Over the past decade, big data has exploded. Organizations are using data to make all kinds of decisions, such as improving the customer experience or which new product features to roll out. This article will cover how to collect data at events and put it to use.
Today’s leading and most innovative businesses run on data. They use data to drive and inform every decision and continuously improve their processes and operations. If this sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is.
Although you can’t magically transform into an utterly data-driven organization overnight, you can get there incrementally. And focusing on using data to improve your event experiences is a great place to start.
Putting on exceptional events starts with data. With the right tools and strategies in place, event managers can use data to improve every aspect of their events. Here are ways that data and analytics can help you work smarter, not harder.
Data Helps You Measure Event Success
Believe it or not, although most organizations spend more than 25% of their marketing budgets on events, they don’t have any mechanisms in place to evaluate whether their events were successful. Yikes!
To avoid that fate, you need to outline your goals and understand what you hope to accomplish. Here are some common event goals:
- Deliver better experiences (for attendees, staff, sponsors, vendors)
- Drive registrations
- Boost brand awareness
- Increase sponsorship revenue
- Improve ROE/ROA
- Increase networking opportunities
- Generate revenue
- Generate pipeline
- Educate/appreciate/engage customer
Once you’ve set your goals, you can create critical indicators that you’ve achieved those goals and collect data to assess outcomes. For example, if your goal is to drive registrations, you might collect the following data:
- Marketing email open rates and click-through rates (CTRs)
- Event site CTRs, form fill rates, and page bounce rates
- Social media clicks, form fills, and shares
With data around your goals in hand, you can start to assess what worked, what needs to be A/B tested, and so on.
Data Offers Insight Into Your Audience
Data also helps you learn more about your audience. The questions you can ask and the information you can gather are endless. For example:
- Job title and where they work
- Events they attend and how often
- What topics and subjects interest them
- Where they hang out online the most (e.g., Twitter or LinkedIn)
- What they’re hoping to get out of your next event (e.g., learning something new or meeting new people)
- What session formats they’re most interested in
- Whether they’re interested in attending events virtually or in-person
Collecting and analyzing this data makes your job much easier because you’ll know what your audience hopes to get out of the event. Also? The better you get to know your audience, the better you can personalize the event experience.
Data Drives Personalization for Attendee Journeys
Data makes it possible to personalize every aspect of your event. With the right software, you can create a unique event experience for every audience segment by customizing communications and offering different engagement, content, and networking opportunities before, during, and after the event.
For example, if you discover your registrants fall into specific buckets — marketing, sales, C-suite — you can build personalized session tracks and networking opportunities for those groups. Or, if your registrants hail from specific geographic regions, you can customize the journey with localized language and terminology.
What is event experience?
Event experience encompasses everything that influences the way an attendee perceives your event — starting from the first event invitation email to hitting “submit” on a post-event survey and beyond. The better the experience, the more likely attendees are to speak positively about your event to their colleagues, engage with post-event content, and register for your next event.
Data Helps Improves Event Messaging
With the right tools in place, you can use data to optimize your event messaging and convert more prospects into bona fide attendees. For example, you can use A/B testing to enhance your email marketing efforts by seeing which versions of messages your audience engages with the most.
You can do the same for your event website. Using heat-mapping tools or other site engagement tools, you can see how site visitors engage with your messaging. Some questions to consider:
- Do people prefer specific CTA copy (e.g., register now vs. save a spot)?
- Are they looking at the agenda or skipping straight to the speakers?
- Are people watching on-demand recap videos from past events?
By continuously measuring how your audience interacts with your content and messaging, you can iterate over time and produce increasingly effective language that helps you achieve your event objectives.
Data Lets You Optimize Your Event in Real-Time
When you have a powerful event management solution at your fingertips, it’s possible to collect real-time data during your event and optimize on the spot. For example, you can conduct a real-time poll to gauge audience feedback about a particular session on day one and use that information to influence how you organize an event later that day or on day two.
