You exhale. Your shoulders drop.
The speakers have presented, the attendees have engaged, the host has said their thank yous. You’ve closed the doors — be them virtual or physical — on your latest event.
The compliments start to roll in. It’s time to celebrate! The experience you spent months planning is over.
Or is it?
You suddenly remember the questions are coming. All those stakeholders will wonder (aloud –– to you –– over the phone or Slack or email or text message):
“How’d it go?”
“What feedback did you get?”
“How many people were there?”
“What was the NPS?”
“How much revenue did we get?”
“Did we meet our goal?”
“Should we do this again?”
Your unbridled joy turns back to stress as you try to anticipate the asks and figure out how quickly you can get ahead of them –– all while running on empty.
Activate practical mode: You need a way to quickly pull together, analyze, and present data and insights from your event to show your stakeholders what worked –– and what you’d recommend next time around.
It also hits you that you’re just looking at your event data now that the event is over, which means you could be in for some surprises. You make a mental note to review the numbers at every stage of the process next time.
After all, your event platform already provides you with access to analytics throughout the event lifecycle –– analytics that have the power to impress sponsors, help you figure out where there’s room for improvement, better understand what your community wants from the experiences you’re putting together, and inject inspiration into your future events.
And that inspiration can apply to all kinds of events: virtual, hybrid, and in-person. The SaaStr team hosted dozens of virtual events during the pandemic, and then used the data-driven insights from those online experiences to reimagine their in-person conference in 2021.
“We added a lot of roundtables,” says Saastr Senior Vice President and General Manager Amelia Ibarra. “We added a lot of small group sessions because a lot of really great, like-minded people came through our digital events –– people in our community who should be raised up to a speaker level.”
Ibarra and her team aren’t alone when it comes to understanding how event data can help drive success. For example, almost 85% of event professionals say access to attendee engagement insights is vital to their success.
This guide will walk you through what data matters most when it comes to event reporting, key opportunities to streamline your event management through data, and how to craft event reports that win over stakeholders.
In this guide:
Understanding the value of event data
From the analytics provided by event platforms to attendee feedback surveys, data can help you make smart decisions, validate or disprove a certain approach, optimize event experiences for attendees, and prove results to key stakeholders. But to truly understand your event data and build insightful reports, you first need to know what data points you can measure.
For example, virtual event platforms might offer visibility on metrics like:
- Attendance: The percentage of registrants who actually attended the event
- Average time spent in the event: How long participants stayed at your event
- Visitor numbers: Unique visitors to different areas of the virtual venue (including sponsor-led areas)
- Connections made: The number of networking connections that took place among participants
- Event Net Promoter Score (NPS): An event’s NPS, which tracks how satisfied attendees were with an event and how likely they are to refer that event to others or attend again
In addition to the above, Hopin customers can use platform analytics to look at:
- Lists of questions asked and answered via the Q&A tab during an event
- How well-attended different sessions were
- Expo summaries, including how many visitors sponsor-led areas had, how long attendees stayed there, and how many people registered interest, clicked URLs, or left comments
Now that you’ve seen some examples of the data points many virtual event platforms offer, let’s move through the event lifecycle and uncover some of the ways in which analytics can take your events to the next level.
Using event data to optimize registration and planning
Ah, those pre-event kinks and jitters: a slight dip in registration here, a little scheduling adjustment there.
Fortunately, event data can help you identify some fires before they gather enough fuel to burn. In the pre-event stage, your event analytics dashboard acts as a handy tool, giving you insight into your event marketing activities and indicating when you might need to pivot.
Here are a few examples of how event data can help you optimize your approach during registration and planning.
Pre-event data insight #1: Registration fluctuations
Invites have gone out but registration isn’t at the level you hoped it would be by now. What’s next?
