Event Management

Data Drives Success in the New Era of Business Events

Skift Take

Data helps deliver impactful business events, and with emerging technologies, there are even better tools and strategies to leverage for next-level results.

Today’s business event is a digitally enhanced experience providing much data. Its ecosystem can be complex and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be, said Matthew Grant, vice president of live+digital production and technology at experiential agency Impact XM during his session on deriving meaningful intelligence from event programs at the recent Experiential Marketing Summit in Las Vegas.

Data should be the key ingredient in designing and executing engagements that drive results, especially now that there’re plenty of opportunities to capture attendee information and mine it for actionable insights.  

Measurement Success

Grant introduced five basic measurement steps:

  1. Setting goals and objectives
  2. Defining the key performance indicators (KPIs)
  3. Developing a data capture plan
  4. Collecting and unifying data
  5. Analyzing data

He urged attendees to think big. “Asking the same questions at different events will get you a bigger picture,” said Grant. 

From registration to badge scanning, surveys, and digital networking platforms, a business event may involve anywhere between six and 12 technologies to help deliver the experience and collect data. Impact XM recently launched xBI™, a business intelligence tool that unifies data from various sources.

“There’s immediate value in seeing how things went and also be more strategic in delivering the desired outcome in the future,” Grant said. 

Some examples where data strategy made a difference that Grant mentioned include increasing post-event conversion, designing a consistent data-capturing program across an entire event portfolio, targeted messaging based on the engagement index score, and proving the value of an event to sponsors.

Beyond the Scans

In her session on data-driven experiences, Heather Munnell, director of client services for VDA, noted that while many organizers already track event app engagements, social media tags, and session check-ins, there’s a growing number of emerging ways to use real-time data to drive business event programs to a new level ultimately.

  • QR codes are a relatively easy and popular tool to bridge digital and physical experiences and a stepping stone toward AI integration
  • Geofencing allows for creating a virtual perimeter around the event to deliver personalized content based on pre-event data collected from attendees. 
  • Heatmapping is a real-time visual representation of the traffic flow and attendee dwell time around the footprint of the entire event or its specific parts, including booth and theaters. It helps evaluate the layout’s success, identify audience interest, and push notifications to them depending on their location.
  • RFID bracelets have been successfully adopted at fairs and festivals for access and cashless payments, and can be used in business events.
  • Ethical AI is an emerging frontier in business events. Artificial intelligence brings a lot of potential for measuring attendee sentiment through aggregated and anonymized data that can be translated into actionable insights for a variety of stakeholders and future event planning. 

While the latest bells and whistles might sound like an enticing idea, it all comes back to laying down the foundation and defining a well-thought-out strategy that meets the KPIs of event stakeholders. 

Next step? As the event’s headliner Brian Solis said, the best experiential marketing KPI today is simple: Keep People Interested. 

Photo credit: Author / Anna Huddleston