For in-person events attended by clients and prospects, many organizations can’t accurately measure the value gained for what was spent. They don’t have the tools or processes in place to track attendee behavior and show how events contribute to the bottom line. This is a major missed opportunity because events produce a gold mine of data, including vital details on session selection, exhibitor interactions, dwell time, engagement level, and more.
However, this type of business intelligence is easier to capture when events are online. And the present meetings landscape—almost exclusively virtual—gives organizations the opportunity to learn more about gathering and leveraging attendee data in ways that will help them with their in-person events too.
Using a digital platform, you can analyze key data points to build rich attendee profiles and quantify the value of trade shows and other buyer-focused events. Here’s a five-step approach to prove this type of ROI and make future virtual and in-person events more quantifiable and successful.
1. Capture the right data. Start by creating metrics to support your event goals. Let’s say you want to increase attendee engagement. Your metrics could focus on dwell time in sessions, number of questions asked, virtual trade-show booth visits, materials downloaded, and digital networking behavior.
Using an end-to-end event management software (EMS) platform, you can capture attendee data throughout the event lifecycle. Here are some examples:
Data Type: Registration
Information Gleaned: Industry, company, job title, language, gender
Data Type: Event Website
Information Gleaned: Browsing history such as sessions and speaker bios that were accessed
Data Type: Quantitative
Information Gleaned: Attendance by segment, social media mentions, leads, appointments
Data Type: Behavioral
Information Gleaned: Dwell time in sessions and at exhibitor booths, and in what sequence they were visited
Data Type: Buyer Intent
Information Gleaned: Session selections and reviews, networking preferences, overall engagement
2. Personalize the experience. Analyze attendee data for content and networking preferences. What sessions do participants attend? How long do they stay? What questions do they ask? Who do they chat with? How else do they engage?
Modern EMS platforms use artificial intelligence to connect attendees with relevant sessions, exhibitors, and networking opportunities. You can send customized recommendations to help attendees make the most of their time at your event. Many platforms also have robust matchmaking features. Remote attendees can filter the participant list based on shared interests and schedule one-on-one video meetings to expand their networks.
3. Understand the customer journey. Analyze session selection, dwell time and other intelligence to tailor content to buyer intent. In the “awareness” stage, for instance, many attendees opt for breakouts with experts to better understand an industry-wide problem. By contrast, attendees in the “decision” stage have identified the issue and chosen a course of action. They often choose product-specific sessions and demos to create a shortlist of vendors.
4. Deliver the right message. If your event and marketing platforms aren’t working in sync, an attendee might arrive at a virtual exhibitor booth sales-ready but your events team wouldn’t know it, and the prospect could slip away unnoticed. To avoid missed opportunities, integrate your EMS platform with your marketing-automation and customer-relationship management systems. This critical step links your event to the company’s overall marketing strategy in an easy, automated way; data flows seamlessly between platforms. All systems enrich each other and deliver insights in real time, putting you in a better position to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time in the buyer’s journey.
5. Prove value. Buyer-event ROI goes hand-in-hand with marketing attribution—the ability to connect the dots between your event and revenue generation. This is easy to do when attendees become customers during an event. But what happens afterward? When you integrate your EMS and marketing platforms, you can track buyer behavior for days, weeks, even years after your event concludes.
Use multi-touch attribution models to pinpoint actions that contribute most to closing a deal. You can even weight actions based on buyer intent. For instance, you might say scheduling a video meeting with an expert during your virtual event carries more weight than downloading an infographic.
Monitor results over the long term to track attendees’ paths to purchase. By doing this, you can quantify success and show, with hard data, how your event strengthens the company’s bottom line.
The Big Picture
Too often, events reside in information silos. This is a shame because by connecting event and marketing data, you can gain deep insights into buyer preferences and intent. Use this business intelligence to inform future marketing and events, from list development to content selection, lead generation, digital advertising, sales outreach priorities, and more. This is the way to improve attendee satisfaction and keep events aligned with your company’s business goals.
Brecht Fourneau is senior director of marketing, EMEA and APAC, at event technology provider Aventri.