By Anthony Miller, Director of Strategy, Active Network.
From the exhibition stands they visit, to the workshop session they sign up to and attend, event attendees can leave behind a large trail of information and intelligence.
Technological advances in event management mean that these small pieces of data, if captured and analysed correctly can yield an enormous amount of valuable information and insight about the attendee.
Until now, due to the large number of parties involved in organising an event, and the disparate nature of the IT systems that they used, this information remained highly fragmented and so not available to analyse in a coherent way.
In effect, the extended supply chains involved in event management were preventing the kind of 'joined-up thinking' that is necessary to extract real value from an event.
For example, a typical conference organiser would have to analyse one supplier’s registration system to determine who turned up; another supplier to determine whether they visited the conference website and perhaps a third, to determine their attitude towards the event.
In many cases, the cost and time involved in obtaining this data would be prohibitive. Not forgetting that they would also need to go through the arduous process of contacting each supplier to request the data and then collate it into one central place.
Faced with all these barriers, it’s no wonder that event organisers don't bother. But what a missed opportunity this represents. Let's consider another - more positive - scenario.
This time, the data from the registration system can be accessed. But now we can add to this databank an analysis of the event's website traffic (both the public website and the intranet that is only accessible to the delegates).
Thanks to RFID scanners we've also got access to the traffic flow data, so we know which exhibitions or break-out sessions are proving to be most popular. Some of the break-out presenters are encouraging delegates to vote online or participate in real-time discussions. Yet another rich source of data that's been made available to us.
Some delegates, once registered, have also joined the event specific online community and have started networking with peers and creating discussion groups. They have begun to indicate their preferences regarding what content they want to receive during the event. Others have downloaded the event’s mobile application which allows them to search for other attendees and exhibitors to set up meetings and schedule their time at the event. More behavioural data to add to our growing databank.
Finally, some delegates have completed survey forms via their mobile devices.
Our consolidated 'databank' is now full. And what a treasure trove it represents. It allows us to sift through all these small pieces of apparently random data and build up sophisticated profiles of our attendees. We now have a much clearer indication of their attitudes, preferences and purchasing behaviour.
As a result, we've also created a much stronger (or deeper) relationship with them. After all, they've told us what information they want from us; how they want to receive it and with what frequency. Added to which, we already know what their primary interests are from the stands they visited; sessions they attended and the web pages they visited.
This rich data trail can be fully exploited to everyone’s advantage. Packaged correctly, it can be fed into the CRM system or simply turned over to the sales department for targeted, personalised follow up that adds value for the attendee.
But how realistic is this scenario? Answer: Very. One of our clients, a high profile technology company, successfully adopted just this approach at a recent event with impressive results. Working closely with Active Network, they captured all these strands of information and then created a summary view of each delegate. This analysis threw up some fascinating insights and results (that would have remained unseen if they had not been 'consolidated').
· We could determine from individual session analysis that delegates were in the ‘buy’ process for a specific hardware product offered by the client. This data provided valuable insights for the sales team to follow up with post event. In total, 286 leads were generated as a direct result of the event, which, if converted into sales, would equate to several million pounds worth of revenue. It’s important to note that these leads would not have been identified if the data had not been collected in our system and then analysed.
· Sales teams were provided with actionable responses thanks to direct questions asked in feedback forms built into a mobile platform. Informed, personalised and heavily targeted follow ups were conducted, post event.
· Targeted virtual events and webinars were developed to address specific knowledge gaps that appeared after individual sessions, delivering greater value to all stakeholders.
To date, IT has been primarily used in events as a means of automating manual processes thereby improving productivity and driving down costs, and it’s done a great job at improving each stakeholder’s experience. It’s now time to recognise that it has a far more valuable and strategic role.
By consolidating all the data available from the various data capture systems present during an events lifecycle, we can build up an unprecedented view of our attendees during a single event and even across an entire program of online and offline activity.
This is the future of live communications, blended with digital technology to deliver a targeted and personalised one-to-one conversation between an organisation and its audience that delivers value at every stage.
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