Most business decisions today are made after a careful review of quality data. The research organization, SINTEF reports that more data has been created in the last two years than has been created in the 5,500 years prior.
Company cultures are increasingly becoming data driven, and it’s time for event planners to recognize this trend so that they can provide clients, bosses, sponsors, and other key stakeholders with the careful analysis they have come to expect from other business verticals.
In our recent article on the one question event planners need to ask attendees, we discussed the importance of administering NPS (net promoter score) surveys. We argued that by simply asking how an attendee, “One a scale of 1-10, how likely are you were to recommend this event to a friend or colleague” provided a reliable gauge of the attendee’s overall satisfaction.
As with the recommendations in this article, the NPS survey was inspired by best practices seen in other business. This Harvard Business Review article discusses the success Enterprise Rent-A-Car has seen with administering surveys to customers.
Enterprise is just one example of the success that can be created when measuring the right metrics, this article will highlight a few other areas event planners and marketers should focus on when trying to understand the performance of their event.
Event Website Visits By Channel
If you don’t know where your visitors are coming from, how do you know if your event marketing efforts are working? How do you know what channels to focus more on and what channels to shift time and money away from?
The answer is, if you aren’t tracking event website visits, and you aren’t aware of the channels that are successfully driving visits - you’re not going to be able to adapt to the changing actions of potential event attendees.
Fortunately, collecting this data is straightforward. First you’ll need to select the analytics platform you want to use, Google Analytics is great and free, so we recommend that one.
Second, you will need to embed a special tracking code in your event website. The instruction for doing this with Google Analytics can be read here. If you’re very “coding averse” you can hire a freelancer to do it for about $30. Upwork is a great platform to use for finding freelancers.
Third, you need to wait. Collecting accurate data will take time. After a month, visit your the Google Analytics dashboard, click “Aquisition” and then click “Overview.” You’ll find a chart similar to the one below.
The screenshot above is a critical report for event planners and event marketers. The report above shows how the visitors to Bizzabo.com discovered the site. On the left, framed in the red rectangle, Google Analytics breaks down traffic channels into organic search, referral, direct, other, social, email paid search and display. For a full understanding of the definitions of each channel, click here.
The report shows that the majority of all visitors to Bizzabo.com are coming through organic search. Since Bizzabo invests a lot in improving organic search rankings, this makes sense.
If I click the “% New Sessions” button, under the red arrow, the chart will also display the channels that are driving new visitors to my website. This is important for event organizers trying to promote their event. A major goal for event marketers is increasing event awareness, and this report will show what channels are contributing most to generating this awareness.
Knowing the channels that are driving more traffic and that are generating more new visits will help event organizers and marketers to prioritize marketing initiatives.
At Bizzabo for example, we know that organic search drives many visitors to our website, and we know that many of these visitors are learning about our brand for the first time. Since generating qualified visits and creating buzz are two major goals of ours, we know that our organic search strategy is working, and we can justify increased marketing spend on this channel.
Finally, the far right column shows some interesting user behavior information that can indicate if website visitors are satisfied with the content they find on your site.
“Bounce rate,” meaning the percentage of people who leave your website within a few seconds is considered by some to be an indication of how satisfied a visitor is to your site. Some argue that pages with a high bounce indicate that users are unsatisfied with the page, and so leave quickly after entering it.
Organizers should know that this metric has been disputed, some argue that the bounce rate should not be tracked or that certain parameters need to be changed in order for the metric to be meaningful.
“Page/session” shows the number of pages a visitor to your website viewed. If you’re interested in raising brand awareness, then a common goal is to increase the number of pages a visitor views on your website. If they land on your event website homepage and leave, they might miss out on learning more about your event agenda, or event speakers for example.
“Average session duration” shows the number of minutes a visitor spent on your website on average. Again, if you’re interested in increasing brand awareness, you might aim for a high time on page number (over 3 minutes), though others argue that high time on page could just mean your website is confusing for visitors to use.
Since bounce rate, page/session and average session duration are filtered by channel, event marketers and organizers can get a good understanding of the way different kinds of visitors engage with your event website.
Many event planners rightly enlist the help of event speakers, and other influencers to help promote an event. Some will event try to get the word out with content placed on related websites and blogs.
But in order for event planners and marketers to understand if these promotional efforts are effective, trackable links must be used.
With tracking links, organizers have the ability to create a unique URL for each marketing initiative, then the performance of these links can be analyzed to show the number of people who clicked on it, and in some cases, to show the number of registrations the link impacted.
