Events are successful when we manage to change something in our attendees’ behaviors or belief systems.
From turning attendees into customers to advocating new ideas and changing the industry paradigm, events are powerful tools of communication and persuasion. The live experiences people have at events influence their perceptions and subsequent decisions.
That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to read and understand your attendees’ behavior. If you don’t, how will you know you achieved your event’s desirable results?
Apart from that, to ensure your event is a success, you’ll need to monitor your guests’ general satisfaction level, capturing even the slightest changes in moods or potential frustrations or confusion (and obviously eliminate them as quickly as possible).
How does this work?
The same as measuring the event’s ROI and KPIs, you might want to evaluate your guests’ behavior (before, during, and after the event), focusing on analyzing certain indicators and encouraging an ongoing conversation between you and them.
Why is this important?
Reason #1. Understand your guests’ immediate needs
We plan events with certain preconceptions about what our attendees might need or want. But it’s nearly impossible to fully predict how people will interact with the event environment. They might find certain dynamics boring, for example, or have problems navigating the venue map.
By always being aware of what’s happening during the event and staying on top of your guests’ expressed needs, you’ll know what works and what needs to change.
Reason #2. Improve the attendee experience in real time
Once the event has started, there’s not too much you can change it. You can’t replace boring speakers or find another caterer in the middle of the event.
However, once you’ve gained a better understanding of your attendees’ immediate needs, you can improve their experiences through small changes, such as adjusting the venue temperature, making sure the catering servers circulate throughout the room so everyone gets a chance to try the food, or verifying that everyone knows where a specific conference or workshop room is.
Reason #3. Correct certain behaviors
Apart from changing things about the event dynamics, analyzing your attendees’ behavior in real time will help you identify some undesirable patterns.
For example, some attendees might want to skip certain sessions to go do some sightseeing (if the event is international). You can prevent that by warning them of potential penalties or repercussions (like not giving them the attendance certificate), or take a more positive approach and offer attendance incentives.
Reason #4. Predict the achievement of your goals
One of the most important reasons to keep an eye on how your attendees behave before or during the event is to foresee possible results.
If you’re interested in getting more prospects or clients, based on attendee behavior, you can segment people into cold, warm, and hot leads. Subsequently, this segmentation can help you redirect your efforts toward the warm and hot leads, ensuring opt-ins or closed deals.
Reason #5. Analyze your event’s impact
As stated before, events are powerful engines for behavior alternations. This shouldn’t be radical or require big changes. For example, you might want the attendees to follow your brand’s social media profiles or share news about your event, or to download an eBook from your company’s site.
From analyzing the engagement level of your attendees to the reply rate to your follow-up emails (in the case of hot leads, for example), the behavioral metrics will show your event’s real impact.
The indicators of the attendee behavior
Now that we know why evaluating and measuring your attendees’ behavior is crucial to monitor your event’s success, let’s see how you can do that and on which indicators you should focus.
Indicator #1. Repeat visit or first-timer
Know your attendees. Are they attending your event for the first time, or is it their second, third, or fourth visit? With repeat attendees, you might want to award their loyalty with a special incentive, but make sure you still retain their interest for upcoming editions.
Moreover, if you have an important number of loyal attendees, you’ll want to segment the dynamics of your event (if it’s the case), so that repeat attendees won’t have the same exact experiences as the first time.
Indicator #2. Networking activity
If you’re providing a B2B matchmaking dynamic where attendees can schedule one-on-one meetings, you can evaluate the how many interactions were on the guests’ agendas and their overall satisfaction with the networking experience.
You can gain access to this data by using advanced matchmaking platforms that will generate these insights automatically, depending on how your guests behaved and rated their meetings.
Indicator #3. Interest in knowledge sessions
When running multiple knowledge sessions at the same time, you may want to understand which topics or speakers are more interesting for your guests. You can achieve that by doing a mandatory venue check-in so you could later measure how many guests attended specific sessions. Use this data to refine the content approach and be more aware of your speaker and topic selection.
Indicator #4. Day-by-day attendance rate
If you are running a multiple-day event, you’ll want to monitor how the attendance fluctuates from one day to another. This data can give you some important results regarding the event planning.
For example, if you’ve set up a cocktail dinner, you might discover the next morning that there’s a lower attendance rate during the first dynamic. Subsequently, you’ll want to change some things, such as scheduling subsidiary dynamics the morning after the cocktail dinner, or rethinking the social program.
Indicator #5. Venue navigation and heat maps
Using technologies such as beacons, you can determine the attendee flow and what points (rooms, sessions) present the most interest. On the other hand, if you’re running a trade show or exhibition, you can send your guests different notifications regarding knowledge or expert sessions as they are approaching certain rooms.
Indicator #6. Engagement rates
Another indicator to consider is your audience’s interaction level. You can evaluate this by having them participate in Q&A sessions or live polls.
Indicator #7. Social media activity
How many times was your event’s hashtag mentioned? Did your attendees post selfies from your event? How many shares did your event’s content have? Your guests’ social activity can say a lot about your event’s success. After all, people usually only share things that matter to them.
Indicator #8. Potential leads
A positive attendee behavior you might be going after is your guests’ willingness to continue the communication with your brand and receive follow-up emails about your products or services. Thus, another indicator to keep in mind is the number of potential leads your event generated.
Indicator #9. Closed deals
One of the most relevant indicators is the number of deals your company closed after the event. If the number spiked up, it means your event had a positive impact on your attendees and they displayed the desired or expected behavior of engaging with your business and becoming your customers.
Pay attention to details
The indicators we presented above aren’t inclusive or represent the wide range of concepts you might consider when running an event. That’s why, apart from evaluating the most obvious indicators, it’s important to pay attention to details and measure the “room temperature” by observing your attendees’ reactions.
Are they relaxed? Do they feel your event meets their goals? Are they naturally following signals and interacting with the event without struggles? Do they need your team’s help? Although these indicators are more emotional and less measurable, they are also important to read to understand your guests’ overall satisfaction and their willingness to react positively to the nudges your event presents.