7 KPIs to Measure the Success of Your Online Event

May 28, 2021

Heather Russell

Heather Russell is the Event Operations Director at Seven Events Ltd, a leading online event platform offering corporate event management and venue finding services in the UK. She has been with the company since its formation, helping to build and lead our fantastic team ever since.

With the advent of COVID-19, 2020 was definitely “the year of virtual events.” Not only did it evolve the event industry as a whole, but also opened up options of carrying out events in different ways. Now that people have gotten used to virtual events, 2021 should be spent on making them better.

For event production companies, the transition from in-person to online requires them to understand how they can measure their success or ROI. It won’t be the exact same way that success was measured in 2020.

Therefore, virtual event companies must ensure how they make virtual events a success. They need to define some key performance indicators (KPIs) and have a clear grasp of the purpose of the event.

Here are some KPIs that will help you judge whether your event was a success or not.

1. Number of Event Registrations

The first step in analyzing if your event will find success is through the number of event registrations. They may likely differ with the number of check-ins, so comparing them is vital. If there is a substantial gap between both, you should analyze why people drop off prior to attending. You can find this out through the dashboard of your chosen online event platform. To get a clear picture of the target market, you can section the data into age groups, demographics, etc.

These results help event production companies set a benchmark and know which type of event is most often attended. Understanding the target market will help organizers focus more on that audience and optimize their marketing strategies and sales to increase participation. Moreover, you will be able to analyze what date, day or time had the maximum event registrations to set your next target accordingly. Reviewing which events had the highest and lowest attendee numbers will help you understand what kind of content your target audience is hungry for.

2. Level of Attendee Engagement

As a virtual event company, your job is to take measures beforehand to maximize attendee engagement. Even if the registrations were high, a low engagement means boring content or not enough interactions, signalling a failure. Built-in features like gamification and contest modules and a virtual conference software can help you achieve this.

3. Duration of Attendee Retention

Another key indicator of a virtual event's success is audience retention. You should want the attendees to be logged on to your event for the maximum time possible. Once you have had sufficient registrations, you should keep the audience engaged, as only then will the retention reach its maximum potential.

Keep in mind that there is no industry benchmark defining what qualifies as a “good” retention rate. Looking at the competition is a good way to assess this. In 2020, more than a few organizations were just winging it with virtual events. In 2021, with virtual events becoming mainstream, some will do better than others. It’s the former that you need to track for an idea of greater success.

Moreover, you can also analyze the retention rate by accessing real-time information tracking how many attendees have joined the event and how many attendees were online at particular intervals. If several participants left midway, it could be a sign that the engagement level is not sufficient or attendees had different expectations than what was offered. 

4. Active Participation and Response Rate

For a virtual event company, an increased response rate and active participation means more retention. One way of doing this is by carrying out question and answer sessions and checking the response rate. Or you can see how many people are asking questions themselves. Another way of measuring an online event success through attendee engagement is response rates for surveys and live polls.

5. Quality and Number of Social Media Mentions

Whether there is an in-person event or a virtual one, there will definitely be mentions by the audience on social media. This will help you keep track of the engagement, retention level and ultimately the event’s success. Even though the number of social media mentions is a useful metric of doing this, the quality of those mentions is more significant.

In 2021, it’s also important to engage people on the most popular social media platforms like TikTok. Instagram and Facebook may have the numbers, but the engagement is clearly higher on TikTok. Similarly, Twitter, which has managed to stay relevant for a decade, is another great platform for mentions.

6. Level of Speaker Ratings 

Apart from content, the attendee’s engagement level also depends on if they like the speaker or not. The speaker should have strong content and deliver it in a creatively interesting way that keeps the audience engaged. They should also be able to answer audience questions in the best possible manner.

This can be gauged by checking the Q&A answerratings. A higher rating means the speaker was relevant in addressing questions from the audience, which hits towards a successful event. The speaker ratings will help virtual event companies decide if they should consider inviting this speaker to other events.

7. Frequency of Web Search and Direct Traffic Numbers

If people come to know about your event through word of mouth, they will definitely do a web search of the event or your event production company. Apart from gauging event success during the event duration, it can also be measured a week or month before or after increased web search or direct traffic numbers. This would indicate that the event left an impression, and that more people are searching for more information about you.

An online event's success can be determined in various ways depending on the intended purpose of your event, the most important being KPIs. Event production companies should use whichever KPIs they choose to analyze the results of the current event. Ensure you choose several KPIs to accurately evaluate whether the event can be defined as a success. Even if all indicators show success, the evaluation will help you improve your strategy for the next event.

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