Every interaction with your attendees prior to your event, during your event, and after your event is logged as a data point in your various software systems. This data could simply exist to take up space in your database— but it could also be so much more.
This event data provides immense insights into the preferences of your attendees. If you’re paying attention, you can create the perfect experience from beginning-to-end to attract and engage your desired audience.
Whether you’re working with a more traditional group or looking to diversify by attracting a Gen Z audience, data holds the key to optimizing your event processes. If you’re looking to increase your chances of success and save resources, it’s time to look inward and make the most of your attendee data.
We’re going to explore attendee data through the following points:
- Best practices for using attendee data
- Using attendee data throughout the event lifecycle
Through this guide, we will walk through crafting a data-driven marketing strategy for your next event. Let’s get started.
Best practices for using attendee data
To incorporate attendee data in your event marketing efforts, you must first get a handle on the data you plan to use for insights. Let’s look at a few best practices for using attendee data in your marketing efforts:
Sources for data collection
It’s pretty simple but we’ll say it anyway: to use data in your marketing strategy, you must first collect that data.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re already collecting a huge amount of data on your event attendees. These sources include:
- Your website
- Your social networking profiles
- Your registration/ticketing solution
- Your mobile event app
- Your prospect research tool
- Third-party data sources
Be cognizant of the various platforms your organization uses to communicate with event attendees. Ensuring all of this information flows into your consumer relationship management (CRM) system is key to making sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Optimal data hygiene practices
If you haven’t already, you will soon realize collecting all of this data can get overwhelming. This is especially true if you don’t have processes for organizing and maintaining the database as it grows. Data hygiene describes the processes you take to keep your database “clean,” or essentially without errors.
There are a few best practices for keeping your data in top shape:
- Create standardized rules for inputting common abbreviations and numerals.
- Outline processes for fixing incomplete, duplicate, and incorrect entries.
- Communicate these rules to your entire team to ensure ongoing cleanliness, rather than once-a-year database overhauls.
Check out this AccuData guide for a more in-depth look at data hygiene best practices.
Organizing data for use
Once you’ve cleaned your database and established processes for maintaining its accuracy going forward, it’s time to put your data to use.
Segment your data into smaller, more precise groupings for actionable insights. Group your attendees by similar characteristics, such as observable interests, past interactions, or even ticketing tiers.
Market your event and its various activities to the attendees most likely to respond positively to it. For example, this could be sharing group ticketing options with businesses likely to send a few representatives to your conference/trade show event. Or, even emphasizing the various tech tools you’re using to supplement the event to your younger audience.
Bringing in a team to help
Just as you’re likely working with a security team (or software) to protect your event data, you can bring in a team to help you translate that data into actionable insights.
These teams can help you clean up your database and supplement the information you have with third-party data to form a full picture of your audience. Using that data, they can help you discover prospective attendees and form a full marketing strategy using the information you have on those attendees— from direct mailing to email and social networking.
If your team is feeling overwhelmed with the task of gleaning actionable insights from attendee data, bringing in outside expertise could be a major help.
Using attendee data throughout the event lifecycle
The data you collected and optimized in the first half of this post is a powerful marketing resource before, during, and after your event— if you know how to use it.
Let’s explore how you can use attendee data to market and improve every step of the event lifecycle:
Pre-event demand generation
Prior to your event, the main role of data is to generate interest and excitement for your event. To hit your ticketing and registration goals, it’s essential that potential attendees are aware of and interested in your upcoming offering.
There are a few key ways data can help your planning team generate demand for your event. First and foremost, you can create attendee personas. When you identify the correct audience for your event and their driving motivations, you can then:
- Contact your audience in the way they prefer to be contacted, increasing the likelihood they’ll respond. Whether it’s direct mail, social networks, emailing, targeted ads— there are a variety of methods you can use to contact supporters, and it’s important that you choose the right methods for your audience.
- Create attendee-focused registration procedures. This includes offering tiered pricing (ex: group registration and VIP options) and collecting essential information such as dietary restrictions and merchandise sizing.
- Offer promotional codes to reward ardent supporters. This could mean offering discount registration codes to past attendees or otherwise regular supporters to your brand to encourage their return. However, it could also mean recognizing “influencers” in your brand’s space and offering them a discount code to share with their network of peers, increasing registration in return for even perks.
- Personalize your messaging. When you reach out to constituents, elevate their experience by personalizing the communication. Something as small as calling them out by name in the email— correctly— can go a long way.
The key here is that you create and market registration processes that will draw attendees into your event. Making the most of your data is one of the core best practices for marketing your next event, and the above strategies are just a start.
Generating demand for your event doesn’t end once the event begins. Chances are, you’re offering a variety of activities for attendees during the event itself from speakers and learning opportunities to meals and networking sessions.
It’s essential that attendees are aware of and able to engage with these opportunities, for two reasons:
- You’ve invested time and resources into putting those activities together.
- Interacting with your event is essential for attendees to have a positive experience, which is crucial for them to continue supporting your brand.
There are a few easy ways to use data to engage supporters during your event itself:
- Build an event that caters to your audience’s interests. First and foremost, to engage supporters during your event— it has to be interesting to them to begin with. This stands whether you’re planning a particularly unique nonprofit fundraiser, providing heightened professional networking opportunities, or offering essential learning and certification opportunities. Understand what your audience wants to experience and make sure it’s represented.
- Build an event that respects your audience’s needs. From mobility needs to dietary restrictions, it’s essential that you’re mindful of your attendees’ requirements. This ensures that everyone who wants to engage with your event is able to.
- Address all FAQs and common concerns clearly during the event. Make note of any common questions raised during the registration process, and provide clear answers to attendees at the event. This could mean sending out a reminder email day-of that addresses concerns, posting signage, or even hosting a mobile-friendly event microsite answering the questions.
- Contact attendees during the event in an engaging manner. There are a variety of ways to contact guests during your event, so you can really get creative. Live announcements, mobile event app push notifications, or even mass text messages are all popular methods. Pay attention to the mobile-friendliness indicated by your attendee data to determine the method right for your next event.
On-site engagement is crucial for the success of your event, and data provides valuable insights to ensure that it occurs.
Your event brought an influx of data into your system, including information on who attended, which activities they interacted with and which they didn’t. This information is immensely valuable when it comes to improving your events going forward, and taking the time now to analyze it and collect your observations is essential.
Consider the following:
- Which outreach methods had the most response? Which methods had little impact on registration? Optimize the popular methods when sending communications for your next event.
- Which aspects of your event had the highest engagement? Which aspects were the least successful? Use that information when building future event agendas.
- Did you have returning attendees? Did you have any first-time attendees? Use that data when contacting these guests with post-event information, whether thanking returning guests or welcoming new ones.
- Where were there gaps in your planning process, or factors you failed to account for? Does your data suggest any missed opportunities? When planning your next event, make sure these are addressed.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed assessing the mass amounts of event data, jump back to the first section of this post and apply many of the same principals to your post-event data. For even more context, check out AccuData’s top 3 data analysis mistakes to avoid.
You’re collecting attendee data for a reason, and it’s not just to take up space in your database.
After you’ve optimized your attendee data for use, it can inform your marketing and demand generation strategies before, during, and after your event. With this guide, you’ll be off to a great start.
About the Author:
Gabrielle Perham is the Director of Marketing for AccuData Integrated Marketing. She joined the organization in 2017 and possesses more than 15 years of experience in strategic marketing, branding, communications, and digital marketing. She earned a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A in Marketing Management from the University of Tampa.