Ben Daldry, managing director at data capture specialists Hand-i, explains why brands and agencies are increasingly collecting consumer feedback and contact details digitally to help evaluate their live events more effectively and how this can help to plan future activity.
For years the majority of media space sales for experiential and live marketing events has been mainly based on footfall figures.
Without supporting consumer research or demographic data campaigns are still being scheduled to deliver the highest numbers of interactions rather than ensuring brands are necessarily reaching the core target audience.
Without the historic knowledge of a few individuals targeting decisions are left to presumption or interpretation rather than hard information.
If a campaign is going to justify it’s spend, it is the responsibility of the agency or brand owner to conduct their own research, either on-site or post-event. Demonstrating actual demographic reach and the perceived or actual effect on consumer behaviour is arguably more valuable than simply receiving top-line figures, reach estimates and anecdotal comment.
Whilst some brands commission independent research agencies to conduct research surveys on their behalf as part of a campaign, brands and their experiential agencies are increasingly taking some of this type of evaluation work on themselves.
Collecting consumer data on paper undoubtedly adds to the amount of admin time on a campaign. In addition, the handling of personal information securely as well as processing data on a regular basis can be a daunting prospect for some. Additional financial or human resource may not always be available, especially in current economic times.
More commonly, consumer feedback and personal details are being collected digitally using PDAs. Collecting information this way has multiple benefits. Field staff can collect information faster and more accurately whilst there is no need for secondary handling or inputting of the data.
Features available nowadays on virtually all mobile devices enable photos, voice recordings and video to be collected in addition to text data allowing for qualitative as well as quantitative studies.
Brands and agencies have a range of different software packages available to choose from but marketers should be aware of a few important considerations when making their decision of which one to use: -
1. Check whether or not the system relies on a mobile network connection to collect information.
Mobile network operators do not guarantee connection speeds, and these will vary when using mobile devices. The speeds at which web-pages load will continually change and may slow to such an extent that the consumer experience may be poor.
Although most PDA software packages will allow for field data to be uploaded to a web-server for instant access and real-time reporting they should also be able to be used completely off-line with all saved data being uploaded whenever a network signal is available
2. Consider the security of personal information being collected and uploaded.
Brands and their agencies have a responsibility to ensure personal information is collected and stored securely. Ideally, field staff should not have access to saved data and personal information should be stored on a password-protected database. If data is being uploaded over a mobile network it should be encrypted to recommended levels
3. You don’t have to be tied to long-term network contracts by buying mobile network enabled PDAs or to long-term software licenses.
We rent PDAs that are pre-installed with data capture software for use on short-term campaigns
The fact that information can be uploaded instantaneously from the field means that campaigns can be evaluated immediately without the need for hours of processing figures. In some cases alterations can be made following an interim evaluation with changes being actioned before the end of a campaign.
Processing information quickly this way also benefits follow-up communications. Brands are not able to simply interrupt consumer behaviour the way they once were. Consumers will make conscious decisions whether or not to interact with a brand.
Opportunities to build relationships with consumers maybe lost simply by not providing staff with the means to collect their details. It’s almost criminal to let people showing an interest walk away from an experience without asking for their contact details.
Consumers wanting to give their information can be sent follow-up messages faster than ever. If required, personalised email or mobile messages can be sent and received within seconds of saving their details on a PDA.
Brands wanting to follow-up on consumer interest in this way should expect higher response rates to campaigns that are being sent whilst the experience is still fresh in the memory.
The technology is available to make data capture a straightforward addition to experiential campaigns and live events.
Ultimately it is down to whether or not brands and their agencies have the appetite for this information, how they are going to use it to evaluate and plan future activity and follow-up on a contact’s face-to-face experiences as part a CRM campaign.
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