You followed all the steps: Before the event, you communicated digitally, created a clever hashtag, and started a buzz around your event. Once on site, you used engaging technology to track attendee behavior, got real-time feedback, and kept your content fresh with real-time social walls that sparked conversation. Every tech tool was a hit! So now what?
There are three key ways to leverage technology after an event, and each one can make your life as the event manager easier.
Post-Event Survey Tools
The most effective way to learn from what went well (and what could have been better) is to ask. Don’t let constructive criticism scare you! It gives you the opportunity to improve the next time around. Surveys are an easy way to collect input from your attendees, but smile surveys are not enough. To be truly successful, frame your questions to get to the heart of three issues:
• Did it deliver a positive, memorable experience? The sessions, events, and activities must be viewed as valuable and relevant. The location and venues must be appealing and functional. The communications, services, and travel must be organized, cost effective, and professional. Unfortunately, this is the point where event measurement typically begins and ends.
• Did it accomplish business objectives? Whether your objectives are directly tied to improved sales, performance, or other deepened engagement, it is important to measure how successful the event was in achieving them.
• Did it improve relationships with participants? Events, properly designed and executed, offer some of the best opportunities to establish and deepen relationships with customers, channel partners, and employees. Events immerse participants into the overall business objectives, establishing a foundation of trust, commitment, and alignment that builds relationships.
Polling and surveys are available through many mobile apps. To have all of your feedback integrated in one place is extremely valuable. If you are not using an event-management technology with an integrated survey tool, then SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo, and SoGoSurvey are all excellent options.
Once your survey is ready for distribution, you can include the link on your program registration website, or send it via SMS or email. Encourage people to respond within one week and make sure you send out the survey as soon as your event ends, so that the details are fresh in attendees’ minds. If you want to up the ante, offer a reward or giveaway for anyone who takes the time to reply. You’d be surprised what a little motivation can do to increase your response rate.
Photo Sharing & Social Tools
Before you share anyone’s images online, we always recommend providing a disclaimer or consent form to attendees before the event. Everyone feels differently about being photographed. However, assuming you have taken that step, there are ways within a protected environment to set up secure online albums and photo sharing “by invitation only.” While your professional photographer may have an online sharing site, there are plenty of alternatives for little or no cost. Key features to consider are:
• Quality: Can your photos be preserved in their original high-res format, not compressed beyond recognition?
• Ease of use: Are you able to upload photos easily and edit them?
• Ease of access: Can you find photos by date, tags, or other means without a hassle?
• Shareability: Is it easy to share photos from the site, and post pictures to other social sites?
• Printability: Can users buy a print or put together a photo book easily?
Flickr is a great option thanks to its massive amount of storage and a simple, clean interface. New for 2019 is that free accounts are no longer able to upload more than 1,000 photos. If you have more than that, you’ll need to upgrade, download them, or lose them.
Shutterfly is another good tool, allowing you to find and tag your favorite people and create albums. Facebook also offers a surprisingly good set of photo-sharing and editing tools. After uploading photos from a cellphone, web browser, or desktop client, you can create albums, add captions, and tag photos by date, location, or the people in the pictures. Privacy settings also allow you to limit the viewing audience.
Attendees may enjoy sharing their photos to the event’s photo site as well, so you should decide if that is something you would like to encourage attendees to do in order keep the momentum going.
Data & Analytics Tools
Data-gathering tools used before, during, and after the event will provide you with valuable insights. Don’t miss the opportunity to process the information to get some real meaning from the data. In a perfect world, this responsibility doesn’t fall solely on the event organizer, but also on an experienced business analyst who can interpret the data. Depending on what type of data you collect, complexity matters when it comes to making sense of the information.
However, if you are simply looking to leverage self-serve business intelligence tools, then the leaders are Google and Microsoft. Google Analytics is free, and it’s the biggest name in website and mobile app intelligence; there might be a learning curve for the inexperienced, though. The other leader is Microsoft Power BI, whose user interface is highly intuitive and will be familiar to Microsoft users. That makes sense considering Microsoft Power BI was originally an add-on to other Microsoft products. The familiarity and easy-to-use design mean the learning curve is short, even for beginning business analysts. As a bonus, Microsoft Power BI includes connectors for email marketing apps MailChimp and Salesforce, and offers an array of impressive visualizations.
From beginning to end, a well-planned event should incorporate at least a few of today’s new technology tools. With so many options and plenty of "freemium" providers, the time savings and sophistication of these products bring your planning game to the next level and also create the optimum attendee experience