How would you rate your live event performance? On the surface, your conference is buzzing and things appear positive. Attendees are messaging each other, setting up meetings, breezing through serpentine registration lines, paying for drinks with their RFID badges.
It is easy to see recent innovations like mobile event apps, iBeacons and RFID technology give attendee engagement a giant boost, and they can make you believe you are designing a great event.
What is often overlooked are the data these devices are capturing.
Why is this information crucial? Live meetings and events are a $565 billion/year industry globally1. Companies spend more than 3% of total revenues or upwards of 25% of the entire marketing budget on events and conferences2. Yet most marketing leaders do not know how to assess the impact of this investment.
For years as other marketing channels became more digitized and quantifiable, events remained static in its approach to measuring success. How do you evaluate event performance? A stack of business cards? A handful of survey responses? A spike in revenues over previous years? These approaches tell only a fraction of the story.
In fact, a survey released in late 2015 revealed only 11% of event professionals are satisfied with event performance and overall ROI. What’s more, one in four identify ROI as the most important challenge facing their organizations3.
The good news is that events are undergoing a seismic shift. Compelling new event performance technologies now combine data from onsite activities with information from registration, pre-event marketing and follow-up to provide a 360-degree view of the attendee as they engage in the entire event experience. This vast pool of data harbors powerful insights marketers can use to improve event performance and business outcomes.
As the biggest line item of many corporate marketing budgets, events are unquestionably one of the most effective marketing strategies. The profound impact of events now lies not only in the relationships and sense of community they foster, but also in the power of the data they create.
Harnessed properly, data will be a game-changer, leading the way to a new era of event performance. Here are three ways this market shift will transform meetings and events in the coming year and beyond.
With real-time insights, event outcomes will become more predictive. Marketers will be able to change the course of their event as it unfolds rather than analyzing data after the fact, when insights can only inform future programs.
For example, Comexposium, a leading organizer of B2B and B2C events, uses an event performance tool to measure the effectiveness of its pre-registration multichannel marketing campaigns. Data is captured, curated and visualized on dashboards, which Comexposium displays on large screens in offices worldwide. Team members have a continual overview of event performance in real-time. They can also drill down and quickly pinpoint areas in need of more attention to drive additional registration.
Events will be more personalized. Imagine customizing an experience for thousands of VIP guests. That is what a leading Australia-based telecommunications firm did with its role-specific mobile event app.
The company recently held a vendor and partner event showcasing disruptive technologies to industry leaders. To gain insights on attendees, it created an event app with numerous different roles (delegate, sponsor, analyst, sales rep, etc.). At registration, attendees selected a profile. The app made the event ultra-relevant to each guest by delivering tech features and content tailored to his/her profile. For example, sponsors could create customized lead forms for their app that populated when they scanned a booth visitor’s RFID badge. Sponsors easily captured more leads than usual, scanning badges through their app.
Events will be tied directly to business outcomes. In addition to customizing the experience, the role-specific app captured engagement data on attendees who opted in (their preferred event activities, sessions, speakers, products). With most attendees using the app throughout the event, the company’s marketing team could provide sponsors and exhibitors with quantitative ROI reports. The team also added fresh insights on customer interests to the rest of its marketing stack to deliver more relevant content that nurtured relationships and drove business long after the event.
Early adopters are gaining a wealth of other real-time insights, such as:
- topics resonating most with attendees
- campaigns delivering the highest on-site conversion
- sponsor offers or exhibitor booths going unnoticed
- audience sentiment during sessions
- shared characteristics of the most engaged attendees
Consider the impact these insights could have on your events and other marketing programs.
Big data is becoming a big deal for meetings and events. Marketing leaders who harness the value of big data will be ahead of the curve when it comes to improving event performance and bottom-line results for their organizations.
Oni Chukwu is president and CEO of etouches, a leading global provider of cloud-based event management software. He has 20-plus years of experience as a serial entrepreneurial executive of growth-stage technology companies.
1. Frost & Sullivan
2. Forrester Research
3. etouches, Bizbash