Our customers and blog readers have heard us talk about the power of Live Engagement Data that can be captured at their events. Our CEO even refers to it as “the most valuable dataset in the world.” But rest assured that we don’t just talk about the power of data — we put it to work for our own events. In the interest of transparency, here’s a look into how the DoubleDutch marketing & event team captured, reported and took action on the data for our most recent user conference, LIVE 2016.
Step 1. We Think About Post-Event Before the Event Starts
When planning an event it’s very easy to get caught up in the logistics and forget about setting yourself up for post-event success. At DoubleDutch we spend a great deal of time and effort before the event planning for post-event. What is the plan for follow up? What data points will we need to capture to help prove we’ve hit our event goals?
For DoubleDutch, personalized follow up has proven to be an extremely effective post-event strategy. Whether that is a “smart” phone call from a sales rep or an email with content tailored specifically to the reader. These touches make a difference in influencing our pipeline objectives. The key to our personalized follow ups is the behavioral data we collect on the event day through our event app. Did an attendee show an interest in learning about a particular topic? Or express a desire to meet peers with similar experience?
To get the data and insights you want after an event, you must ensure your event app is setup to capture the data you need before the event starts.
Step 2. We Debrief After Every Event (the Sooner, the Better)
This type of meeting is fairly common at many companies, but there are a few tricks to make it efficient and productive. First, there are two groups of people you should invite: people who have a stake in the event’s success (at DoubleDutch, this is our entire executive team), and anyone who was directly involved in the event (sales reps in attendance, marketing team, etc.)
We hold this debrief as soon as possible after the event. For us, that was Monday morning following the Thursday event. (Our events team took Friday off for some much-deserved R&R!)
With the right people in the room it’s important to have structure for this meeting. Instead of just opening it up for comments, we set an agenda to cover the pros and cons of specific aspects of the event individually: logistics, content, entertainment and networking, among others.
Sure, this feedback is anecdotal data, but it’s a part of the overall data and reporting we do. More on that in a moment…
Step 3. Combine All Data Immediately After the Event
The hardest post-event task is finding the energy to dive into your data and make sense of it, but if done in a timely manner, it can have massive impact on your event’s results.
While some of the event data takes a while to process and report on, other data can be used immediately. We focus on the registration vs attendance data and the behavioral data that will fuel our sales and marketing post-event follow up campaigns. For instance we send the sales team a list of the attendees that showed up along with sessions they enjoyed, in-app conversations they participated in, topics they showed interest in, feedback they gave us, and data about whom attendees networked with at the event. The less time-sensitive data we report on – attendee engagement, session and speaker reviews, influenced and sourced pipeline – is more focused on the overall event success and the impact the event has on the business. . Which leads me to…
Step 4. We Put Our Data to Work — But We Have Patience!
Once you’re post-event campaigns are in progress it’s time to put all of your data to work. The first step is to report on event success and business impact. We start by revisiting goals we set pre-event such as attendance, customers vs prospects, number of 1:1 meetings, number of conversations and looking at the corresponding data to see how we did. The data we use is a combination of the Live Engagement Data captured at the event, anecdotal information from the post-event debrief meeting, and data pulled from marketing automation and CRM tools.
For LIVE 2016, our team created an in-depth overview of our event data for our executive team. It includes the data insights, the takeaways, and actions we can take. Here’s a page from the report that covers our attendee engagement data:
One word of caution: Reporting and analysis takes time. You spend an entire year planning a day- or two-day long event that will produce a ton of data. Accept that it will take time to make sense of it all. It’s not unreasonable to allow four to six weeks to collect and analyze everything.
Step 5. We Consider Ourselves Marketers, Not Just Event Planners
The role of event professionals is now so much more than creating flawless event experiences. Event profs have a massive opportunity to impact the strategy and business goals of their companies — and a lot of that power lies in the event data at our disposal. I think of myself as a marketer who happens to do events — and that requires thinking like a CMO. When planning an event, I think in terms of “if this, then that.” For example, let’s say the business wants to know what our audience is interested in learning. If we setup a live poll and have the MC encourage the audience to cast their vote, then we have the data we need. It requires me to focus on inputs and outputs and to consider whether my decisions will impact DoubleDutch’s broader marketing, sales and business goals.
It’s a very strategic approach compared to the common alternative in the events industry — putting your heart and soul into making the experience and then hoping for the best. The wealth of event data now available has given us the tools to be true growth-oriented marketers. It’s time for the events industry to realize their value, control their outcomes and influence the overarching business.
Interested in learning more? Read our complete LIVE 2016 coverage here.