Event Intelligence Series Part 2: Designing Your Event Intelligence Structure

Steven Yellen |

Light bulb hovering over a handWelcome back to the Aventri W.I.N. (“What I Need”) Series on Event Intelligence. In Part 1, we discussed the basics of Event Intelligence (what it is and the prerequisites to any event intelligence initiative) and why event managers should care. If you missed Part 1, here’s the link for quick access. In this post, we will give you a comprehensive guide on how to create an event intelligence strategy.

Event marketers and meeting organizers who are new to the world of event intelligence can easily get enamored with big data.

They want it all: a great looking dashboard, flashy graphs and charts, and real-time data just to name a few.

Can you relate?

This is a good sign because this means you see the prize at the end of the journey — the transformative impact event intelligence can bring to your events and meetings. However, before jumping the gun on any event intelligence initiative, here one word of advice:

Take a step back.

The Purpose Driven Event Intelligence: Laying the Groundwork for Useful Data

We already touched on this in the previous post, but we feel that we need to reiterate to drive our point across.

All successful event intelligence efforts start with clearly defined objectives.

To solidify this point further, take a look at the following event intelligence lifecycle:

event intelligence lifecycle

Looking at the diagram above, the actual data intelligence — the flashy dashboards, beautiful charts, and impressive big data — comes later in the middle of the lifecycle. While this is where the “exciting” things happen, the first two steps are the most important.

Without the first two steps, event intelligence will make no business sense.


Transformative Event Data Doesn’t Grow on Trees

This means that you have to be intentional in getting the data that aligns with your business objectives and the indicative metrics for those objectives.

You cannot just start collecting data without doing these two foundational steps because you will end up with data that looks good on paper, but barely usable when it comes to moving your events and meetings agenda forward.

For instance, if you want to find out what specific skill areas the employees in your company are interested in developing, you have to design your events in a way that will enable you to extract the data you need.

This could include having a “choose your own session day” that allows participants to select which sessions they want to attend. Having done this preparatory work, you can then identify the metrics that you need to measure and the best methodology to get the data you need.

More than the Numbers, It’s About Intent and Motivation

Related to the previous point, one of the key points event managers and meeting organizers should consider when designing an event intelligence strategy and structure is the intent and motivation they want to unearth.

For events geared toward sales (revenue) generation, this could refer to buyer intent. According to Aberdeen: “Prospective buyers emit signals of their purchase intent. To transform their buying experience, prospects must be engaged at the right moment, and with the most appropriate message and content.”

The same concept applies for internal meetings or events, but instead of uncovering purchase intent, the focus is to pinpoint participation intent.

This spans the entire event lifecycle — from pre-event registration to post-event engagement efforts.

For instance, you can measure pre-event intent by taking a look at different email marketing KPIs. Email marketers have long been using these metrics to measure different levels of user engagement. For example, you could be looking at the following:

  • High open rate, low click-through rate = High curiosity, low topic resonance
  • High click-through rate, low registration rate = High topic resonance, high availability conflict (i.e. not available on event date/time) or low appeal of specific event details (i.e. content/activities not exciting enough)
  • High registration rate, low showup rate = High availability, high appeal of event specifics, low/ineffective pre-event engagement to drum up excitement leading to the event
  • High registration rate, high show up rate = High curiosity, high topic resonance, high availability, high appeal of specific event content and activities, and effective pre-event engagement

With event intelligence, looking at intent and motivation alone can bring you a wealth of optimization ideas on how to promote and design your external events and internal meetings.

In the previous post, we said that instead of focusing on big data, it’s more helpful for event marketing and meeting organizers to look at use cases. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Use Case #1: Using Session Selection/Content Engagement During External Events to Measure Buyer Readiness

For marketing events, experiential campaigns, and other customer-focused external events, how your attendees are choosing sessions to participate in or how they are engaging with specific event content is indicative of their areas of interest and readiness to buy. It also shows where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Let’s say you’re a B2B company offering sales automation SaaS. To review, let’s take a look at the most widely accepted model of the buyer’s journey from HubSpot:

Graphic illustrating a sample buyer's journey for the simple purchasing decision of a doctor visit during an illness

Image source

Here’s how the event attendees at the different stages of the buyer’s journey would choose which sessions or content to engage with:

Graphic illustrating the event attendees different stages of the buyer's journey

Again, if you want to get this insight from your event intelligence, you need to design your event so it leads you to this data. For instance, if your goal is to find out what percentage of your attendees are at the different stages of the buyer’s journey, you have to make sure that you have a balanced amount of content that caters for each stage.

