“How many attendees engaged with Booth X?”
“What was the overall attendee sentiment?”
“The conference generated how much networking opportunities?”
Until now, the majority of event marketers collect, review, and analyze event data after the event, analyzing things that happened in the past. Numbers are relegated to post-mortem reports. Insights are formed to learn what worked and what didn’t to improve future events.
“ROI calculations have been largely based on feedback obtained from surveys submitted after the conclusion of the event. At best, ROI calculations were hit and miss. Furthermore, such methods provided no way to obtain real-time actionable data while the event was still ongoing,” says Brett Relander.
Imagine if data were available live and event marketers are able to make adjustments as the event unfolds. Post-event insights turn into real-time opportunities. Future changes become proactive adjustments. Instead of asking “what didn’t work?” event organizers will ask “what’s not working NOW and what can we do NOW to fix it?”
Event technology such as digital badges has made real-time data available for quite some time already, but only a few marketers have taken advantage. True, having access to live event data would require an additional investment, but the benefits outweigh the added cost.
Event marketers who are on the fence about using real-time event technology should consider the following benefits:
1. Troubleshoot Underperforming Key Event Elements
Every event has pillar components — whether it’s the booths of major sponsors, sessions featuring keynote speakers, or interactive installations. Following the Pareto Principle, these few key elements typically produce 80% of the expected results.
However, every event planner knows that there’s always a 50-50 chance that these event attractions are not going to perform as expected — and as mentioned, this is a realization that happens after the fact.
One of the best applications of real-time data in event marketing is the creation of live heat maps that shows the number of people on the event floor and where they are congregating.
The red areas indicate where the heaviest engagement is while the blue areas represent the event attractions getting the least attention.
Immediately, event marketers are able to see whether their planned key attractions are a hit or a miss among attendees and they can take timely steps to remedy the situation. For example, backup traffic generation tactics (i.e. raffles, meet and greet, push notifications, etc.) can be deployed to help drive engagement to these supposedly important event components.
(Pro tip: This is especially helpful if you made certain commitments to sponsors as to how much traffic their booth is going to get.)
2. Personalized Offers Based on Active Engagements
Not everyone will come to an event with the same intention. This is directly related to where they are in the buyer’s journey. Some attendees are looking for more information, some will attend to compare different solutions, while others are ready to buy.
Online marketers have been implementing personalization based on audience segments for many years, but it’s not as widely adopted in event marketing.
The emergence of real-time data collection event technology — specifically beacons, RFID, and wearables — allows event marketers to track the attendee behavior during the event. The goal is to engage them with custom offers based on their behavior. At the same time, the offers evolve which ultimately leads to the fulfillment of the event’s main objective. For example, an attendee at the Awareness Stage may be presented with educational content at the beginning of the event lifecycle. But at the end of the day, he can be presented with a sales offer if the main goal of the event is to get sales.
In an ideal scenario, if the main goal of an event is to generate sales, the event should be able to transform someone who is just defining their need to someone who is ready to buy.
3. Provide Better Attendee Experience
Lastly, access to real-data gives organizers a clear and accurate picture of what’s happening in their events, so that they can take steps to improve the overall attendee experience. It allows event managers to stop potential issues from escalating and identify optimization opportunities on the spot.
The simplest example of how live data accomplishes this is managing on-site registration. For venues with multiple entrances and exits, real-time data can reveal congestion points. Equipped with this information, organizers can either direct attendees to a registration booth with fewer people or set up a temporary registration station to expedite the process.
Another way live data can improve the overall attendee experience is by stimulating networking among participants with their fellow attendees, or with exhibitors/vendors/sponsors/speakers. Networking is one of the top reasons why people attend events, especially in the B2B community. With an event app that tracks networking activities, event managers are able to identify those who are falling behind and help facilitate networking either through push notifications or face-to-face assistance.
Data is Good, Timely Data is Better
The data gathered from events is used for several important sales and marketing functions, from creating marketing strategies, overall brand experience enhancement, to product development.
More and more event marketers now realize that in order for them to grow their numbers, they have to know their numbers. At the end of the day, event data is more than just numbers on a stat sheet. The data represents behaviors that lead to insights that lead to actions.
Collecting post-event data is good and will always be a part of an event marketer’s playbook. Moreover, having real-time data allows the right information to be accessible to the right people at the right time, enabling them to take the right action.