the way.

The trick is knowing which virtual event metrics to track in the first place. Here are some of the key metrics for event management that you can track per attendee or audience segment:

  • Event registration (including session choices) and check-in numbers
  • Repeat event attendees
  • Number of virtual event booths visited
  • Number of pageviews • Amount of content downloaded
  • Number of questions asked during Q&A sessions
  • Number of sessions and workshops attended
  • Amount of time spent at a virtual event booth (dwell time)
  • Live polling response rates
  • Speaker ratings
  • Number and quality of social media connections
  • Activity levels on chat channels

By consolidating all virtual event operations into a single platform, you can collect all the above data with ease. Together, these KPIs provide valuable insight into how well your virtual events are performing. That said, you still need to have a clear grasp of the purpose of your event to give context to these KPIs.

For example, if the main goal is to capture qualified sales leads, then the number and quality of sessions attended or virtual event booths visited may be the most important success indicators. If, on the other hand, the primary goal is to raise brand awareness, then you’ll likely want to pay close attention to social media posts, speaker ratings, and the number of questions asked during Q&As.

Combining Online and Offline Event Data

While virtual events have become the norm over the past year due to the pandemic, they are not expected to replace in-person events in the longer term. When it comes to lead conversion, especially in high-touch industry sectors, there is simply no substitute for face-to-face events. That said, virtual events provide many unique advantages that marketers can’t afford to ignore.

Moreover, as things get back to normal following the pandemic, there is likely to be a marked shift towards hybrid events that combine the unique benefits of both face-to-face and virtual events. It’s safe to say those hybrid events, in which online and offline activities go hand-in-hand to empower larger, more engaged audiences, represent the future of event marketing.

Event ROI: How B2B Marketers Measure Return on Event Spend

The challenge lies in tracking audience engagement rates in offline scenarios. Sure, you can easily tell how many attendees you have simply from the number of tickets provided. You may even be able to tell what percentage of your attendees become leads or paying customers by correlating this information with your sales teams. However, to truly take full advantage of data analytics, you need to be able to track the same types of metrics as you can with virtual events. This might be a little more complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Fortunately, there are many ways to track onsite engagement, especially in the case of hybrid event scenarios. For example, for ticketless events, you can measure the number of attendees using sign-up technology that provides an electronic tally of attendees. To measure time spent at each booth or the event overall, you can use connected beacons to record timestamps. For measuring the quality of connections and conversations, you can train your team to identify key factors like the number of questions asked or objections raised. They can then enter this data into the system via a readily accessible mobile event app.

gif of an attendee walking through a virtual exhibit hallBy combining online and offline event data, you can easily compare your virtual event metrics alongside in-person and hybrid events to get a complete picture of the buyer journey. You can quickly capture and calculate the value of sales leads using contact-sharing and engagement scores, and automatically track how your attendees navigate your sessions. Finally, you can also collect valuable feedback by way of simple polls to in-depth surveys and Q&A sessions to continuously improve your events.

Integrating Data for Event Analysis

Chances are, events are just one of several marketing strategies your organization uses, so they shouldn’t exist in a bubble. It’s important to integrate event data into your wider marketing strategy. After all, an event is merely a part of the buyer's journey, rather than the only touchpoint. For example, a potential customer may first engage with your brand over social media, or an existing customer may carry out a lot of transactions with your organization, but has yet to attend an event. You must know where your customers are in the sales funnel to build a complete picture of their preferences and pain points.

Ideally, your event platform should integrate seamlessly with your wider technology ecosystem (MarTech stack) to facilitate interoperability and prevent information silos from forming. For example, merging event data into your marketing automation systems helps you align sales and marketing teams and improve lead scoring and nurturing. The important thing to consider here is the fact that integrated data ensures everyone has access to the same information and metrics and there is one complete view of the buyer journey. Equipped with a consistent and unified approach to business intelligence, you can drive smarter decision-making across various key areas like lead generation and content strategy.

How to Use Events to Optimize Every Stage of the B2B Marketing Funnel

How to Measure Event ROI

With a multi-touch attribution model, you can manage leads from events more effectively and even make events the centerpiece of all ongoing customer interactions and experiences. This way, sales and marketing teams can easily determine how various event activities, actions, or touchpoints impacted the end goal, such as driving up sales.

Moreover, these ROI attribution models give you a clear picture of what sort of return you’re getting from your events. When combined with robust analytics tools that translate the myriad of event data into actionable insight, you can finetune everything to continuously improve your event ROIs and give your attendees the experiences they crave.

Aventri brings your virtual and hybrid events to the next level by providing powerful tools and analytics that drive meaningful engagement across online environments. Request your demo today to see how it works.

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This Post was Written by Steven Yellen

Steve Yellen is the vice president of product strategy at Aventri.

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