How did your event go? It’s a question that has been asked for hundreds of years and it’s a question that many event organizers will struggle to give a solid answer to. Sure, we can measure the numbers of people coming through the doors, we can wait a month or two until after the event when the deals start closing (or don’t), we can gauge the energy and vibe of the crowds. But beyond that, we’ve been largely left adrift in a data vacuum.
But in recent years, things have changed—and in a revolutionary way. Thanks to new technologies, we are able to not only measure how our event is performing in real-time with incisive aggregated data—but we can also now see the future. We’ve gone from a state of near-darkness to the floodlights coming on—and a vividness of vision that can be breathtaking for business.
A Sea-Change in the Industry
In order to understand the sea-change, consider this as an example: On April 12, 2016, Jeff Gleuck, the CEO of Foursquare published a blog that predicted that Chipotle Mexican Grill’s revenue was going to fall by 30% when it released its next quarterly earnings report. Because it was 2016 and not, say, 2013, not a lot of people read that post. It was just Foursquare—an app company that had been a big thing, but was now a little quieter.
But lo and behold, two weeks later, Chipotle reported their Q1 earnings and revealed that their sales had dropped by 29%. People turned to Gleuck’s blog with astonishment: Foursquare had been able to peer into the future and predict a business outcome before, what I would guess, even the executives at Chipotle were able to do.
We have a word for this: It’s called Live Engagement Marketing and it’s the process of applying digital marketing principles to the physical world. In Chipotle’s case, Foursquare had analyzed location data sourced from the smartphones of millions of customer at 1,900 Chipotle stores across the United States. By analyzing this live data, the company was able to predict future business outcomes—and it came extraordinarily close to the truth.
We can do the same thing today with events. With the advent of the Live Engagement Platform, we are now able to use on-the-spot analytics to track the success of an event—and see future implications for business. To do this, you just need the right technology and you need to know what to measure.
Metrics of Our Own
A Live Engagement Platform helps you track individual user activity, to see what each person is getting out of the event. It is a technological form of engagement, where you capture your attendees’ activities in the real world and bring them into the communication platform of the app. Then you can start measuring their responses.
Event marketers of today track the business impact of an event through a unique set of metrics, such as user sentiment, panel attendance, and influence response. Through the app, attendees are able to communicate essential information about themselves: how connected they’re feeling to others at the event, their ratings of the speakers, what content is resonating with them, and the products they want more information on.
At DoubleDutch, we’ve developed what we call the “energy score” of an event. This is the indicator of an event’s ROI. It is the software itself measuring, aggregating and deciphering the feedback. Within the technology, you can see clearly what your most popular sessions are, the sentiment towards vendors, and their feelings of the event or your brand as a whole. The app reveals this as an overall score.
This ability to zoom in and out of customer sentiment is a powerful tool—and something you can use for future planning. It’s a bit like what Foursquare was doing when it combed through the data to understand, “Okay, it looks like foot traffic is down by a certain percentage, let’s normalize that over weekends which we know are Chipotle’s big days, and let’s make a prediction so we can actually understand what happened.”
Turn Data into a Response
In this modern marketing system—where the lights are now on full—not only are you listening to signals from the real world, you’re analyzing them and attaching them to meaningful metrics. And you’re responding in a way to drive business outcomes.
In our recent roadshow across the United States, we measured our energy score at each event and made adjustments based on the results. In our first event in New York City, our energy score was 26. So we upped the ante, made adjustments to the environment, the content and the app for the next date in the tour. By the time we rolled into DC, there was a palpable shift in the energy on the floor and the data confirmed this, our score rose to 58.
Just as digital marketers are tweaking their content according to responses online, event marketers now have the power and honest data to shift course and improve their events to maximize consumer sentiment. We can also curate the live streams in the app during the event, honing in on the influencers, and amplifying the voices of those who are contributing great content—showcasing their stories on the channel. Then after the event is done, we have a huge set of data with which to analyze success, predict future business outcomes and start changing up strategies to maximize results.
It’s hard to overstate how exciting it is to be a live engagement marketer today. Our world of meetings and events has run in essentially the same way for 850 years, but now we have been given the opportunity to turn the headlights on, to illuminate the things that are happening around us—and to turn that data into knowledge, predictions, forecasts, and business value for our employers. We’re literally sitting on a goldmine of data.