By Reagan Cook , Manager, Strategy & MarketWorks, GES
Using data in events and exhibitions doesn’t mean doing a rough head count. In an environment where executives are asked to squeeze their marketing budgets for all they’re worth, it’s vital to create engagement with your customers and prospects on their paths to purchase. How can you do that? By working to understand their motivations, of course.
You need to know what’s important to people when they decide to attend (as well as leading up to the event, during the event, and after). Here’s how you can befriend data to increase engagement and make meaningful improvements to your offering:
1. Digest the data.
Your first step should always be to get cozy with the data set available to you. For example, you can download the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s (CEIR) “2016 Digital Toolkit to Enhance the Attendee Experience” report, which helps both organizers and exhibitors answer questions around attendee preferences.
Structured in four parts, CEIR’s report showcases technologies that can enhance the attendee experience and compares attendee input with these technologies so you can see what might be effective for your brand.
It covers crucial segments of the visitor’s journey: the decision to attend, pre-show planning and registration, attending the event, and post-show follow-up. It also illuminates the different preferences between members of your industry segments and special attendee groups, like frequent attendees, final decision makers, women, and young people.
Without data, your crowd is a sea of faces. With data, it’s a room full of friends.
2. Plot your engagement story.
Map your attendees’ journeys, marking the points where they already engage with your brand. Now, plot new points of engagement. Make use of opportunities to influence attendance and spur interest, especially with the technologies and channels they tap most frequently. Use what you’ve learned from the data to step into your attendees’ shoes and predict where and when they’ll want to connect with you.
3. Sponsor up a storm.
Attendees are more likely to attend and engage with your brand if they associate good things with you. Take a targeted approach to how you present your brand at an event. Identify sponsorship opportunities — use the data to discover what organizers can offer you, how you can use sponsorships to add value for attendees, or how you can gain traction by attracting a larger attendee share. Don’t make it hard for attendees to find you — get in front of them.
4. Galvanize your existing channels.
Using data to enhance your brand story around an event will fall flat if you neglect your existing channels, such as your website, partner websites, editorial content, and social media. Activate your brand in those channels. Candidly assess the effectiveness of your messaging in light of what you know about your customers and prospects. If your brand experience isn’t punching you in the face, you’re not making the most of those channels.
5. Measure, improve, repeat.
The main boon of data in the event space is that you can measure results and track improvement. You should collect data on traffic, revenue, and leads raised during and after the show. Track the results across shows and years to measure changes. Beyond that, constantly re-evaluate your target markets because they are subject to constant change. How else are you going to guarantee a better show next time?
It is essential to make data your friend when trying to create meaningful improvements to your event performance. Use it to get to know your attendees and their motivations, plot their event journeys, and help them understand and engage with your brand.
Need help getting in front of your attendees? Check out our exhibitions page for more information.