I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of reading articles replete with buzzwords demanding that we conduct data-driven business and make data-driven decisions and blend data-driven smoothies with kale. Because the fact of the matter is, very few of these articles actually have DATA to back them up.

Meme: You Keep Using That Word, I Don't Think It Means What You Think It MeansSo, instead of telling our customers that they need to be more data-driven, we hereby commit to showing them how.

When we say that live polling will help increase engagement with your brand, we will demonstrate that events that use live polling have seen a 25% increase in overall engagement. That’s using data to back a claim. When we tell you that you can use app data to determine which speakers are worth inviting back we will show you their ranking based on check-ins, mentions, ranking and survey results. And when we promise that our event app will help measure your event ROI, we give you the data you need to make this happen and actually tell what the hell that means.

So what is event ROI?

Event ROI is yet another buzzword we hear a lot, and essentially it’s a quantitative way to measure event success. Most simply put, return on your event investment should be determined based on your event goals. For example, if the goal of your event is lead generation, then ROI would be measured based on the 1) true investment cost (not just the venue, but also the people cost, etc), and 2) the quantity and quality of leads captured. If you generated lots of new leads, but none of the leads were revenue drivers for your business, then it may not be positive ROI.

If the goal was to actually make money from sponsorships or exhibitors, then ROI would be measured based on the revenue that was brought in after all event expenses are accounted for. Event ROI becomes a little bit trickier when the goals are less quantitative. For example, many conferences might be focused on educating attendees on a given topic, so ROI for an event like this might be based on attendee engagement and retention of the content. And then, of course, whether or not people show up is a universal metric for ROI; if you invested time and money in an event and people didn’t show up, then you might want to reevaluate.

Ok, I get what event ROI is, but why do I need an event app for that?

Meme: A Data Driven Event? Inconceivable!I’m so glad you asked. This is where the data comes in. Let’s say your event ROI is measured based on revenue from sponsorships or exhibitors – you can use an event app to sell sponsorships and lead retrieval capabilities. In doing this, you provide your sponsors and exhibitors with an additional avenue to connect and gather data on prospects, and you create a new revenue stream for your event. Or let’s say your event success is measured based on whether attendees learned something new or useful. You can use an event app for feedback surveys, live-polling, and content engagement stats to measure education and knowledge retention.

It’s no coincidence that event industry leader Liz King proclaimed that data is one of the big event tech trends for 2015.  Data is, in fact, more than a buzzword. In order for it to actually provide value to you and your attendees, it’s crucial that you have the tools to tell you which data points matter, and help you measure it. Because if you can measure it, you can make it better.

That’s what being data-driven means.