The Most Efficient Ways to Measure ROI for Your Virtual Events

by Catherine Ma
Jul 31, 2020
white printed poster

In the past few decades when print ad had been the most common medium for delivering advertising, how did advertisers measure the effectiveness of those ads in newspaper and magazines? In some cases, the number of discounts or coupon code shown on print ads that has been redeemed and the number of customized contact information that has been reached out are the only ways to measure.  

With the boom of digital advertising driven by Google and Facebook, there became various ways to understand and track customer behaviours using online tools like website traffic, page views and bounce rate. Measuring the effectiveness of advertising became much easier to track and optimize.

Similarly, in the world of events, measuring ROI at in-person events can be very difficult -  much more difficult than at virtual events. We've concluded traditional ways to measure ROI for both in-person and virtual events and also more effective KPIs specifically for virtual events.


Traditionally, ROI for events is measured generally through:

  • Event Registration
  • Presence on Social Media
  • Website Traffic
  • Event Communications (live polling, surveys, etc.)
  • Event Apps
  • Leads generated
  • Customers converted

The number of people who register to your events beforehand and who actually come to the event is straightforward to measure. Social media engagement before and after an event can be tracked through KPIs like mentions, engagement rate, and post views. By comparing difference in website traffic before and after, you will know how much traffic the event has brought. Besides that, communications between speakers and attendees using tools like live polling and surveys can be a way to measure engagement during an event. Lastly, many event apps allow you to see how attendees respond to to the event experience through in-app activities, messaging and session check-ins. Yes all these metrics are useful; however, most of them lack of performance tracking during the event.

With virtual events, measuring ROI becomes more explicit for the "during-the-event" stage

Goal#1: BRAND AWARENESS

💡Event Attendance Trends

For virtual events, people can both join and quit the event at any time as they wish. Thus, it is important to measure the event attendance trend on an ongoing basis so that you could know the number of people who join the event room and also who leave the room at any time. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting provide data analytics for attendance rate and trends.

💡During-the-event Social Media/Website Performance

You know that your attendees will have their phones on their hip. It is possible that attendees will go check your social media account page and also your website during the event. Therefore, tracking traffic on social media and web during the event will also tell you how engaged your event attendees are and the likelihood of a relationship forming. 

Goal#2: SPONSOR ENGAGEMENT

💡Embedded Hyperlink/Badge Scanning

In order to satisfy your sponsors so they can hit their desired ROI, you can insert an embedded hyperlink or clickable logo that can integrate into your video conferencing platform. With the number of leads generated through the embedded hyperlink or logo and value per lead, sponsors can calculate how profitable your  event is for them. 

Goal#3: EVENT ENGAGEMENT

💡Session/Speaker Engagement

With in-person events, it is not easy to measure engagement for specific sessions or speakers. However, you need to know which session or which speaker drive the most attention from attendees for knowing what is working and what is not. Through event tech tools like Cvent and Aventri for virtual events, you will be able to track, for example, the average time attendees spend on each session before they drop out or click something else on the screen. This will help you optimize your speakers and content the next time around!

💡Communication Participation

During virtual events, speakers usually interact with event attendees using Q&A in chat room, audience response tools and other audience engagement tools. By looking at participation during Q&A sessions, you will learn how your attendees actively interact, what they want and their areas of interest.


Before we wrap it up, we want to remind of one last but most important thing for calculating ROI: your virtual event costs. Costs for virtual events are different than for in-person ones, so you need to be aware of it before you start measuring ROI.

To sum up, organizing a successful event is not your only goal. Measuring the performance of an event and reflecting on possible ways to improve backed by data are important for your sustained success. Other than traditional KPIs, virtual events can be analyzed in a more granular way because of the nature of digital.

Invest time in performing qualitative analysis and contextualizing quantitative data. 📈 Take one step further to prove your event's success, to demonstrate tangible value, and to validate your event planning strategy!

Thank you for reading!

Catherine Ma


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