If you have a closed list of invitations:
- Take a look at who has registered, where they registered from, and when they took action
- Use the invitation list to see who hasn’t registered, and send them a second round of invites at times when existing registrants signed on
- Consider expanding your reach and inviting more people from regions or with job titles that have yielded results so far
If you have an open registration:
- Connect Google Analytics to see what campaigns are driving attendees to register
- Identify where people are dropping off in the purchase or registration process
- Adjust your registration strategy based on what you discover
Pre-event data insight #2: Attendee wants and needs
You probably wouldn’t plan a meal for a close friend featuring foods they don’t like –– after all, you know your audience.
Event data can help you take the same approach with event attendees. Data that comes into your virtual event platform during the registration phase can give you visibility on what your audience members will want and need during your event so you can tailor the experience and your event lineup to them. This exercise also helps you make sure all attendees feel considered during the event.
If you want to personalize your event for attendees:
- Host polls or provide digital spaces where registrants can network and chat before the event, then take a look at common topics and themes emerging in these spaces
- Adjust your event schedule to feature more of the content registrants are showing interest in and close registration for sessions that are already full
Using event data to keep your experience on track
Did you know data can also help you manage your event in the moment?
Insights gleaned from event analytics dashboards can help you optimize things like timing and attendee flow. Take a look at a few ways event data can support you on the fly.
Mid-event data insight #1: Optimal timing
A great emcee knows exactly how to move an event along or slow it down, depending on what the moment calls for. Event data can give you some relevant indicators during an event so you know how to adjust your timing. Examples of this include:
- Start times: Live analytics show event organizers when a virtual room is full, indicating it’s the perfect time to begin a presentation or activity
- Q&As: Event managers can see how many people are asking questions, which questions are being repeated, and how much time they’ll need to get through questions during an event
Mid-event data insight #2: Optimal flow
Looking at event data can also help organizers figure out exactly where attendees are in the virtual venue during an event.
Whether attendees are lingering in a breakout session, gathering in a sponsor’s booth, or hanging out in a networking conversation, organizers can get a sense of where attendees are engaging with the event and help keep the event flowing. For example, they can add gamification elements to the event or make event-wide announcements to keep attendees moving through the experience.
Mid-event data insight #3: Sponsor traction
Let’s say an organizer is hosting a multi-day event and they look at their engagement data for the expo area of the virtual venue. Here, they can typically monitor metrics like visits, clicks, and chats.
If, for example, visits aren’t meeting their (or their sponsor’s) expectations, they can incorporate “sponsorship breaks” into the rest of the event to give attendees time to visit sponsor booths and help direct the flow of traffic to those booths.
Using event data to measure success
Event data can help you make informed decisions, improve your event marketing, and optimize your event on the fly. But data is also a key element of measuring success –– and the cornerstone of the post-event report.
An event report is a review of how an event fared against its goals. Audiences for event reports often include marketers (including product marketers), event sponsors, and community managers. While they’re usually created for internal audiences, some pieces might be relevant for external-facing channels, like social media or email, to promote an event’s success and drum up enthusiasm for future experiences.
An event report allows organizers to:
- Review an event against its goals and objectives
- Celebrate successes
- Identify areas of improvement and determine how to adjust similar events going forward
- Quantify impact for stakeholders, including sponsors
- Create a game plan for future events
Let’s run through the core elements of an event report and how you can use data to highlight key points.
How to build an event report
An event report usually repeats or summarizes information from the event brief, including event goals, budget, and key logistics. It also provides data on event success metrics, including attendance, engagement, and sponsorship results.
While an event report can be a formal document with robust visuals, it can also be a text-only email, a deck with photos, a web page with videos, or a dashboard –– whatever works well for your needs.
The key is to make it standardized and establish a repeatable reporting process. You can do this by having a consistent report structure and including the same sections each time so you can look for trends across events and make it easy for stakeholders to digest the information you’re sharing.
Consider structuring your report as follows:
Section 1: Background and context
Executive summary and table of contents: This is the TL;DR. It provides a quick synopsis of your event and highlights key data points like attendance rate, NPS, and revenue. It typically ends with recommendations for the next event before going into the rest of the report.
