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:
- An exhaustive list of metrics that can be used to measure audience engagement.
- A few lesser-known yet effective metrics to track.
- Some pro tips that will help you derive maximum value out of your event data.
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.
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.
- 💬 👀 Event registrations: This metric gives you a big picture view of the number of people signed up for your event. For any event organizer, this metric is an early indication of the expected turnout. If you notice the registrations to the event are way below your target then here are some things to consider to increase attendance at virtual events.
- 💬 Attendees logged in: It’s a good practice to track the number of people who attended your event. This helps you get a sense of attendee drop-off rates from registration to attendance. For example, if 1000 people registered and 600 logged in, you have a 60% attendee rate (or 40% dropoff) and you can use these percentages as a benchmark for planning future events.
- 💬 Daily attendee chart: For multi-day events, tracking attendees logging in on a daily basis is important. This is a good initial barometer for session popularity. From the point of view of future events, this also helps in identifying the days of the week on which people are more likely to attend events.
- 💬 New users vs active users: This metric is a good place to start with if you’re interested in distinguishing between people who are attending your event for the first time vs those who have attended your events before. (🤓 Running different custom campaigns for news users and active users would be more effective in deriving targeted outcomes from them.)
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.
Content is a critical part of any event. So, you definitely would want to track audience engagement with respect to your speakers.
- Speaker rating: Highest rated speaker by the attendees
- Profile views: Most viewed speaker profile by the attendees
- Profiles bookmarked: Most bookmarked speaker profile by the attendees
- Notes: Speaker session in which most notes were taken
- Downloads: Speaker session in which the most downloads were done
- Speaker information: Individual speaker information based on bookmarks, views, rating, files download
🤓 Here are some effective ways you can use the insights derived from this data. Identify:
- Speakers you would like to invite for future events.
- Speakers you would like to steer clear from in the future.
- If there is any correlation between your session-specific marketing efforts activated and the attendee turnout at respective sessions.
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:
- 💬 Posts/day: This is the count of the posts shared by the audience on the virtual event platform’s social feed.
- 💬 Type of posts/day: This refers to the format in which posts were made. Example text, photos, polls, videos, and links.
- 💬 Likes & comments: This is the cumulative count of the engagement of all posts received.
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.
- 👀 Reported posts: This metric gives a count on the number of reports post. It is also is a type of engagement activity that you must keep a close eye on. This can help you avert unfortunate situations and is useful for brand management. You can also use it as a benchmark while putting down housekeeping rules for the next event.
- 💰 Most active in the feed: Identifying your most active participants in the feed is useful irrespective of the event you’re hosting. knowing your most active participants could eventually lead you to relevant clients. It could also help you identify influencers you may want to engage in a program to help promote your product or services outside of the event.
- 💡 Feed word cloud: This is similar to an approach marketers usually take while sizing up audience sentiment. The technique involves running content through a tool that generates a word cloud of the most used terms. A feed word cloud is the same, just for the social feed section in a virtual event platform. A feed word cloud can be a gold mine of insights. And in some cases the start of something phenomenal. On the Hubilo platform, we provide this as an insight on the analytics dashboard.
- Poll report: Polls during events can be great to boost virtual event engagement. It’s an easy way to get answers to those long-standing questions you’ve always had. And it’s also a great way to keep your audience engaged through the event. A poll about a topic that was just taught, for example, could be a quick, easy way for a university to assess students’ understanding. It’s important before you do any polling that your polling mechanism is intuitive to use for the audience.
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.
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.
- Profile views: Total number of views, most viewed attendee profile, and attendee who viewed most profiles.
- Bookmarks: Total number of bookmarks, most bookmarked attendee profile & attendee whose profile was most bookmarked.
- Notes taken: Total number of notes taken and attendee who took most notes during meetings.
- Messages exchanged: Total number of messages exchanged and attendee who participated in most chat messages.
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. 👀
- Daily number of meetings
- Daily meeting requests sent
- Total number of meeting requests
- Count of meetings accepted and rejected
- Number of lounge meetings
- Number of lounge meetings taken by attendees/exhibitors
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.
Primary Metrics 💬
- Session count: The total number of times all sessions were cumulatively viewed
- Rating: The average rating for all individual sessions
- Replays: Number of times the attendees replayed the sessions
- Likes: Number of times attendees ‘liked’ different sessions
- Registrations: The session with the most registrations from event attendees
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.
- Notes per session
- Most viewed session
- 👀 Most number of chats in a session
- 👀 Most number of QnAs in a session
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.
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.
- 💬 Number of profile views per booth
- 💬 Average rating/booth
- Number of chats per booth
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.
- Number of bookmarks per booth
- 💡 Number of connections made per booth
- CTA clicks/booth
- Product views/booth
- Files downloaded/booth
🤓 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.
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.
- Number of sessions/room
- Average session length/room
- Unique spectators / room
- Raise hands/room
- Total chats/room
- Average spectator’s duration/room
🤓 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.
- Get your best people out there to take a lead on the conversations that take place in the virtual room. For example, if you’re doing an exclusive showcase of a product then having your best product specialists and marketers run the show can add volumes to the quality of conversation.
- Have them make notes of questions and conversations that are in line with your business or the expected outcome. This can be insightful reference material post the event.
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 email@example.com 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. 😃