The right way to survey the contributors of digital occasions



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Over the course of 2020, marketers and event planners tried to convert their in-person events to digital format due to the pandemic. Adjustment was understandably difficult. But virtual events benefited from the much-needed growth phase.

Now, teams have increasingly learned to adapt to a virtual environment, and it is clear that the future of events is hybrid – that is, with a mix of personal and virtual experiences to maximize potential value and ease of access for attendees worldwide.

But engagement is still a significant problem at virtual events. Only half of virtual event attendees in 2020 said they were engaged, and nearly 70% of event marketers said the lack of networking opportunities during and after virtual events reduced the value of the event.

To overcome the engagement hurdle and unlock the full potential of a virtual event experience, teams need to understand how to excite their event attendees, and the best way to get that knowledge is by conducting surveys before, during, and after the events.

Survey participants before a virtual or hybrid event

Pre-event surveys will help you better understand what your attendees want from their virtual or hybrid event experience. If possible, conduct these surveys 4-6 months in advance of the conference so that you can use the information for your planning rather than just validating your agenda.

The goal of a pre-event survey is to determine the needs of your attendees and identify any elements that your event may be missing. Multiple choice options are easy for data collection, but you should also include open-ended answer options to better understand what your students want.

Questions to ask in your participant survey before the event:

  • When do you prefer to attend a virtual event?
  • Would you rather participate in a virtual event for a whole day or several hours over several days?
  • Which social media channels do you use most often to network with other virtual event participants?
  • What do you hope to gain from participating in this event?
  • Do you prefer recorded event sessions or live streaming sessions? Why?
  • Which of the following features would you appreciate during any event session?
    • Nonverbal responses to respond to the speaker
    • In-platform chat tools to ask questions of the speaker
    • In-platform chat tools to get in touch with other participants
    • Screen captions during the presentation

Offer polling opportunities in several places to maximize your potential response rate. Record details in pre-conference emails, on your conference website, and on all social channels.

They can also provide incentives to increase the response rate and generate excitement for the event. Incentives for surveys can be …

  • Gift cards
  • Swag bag / branded item
  • Event package upgrade
  • Invitation to a special meeting or networking opportunity
  • “Survey rate” rates: Participants receive the early bird rate if they agree to complete a longer survey by a certain date
  • Sponsor gifts, including swag or free product codes

Survey participants during a virtual or hybrid event

You can survey participants during your event through simple popups and surveys in the virtual event interface. It will measure their initial satisfaction and possibly find ways to improve the rest of the conference experience.

Your attendees will be busy networking, attending meetings, and reviewing their notes. Therefore, keep all surveys short and focused during your event.

Questions to ask during your virtual or hybrid event:

  • How would you rate it on a scale from 1 to 10? [last session they attended]?
  • How do you rate your conference experience so far?
  • Do you feel confident navigating this online conference?

You can use many of the same incentives that you used for your pre-event surveys to encourage attendees to take surveys during the event.

Further incentives:

  • Offer timed freebies during the event while attendees fill out surveys
  • Offer signed books or premium content from event speakers
  • Survey participants upgrade to VIP conference access

Polls aren’t the only way to find out if your virtual event strategy is working. Social listening is an essential feedback mechanism.

Have a team member monitor your event hashtag or individual communities and actively interact with attendees who post on social media. Ask attendees if they enjoy the sessions, see if they have anything to take away, and make sure they know how to connect with other attendees.

Survey participants about a virtual or hybrid event

Post-event polls can be displayed on-screen at the end of your event or emailed a day or two after your event to help capture your audience when their experience is still in the foreground.

The post-event survey is an opportunity to gauge how well your speakers performed, whether attendees were able to network and establish legitimate connections throughout your conference, whether your session styles and length were effective as well Your event platform has cut off and a lot more.

Immerse yourself in the good and the bad alike after the event. You need to understand why your attendees failed to correct this at your next event.

Consider having one-on-one interviews with participants to immerse themselves in their experiences. Calls like this will take a significant amount of your time, but they’re the best way to get insights a survey just can’t.

Questions to ask in post-event surveys or interviews:

  • Please rate your satisfaction with the following event elements on a scale of 1-10:
    • Networking opportunities
    • Ease of use of the event platform
    • Sound and video quality
    • Availability of help and support
    • Quality of the meetings
    • Value of attending the event
    • Overall experience of the event
  • How could we have improved your experience at our event? [open answer]
  • What kind of event experiences are you interested in in the next six months?
    • All-virtual event
    • Hybrid events with a mix of personal and virtual participants
    • Only personal event experiences

How participant surveys shape the strategy for virtual events: metrics

By interviewing your attendees before, during, and after your event, the more likely your company will become a standout event provider through the rest of 2021 and beyond.

At each event, ask new questions to explore the key considerations for your attendees, and then monitor the KPIs to assess whether your improved strategy is working.

The number of participants is a standard number to be taken into account. Other valuable key figures:

  • Participants per session
  • Average number of sessions per participant
  • Popularity of your event hashtag
  • Average number of people each participant met or was connected with
  • Active members in private event communities

With calculated commitment, determination and a pinch of patience, your surveys will improve your events and your event success will skyrocket.

Additional resources on virtual event strategy

Next-Level Webinars: Boost Your Virtual Events | MarketingProfs Guide

Virtual events: 18 ways to rock virtual engagement and offer event sponsors added value

The Hybrid Future: How B2B Events Are Developing


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