Some solutions, like Bizzabo’s event planning software, can generate promo codes that tie into event website visits and registrations. But there are other systems out there as well, Bit.ly offers promo code tracking tools that are easy to start using for example.
Email Open And Click Through Rates
For many event organizers, email marketing is a key medium for event promotion. The Event Professionals of Tomorrow Report found that of the nearly 500 respondents, most said that email marketing was the most effective method for event promotion.
In order to understand how well an email marketing campaign is working, organizers and event marketers must be tracking the performance of each email that is sent. Metrics like email open rate (the percentage of sent emails that were opened) and click through rate aka CTR (the percentage of people who opened the email and clicked a link in it) are the two most important metrics for organizers and marketers to track.
Emails with a low open rate could be an indication that the email subject line simply was not compelling. It might also mean that the sent email did not reach recipients’ inbox because it went to a spam folder or because many of the email addresses the email went to were incorrect.
Emails with a good open rate, but with a low CTR (anything below 2% is quite low) might be performing poorly because the text of the email was not compelling, or because the call to action (the thing you want readers to click on) was not clear or was not compelling.
Without collecting email performance data, you will have no way of understanding what additional measures you and your team can take to improve email performance.
Visit To Registration Conversion Rate
The ratio between those who visit your website and those we actually register for your event is known as the visit to registration conversion rate. As visualized in the funnel below, most event organizers will have many more website visitors, than event registrants.
This is a normal phenomenon in any industry, and is especially so in the event planning industry. What organizers should focus on is improving the conversion rate between someone who visits the page to someone who uses your event registration software and actually becomes an event attendee.
There are many different methods an organizer can employ to try to achieve this, some include improving the event registration experience, making it easier for highly qualified potential attendees to find your event website, or creating promotional videos to place on your event website to easily inform potential buyers.
In addition to tracking visit to registration conversion rate, organizers should also be aware of the number of potential attendees who abandoned the registration process, and the number of those who abandoned the process but later completed it (called recovered registrations).
The graph below shows the number of potential attendees who never completed the registration process (the blue line) and the number of attendees who abandoned the process but eventually completed it (the green line).
While this chart was created thanks to Bizzabo, there are other tools out there planners could consider using that can provide similar functionality as well.
This chart is helpful to organizers because it allows them to understand if there is something about the event registration process specifically that might be causing people to leave the event website without registering for an event. Perhaps the registration form is too long, perhaps the fact that a certain credit card brand isn’t accepted causes some to abandon the process.
By changing different aspects of the event registration process and by paying attention to abandonment rates, organizers can understand how to optimize the experience.
The recovered registrants number provides organizers and marketers with a good understanding of their re-engagement efforts. Many organizers will send reminder emails to those who didn’t end up completing the process, and this chart can show if those emails are working.
Other organizers will use retargeting ads to try to bring those who left the registration process back to the website, and again, this chart can shed some light onto the effectiveness of this strategy.
Event App User Behavior
Some event organizers are primarily concerned with attendee engagement. They want to know if attendees enjoyed the event and if they used the event planning app that was provided to them.
The truth is, there is no one “engagement metric” that can give organizers the full picture. Instead, planners should look for a collection of event planning metrics to determine if attendees enjoyed the event.
Some key identifiers include the number of agenda pages, speaker bios and sponsor pages that were viewed by attendees. Typically event goers who really explore the content on the event app are more engaged than those who don't.
The number of messages that were sent between event attendees is also a good metric for organizers to pay attention to. Above average messaging often indicates that attendees received a lot of value from the networking platform and made many new connections.
Finally, planners should also administer an NPS survey, like the one mentioned in the intro, to gauge overall attendee satisfaction. Then event planners should see if event app engagement correlates to attendee satisfaction, in most cases, it does. If it does, it makes the decision to invest in an event networking platform next year a bit easier.
Conclusion: Getting Started With Event Metrics
Focusing on event metrics can be challenging, especially for those event planners who are used to making decisions based on experience and intuition. But the business world has been changing over the last decade, and today, leaders expect decisions to be made based on careful data analysis.
The data driven approach has worked for people in many different industries, and it will work for event planners and event marketers too. The key to getting started with event metrics is to first commit to collecting good data. Without enough good data, metrics are meaningless.
Focus on understanding and improve the areas that are critical to event success. If you want to increase registrations, than visits by channel, and visits to registration rates are key.
Alternatively, if your goal is to measure engagement, organizers should focus on monitoring user behavior on an event planning app, and should also administer an NPS survey.
Try using a data driven event planning platform. Click the button below to give Bizzabo a spin!