Designing With Empathy: The Key to Event Personalization
When Event Experience Leaders consider individual needs and preferences, attendees have a better time, and the event sticks with them longer. Event personalization helps build trust between planners and participants and helps ensure attendees leave satisfied.
During The Key to Event Personalization, a webinar we hosted with Naomi Clare-Crellin of Storycraft Lab and Megan Henshall of the Google Experience Institute (Xi), we dove into the philosophy behind event personalization and offered techniques for implementation. Here’s what they had to say about how we should better tailor events to attendees.
Use Personalization Tools
To accurately profile your attendees and design their journeys accordingly, you can learn about them using quizzes and surveys. The Experience Profiles™ tool created by Storycraft Lab helps event planners better understand the personalities and preferences of participants, mapping out the various ways they may learn, collaborate, interpret, and lead.
Based on their answers to questions about themselves, we can group attendees into categories that help illustrate how they might engage with a given event. Storycraft Lab has identified the following experience profiles:
- The Seeker: energized by community and people
- The Creator: energized by creating with others
- The Adaptor: energized by innovation and discovery
- The Harmonizer: energized by collaboration and happy teams
- The Explorer: energized by process and journey
- The Thinker: energized by strategy and goals
“When you use the Experience Profiles quiz as planners, that gives us a lot of information to work with,” Clare-Crellin said. “We’re nimble. We’re agile. We can incorporate this into the events that we’re planning.”
Want to know what your profile is? Take the quiz! Event personalization shows an event planner’s genuine care for participants and can lead to innovation.
“As we’ve played with empathy tools and products, it’s something we’re passionate about at Storycraft Lab,” Clare-Crellin said. “It really does drive enterprise.”
Be Willing to Try New Things
The event space is changing rapidly, and event planners should be willing to experiment with new approaches as we return to in-person events and beef up hybrid offerings. Part of the key to event personalization is breaking boundaries and disrupting traditional processes, making room for more empathetic design.
“Experiences cannot be reimagined without disrupting the status quo,” Henshall said. “To curate and personalize, how might we create this shared understanding between audience and designer?”
To find the answer to that question, Henshall and the team at Google’s Xi have been working with internal and external team members to experiment and explore in a virtual “sandbox” that encourages playing around, seeking new solutions, and seeing what works.
That effort has included bringing together experts from different backgrounds, including those from the civics, entertainment, and gaming communities. It also had the team doing a deep dive into augmented reality and virtual worlds to better match those spaces to what attendees want.
“One of the coolest things we’ve learned so far is that there is so much power in providing agency to our audiences and in personalizing in a way that resonates with them,” Henshall said.
Strategic Solutions Lead
Improving personalization can boost brand affinity and have a more meaningful impact on attendees during their event journey. Just look at the numbers:
- 99% of marketers say personalization helps advance customer relationships
- 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase when brands offer a personalization experience
- 90% of consumers in the United States find personalized marketing content somewhat to very appealing.
Cultivate Trust Around Data Collection
You can’t spell “personalization” without “personal,” and many attendees are understandably hesitant to provide personal information about themselves. It’s a double-edged sword because you often need that information to drive design, whether for in-person events or virtual and hybrid models.
But Henshall and Clare-Crellin say there are workarounds for this concern. Here are a few options:
- Be transparent about what you are collecting and why.
- Explain how the data can help the overall event experience for the participant.
- Make it fun. (Think like a Buzzfeed quiz writer.)
- Articulate your plans to scrub the data after the event.
“As long as you are open and authentic with your intention, attendees are interested to share.”
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Start the Event Personalization Process Early
The earlier you start gathering information about your participants, the deeper the insights will be about those people, and the better you can cultivate the experience journey for them.
“The further ahead you build it into your process, the more value you get from it,” Clare-Crellin said.
In fact, she’s seen the Storycraft Lab Experience Profiles tool used eight weeks ahead of an event or more. Here are a few ways to use personalization tools early:
- Putting them alongside registration as a call to action
- Using results to tailor communications with participants leading up to the event
- Designing the event around their responses
Our “Ultimate Guide to Event Personalization” details strategies for collecting data and using it to tailor content before and during the event. You can find details on the following topics:
- Why event personalization matters
- How to collect data on participants
- How to manage your CRM with events
- What personalization techniques can work before, during, and after an event
- How to measure success
Still looking for more? For more insights and reflection on event personalization, watch the Key to Event Personalization webinar.