By Alex Nuttall, VP of Digital Strategy at Kindle Communications.
Tracking the effectiveness of live events has historically lived in a gray area. You can check the metrics of a post-event survey, read a review online, or see how many leads have come through, but none of these can fully measure efficacy without a clear picture of the live attendee experience.
However, thanks to recent advances in technology, event owners have access to measurement strategies that can show the ROI of an event at the event. This technology lets you view what attendees are doing and track changes in behavior based on their experiences, see the difference in responses based on target personas, and understand which behaviours helped an attendee move down the funnel.
With the right technological solution, companies will be able to see the benefits of events much more easily. According to a Social Tables post, event organisers at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit has used live event tracking to tailor experiences to attendees. Organisers collected data and used it to change calls to action, signage, and more while the event was occurring.
If you’re not familiar with live event tracking, however, you might not know the best ways to gather data. Here are two primary strategies:
You’re likely already doing some form of active engagement to gain insights into the attendee experience. For example, pre- and post-event surveys that ask specific questions about the content, pop-up surveys, follow-up emails, and continued social media interactions are all forms of active interaction. However, those requests ask a lot from your attendees. Attendees can easily ignore 10-minute polls, so you’ll likely receive responses from only about 20 percent of the event’s participants without heavily incentivising them.
That direct input from eventgoers is hugely valuable, however, so look into opportunities where technology can create active engagement without too much work from your followers. Giving attendees near field communication- or radio frequency identification-enabled badges that they choose to tap at the front of sessions or booths, or gamifying a check-in experience, will show you that they actively want to interact with your content. And understanding that becomes significantly more meaningful than doing guesswork from a survey response.
Passive engagement includes tracking people by their locations and how they involve themselves in an event. For example, some events are baking RFID and beacon scanners into their entrances to measure traffic flow to specific booths without ever asking the user to do anything, which can demonstrate the effectiveness of a particular area of the event.
However, false positives always arise: Someone could have walked toward one area and then changed his mind, or another person could have been simply eating lunch near a scanner but tracked as one of your most engaged attendees. With passive engagement, you don’t always know the user’s intent the way you do with active interaction. The right technology, however, will allow you to import this data along with the active data to cover your bases.
In the end, you need both active and passive data to get a true understanding of your attendees’ intents, wants, and needs. As the technology improves, you’ll see more accurate data that makes passive engagement easier and active interaction quicker. Live event tracking is also quickly becoming a necessary component for demonstrating an event’s ROI, so companies are working to ensure it’ll be easier to use during even the busiest event.
Producing and planning an event is no simple task. Thousands of people are expected to arrive, and you have a dozen agendas and at least 30 rooms to organise. And that’s just the event itself — you also have logistics to direct, such as lights, sound, and decorations. But it’s critical to ensure that live event tracking makes it on your to-do list. With it, you’ll have a greater understanding of what works for your attendees and your next event will be better than ever before.