How Data Can Extend the Life of Your Event
Thankfully, today’s events have evolved from the days of stuffing a bunch of people into a hotel conference room, wowing them for two days, and then packing up and planning for next year’s get-together.
Now, you can extend the life of your gathering by using data you collect over the entire year. And in today’s competitive landscape, this isn’t just a nice option; it’s a necessity. If you fail to leverage the value of your event marketing beyond the event itself, you’re not going to be able to use your event’s fixed costs to get a good return on your investment.
Marketers who recognize this — and who factor this extended life into their planning processes — can reap huge paybacks. Creating more touchpoints over a longer period of time, they can reach a broad audience that extends far beyond those who attended the actual event.
And as a result, they inspire brand loyalty and forge deeply personal relationships.
Data Is the Key to Long-Term Planning
So much cost and effort goes into planning a successful event, and those efforts can be extended if you just go the extra mile. And why wouldn’t you? Although personal relationships can certainly begin in a meeting room, they’ll only flourish through sustained contact.
So as you’re printing name badges and booking hotel conference rooms, you better be devoting equal (or more) time to the connections you’ll develop with your in-person attendees as well as those who “attend” at a distance via social media. In doing so, your event will break free from the limitations of time and space, and you’ll be able to connect with your audience on a personal level.
However, hosting a 365-day event means more than sending out tweets every few months. You really have to dive deep into your event data to realize these long-term effects. First, take a close look at your attendees’ demographics and determine which industries they represent. You should also look at which sessions draw the largest crowds and consider any feedback attendees give in their post-event surveys.
Here are three data points that can be analyzed and used to extend the life of your event:
Cost per lead: Leveraging the fixed costs of the event will generate more leads throughout the year — thereby maximizing this key metric.
Cost per attendee: Similar to cost per lead, the number of attendees, including virtual attendees, will be maximized when you extend your event.
Attendee engagement: This is the metric that really matters. You must decide how you will measure this before the event begins. This could be done through surveys, monitoring social media activity during the event, or by tracking how attendees interact with post-event materials such as whitepapers or videos.
Use Key Metrics to Create a 365-Day Event
However, these key metrics really mean nothing if you don’t use them. The data is the platform on which to build the event extensions, which can take several forms:
1. Matchmaking: You can use profile data to create meetups in different cities. You can also use this technology and the data for another matchmaking idea: to help attendees have meaningful conversations with the people they met at your event.
2. Apps: In addition to a dedicated website, you can create an app that facilitates connections among attendees. Tracking data on who is meeting up reveals the long-tail effects of the connections made at your event.
3. Social media: This is one of the best tools to extend the life of your event, so make sure you’re engaging attendees on social platforms. This will help you create a sense of community around your event, and as an added bonus, it allows you to communicate with attendees before, during, and after the event.
4. Content: Data on session attendance reveals which content to repurpose and distribute afterward. For example, if a session on virtual reality had the best response, you can create an email campaign with snippets of the virtual reality talk accompanied by articles by event attendees.
This material becomes your reason for contacting attendees long after they’ve returned home. When you draw up your list of invitees, think about their lifetime value for your company. Soon, you’ll begin to think beyond the face-to-face weekend.
UBM Advanstar is one company that serves as a great example of how you can understand your key stakeholders through data and create a yearlong get-together. A global show organizer and one of our clients, the company runs fashion shows called MAGIC that match the world’s leading fashion brands with key retail buyers several times a year. Some 65,000 visitors from more than 80 countries meet with the most important brands in the industry.
To add even more power to these meetings, it has created ShopTheFloor, an online B2B marketplace that’s available to all participants of the in-person trade shows. The marketplace doesn’t replace the live events, where buyers handle merchandise and network. Rather, it allows retailers and brands to interact for the rest of the year, and it allows the show’s attendees to interact with exhibitors.
By using data to extend the life of your event, you’ll tap into the value of face-to-face meetings and facilitate personal connections that will truly last. That’s because using data increases the lifetime value of event attendees. If you can get them to pay for access to the recordings of the sessions, attend a sponsored meetup, or simply keep the conversation going, you’ve succeeded.
Jason Popp is the executive vice president of international at GES, a global event marketing company with a long history of connecting people through live events. With more than 20 years of global leadership experience, he is able to seamlessly combine operational and direct P&L management with rigorous strategic thinking. Follow him on Twitter: @jasonpopp.