Assessing the success of a medical communications event
Imagine this: you have come to the end of your medical communications event. Event attendees and clients alike are patting your back for a job well done, congratulating you on a successful event. But has it really been so successful? What would constitute as a successful event? How would you measure its success?
To answer these questions, we have to start at the beginning: setting the event’s objectives. Knowing what you want to achieve from your event provides a clear basis on which to measure its success, whether that’s gaining feedback about a product or raising awareness about a new indication for a product. Success of at-event objectives, such as engagement or education, may be assessed during or at the end of the event through direct interaction with attendees using polls, open dialogues and feedback surveys. Post-event objectives, on the other hand, may require longer-term assessment and follow-up, relying more on indirect metrics, such as lead generation and sales revenue, to determine its success. While knowing what success looks like and how to measure it is important, it is equally important that these considerations are taken into account in the initial planning stages of your event. In this way, the means to evaluate success is integrated into the event itself, rather than being introduced as an afterthought.
Though more traditional methods, such as feedback surveys and polls, are a mainstay in the assessment of event success, the use of social listening and other data analytic approaches have become more popular recently. Such approaches leverage the current trend of everything moving online and going digital – from forum conversations to consumer behaviour, and even the collection of sales and customer interaction data. Massive amounts of data are constantly being collected across different platforms and devices, tracking keyword searches, web clicks, online purchases and even time spent on websites, providing additional ways to assess and measure the success of your medical communications event.
Social media posts with event-specific hashtags or mentions allow you to track engagement of attendees during the event. Following your event, tools for social listening, such as Hootsuite® and Sprout Social, can detect upticks in online conversations and keyword searches about event-related topics or products, while others can detect spikes in traffic to your webpages, increases in lead generation and growing sales revenues. Using such approaches to show an increase in interest, chatter and sales after your event may be used as an indicator of event success. While correlation does not always indicate causation, and we should be cautious in concluding as such, the close timing of increases in conversation, traffic and sales following an event would strongly imply that your event has been successful in raising awareness, informing and generating revenue.
At the end of the day, after everything is said and done and regardless of which approaches you use, the most important thing to remember is to ensure that these considerations are an integral part of the event planning process right from the start. This way, you will know and be able to show that you hit your medical communications event out of the park.
Ong Yen May, HealthCare21 Communications, Singapore