When was the last time you closed a deal at a trade show, fair or business event? Probably a really long time ago or maybe even never and it’s not your fault. Sometimes even some cool and promotional custom T-shirts won’t help! Selling directly and in person at events is no longer at the top of companies’ priorities list. Generating leads and gathering important user and/or customer information has replaced it.
If your business is not already leveraging technology to collect data, it’s about time you jump on and make full use of the opportunities events may present. Not only can you boost company awareness and serve your public relations purposes, but also gain crucial insights.
How to collect data at events: The Simple Guide
Usually, first-time event exhibitors and SMEs don’t put enough focus on gathering, managing and analysing data at business events. There’s a belief that these practices are intended for big companies, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The tools are there for anyone to use if they know where to look. Here’s a brief how-to on how to gather data at events:
The event-organising platform of choice should already allow a connection to an insights gathering tool. An example would be the combination of Eventbrite with Survmetrics. Easy-to-use registrations are necessary, just like data protection to ensure consumer trust. Some companies also integrate the organising platform with their CRM tools like Salesforce or Boxever for follow-up procedures and presentation of their digital assets such as product videos, data sheets or free apps.
RFID-equipped badges allow customers to check in at booths while at the same time companies can see exactly how many visitors passed by. Mobile apps can further enhance check-in functionality and create engagement through gamification. Survey Anyplace is a platform that allows you to create fun and engaging surveys.
Use data to spark a conversation
Super Mobility Week, the industry’s hot spot for everything mobile, featured the audience in the conversation. Pre-event surveys in the lead-up were followed by social polls on Twitter during the event. The insights were then referenced by speakers and presented in the form of infographics, making the data accessible by those polled.
Gathering data through polling people
Digital forms and surveys have long replaced clipboards and multiple-choice paper questionnaires. Electronic surveys, when done right, can boast a remarkable completion rate at near-zero investment. Typeform is one of the companies dedicated to providing forms with a great user experience that aim at flowing like a natural conversation.
More examples of data collection at events
Events are also an opportunity for behavioural research where companies expose their customers to prototypes, conduct AB tests and otherwise gather insight into usage of product features that they might or might not have anticipated.
The Predict Conference is all about data and its predictive analysis, so it’s only natural that exhibitors had access to exclusive content such as webinars, articles and Books during the lead-up and following the event to help them with data collection. Additionally, the organiser’s data platform was accessible to the community.
Ideas for small companies to collect data at events
As a start-up or small business, you might not be able to attend events with access to the big guns in data collection. You’re probably organising your own events to facilitate your marketing efforts. There are still plenty of possibilities to gather insights in the form of data at your events.
The first step to collecting meaningful data is being able to answer each of these three questions:
- What is your goal? Work from there to come up with a strategy and a plan for your data collection. Your definition of success will vary depending on your type of business, of course.
- What kind of data are you looking to collect? Can you map your collection to certain KPIs? Simply acquiring email addresses as leads will be less complex than having customers fill out a complex form.
- How will you segment your data? Ideally, you will collect a lot of data. How do you plan on slicing it in order to make sense of it and gain meaningful insight? Only what you understand can drive effective marketing strategies.
Once you have defined the factors of success for your data collection plan, choose the ways that make the most sense for your scenario before, during and after your event:
It’s not revolutionary to use social media to track your users, but don’t make the rookie mistake of disappearing too soon! Even after the event, social channels can lead you to valuable clues. Set up your dashboard in advance using Hootsuite, Google Alerts or Mention and track your event hashtag. You don’t have one of those? Create it right now!
Forms and surveys
Polling your audience can provide a wealth of information about your product, business, and presentation at the event. You can utilise surveys before the event, at your stand and in the follow-up, but be smart and use proper segmentation so as not to spam your customers. You can collect data from your attendees to evaluate their needs, get feedback on speakers and workshops, and collect email addresses of possible leads. You can email surveys, use a mobile website which opens after scanning a QR code or provide tablets and devices at your stand to fill them out. The metrics around your survey such as open and completion rate and engagement time are worth looking into as well. Apart from the already mentioned Typeform, check out SurveyMonkey for planning your event surveys.
Target and track your audience
Whenever you can, use tracking during your event to target your audience. RFID technology, beacons or touchpoints will help you correlate collected data with your marketing efforts. Tracking and check-ins will show you how many attendees reacted to your targeted messages, emails or push notifications and how your content resonated with them.
Everyone likes a little challenge at an event, so use games to collect data on how compelling your content was and how your visitors were interacting with your product or brand during the event. Offer incentives like prizes to send people on treasure hunts, complete photo quests where they post to social media or check in at event locations. Be creative in your ideas and always communicate the value for participants!
Connecting with your clients and customers at events drives and influences your future marketing. At the very least, you need to collect data from your most engaged attendees. From there, you can optimise the way you gather and send information to increase your reach. The right combination of tools to collect and analyse data will reveal much about your audience and make you a smart marketer!
Do you have more tips on how to gather data at events? Then let us know in the comments below or through any of our social media outlets. In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.
T-shirt Printing for Events
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