Event data is kind of like a unicorn—everyone talks about it and loves it, yet only a few manage to understand and harness its true potential.
Measuring events has become the leitmotiv of the planning industry these days. From the number of app downloads to the percentage of new captured leads, events are generating an impressive amount of data.
It doesn’t matter what types of events you are planning or who your attendee personas are. Also, it doesn’t matter if you’re an event professional, a personal assistant, or a marketer.
If you are in charge of planning events, one of the things you know you must do is be a bit of a data analyst.
You’ll focus on obsessively gathering event data and closely monitoring the performance indicators. Subsequently, you’ll culminate the entire planning endeavor by writing a detailed report packed with statistics and numbers.
Nothing wrong with that.
After all, this is what your boss or client wants to see: how many people attended the event, how many present leads transformed into customers, the engagement rate, etc.
However, the REAL question is: Do you actually understand what event data represents, and most importantly, do you know what to do with it?
The magic event data can help you do
Here’s the thing about event data (or any other type of data): Just looking at the numbers on paper is useless.
Yes, you can brag about the performance indicators and show how successful the planning was, but that’s it.
To really make the most of the data and actually justify the investment you’ve made in tools, apps, or software for event data gathering, you must learn how to evaluate it and put it to work for even better outcomes.
Here are some valuable insights you can get from event data if you know how to read it correctly:
Insight #1. The communication dynamic
One of the most important insights event data can provide you is the way you are managing the communication with your attendees.
Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly communicating before, during, and after an event. Before the event, you’ll probably develop a series of marketing actions, as well as communicate with your attendees through the event website. You’re communicating with them during the event through meaningful content (in other words, through speakers, moderators, etc.).
Finally, you communicate with attendees after the event by creating common ground for growing a community or even through simple tasks such as sending a satisfaction survey.
By extracting the right event data (open rates, click rates, number of comments or blog posts, social media activity, etc.) and reading it, you can identify both the good and bad practices, subsequently improving your attendees’ communication experience.
Insight #2. The networking quality
People go to events to connect.
Are you providing them with a satisfactory networking environment? Did you manage to connect the offer and demand? How many B2B meetings did people schedule during your event?
By looking deeper and analyzing the event data, you’ll be able to understand the quality of your attendees’ networking experience.
In addition, by decoding this data, you’ll have the necessary information to improve your guests’ chances to building meaningful business relationships.
Insight #3. Expectation management
Were you able to deliver what you promised? Did your attendees have an awesome brand experience? Did you meet all of your attendees’ expectations, or were there some things you weren’t able to deliver?
Analyzing the event data will help you uncover the answers to these questions. You’ll also know what to change to upgrade your guests’ experience for future events.
Insight #4. Emotional investments
How did the attendees actually feel during your event? What was the general vibe? Were they engaged and paying attention to the content? Were they satisfied with the opportunities your event offered? What was the reaction on social media, and how would you qualify their comments, shares, online behavior, etc.?
A flurry of social media activity is always a good factor, but that’s not enough if you want to have a true grasp of your attendees’ general mood. Go beyond the numbers and focus on qualitatively evaluating the event data you’ve gathered.
As you can see, every single insight on event data revolves around the attendees. This shouldn’t be a surprise.
To achieve your goals (whether it’s to increase brand awareness or gain more leads), you must focus on building a meaningful connection with your guests.
If you fail to do that, then the money you’ve spent on planning the event won’t be justified.
It’s your responsibility (by correctly reading the numbers) to see through the event data and actually understand how your attendees felt, how they behaved, and most important, how their brand perception changed after the event.
These insights will help you with your event marketing strategy and come up with better techniques to get your future guests more engaged and aligned with the vision of your brand.
To make this happen, we’ve created a list of steps that will help you read event data (the right way) and put it to good use:
Step #1. Keep data consistent
Not all event data is good data. You’ll always gather irrelevant pieces of information that may stop you from correctly measuring and evaluating your event’s impact.
That’s why it’s important to maintain consistency.
For example, according to Associations Now, “When people register for an event, for example, they may skip a handful of questions or even answer them incorrectly. The result of these aberrations is something called ‘dirty data,’ and it’s more common than you think.”
To keep this from happening, it’s recommended you create “a data dictionary,” which is “a set of guidelines for how you gather data on a yearly basis, to ensure long-term consistency in the data points.”
Step #2. Relate your event data to human experience
Everything should be about your guests. Every single data point must be about your guests and reveal an experience they had.
Search for the emotional component.
Was your open rate (during the mailing campaign) too low? This means you didn’t manage to build messages that connected with your attendees, or maybe you weren’t able to grab and keep your recipients’ attention.
Did people visit your event website and start to complete the registration form, but left it unfinished? Again, this talks about their experience, this time with the online event environment.
Translate everything into the guests’ experience and analyze the data through their perspective.
Step #3. Build a story from your event data
Which would you rather prefer: A bunch of statistics you can barely understand or a nicely designed infographic?
Raw numbers don’t say anything valuable.
It’s just information, data that needs to be decoded. Every single indicator, statistic, or number must tell a story.
For example, let’s say you discovered a weird variation in the number of app downloads. You noticed that most downloads happened during the first and the third round table.
This is not enough.
What’s the story behind that? To complete the data, you must build a powerful narrative.
For example, the greatest number of event app downloads happened during the first and third round tables because these were the moments when the moderators encouraged the attendees to do so.
Step #4. Be an analyst and an investigator
Usually, when evaluating the event data, you must be more than just an analyst. You need take on the role of a true investigator and tackle everything in creative ways.
For example, you could say that people left the registration forms unfinished because they decided the event is not for them.
Yet, you aren’t satisfied with this answer.
You could actually go to the registration form and look for where they might have run into difficulty.
Maybe you’ll discover that most people abandoned the form when they came across a particular question (marked as required to answer). Knowing that, you can take action by rewording the question, giving an example of an answer in parenthesis for people to reference, etc.
Gathering event data is only half the task. The hard work kicks in the moment you have to evaluate and actually understand what this data tells you.
However, by completing this step, you’ll gain massive insights about your attendees’ experience and perceptions, and be able to change what didn’t work and constantly improve the quality of your events.
Don’t be just a data hoarder.
Dig deeper, analyze, investigate, and find the answers that will make you the best attendee experience designer.