You can also send push notifications to every eventgoer’s device before the keynote is about to begin to increase engagement and attendance or notify participants of a change in schedule or cancellation.
Data Improves the Speaker and Vendor Experience
If your goal is to put on exceptional events, you can’t afford to neglect speaker and vendor experiences.
- Are speakers and vendors receiving the right type and frequency of communications?
- Are they getting enough support before, during, and after the event?
- What do sponsors think about your sponsorship packages?
Survey these groups throughout the event experience to ensure you’re meeting expectations. This data will help you plan better for future events and remediate any challenges that arise during the event.
Data Empowers You To Put on Better Events
Add it all up, and event data enables you to strategically and continuously create better, more impactful events. When you cast a wide net and collect an array of event metrics, it’s that much easier to understand what your audience liked about your last event and what they hope to see at your next one.
How To Collect Data at Your Next Event
The easiest way to collect data from an event is by using a fully integrated, modern event management platform designed for events of all sizes, types, and formats — whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid. If your event partner doesn’t offer the tools you need, you can also rely on traditional event surveys using Typeform or asking questions at the event using attendee sentiment kiosks.
Here are some examples of the event data your event management partner should empower you to collect:
- Pre-event data: website metrics (e.g., page views and drop-off points), visitor behavior analysis (e.g., organic search vs. social media), social media metrics, website optimization, topics of interest, ticket sales, session registrations, attendee interests, registrations vs. cancellations, and visit-to-purchase conversions
- In-event data: session attendance, mobile app usage, social media chatter, the volume of user-generated content (UGC), number of messages sent, 1:1 meetings booked, in-session engagement/interaction, and check-in statuses
- Post-event data: gross event revenue, event session NPS scores, which speakers were most effective, what sessions were most engaging, and whether the event met audience expectations
- Cross-event data: total revenue from all events, registrations across events, and total refunds and cancellations
Read more about the types of questions you should ask in our article, “Event Survey Questions You Need to Ask For the Best Insights.”
Don’t Forget About Data Security
Data has the power to transform your events, but with that kind of power, it can also wreak havoc on your event and its audience. High-profile and costly data breaches alongside the proliferation of privacy requirements like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) mean one thing: Data security is more important than ever before.
Unless you want to hire a data pro or train your staff on the intricacies of compliance, it’s more important than ever to invest in an event management platform built on a foundation of security. With so much to know about data security in the events industry, you’ll want to read our article, “How To Achieve Data & Legal Compliance in the Events Industry.”
Ideas for How To Build Better Event Experiences With Data
There is no shortage of ways organizations can use data to build more meaningful event experiences. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:
Get Savvy With Wearable Tech
By incorporating wearable technology into your events, you can unlock location-based insights into attendee’s engagement and behavior, which you can use to optimize the event in real-time and inform future events.
For example, you might realize that you need a bigger venue to prevent crowding in the hallways between sessions or at the trade show. At the same time, these devices can also help notify attendees of upcoming sessions, encourage them to check out specific booths, remind them of networking opportunities, and so much more.
Level Up on Virtual Experiences
Historically, it’s been challenging to recreate the spontaneous interactions, engagements, and connections that occur during in-person events — like when everyone gives a great speaker a standing ovation, or you bump into a colleague.
Luckily, there are ways to create equitable experiences for virtual attendees that deliver engagement, networking, and reaction opportunities. All you need is the right event experience and management software! Once you evaluate the engagement elements that virtual attendees like best, you can double down on those at your next event — and continue to create better versions of those tools and features.
Make Data the Hardest Working Member of Your Event Team
Today’s event attendees value their privacy more than ever. At Bizzabo, we’re committed to data security and compliance, which is why we’ve completed SOC 2 Type 1 certification with leading professional services firm PwC. When you don’t have to worry about data security, you can focus on breathing life into your event vision and putting data to work to deliver the best event experience possible.
If you want to take a data-driven and data-informed approach to your event strategy, it’s time to schedule a demo of Bizzabo.