With continuously improving technologies for processing and analysis, marketing data is only becoming more valuable. And so, we find ourselves in a modern-day gold rush, with an ever-intensifying desire to find new mines. This post explores a modern day El Dorado — the data generated by live events and conferences, which remains largely untapped. (But only after squeezing every last drop out of this gold mining analogy.)
Why is Event Data Underutilized?
Tapping into event data presents two major challenges. Having the right infrastructure to collect it, and software that extends it to the rest of an organization.
Each event needs its own infrastructure for data collection, the gold standard being badges with RFID chips, and NFC (near field communication) scanners to activate them. This combination enables marketers to see how attendees are moving around their event, including sessions they attend, booths they visit, or people they network with. It is very similar to looking at how users engage with a website, or digital ad.
Relative to data collection for digital activities, this requires a lot more work and expertise. For example, Google Analytics provides a comprehensive system for data collection that requires copy/pasting a block of code into a webpage’s HTML once.
Likely, the extra effort and knowledge needed to measure an event at least partially explains why 20% of event planners have no idea what the ROI of their latest event was. 1
Event marketing software has evolved slower than its digital counterparts. Rather than being designed to work within a stack of marketing tools (the way that Salesforce integrates with Hubspot for instance), it tends to keep data siloed.
Based on our own experience, and a Forrester study we think this results from an embedded belief in the industry that events are just for lead generation. 2 Thus, most event management software is content with simply returning a list of names to be handed to a sales team, a missed opportunity akin to forcing Steph Curry to only take five shots a game.
Why is Event Data Valuable?
Live event data provides a more descriptive view of individuals in the right context than data gathered online. By “right context” we mean time spent interacting with subject matter relevant to a business, and in that sense, an event is the same as a digital ad or website. The difference is that people spend days at an event, while a website averaging 2-3 minutes per session is considered good. 3
Moreover, events require registration, so that trove of interaction data is tied to a name and email address, as opposed to data from website or digital ad, which is typically randomized. Consider the power of organizing information with that much depth and being able to point it at a specific person.
A Tangible Example: Sales Intelligence
Particularly for events in the B2B space, many attendees are already leads for the host organization. Enabling sales teams to monitor those leads’ engagement throughout an event is invaluable for pinpointing their needs. For instance, if a data security company hosts a conference, and a lead attends two sessions focusing on data obfuscation, and goes to a meet and greet to discuss masking information, it is a decent bet that they are considering implementing obfuscation technology. Enter sales rep with the right solution. (A more detailed example).
Basically, we’re talking about an offline version of retargeting, supported by a veritable gold mine of information, rather than just browser history, or page visits. This version is capable of delivering a more specific, relevant, and thus successful message than its digital counterpart.
How to Start Using Event Data
The tools for leveraging event data exist. It simply a question of knowing what is needed.
We refer anything that solves the problems of infrastructure and extension described above as Data-Driven Enterprise Event Planning (Deep).
DEEP tools enable data from live events to be tied to lead scores, participation rates, user experience, product adaption, conversion goals, or the myriad other business outcomes that exist within a Marketing Resource stack. Just like online data, live event data can now thrive within the same ecosystems that drive CRM, marketing automation, digital marketing and more. Unlike online data, however, live event data ties days of interactions in a relevant setting to individuals.