Measuring Event Success Using Big Data. Over the last decade there has been a massive influx of new technologies and tools to enhance the experience of attendees in the event industry. Mobile apps, ticketing platforms, social marketing and audience analytics have reinvented the way we plan, promote and execute our events. However, with the increased ability to track, measure and analyze the impact of our events, have we learned how to calculate event success?
The easier it gets for event professionals to collect intel, the more difficult it becomes to draw actionable insights from the mountain of data. New social media and marketing platforms have expanded our reach and promotion exponentially. We have apps that track engagement, social impressions, hashtags and even gamify the entire event experience. But how do we connect the increase in engagement to bottom line results?
Here are some best practices for measuring event success:
State your goals
Before we can dive into the ways we can collect key data and measure success we must first define what success looks like. In other words, if you don’t have a destination, how can you draw a map to reach it? Therefore, begin with the end in mind. What are the most important outcomes for your event?
Do you care more about making a profit on ticket sales or acquiring new customers? Is networking a top priority or is the total number of registrations the key performance indicator? Would you rather have deep attendee engagement or a big PR buzz in the press?
Asking yourself these questions will help you identify your priorities and define your objectives. Once you know these, you begin to paint the picture of a successful event.
If it can’t be measured, it can’t be improved.
After establishing your key objectives and ranking them in order of priority, you need to find ways to quantify and measure your results. Be certain that you’re linking your key objectives to actual benchmarks that can be used to gauge your level of success. For example, you may decide that your main goal is to “attract new customers” during your event. How can you quantify that objective?
Perhaps you can include a call-to-action for an initial meeting or consultation during the lunch break or post-event survey. Aiming for a 30% response rate or XX number of new meetings is a good way to hold yourself accountable to your original objectives.
The key takeaway here is to always ask yourself why? If you’re aiming for increased engagement or social media promotion, what will that ultimately mean for your event and your brand?
Data collection points
In today’s technology driven world we are surrounded by tools and resources necessary to collect key data from our event. However, with so many options, you need to be careful selecting which data is really worth collecting, and more importantly when to collect it.
Before you event even begins you can measure the impact your promotion and marketing efforts using social media platforms like HootSuite, Buffer or even the platforms themselves. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all provide in-depth performance results of any online advertising done on their platforms.
Ticket sales platforms such as Eventbrite or Ticketea are also a wealth of data about how many people are visiting the registration page and converting into confirmed attendees. This data can help you identify pricing gaps, secondary ticket releases or needed changes to your copywriting.
Event Engagement Platform
We built Meetmaps around the concept that increased audience engagement is the single most critical element for ensuring a successful event. Design a web or app branded experience before and during the event through a powerful multi-channel platform would be a great way to get digital signals of how attendees interact with the community and with the event information like speakers, exhibitors or sponsors. Notifications push, networking tools or interactive agenda are must features to increase the overall event experience.
Be sure to follow up with your attendees while the event is still fresh in their minds. Create a simple questionnaire based on your original desired outcomes to determine how close you came to meeting your objectives. This data can be used to improve future events and build trust between you and your target audience.
Paralysis by analysis
We can’t afford to let ourselves get overwhelmed with the collection of data and the ever-increasing tools available to analyzing our impact. There is such a thing as too much analysis. When we’re confronted with thousands of data points, dashboards and options for marketing or running our event, we run the risk of freezing our decision making process in fear of making the wrong choices.
To avoid getting swept away in the data analysis ocean, keep your desired objectives front and center throughout the event planning process. Revisit your goals and desired outcomes weekly with your team and assign someone to hold you accountable to your prioritized objectives. Establish hard deadlines for making key decisions to ensure that you hit your event planning milestones.
In conclusion, we have to be very careful that we’re not just collecting data, but really measuring for success. By staying true to our original stated objectives, aligning them with trustworthy benchmarks and carving pathways to reach them we are better able to measure our results and identify the impact of our events.