Data helps C-level executives and event organizers understand what works and why. Meeting and event planners collect reams of data from registration portals, websites, event module platforms, mobile apps, on-site polls and post-event surveys, but it’s rarely analyzed. And that’s a huge problem. Understanding behavioral data is essential if you want to create an effective event marketing campaign and meaningful on-site experience for your participants.
“We have to get over that hump of people saying ‘data’s dirty’ or ‘I don’t have time to look at it,’ ” says Eric Misic, co-founder of Bear Analytics, the first company created to help meeting demystify numbers. “Understanding data makes you more strategic, more efficient. It helps you drive revenue and create a [higher]-quality experience. It helps you know who’s going to come to your event.”
Bear Analytics goes through your information and teases out an easy-to-understand story. No data dump, it presents information about loyalty retention, revenue numbers and audience profiles that lets C-level execs see what’s moving product or driving revenue. It helps event organizers identify their best customers, most loyal attendees and passionate supporters.
Those who market events can use it to drive more targeted efforts to groups, rom pre-show to the on-site experience, Misic says. Along the way, they often discover something that’s been overlooked.
Case study: Rebooting growth
One client contacted Bear Analytics, Misic says, because their event showed stagnant growth for five consecutive years. It wasn’t a bad event, Bear learned. Numbers were sluggish because the client had shifted from an event that was open to all to a members-only gathering. People who potentially could become members were either already converted to membership or had stopped coming.
When, as a result, the client shifted their marketing approach and conference content, nonmember participation increased by 11 percent.
When the client realized companies spent less by sending more employees to buy an exhibitor package, they reached out to those companies to convey the added value and savings left on the table. The number of exhibitors doubled.
Key metrics meeting pros should care about
What if you can’t hire an outside firm to sort through your data? What kind of metrics should you track?
First, Misic counsels, identify your loyalists. Who attends year after year? Try to figure out how to get them to register early. Then figure out how to get them to convince their friends to register, too.
“There’s a natural churn for all shows,” Misic says. Rather than looking just at individuals, focus on the companies represented on your attendee list. Are companies sending more people, fewer people or dropping out altogether? Did timing or other factors matter more than the geographic shift?
Finally, don’t forget that surveys are an art form.
“If you don’t craft the satisfaction survey in the right way, you won’t get to the root cause of why they’re coming,” Misic says. Is it for networking? To buy something? Professional development? “We should be asking: ‘Why haven’t you come in the past?’ and ‘What other events are you going to?’ and ‘Have you seen the quality level of the event drop off?’ ” Once you identify what’s in it for them, you’ll be able to tailor your marketing messages.
Knowing behavioral data about your attendees moves you from a rifle-shot approach in marketing to a strategic plan that’s more focused and efficient.
“That’s the piece that’s impactful,” Misic says. “It’s knowing that if I can move the needle to efficiency, it’ll mean more attendees, better quality and more revenue.”
And that’s why data isn’t dirty, it’s a powerful tool event planners need to understand.
Let’s talk. How do you feel about metrics and their ability to grow your business?
Last image source: bixentro via Flickr