Events drive leads for sales and are a powerful networking tool that enables companies and brands to connect with their audiences and clients face to face. At least, that’s what we know. But as any marketer, sales rep and event organizer will tell you, qualifying those collected leads is anything but certain.
Because not all leads are created equal, and every individual at your event has their own unique journey to the final sale.
According to Statista, only 14% of B2B marketers’ budgets are being allocated for in-person trade shows in 2015. Because of this, event marketers are pressured to find the metrics that matter when it comes to proving value.
Traditionally most event organizers and sales reps have focused on the data that is generated before and after an event, which gives a good picture of who showed up, but not much else.
Here are 5 ways that event marketers can use the data that is being generated before, during, and after their events to create a richer experience for their attendees, while providing insights into the value of their show.
1. Social Listening
Using social media to track activity pre and post-event is nothing new, but keeping up with what your audiences are saying during your event could lead to valuable clues and insights to help optimize your event for the future. EventTrack revealed that nearly 77% of event marketers use social media as a key engagement strategy before an event. But that number drops to 61% after the event. It seems silly that most organizers would disappear on social after their event is over, and even sillier that we wouldn’t be prioritizing social media during events!
Try setting up a social listening dashboard to track your event’s unique hashtag. (And if you don’t have one of those, you’d better jump on that bandwagon!) Look for valuable clues such as sentiment, number of posts, images, etc. from your audience. Are they posting quotes from speakers who inspired them? Or are they complaining that the speaker went on too long? Are they posting a ton of photos about a specific exhibitor’s booth or product that they’re excited about? Those comments can go a long way to tailoring future events and finding the content that’s really connecting with your audience.
Using that social data will help you identify engaged attendees who really are invested in your event. Or use that social data to generate post-event content that you know your attendees loved by sending out notes from your most popular speakers, creating graphics based on trending quotes from your sessions, point audiences towards presentations that were used during keynotes, post photos of people having fun and enjoying themselves, or send out a newsletter highlighting all the great social activity that your event attracted to make attendees feel special.
Some tools you can use to set up an easy to use social listening dashboard:
- Hootsuite – Set up an alert for your event’s unique hashtag or name and collect all social mentions on your registered social accounts. The mobile app will allow for real-time responses and monitoring no matter where you are on the floor.
- Google Alerts – An “oldie but goodie” in terms of being able to have all mentions from around the web about your conference’s hashtag or name sent directly to your email account.
- Mention – A personal favorite of mine for setting up a dedicated dashboard to listen for any mention of your show. Mention pulls in everything from blogs, to forums, to social posts all in one dedicated location.
2. In-Event Surveys
Want to know what your audience thought about the speakers or exhibitors you’ve booked? Ask them while the content is still fresh in their mind! Sending out surveys during or the night of an event is a great way to gauge interest from your attendees and an excellent way to collect additional data that you can use when planning for your next one. How long did they spend at the session? Did they enjoy the topic? Is there anything else they wish the speaker would have covered? What topics are they most interested in?
Don’t forget to look at the metrics that come with your survey as well, such as open rate, bounce rate, time on page, etc. Those people who took the time to give you feedback might be qualified leads waiting to be added to your sales pipeline! And what a great excuse to follow up with them to thank them for their time, whether the response was good or bad!
Don’t forget to pool your exhibitors for their thoughts and feedback on the event. They are in the trenches talking to your attendees, and they can probably offer some unique insights as to how they thought the event’s marketing worked, what could be done better, attendee attitude, etc.
Some survey tools you can use during your event to maximize attendee response:
- Your Mobile App – If your conference has a dedicated mobile app that allows for surveying, this is an effective way to reach those who are already engaged and using your content to find their way around. Create surveys on the fly or work with your speakers to craft a questionnaire that will give valuable insights.
- Email – If you’re collecting attendee email addresses at your event (and you really should), then you already have a direct way to connect with them to gain insights. Not everyone will respond during the event, because hopefully they’re still engaged with the event itself, but you might be surprised who answers after the day is over.
- SurveyMonkey – A powerful and free survey tool to help you manage the email addresses, which allows organizers to “jazz up” their content a bit. Pro tip: Add your company’s branding to legitimize the messaging and increase response rate.
3. Targeted Messaging
If you’re tracking movement during your event using beacon or RFID technology, then you have a good idea of where people are gravitating on the floor. Most event organizers send out messaging via their conference app, or using emails to “remind” attendees of upcoming speakers, special offers, etc.
Use that digital data to help understand which messaging and attractions at your event really resonated with attendees or inspired them to attend. For example, you can correlate how many individuals were scanned going to the events that you messaged them about via your conference app or use the email analytics to understand who was reading your content and who wasn’t. Not only will you have a better understanding of what messaging really caught people’s attention, you can prove to speakers, exhibitors, and your boss, which partners you should be securing for future events who will really drive attendance and traffic.
Gamification is a trend that’s worth looking into when it comes to live events. What better way to engage attendees and get them excited about exhibitors, speakers, and parties than by creating a fun game with swag to encourage them to discover?
Some examples of successful gamification methods would be:
- Scavenger hunts – just as much fun as when you were a kid, but now you’re competing for grown-up prizes, and there’s networking along the way.
- Photo quests – encourage attendees to find locations or people to snap photos of that they can post to their social channels; it gets them to use your event’s hashtag, while promoting how much fun they’re having (and again, there’s prizes).
- Social check-ins – getting people to check in at certain event locations can be difficult, but not when you incentivize them or make it part of a bigger game!
- Networking challenges – Who’s going to be the first to collect 100 business cards or gain 20 new followers on Twitter?
The data that these types of games collect will be invaluable to knowing whether or not your content was compelling, and will help you understand which of your attendees were really interacting with your event.
Getting exhibitors in on the game is another great way to collect data too. They will appreciate the increased networking opportunities, and you will be able to see how actively people participated and where they went. Those attendees who enthusiastically played along may qualify as sales leads for your organization or possible thought-leaders to partner with in the future to help promote upcoming events or content that you plan on releasing.
5. Mobile App Insights
Your event’s mobile app is a treasure trove of attendee activity that you can export and use to produce data-driven insights. Beyond the total number of downloads, ask your app provider for a full breakdown of who used the app and how to discover whether or not it was effective. Did your attendees use the messaging function? Or were they more focused on the app’s networking capabilities? You could even send out a survey to ask attendees what improvements you could make to your event’s app. Those metrics will drive a better understanding of your audience’s needs as well as improve functionality.
Using this kind of digital data to help inform the layout, agenda, and messaging for your event will take a lot of the guesswork out of planning, not to mention deliver a more qualified list of leads to your sales teams! And because events are an expensive and immersive experience for everyone involved, marketers need these kinds of insights to help them prove value to their attendees, sponsors, speakers, and exhibitors.
Connecting with your prospects and clients in person is key to driving your sales and marketing. As described in this post, I am proposing several ways that you can learn about the actual experience of your attendees. Because each attendee has their own agenda, priorities and social behavior, it is complicated to understand every journey throughout your event.
At the very least, you should identify and understand those attendees who are the most engaged at the event. By focusing on these attendees, you will be able to optimize your messaging before, during, and after future events? With the right combination of tools, you can reveal much about your attendees and translate this on broader scale into successful sales and marketing campaigns.
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About the Author: Brian Friedman is the founder and CEO of Loopd. Design driven product leader socializing technology through wearables and analytics.