Introduction: The introduction should answer one question: Why did your event happen? What was your goal? Give an overview of the impact the event had against that goal.
Speakers: Finding speakers for an event can be challenging. Use this section to highlight which speakers worked out (and which ones didn’t). Include a list of everyone who spoke at your event, showing how each speaker performed in terms of attendance and engagement metrics. Then, identify who you would invite to speak again, or what types of speakers resonated with your audience.
Venue: Identify whether your event was virtual, hybrid, or in person. Explain how your physical or virtual (or both) venue performed against your expectations. If it was your first time hosting a virtual event, how did it compare to past in-person experiences?
Program: Here you can include a snapshot of your event’s schedule, including different tracks offered. Give an overview of what event elements you organized, from networking to breakout sessions to keynotes, and include recommendations for next time on what, if anything, should change.
Internal event team: Time to shout out your incredible team. Include any producers, marketers, creative folk, tech support staff, and any others who helped bring your event to life. Also note whether you ran into capacity issues or would suggest any changes next time.
Section 2: Event performance
Budget: Time to show everyone the money! In this section, include reviews of:
- The overall event budget
- Any projected revenue (from sponsorships, ticket sales, and product sales)
- Actual revenue
- Net financial impact (revenue minus budget)
- Key budget learnings, including areas where you came in over or under your set budget
- Recommendations, including what you’d add to the event if you had more budget
If your event platform allows for it, break down revenue by ticket type and country, so you have more accurate projections for next time.
Event marketing: Highlight how you marketed your event and how those efforts performed. Include graphics of the actual invites, emails, advertisements, and any other materials that encouraged people to come to your event. Then share metrics like registrations, attendance rate, and ticket sales. Don’t overlook metrics beyond your virtual event platform that illustrate additional impact. These can be data points like:
- How many people you invited (size of email list)
- How many people engaged with your invite (email click-through rate)
- Social media impressions, views, comments, and profile visits
- Who joined your social media audience as a result of the event (new followers)
If you have data from past iterations of the same event, add in some through-time analysis here. How did these metrics change from event-to-event? And what accounted for any changes?
Attendee recap: Now, review the attendee experience and seek to answer the important question: Did attendees think your event was worth their time? You can measure that through a NPS survey that asks attendees if they would recommend the event to a friend. You can also include more qualitative feedback. Your report should include metrics like:
- NPS and survey responses, both metrics and qualitative comments to give your stakeholders a sense of your attendees’ vibe (enthusiastic, disappointed, or something in between)
- Average time spent in each section of your event
- Engagement via comments, visitors (per stage, sessions, and networking areas), connections made, meetings scheduled, pool participation and results, and questions asked
Sponsor recap: You want to make sure sponsors see the value of their investment. And, importantly, that they want to come back to sponsor your next event. That’s what this section of your event report addresses. A virtual event platform can help show how a sponsorship performed across areas like:
- Lead generation: Names, emails, and locations of event attendees who’ve opted to share this information with sponsors
- Attendee engagement: Time spent in booths, clicks made in booths, and connections created between attendees and sponsors
- Call-to-action performance: Clicks made on customizable action buttons
- Content creation: Event recordings that can be reused in other marketing initiatives
- Product insights: Chat data that can feed into product marketing, user experience research, and voice-of-customer tracking
You may also want to include qualitative attendee feedback here, particularly if it mentions sponsors by name, so they can see their impact.
And while you should be utilizing graphs and visualization elements throughout your report, make sure you have several in this section that highlight the data points your sponsors care about the most. Imagine your sponsors screenshotting this part of your event report and bringing it back to their stakeholders to show how their investment paid off.
Let event data level up your event strategy
Event data and insights make your job as an event professional easier. They help optimize your event registration, guide your planning, improve the day-of experience for attendees, and measure success.
Event technology platforms like Hopin can grant you access to these insights and metrics so you can improve your future events and level up your entire event strategy.
For the avoidance of doubt, this guide is purely for informational purposes and does not constitute a marketing communication or legal advice on behalf of Hopin.