Likewise, the data allows you to verify whether you’re targeting the right audience segments.

For instance, let’s say you structured your event in such a way that it favors those who are in the Decision Stage because your objective is to hit a certain number of onsite sales, or at least trial sign-ups.

However, when reviewing the data you gathered, you saw that 60% of the attendees engaged with Awareness-oriented sessions, 20% engaged with Consideration-oriented sessions, and only 10% participated in Decision-oriented sessions. This could mean that there is a disconnect in your audience segmentations, pre-event promotions tactics or messaging strategies. In short, event intelligence can vastly improve the audience quality for your events.

In fact, 54% of companies believe that using event intelligence can improve the quality of the audience they get by 21% and above:

Bar chart highlighting how event marketers believe improved data analytics would be a game changer for their event programs

Image source

Use Case #2: Proving ROI Beyond Lead Retrieval

Another important use case for event intelligence is proving ROI to exhibitors. This is especially important to tradeshow organizers.

According to a whitepaper published on Meetings and Conventions: “According to our recent survey of event organizers, proving exhibitor ROI was identified as their biggest challenge. By helping exhibitors better calculate their expected ROI, as well as improve their returns on future events, organizers are actually building the foundation for growing an event and improving its chances for future success. Improving exhibitor retention rates, increasing exhibit space and sponsorship sales, and identifying new opportunities for growth all require the organizer to develop a clear definition of the value an event currently provides to its stakeholders.”

With event intelligence, you can prove with a high confidence level the ROI your event delivered to exhibitors vis-a-vis the amount of money and other resources they spent to participate. In most cases, event organizers provide lead retrieval data to exhibitors. This is the ability of organizers to provide the contact details and other pertinent data of the event attendees who visited the exhibitors’ booths. The information is mined from a pre-collected database during the event registration.

However, a strategically thought out event intelligence strategy can prove exhibitor ROI beyond lead retrieval. Below are other data that you can leverage to help exhibitors measure their booth performance:

Graph showing data that can be leveraged to help exhibitors measure their booth performance

For exhibitors who have sponsored sessions, measuring the attendee dwell time for their sessions provides valuable insights on how relevant their session topic is as well as the effectiveness of their speaker/presenter.

These tactics also apply to external events or experiential events that harp on sponsorships to succeed.

Use Case #3: Measuring Qualified Attendance of Internal Events

Internal events, more specifically internal meetings and training events, involve serious spending. In fact, according to American Express’ 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, US companies will spend an average of $1,196 per attendee for the internal team meetings and training activities. This does not include the cost of internal product launches and other corporate events.

Chart showing cost per attendee excluding air cost

Image source

Measuring how many employees attend these events is good, but it’s no longer enough. Internal event organizers should be able to prove the effectiveness of these activities to make sure they are getting the most out of every dollar they spend on these internal events.

Again, enter event intelligence.

Event intelligence allows meeting directors to measure the effectiveness of their internal events more in-depth that goes beyond counting how many people attended a specific event.

For example, one of the metrics we recommend event organizers to track is the number of qualified attendance. Qualified attendance or qualified attendees are those who stayed in a session for more than 70% of the session’s duration.

Why monitor this metric?

Let’s say a session is one hour long. There’s a huge difference between attendees who spent 20 minutes and the attendees who stayed 45 minutes. People who left early could be indicative that these attendees didn’t feel like the session was relevant to them, interesting enough, or important enough.

The data can also be telling of the quality of the sessions and the speakers themselves. Coupled with qualitative feedback through surveys, you can get a comprehensive picture of what the attendees liked and didn’t like about the speaker or presentation. Tracking at which part of the session participants left will also provide insights as to the specific session content that triggered them to leave.

If you want to take it further, you can track the improvement or lack thereof in the performance of employees who logged qualified attendance versus those who did not.

Designing an Event Intelligence Strategy Should Always Be Based on the Why’s

At the end of the day, an effective event intelligence design will rely on clearly defined goals. Why do you need to measure certain metrics? Why do you need big data? Why do you need real-time data and why can’t it wait until after the event?

By answering these why’s, you end up with event intelligence that is cost-effective and fits with what you need. You don’t need to build the Sistine Chapel every single time with all the bells and whistles of big data, or the latest and greatest event technology. It’s about being purposeful, intentional, and grounded on specific business objectives.

That brings us to the end of this post. In Part 3, we will dive deeper into event intelligence and the buyer’s journey. Stay tuned for that.

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This Post was Written by Steven Yellen

Steve Yellen is the vice president of product strategy at Aventri.

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