Meet the new kids on the metrics block!

Events were put on hold for over two years during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but since then the rise of events, run by events companies or B2B marketers for their own organization, has grown exponentially. According to the latest research, events have grown at a predicted CAGR of 11.2% between 2021 and 2028 – it’s clear that events, whether in-person or virtual, are back and better than ever!

This downtime has allowed event organizers to rethink processes, planning techniques, and metrics – so where do things stand now? Gone are the days of prioritizing vanity metrics – which, put simply, means goals that look good on paper and suggest company growth and success, but often have little to no correlation to performance that can help future strategies.

We’ve talked before about the limitations of vanity metrics but what exactly are this year’s event organizers replacing them with?

Measuring registration is fast becoming a thing of the past

Registrations once ruled the metrics scene of the events industry as they can help organizers calculate how effective the event and its promotional efforts were. However, registrations offer a short-sighted view of the power of an event and the success of the wider marketing strategy. Only 11% of marketers now count registrations as a key success metric as event organizers are looking towards better success metrics.

Attendance figures have now started to disassociate from recorded attendance, specifically for virtual events – with no-show rates rising to 35%. But let’s not forget about in-person events as they start to reenter the event circuit as no-shows are also frequent! We find that at actual events, no shows are at 30%! As attendees wait to decide if an in-person event is worth financial commitments and time blocked from their diary, initial registrations can’t account for this decision making.

Rather than relying on registration numbers, event organizers are looking to a more reliable source of data. It’s all about registrant-to-attendee conversion.

Keeping up appearances

A recent report from Bizzabo found that over 50% of event organizers are tracking attendance as a success indicator – and for good reason! Conversion rates from registrations-to-attendance not only measures the success of the event, but also the organizer’s marketing strategy and efforts.

Event organizers and some marketers are not just on the case, but are developing choose-your-own-adventure registration forms with customized pre-event communications, targeted content, and coordinated social media posts to spark early engagement and motivate registrants to attend.

But proceed with caution. Attendance figures alone can offer many insights into event value compared to registration data, but event organizers need to broaden their horizons to other metrics to get the full picture.

Look beyond the headcount as engagement metrics take center stage

Engagement is more indicative of revenue success than attendance but combine the two metrics together and you get a powerful mix of data insights for any event. Reaching the goal of over 1,000 event attendees is impressive but this doesn’t answer questions about customer retention or engagement with the event brand!

These insights take a much deeper dive into the success of an event than attendance numbers ever could. But that’s not all, they also demonstrate the value of events within an organization’s wider marketing strategy. In short, events are futile if attendees don’t enjoy them or take anything substantial from speaking events or roundtable discussions. It’s all about measuring engagement which proves the value of holding events and how it can benefit the organization.

By tracking event engagement insights, organizers can make use of event technology to segment attendees by their level of engagement, and personalize post-event follow up actions, such as providing on-demand access to recorded key-note sessions. This data also lends a helping hand for sales teams to focus on highly engaged segments to maximize sales conversion success.

Redefine event metric tracking for long-lasting success

The rising return of in-person and virtual events has come with a new set of metrics. To continue to reap the rewards, it is vital that businesses continually re-evaluate their processes – from marketing strategies, organizational tactics, and day-to-day event running – everything has changed, and the same goes for event metrics.

Event organizers and marketers are starting to ditch futile vanity metrics for more insightful aspects of the event – think attendance and engagement! Yes attendance metrics can measure the effect of event marketing but engagement is a true measure of the event itself.

Leaving behind vanity metrics and instead embracing the new reality of event metrics will prove the worth of their events, show marketing impact on events, and build a better experience for attendees for events to come in the future.

Caitlin Goldsmith is a PR Executive at IBA International.

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