Forrester’s best practices on measuring virtual event success

Learn how virtual events can provide performance reporting opportunities through effective metric measurement.

Virtual events include webinars, executive round tables, fireside chats, live conferences, and more. Enterprise marketers take advantage of virtual events because of their convenient impact on attendees and digital reach.

Unlike in-person events, attendees can participate in virtual events anytime and anywhere using their desktops, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Aside from convenience, businesses can save much on overhead costs with virtual events. The associated cost primarily includes payment for the virtual meeting platform.

However, holding virtual events involves complexities. Aside from technology investment, communication, collaboration, and metric setting and monitoring can be challenging. Furthermore, investing in event marketing tech solutions is also a critical aspect that business leaders must consider.

All of these tasks are crucial to attaining a successful virtual event. So, what do virtual event marketers say about measuring virtual event success?

The Challenge

One of the challenges enterprise marketers face is how to capture leads in virtual events. Leads or prospects drive sales and overall business revenues. Generating leads from virtual events is a straightforward goal. However, initiating a virtual event isn’t enough.

Audiences in virtual events have extensive digital interactions, which provide excellent data capture opportunities. For this reason, it’s crucial to identify relevant metrics to measure performance and generate reports to help enhance the attendee experience, enable prospects, and drive internal alignment. And event metric measurement is where most marketers struggle, which is what Forrester’s 2022 Best Practice Report tries to explain and address.

Virtual Events Stay Post-Pandemic

Virtual, online, or digital events have become an excellent alternative to face-to-face events during the COVID-19 pandemic. After the pandemic, enterprise marketing leaders intend to include virtual events as a mainstay in their marketing pool.

Forrester’s Q3 2021 B2B Marketing Events Trends Survey shows that 63% of marketers plan to implement more online events in the next 12 months. Enterprise leaders must consider goal-setting, type, data capture, and other relevant factors when choosing their virtual event strategy.

Virtual events have different types, and each event is unique. Forrester has defined virtual event types and their important role in demand marketing. Leaders can make better investment decisions by understanding the role of events as a standalone or a part of a larger marketing campaign.

Enterprise leaders must choose the right type of event depending on their goals and intended audience. This step is crucial to attaining virtual events success in the new normal or time after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Important Considerations

In Forrester’s 2022 Best Practice Report, 236 B2B marketing professionals responded to the survey. The report describes the important considerations when measuring virtual events. Forrester also shares the best practices for choosing metrics and capturing data to attain a successful virtual event.

Metrics determination is crucial in properly measuring event value. B2B enterprise marketing leaders must know what parameters they need to measure and work with internal stakeholders, such as sales and marketing teams, to build effective virtual event infrastructure, strategies, and workflows.

Leaders must consider the event phases when choosing metrics and follow a clear process. Identifying event data sources and facilitating data capture are also essential steps for accurate data capture.

Important Virtual Events Metrics

Forrester has categorized essential metrics for sales and marketing in their Metrics Spectrum, which are also applicable in virtual events. Enterprise leaders can use this metrics spectrum to monitor and analyze virtual event performance.

These metrics include the impact (measured by revenue and pipeline), output (like the number of registrations), activity (such as the number of logged attendees), and readiness (measures internal preparedness).

Readiness is a critical metric that can significantly affect the virtual event’s success. For instance, holding a virtual or hybrid event requires technical skills and event management technology for registration and data analytics for event data capturing.

Virtual event success measurement must include pre-event, at-event, and post-event metrics. Check the example at-event phase metrics in the figure below.

Virtual Event Areas Organizations Fail

Holding virtual events may seem a lot easier than face-to-face events. Marketers might be excellent at finding ways to get target audiences to attend virtual events, such as sending reminders and attendance confirmation follow-ups.

However, there’s a huge problem when it comes to analyzing the most relevant data for sales and marketing. Virtual events demand a different approach than in-person events for attendees to get the most out of the event and vice versa. It’s a must to be proactive in reaching out and networking.

Hosts must shape an excellent virtual experience. Therefore, organizations must be aware of the most common reasons virtual events fail to achieve this goal and create the most effective strategies for capturing data relevant to sales and marketing teams.

Forrester’s 2022 Best Practice Report shows that organizations fail to measure virtual event metrics. Identifying these failing areas is important to achieving virtual event success.

About 98 percent of respondents measure the number of virtual event attendees but fail to capture more strategic output, such as the number of new buying group members. While more than 80 percent of respondents capture demand metrics, the attendee experience, reputation, and market intelligence metrics are much lower.

But this can change by considering the right event goals, such as building a good reputation, gathering market intelligence, or driving demand.

Reporting Virtual Event Performance

A vital aspect of measuring event performance is reporting. Time is an essential consideration when reporting event metrics.

For instance, marketers must measure reputation goals, like referral traffic and mentions daily or weekly, because these parameters immediately and directly impact a virtual event’s success. On the other hand, marketers should measure demand creation efforts over six to 12 months because this parameter is influenced by long-term digital marketing efforts.

Reporting must be on-point and detailed. Choosing the right metrics and measuring them against specific event goals can help enterprises realize the best strategies to attain a successful virtual event.

Conclusion Measuring virtual event success can be challenging without an excellent view of goals, expected metrics, and a clear process. Virtual events are here to stay. Enterprises can greatly benefit from them, bringing forth convenience, effectiveness, and efficiency to event organizers and attendees. Most of all, virtual events can help sales and marketing teams capture unique data to boost demand, traffic, and sales for the enterprise they represent.