Although events are proven promotional tools, they have lacked detailed data collection and analytics capabilities found with other marketing vehicles such as email campaigns and websites. Much of what happened at the event or tradeshow, stayed at the event or tradeshow!
However, this is changing.
With the recent explosion of onsite data collection and meeting analytics tools, events will no longer be the “black hole” of marketing analytics. Events and tradeshows are beginning to provide a goldmine of data detailing attendee preferences, interests, movements and interactions. These data can help meeting planners make mid-course corrections on existing events and improve future ones; they can provide significantly more value for exhibitors; they can provide attendees with a much richer and more personalized experience.
Customer behavior at events can now be tracked in precise detail with event technology increasingly integrating with CRM systems. Event analytics are moving to a central position in the marketing mix and can help planners using these tools take a seat a C-Level table with sales and marketing executives.
Increased executive interest in event attendee behavior and analytics is leading to new corporate positions such as VP of Sales Analytics and SVP of Sales Effectives. Event planners and marketers can work together to improve the event and provide a much more detailed profile of the attendee (customer) interests and desires while elevating the importance of events within the organization.
Three trends are making this possible:
The explosion of onsite data collection tools:
The past few years have seen very significant increase in onsite data collection tools, including mobile event apps (every touch is trackable), fixed and wearable beacons (where every attendee movement can be tracked), second screen technologies (such as Educational Measures), gamification tools, social media analytics, smart NFC badge/dongles just to name a few.
The rise of meeting analytics within event technology products:
Data collection is just the start, however. The data must be analyzed, often through capabilities built into the specific technology product such as registration systems, mobile event apps, social media tools and standalone engagement technologies. We are seeing many event technology companies putting increasing importance on analytics to provide precise detail of attendee actions, behavior and interests. However, it is important that these data do not exist only in separate silos. The is where the next trend, data integration becomes important.
The rise of data integration capabilities among event tech products, CRMs systems and sales automation tools:Newer, cloud-based event planning software tools are maturing to where integration among a variety of event and other technology products is a much simpler task. Newer cloud-based tools using robust APIs make it possible to collect and analyze onsite data from many sources. Interoperability is at the center with much of the change that is happening.
The benefit for meeting planners is that they can choose an assortment of specialized event software products and figuratively bolt together to work together in a unified manner. Meeting planners will be able to find highly customized solutions using multiple technology products with the ability to extract valuable marketing data is if they were a single platform. For example, data from an attendees’ registration preferences, from mobile app activity, from beacons, from onsite social media activity, from survey responses and more can be combined and analyzed as a whole.
This rich interoperability also makes it possible bring the back the information back to CRM systems such as Salesforce. Customer behavior and interests expressed at meetings can, therefore, be tied to customer profiles closing the loop for much better marketing intelligence and more customized sales communication.
With detailed records of attendee interests and activities now connected to the each attendee’s CRM profile, companies can also use marketing automation systems such as Marketo, Eloqua, SilverPop and HubSpot to automate and measure marketing tasks to their customers to improve marketing efficiency.
We now have the technology to collect, analyze, and collate the attendee data back to CRM and marketing tools. Events and exhibitions can now be integrated into a unified marketing program!
The value to meeting planners:
As meeting planners are often intimately involved in the onsite technology purchase decisions, they can help to elevate their events marketing impact with the right technology choices. This is a rapidly changing area, but there are many good choices to make now.
Where things are going:
Financial services, pharmaceutical and technology companies are some of the key vertical markets pushing the meeting analytics envelope. And the efforts are paying off! Tracking the wealth of onsite behavior and incorporating into customers’ profiles allow a more precise measure of the event ROI and helps companies make marketing decisions with a better view of customer needs and preferences. As the trends mentioned above mature, we will see costs come down and become more accessible and routine for a wider range of events.
Additionally, new data options including artificial intelligence and predictive analytics (making statistically-based predictions of behavior through analyzing current and past behavior) will becoming available. Event planners and marketers will be able to make the best choices based on the data.
Event planners should embrace these new onsite data collection, integration and analytic tools to figure out which ones are most applicable for their events. They, then, can work with their event marketers and other C-suite executives to grasp the true power of face-to-face marketing.
About the Author: Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, DES, MS is a speaker and independent third-party consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site Corbin Ball Associates - Meetings Technology Headquarters (www.corbinball.com) and followed at www.twitter.com/corbinball. Subscribe to Corbin's free every-other-month, high-content TechTalk Newsletter/Blog at www.corbinball.com/techtalk.
©2016 Corbin Ball & Co.