Is ROI a trap? Here’s how to actually measure the impact of virtual events on your bottom line

If you’re an event marketer or organiser, we’re betting the one question you get asked about most often is also the one you loathe the most: what’s the ROI of your event?

Needless to say, ROI is one of the most important KPIs for marketers and businesses - this isn’t a point of debate. But what most (honest) event organisers also know, is that most of the time calculating the ROI from an in-person event is more of a guessing game. 

There are so many components that go into the calculation, of which many are difficult to track accurately, that it’s almost impossible to know if your event is the reason a customer decided to purchase your product or service. <span>Any attempt to answer “what’s the ROI of your event” is a trap many marketers fall into.</span>

Virtual events and ROI

So while ROI for in-person events is usually difficult to measure, it’s clear from the increase in the number of virtual events and people's response to them, that virtual events are helping organisers generate quantifiable results for their businesses and their partners. Here are some examples:

Have your event attendees ever spent an average of 2 entire hours in discussion rooms?Top-ranked engineering institute in India, IIT Madras, accomplished this at their virtual Entrepreneurship Summit on Zuddl this year.

What about being able to boost registration for your events? NASSCOM, the apex body for the IT-BPM industry in India was able to drive the number of registrations for their first virtual event from 1000 to 6000.

And how about generating leads for your partners? Sponsors generated 10,000+ leads from NASSCOM’s virtual conferences.

<span>You need not be frightened of calculating the ROI from a virtual event. Driving and measuring returns is way easier than you think.</span>

By virtue of being hosted on platforms that enable the tracking and collection of a range of measurable indicators, be it engagement, time spent at the event, average time at a Stage etc, organisers need to know that ROI tracking for virtual events can be easily understood and better leveraged for future events. Further, with better quality data, lead generation and nurturing happens more organically and effectively because there is empirical evidence to back it.

But considering ROI data is the lifeblood of effective event planning, organisers can benefit from a better understanding of how to actually measure the impact of virtual events.  

Set your KPIs and know the tools to measure them

Unlike the traditional measure of ROI, virtual events demand that you measure based on the ‘Return on Engagement’ (ROE) and the ‘Return on Objective’ (ROO). Just like on-ground events, there may be certain intangible mechanisms within these categories, which is why it pays to clearly define the indicators.

To help, here is a breakdown of these 3 key categories.

ROI is measured based on:

  • Revenue
  • Profitability
  • Number of attendees
  • New business
  • Leads gathered

ROO is measured based on:

  • Educational session comprehension
  • Educational session surveys and evaluations
  • Brand awareness for sponsors and the organization

ROE is measured based on:

  • New business
  • Leads generated
  • Retention
  • Attendee reach
  • Brand awareness

To measure ROO and ROE, <span>virtual event organisers need a platform that firstly lets them execute activities within their event that can help them reach their goals, and secondly has the tools to track the impact of their activities. </span>

For instance, when the objective is to help generate brand awareness for an event sponsor, organisers should be able to leverage the features of a virtual event platform to drive visibility in myriad ways - displaying the sponsor’s logo at a welcome lobby for example.

NASSCOM's Technology and Leadership Forum lobby featuring sponsor logos

Or giving a sponsor a dedicated Expo booth wherein they can play product demos or share downloadable marketing collateral.

Barclays Expo Booth at the WiT-Ace All in All Week Summit

And the virtual event platform should be able to measure the results of these activities - for instance, by counting the number of people who watched a demo or downloaded the marketing collateral.

Get the most out of tracking technology 

To reiterate, <span>measurement functionality is critical, so the event platform you use must have the capability to track online interactions effectively.</span> Features that enable live analytics and post-event analytics are equally important. Ideally, post-event analytics should include the following data.

Registrations

  • Total
  • Registrations per day in case of a multi-day event
  • Number of returning attendees

<span>The number of registrations can help you understand how interesting or valuable your content is, and you can use this insight to plan future events that better resonate with attendees.</span>

Attendee demographics

  • Age
  • Country
  • Industry

Demographics will tell you the type of persona that finds value in a specific session or an interest-based room, or a product or service showcased in an Expo booth. <span>You can use this insight to better market your offerings based on the consumer group you’re targeting.</span>

Leads for sales

  • fbNumber of leads generated

Virtual events can drive leads for sales far more effectively than their in-person counterparts. Attendees can indicate their interest in specific products or services within a virtual event - for instance by watching a product demo, claiming exclusive deals or coupons, or downloading marketing materials. Booth owners can then nurture the lead post-event.

Attendee engagement

  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • Q&A
  • Chat options
  • Average time spent at a session, Rooms, Expo Booths or Networking

Data on attendee engagement provides more insight into an attendees interests and needs, allowing you to execute more highly targeted campaigns post-events. And at the end of the day, <span>the more engaging a virtual event is, the more attendees will engage with an organiser or sponsor’s products and services post-event.</span>

Connections and networking 

  • Total number of connection requests 
  • Total number of connections 
  • Connections by attendee

One of the main reasons for people to attend events is to make new, valuable connections. <span>Asking for an attendee’s data during onboarding not only allows you to match them with the right people but gives you a wealth of demographic information to effectively segment your audience after your event, and create targeted campaigns.</span>

Sponsor engagement 

Data on booth traffic, conversations, and how many attendees watched product videos or downloaded marketing materials gives sponsors valuable insight on attendee interest, such as where they are in the buyer’s journey. <span>It helps pave the way for sponsors to turn leads into customers.</span>

All of this data and more should be available as reports, summaries or charts for easy analysis. With this, you can easily define data-driven goals for future events.

Use real-time data for better event ROI

Real-time data can even help you make improvements on the fly, especially if it is a multi-day event. <span>You can use a virtual event platform’s features such as Polls to take quick surveys to truly understand what your audience wants – right then and there. </span>Turn this insight to inform strategic decisions around the relevant messaging they’re responding to, such as additional activities within the event, post-event email journeys, social media or other touchpoints.

Drive better ROI for hybrid events from virtual events

Better insights translate to effective strategizing - there isn’t an iota of doubt that virtual events can deliver in this regard. <span>A good way to leverage this benefit is to use virtual events, in a hybrid setting, to drive better ROI for the on-ground event. In such instances, the on-ground event is preceded by a series of virtual events, which act as tools for identifying a truly engaged audience.</span>

Based on the data, you can handpick attendees who check all the boxes that define a perfect attendee. These members can then be invited to the on- ground event, thus ensuring better returns.

The bottom line is that with virtual events, that dreaded question of returns on your event is no longer a trap.

With virtual event platforms giving you the features to host an event that targets your KPIs, as well as the tools to track event data, you can easily tell your bosses how many leads you generated, how much engagement you nurtured, how many (more) registrations you brought about, how much new business you brought to your partners, and what value the event brought to your business. 

To get a better understanding of how a virtual event platform can help you maximize ROI, book a Zuddl demo now. 

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