20 Apr 2021

How to measure the success of your virtual events

We recently conducted a study on behalf of ICE, the International Corporate Event Planners association. Two-thirds of respondents said a top challenge for them over the next three years is using metrics to effectively measure performance.

However, despite these perceived challenges the research found that organisers are less likely to measure the performance of their virtual events compared to their live events.

Respondents agree that measuring metrics such as the impact of the event on future behaviour, sales, and brand awareness is just as useful for virtual events as it is for live. However, 23% fewer organisers are measuring customer feedback for virtual events relative to in-person events.

This suggests that organisers are missing out on a golden opportunity.

There are three different types of data available to organisers to measure how their events are performing. Access to those three types of data is made even easier through virtual event platforms. But not all of them can tell you about the output of your event.

What are these different data types and what role do they play in helping organisers understand the impact of their virtual events?

Think of them like building a car...

1. Demographic data - Who are your attendees?

The body of your car is your demographic data normally collected via your registration form. In ICEINSIGHTS’ report 2020, we found that over 90% of event organisers think registration data is useful for virtual events, however only 3 in 4 were measuring attendance for their virtual events.

Demographic data takes your feedback from being a tangled mess to clear lines of activity. Person A did X. Person B did Z. In order to gather individualised feedback from other tools like your event app or matchmaking technology the registration data needs to be available. For your employee events which don’t require a registration tool, this information could be collected from your HR system.

2. Engagement data - What are your attendees doing and when?

Engagement data provides the wheels for your car. Your engagement data builds a profile of what your attendee did at your event including: which sessions they attended, who they organised meetings with, poll responses, Q&A data and more.

At an in-person event this is typically the data that is hard to come by. It requires investment in tracking technology to understand how attendees have moved around the venue and dwell time. For virtual events this data is usually built into the platform. Event organisers can see how traffic flows from one session or activity to another to establish patterns and unlock what engagement really means for their events.

3. Sentiment data - Why did your attendees engage and what do they intend to do next?

So you’ve got the body of the car and the wheels, but a car without an engine isn’t much use to anyone.

This is where your sentiment data comes in.

Sentiment data is collected through feedback surveys and plays a crucial role in driving the event strategy forward. Survey data allows you to demonstrate the power of your events relating to impact on brand awareness, future sales and behaviour.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Surveys aren't the latest and most fascinating technology. However, they are the only event tech available which makes sense of;

  • why your attendees took time out of their busy schedules to take part,
  • what they got out of it, and
  • why events matter to the business you work in.

That being said a survey is only as insightful as the questions you put in it. You can use surveys to quantify attendees intention to purchase, intention to re-engage with the brand or likelihood of recommending your product or service to a colleague or friend. The most useful surveys build questions off the back of key event impact objectives for their virtual events.

By asking these questions consistently across your events you’re able to establish a measurement language for the events function. You can compare events internally to see what good really looks like for your events. And if you’re using a tool like Explori you can benchmark your events against your industry.

Thanks to technological improvements, feedback surveys have become less time-consuming to collate and analyse. You can easily make cycle-to-cycle comparisons for repeat events. The best survey technology will have built in benchmarking capabilities so you can easily compare how your virtual events today compare to hybrid events in years to come. If you would like to measure and benchmark your virtual events contact our team of experts who will be happy to help, or download the Event Impact Playbook for a do-it-yourself guide.


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  • “The silver lining in the pivot to digital has been the data-rich environment we organisers now find ourselves in. But, we have a huge standardisation job at hand if we’re to benefit from this newly found trove of data. VSef has been designed to solve this problem; to provide an open source standard. I for one am looking forward to receiving data from different platforms in one format!”
    Dr Bariş Onay
    Chair of VSef
  • “As the global trade association for our sector, we know about the importance of unified and aligned data sets, and we are working to promote globally accepted metrics and terminologies. We recommend that every business events association joins us in supporting and promoting VSef to their members as a collaborative way forward for our industry.”
    Anbu Varathan
    President, UFI
  • "At Grip, data democratization is at the core of our strategy in supporting organisers to move markets forward faster and providing greater value to exhibitors and visitors. We’re excited about being part of the VSef initiative from the very beginning and making it easier for organisers to move data between solutions in the event technology stack will be crucial for gaining greater insight into events and their success."
    Warith Nassor
    Product Owner - Data, Integrations and Insight. Grip
  • "Data is the key to growth in the event industry. It helps organizers better serve their communities, create brand loyalty and create logical, long-term strategies. VSef will make it much easier for organizers to collect the data used in making critical decisions without having to sacrifice customer experience and their technology stack."
    Robyn Duda
    Founder, RDC
  • "Our position on data is and always has been that it should be accessible, freely available, and owned by organisers, which is reflected in our Data Manifesto. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Mark and the wider Explori team and we are proud to be early adopters of the VSef initiative, which is an important step in standardising metrics and in allowing organisers to easily compare these metrics across platforms."
    Mykyta Fastovets
    CTO, Expoplatform
  • "We reside at an inflection point in the global events industry. Our immediate embrace of normalized data is going to decide the extent to which we define our value and fuel our growth. VSef is an ambitious project that deserves universal support across platforms, organizers, and industry organizations. We are pleased to take these first steps with the VSef team and their growing partner community."
    Tony Lorenz
    SVP Strategy, Intrado
  • "The need to unite event data has been a topic of conversation at Event Tech Live and within the community for many years. It's fantastic to see the experts and advisors behind VSef taking the mantle and moving this forward for the benefit of the whole industry. I am proud for Event Tech Live to be a founding member and look forward to helping drive this initiative too."
    Adam Parry
    Co-founder, Event Tech Live
  • "Data is a crucial issue in digital events and setting a framework for data standardisation and industry collaboration is key to future industry success. We are excited to be partnering with VSef on this important initiative."
    Sophie Ahmed
    CEO and Co-Founder, Virtual Events Institute
  • “Now more than ever it is important to collaborate, share and connects minds for a better future of the exhibition industry. VSef is a perfect example of collaborative knowledge!”
    Enrico Gallorini
    CEO, GRS Research & Strategy