Entering a new data-driven events world

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The majority of 2020 so far has been a rather challenging time for the live experience industry, but there has been one clear silver lining; the acceleration and prioritisation of analytics

Rachel Butler, our Head of Marketing at Marble LDN, explores how data insights sit at the heart of the most successful digital, physical and hybrid event strategies.

One of the many lauded benefits of digital events over physical, is the access to the sheer amount of data now abundantly available from virtual platforms and tools alike. For many, this is seen as a new benefit of events and a key factor in persuading a wider audience to dip their toes in the waters of the events world.

But event performance analysis tools have been a key part of the most successful event strategies long before digital became the main player. For example, brand awareness metrics such as share of voice and media coverage have been used to measure the impact of PR stunts or experiential marketing, whilst event engagement metrics such as number of questions asked in keynote sessions, and badges scanned (and follow up deals made), helped determine the success and commercial viability of conferences, tradeshows and corporate festivals.

The acceleration of digitalisation over the past few months has led to increased willingness from participants to interact digitally, to create more authentic and valuable online experiences. This increase in digital interactions and consumption has not only helped generate more granular event data, but also provided event organisers with an expanded set of data touch points and the opportunity to learn more about their audience. Digital data touch points will be more commonplace in physical events in the post-Corona era, cementing hybrid events as the future of live experience.

But with many viewing this increase in audience data as a ‘brave new world’ for events, how do you ensure you’re focusing on the most valuable data points? And how do you use them?

This is all linked to your event objectives; at the very beginning of the planning process, before anything else, clearly outline what you’re trying to achieve with your activation – how will you measure whether your event was a success? These objectives then underpin the strategy for your event, the content and delivery method.

Measuring brand awareness

Ensure your event provides ample branded sharable content moments; capitalise on the broader digital audience available to extend the reach of your event content across social media and blogs. Or, if your event is more of an exclusive affair, use influencer marketing (both for B2B or B2C) to get heightened exposure and reinforce invite exclusivity – for example a product launch or preview.

To double down on your ROI targets, social listening platforms will shed light on how impactful your event was on key elements such as: brand perception, brand sentiment and share of voice. Use this enhanced digital presence to garner a larger pool of online conversation to analyse, paying specific attention to key topics referenced, the volume of conversation on your brand vs. your competitors and key influencers/media publications leading that online conversation.

Measuring engagement

You have the perfect event programme and the most in-demand speakers, yet in this fickle online world how do you ensure that once your attendees are tuned in, they stay online? Engagement and seamless interaction points are key to keeping your audience present, and making your event memorable and rewarding. Simple tactics include adding Q&A sections to sessions, inventive sessions dedicated to networking, providing opportunities for attendees to connect and book meetings together, polls throughout speaker sessions to guide and personalise the conversation, and finally gamification. Branded quizzes, puzzles, personality tests or ‘wheel of fortune’ style games are all playful ways to share more information about your (or your sponsors) brand.

All of the above can be measured and analysed, in addition to total video views, drop off rates, page views, average time on page, bounce rate, etc. Plus, in the traditional sense of ROI, you can of course attribute purchases to this event through tracked referral links, special promotions or shops at the (digital or physical) event. This helps build a more holistic view of your target audience, providing you with the ability to create personalised follow-up communications and map out your consumer lifetime value.

Future event optimisation

Perhaps one of the most important actions to take once you’ve analysed all of this data, is to feed all of this insight into your next event. Take all of your learnings of what worked and what didn’t work, what surprised you and what would you change next time. Ask your attendees for feedback on their event experience, combine this with your engagement and brand awareness insights to fully debrief. Broadly speaking, this can be broken down into audience and content.

Take these new audience insights and build consumer profiles to understand more about your existing target personas. Do you need to reassess the audience you target for your next event? Were the previous guests engaged, did you recruit a new audience segment? Did you shift the conversation around your brand?

Your analysis should provide you with an overview of the most (and less) successful content, along with the delivery of the content. Which sessions generated the most engagement and conversation? Which sessions had the most views, and for the longest duration? Couple this with the insights from your brand awareness analysis, which topics and words were frequently referenced in conversation about your event and brand?

While all of these ROI metrics are being discussed during the boom of digital events, there is no reason why physical experiences shouldn’t have these tools applied to them more efficiently and effectively, it’s not being done enough. When physical events have their day again, as an industry we should be learning what we gained from virtual and strive to get this data analysis in physical (which is what we at Marble do).

Although virtual and physical events serve different purposes, we should still be able to achieve performance metrics from both and the hybrid model.

These insights and many more are at your fingertips, chat to one of the Marble team to find out more about how we empower our clients to deliver data-driven hybrid events.