The ROI of virtual: a little less magic, a little more science please!

There’s a lot of talk about metrics and ROI in virtual events but not much clarity.  Luckily, it doesn’t need to be complicated and can make a real difference to your bottom line.  Here’s how!

Over the past 12 months, virtual events have proven themselves to be attractive alternatives to live experiences in terms of audience reach and engagement.  This universal shift to virtual has caused a significant change in audience needs and continues to do so as the format and technology evolves.  Meaningful measurement has therefore never been more important to help understand and interpret these needs, resulting in actionable insights to optimise the audience experience.

This is an exciting opportunity because the traditional methods of measuring the impact of a live event rely on a relatively manual process involving numerically scored survey questions and NPS scores.  But over in virtual, the data harnessed from an event offers true marketing intelligence.  Think badge scanners – but much more sophisticated, effective, and meaningful.

The first step is, of course, to determine what needs measuring and to define the metrics accordingly.  Measurement criteria for a virtual event can be carefully tailored and set depending on whether the objective is to increase revenue, retain customers, change behaviours or bring about mindset changes in an audience.  The ability to track how delegates behave during an event, what they watch and interact with, how they respond to content and what they download provides rich data to inform the organiser’s marketing, comms or sales strategy.

Short surveys and easy polls throughout an event to understand how delegates are feeling, if they are finding the content useful and whether they are convinced in the moment, all help to provide more valuable data with which to measure audience engagement and outcomes.  Crucially, the ROI of virtual is not only in the tangible, actionable insights it provides immediately after the event.  The real value comes from continuing to measure the audience’s change in behaviour and adoption, or the improvement in client conversion and order rates, over the following six or even 12 months.

What’s more, extending the lifecycle of an event by making the content available on-demand can help to shape these outcomes.  Understanding how delegates interact with the content after the event is just as useful as what they do during it, not to mention the potential of reaching a much wider audience.  This could have vastly positive implications for ROI measurement, future marcomms activity and even event sponsorship opportunities.

Most excitingly of all, the rapid progress of virtual allows us to open up ever more opportunities for ROI measurement.  Technological advances such as facial analysis and pulse rate sensors are no longer futuristic ideas.  Behavioural data taken from the online footprint of delegates will provide ever more useful insight.  All of this together means that, for marketers, measuring the impact of an event on the bottom line will no longer go in the ‘too difficult box’ but instead constitute an essential element of the event strategy.  Not a minute too soon.

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