Technology

5 Ways to Use Data in Your Events in 2017

By Jenna Dutcher

As we kick off the new year, it’s time to assess one of the biggest trends in any industry: data.  CIT Magazine found that the use of data in events was a top trend for the upcoming year among corporate and agency event planners. Confused about how to use data?  You’re not alone.  A 2015 survey by the Winterberry Group found that 47 percent of marketers don’t know how to use it effectively.  

Don’t worry, though! There are opportunities to collect and use data throughout the entire lifecycle of your event, from pre-event marketing to post-event surveys.  Let’s look at five proven ways to incorporate data into your events in 2017:

1. Determine and use your best marketing channels pre-event

You’ll certainly be using marketing prior to your event to promote it to potential attendees, but are you using the best channels?  Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all effort for every event.  This is where data comes in – before you spend a dollar promoting a new event, review the performance of past campaigns to see where you can best optimize your spending.  Do you see more event signups when you promote events on Twitter or on Facebook?  Perhaps email campaigns are the way to go for your brand.  Should they be direct blasts to a new list or drip campaigns for past attendees?  Incidental data you’ve collected from past marketing efforts will act as a sign post for where you should go in the future; when it doubt, go with the data, not your gut feeling.  

2. Use a branded event app

People look at their smartphones between 14 and 150 times per day. It stands to reason that getting your event on their phone can be a big win for both you and your attendees. Your event site and program should certainly be mobile-responsive, but consider taking it a step further with an event-specific app. Not only do branded event-specific apps allow for more production time on the side of an event planner versus printed programs, but they also make for a better user experience for attendees. In addition, in-app analytics can tell you which part of the event drew attendees and which could use improvement.

3. Set up tracking throughout the entire lifecycle

While you’ll certainly want to track conversions and attendees at an event, you don’t want to miss out on valuable data throughout the entire lifecycle. Set up tracking in your marketing automation software so that you can see important data points when users complete any of your goals – for example, when they download an information sheet, register for an event or even visit your event page.  This data can then be used to fine-tune your pre-event marketing strategy, allowing you to make smart choices about where you should dedicate your resources.

4. Bring in calendar analytics

The right interactive event calendar will incorporate metrics right into the calendar itself. Want to get insight into things like attendee geography, most popular events and social activity? Navigate to Localist Metrics to view reports on these topics and more. Using this data, you can then plan for future events based off the successes (or drawbacks) of past ones. Are most of your attendees coming from a local suburb? Consider branching out in your event locales, perhaps hosting events in that location to attract fresh faces. Is your most popular event a lecture series? Put feelers out now for the new year to see who you might be able to bring in to speak to your audience. Using the data and analytics that are built into your calendar will let past events inform future ones – and that’s smart event planning.

5. Don’t just communicate with attendees to get them to the event

Obviously, you’re going to want to reach out to attendees pre-event to encourage them to take part, but don’t let that be the end of your communications with them.  Talk to them during the event – whether that’s in-person or via social listening – to assess how they’re feeling as the event progresses.  Use that feedback to tweak the proceedings if you can.  Don’t let them just drift off post-event, either – conduct post event surveys via email and put them in drip campaigns to keep them interested in future events.  Communication with your attendees shouldn’t just be a one-time thing – use the data you’ve collected about them and their experience to make the next event even better.

By undertaking these five tactics, you can execute on your data-driven event marketing strategy and improve on the metrics that matter.  Best of luck in the new year!

Top Higher Ed Events in 2017

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