There’s a reason that companies spend about 24 percent of their budget on live events — and that attendees travel an average of 500 miles and invest upwards of $1000 and two to three days each time. Live events are a powerful source of real connection. They don’t just connect attendees to your brand, but to new information and new ideas, and to each other.
And these events connect you to an extraordinary wellspring of data that can drive immense value for your organization in the form of expressed interest: digital breadcrumbs that attendees leave behind that signal what each attendee is feeling — their pains, their aspirations, and their buying preferences.
That information can be turned into value-added personal exchanges, to send targeted messages, special offers, and relevant communications to each attendee, as well as offer more relevant educational content and programming. And then you can take this information and prioritize it for follow-up, enabling your sales teams to sign new deals in less time, provide more value to exhibitors and sponsors, and better track event performance and ROI.
From registration and check-in to session attendance and even how many minutes an attendee spends at a specific product booth, each of these becomes a potential signpost for your company, because, with today’s event technology, each of these buying signals is capturable, measurable, and valuable.
In most digital interactions with a customer, such as asking them to download a white paper, the intention is to progressively profile that user. The concern is friction: asking too many questions and seeking too much information when even an email address request can cause them to bounce.
Event registration is the antithesis of that experience. If someone is ready to register, they’re going to settle in to fill out even the lengthiest form: it’s an essential opportunity for you as a marketer to fuel your follow-up tactics. The fact that they’re registering is a buying signal of course, but here you can be direct about specific product interest, who the attendee would like to meet, and what they want to get out of the event.
Understanding that someone arrived and has attended is probably one of the key data points you’re capturing today: it’s the crux of how sales teams plan next steps for both the folks who have registered and shown up, bright-eyed and eager or the registered no-shows.
Traditionally this means waiting until the event is over, following up on printed-out Excel sheets and an inventory of leftover badges. But event technology can now automate this process, with an on-arrival tool and a badge-printing tool. It levels up the check-in experience for the attendee, by eliminating lines, and allowing attendees to update their information in real time as necessary. That adds confidence around data accuracy for you, too.
It also adds the opportunity to ask more questions. You can ask once again about product interest (if they didn’t supply that information earlier), or ask follow-up questions and offer the opportunity to experience a product demo, right at the selling point.
It’s also a great place to capture data-sharing consent, requesting explicit opt-in or -out, staying nice and GDPR-compliant.
On The Event Floor
Attendees vote with their feet. In the bad old days, event workers manually counted attendees and then offered spreadsheets of headcounts to the marketers behind the scenes; with current event technology, you’re scanning badges as people come in.
Now, every time an attendee chooses a specific session, they’re directly telling you what they care about, and what pain point they’re trying to solve. Once you understand that pain, you can then diagnose products and solutions, and with that information, selling teams can trigger relevant follow-up, armed with ways to start relevant conversations and significantly upping the likelihood of hooking that customer right out of the gate.
It’s essential to turn passive listeners into active listeners — it keeps your attendees super-engaged, and it levels up your data, on the fly, once again. Polls and live Q&A offer a deeper dive into what people are really thinking and what they’re interested in, beyond the fact that they’re interested in a specific session topic. Engagement tools let you see specific questions they might have, and how they feel about specific topics under discussion.
The buying signal here is a deep insight into pain and aspiration. You can pass these insights on to your selling teams, to make follow-up conversations even more relevant, giving a salesperson is able to directly address an issue that the attendee has had top-of-mind.
But beyond lead nurture and lead follow-up, polls and Q&A help marketers determine what content is resonating with potential customers, what to focus on in future marketing efforts, and where to clarify, shore up, and expand current content.
After The Session
Post-session surveys are powerful tools to not only understand how attendees rate specific content, but to ask again if they would like more information on the topic, or if they would like a product demo on the product that was featured or the product that aligns to the topic that was covered.
Surveys should be kept short, digitized, and available through an app to be swiped through on the fly. It’s the antithesis of setting out a bowl for business cards at a session, then taking weeks after the event to enter that information into spreadsheets.
Booth Drive-bys And Appointments
Did someone stop by a booth or look at a product and scan their badge? Your sales team can enter notes and insights about one-to-one appointments happening in real-time that are synced with follow-up systems.
Understanding that combination of leads — who’s casually stopping by a booth for a quick chat, who’s taking the time for a more in-depth discussion via an appointment — all point to explicit product interest that you can use in both marketing follow-up and continue the sales conversation that began at the event.
Post Event Surveys
Understanding the overall satisfaction with the event and capturing that in a post-event survey is essential, not just the planning team already working on the next event, but for adding segmentation to marketing tools, and another layer of data and insight for sales.
It’s also another opportunity to ask about follow-up preferences, what else attendees might be interested in, and how you can best continue that relationship. The survey, if you construct it in a meaningful, strategic way, will give you an output that fuels your future sales and marketing efforts.
Bringing It All Home
In the end, it’s all about capturing the right data.
And then, once you capture that data, the variety of applications is stunning: you can use it for planning and optimizing your future event programs, understanding what worked and what didn’t, and how to optimize your programs.
You know who to invite again, and how to drive additional registration. It can fuel better follow-up marketing communications, help you get people into the right tracks, get the right leads to sales in a quick fashion, and improve attendee experience.
And as you continue to stage events, data will help you get better every time to keep them coming back…for yet more high- value leads.