Using Big Data to Improve Your Event

How to Use Big Data to Improve Your Event.jpg

Big Data is a big deal these days, but what does it have to do with event planning?  As a show organizer, you can leverage your event’s big data -  everything from attendee demographics to session attendance behavior – to glean valuable insights than can help you market more intelligently, create a better experience for attendees, and ultimately, improve your event business.  So what is your event’s “big data” and where can you find it?

What Is Event Data?

According to event producers and planners responding to the 2017 Convention and Exhibition Management Technology Study conducted by Trade Show News Network (TSNN), event data includes:

  • Attendee lists/databases and Demographics
  • Session Attendance
  • Marketing Analytics, including email clicks/opens and website analytics
  • Registration Activity
  • Survey Data (attendee and exhibitor)

As you can see, event data can come from any number of areas, and with technology available today, organizers are able to generate and measure data like never before.  You’re likely already collecting data in many of these areas. But once you collect it, what do you do with it?

How to Use Big Data to Improve Your Event

Most TSNN Study respondents indicated that they use event data to better understand customers, clients, members or prospects and to gain insights to improve attendee marketing as well as glean lead data and track and demonstrate ROI.  So how can you use the event data you’re collecting to improve your event?

1. Demographics – Cross reference demographics from your attendee list with session attendance and you may gain valuable insight into your attendees’ needs and interests based on job title or location. Is a certain demographic group attending one type of session more than others?

2. Attendance Tracking Apps, RFID, Beacons and NFC (Near Field Communication) – Data gleaned from use of these types of technology can help you analyze traffic behavior at your event. Are specific sections of your event getting more traffic than others? Was there a mass exodus after a certain point in your event?  If so, what was going on at that time? Analyzing this data can give you insight into how to craft future event agendas to keep attendees engaged, arrange activities and attraction locations to even out traffic, or push traffic to certain portions of your event, such as exhibit areas.

3. Marketing Analytics – According to TSNN’s 2016 Attendance Marketing Best Practices Study, 30% of event producers are currently using data mining as part of their attendee marketing efforts, and 59% are using some type of personalized marketing as part of their audience development efforts.  You can do it, too.  Use email click and open reports, as well as website analytics to look for patterns: best open time, most effective subject line, most popular web pages viewed, referring URLs, etc.   Use this information to change when you send communications, adjust subject lines, or re-tool website content. Cross reference this data with demographics to see if certain industries or attendee types have different open/click-through behavior and adjust accordingly.

4. Registration Activity – Looking at pre-registration activity, such as peaks – or valleys in activity - can give you insight into how your marketing is performing. If most registered on-site, you might consider adding an incentive to register early so there is less work to be done on-site when checking people in. Was there a certain demographic of the attendees who pre-registered vs. those who registered onsite?  Perhaps future marketing efforts could focus on the onsite registrants to incent them to register in advance.

5. Survey Data – Listening to your constituents can be a very valuable tool in keeping your event relevant and competitive. Your attendees know what they want and if you ask, they will tell you. Think about what types of information will help you in crafting future events and incorporate that into your surveys. Using the information gained from these surveys will help keep attendees and exhibitors returning year after year.

Event data can now be leveraged far beyond simply communicating with attendees to customizing those communications as well as the attendee experience.  As event organizers continue to use technology to collect more and more information, they’ll be able to make better decisions not just about marketing, but also how to improve their event business overall.

Additional Reading:

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