Events are important to your bottom line, but how can you measure their success or failure if you’re not measuring enough or the right data? Why is this important? Would you throw $50,000 into digital advertising if you couldn’t calculate your ROI? You are investing a lot of time and resources in your events. It’s important to get the snapshot you need to see how your events are performing, and to increase the footprint of your events.
You probably utilize traditional event metrics, like tracking the number of attendees and registrants. You might even be tracking things like email invitations sent, RSVP conversion rates, cost per attendee or opportunities created. But you’re still probably only collecting a small subset of what is possible to collect in the universe of events.
At Localist, we believe that event data is more than you have probably imagined. We define all data surrounding as event as “event content”. Event content is the information that fleshes out an event listing — not just the event name, date, location and description, but everything from metadata to event images to RSVPs and social shares.
First, make sure you are tracking your event data through a number of tools. Then, make sure that these tools are all talking to one another!
- Google Analytics: The search engine giant’s analytics software will help you track all things website, including number and duration of visits to your site; audience, behavior and acquisition metrics; and conversions (if you have goals and funnels set up).
- Marketing automation software: You’re likely sending out emails to prospective and past attendees. Use the data contained in your marketing automation software (systems like Marketo, Hubspot and Pardot) to track things like email opens, clicks, bounces, conversions, and unsubscribes.
- Event management software: Event management software like Cvent will allow you to create multifaceted marketing campaigns around your events, tracking email marketing, website, social, mobile and budget data.
- Event registration software: Software like Eventbrite and RegOnline will make it easier for you to not only register attendees for events, but also track whether those attendees who registered showed up as well as any revenue generated from the event.
- Online event calendar: The right online event calendar can help you track everything from RSVPs and social shares to attendee geography, approval response time, and trending events.
- Mobile app tracking software: If you’re using a mobile app for your event, software like DoubleDutch is the way to go. From this platform, you can collect data on user activities, live polls, surveys, ratings and reviews — valuable feedback you’ll want to use to shape future events.
Looking at this event content gives you insight on a number of levels, from a “snapshot” view (what are customers doing on an individual level?), to the health of your events in the aggregate (is this a popular event series to host?) and on to how your events are performing in general (are you throwing great events but seeing reduced attendance across the board?).
The most important step is to collect and connect the data, so you have something to analyze. Once it’s at your fingertips, use the above tools and integrate all your data sources to tell a larger story.
How might you use the event data?
- Look for trends: Data in the aggregate can tell you things like your most popular location or the best times to host an events. Seek to uncover trends that might inform future event planning.
- Assess individual raw numbers: Conversely, metrics like attendance might not be valuable in the aggregate, but looking at them on a per-event basis can tell you a lot about the popularity and repeatability of a particular event type.
- Evaluate events based on marketing segments and personas: Look at your marketing personas to see how they are responding to/participating in your events. Maybe your “Millennials” are really digging your events; “Soccer Moms”, not so much. If you looked at the entire event and not the segments, you wouldn’t know this detail.
- Track your entire lifecycle: You’ll want to know not just what caused people to register for your event, but what happened at every step of the way, from promotion to post-event surveys. Tracking customers throughout the entire lifecycle is a key component of connecting all your data in the end.
- Optimize content: Use the information collected from your different tools to optimize webpages and drive further site traffic. This could include things like titles and keywords all the way to on-page content. The more you know what your audience is searching for, the better position you’ll be in to deliver just that.
- Adjust social strategy: Using what you’ve learned from your social metrics (including things like your most effective network, times to share and calls to action), adjust messaging and delivery accordingly,
- Track administrator efficiencies: While it may not seem to impact your attendees in the way that social posts or on-site content can, back-end efficiencies like approval response times can speak volumes about the health of your events. Make sure they’re up to par by collecting and tracking these stats before you need them.
The value of event content, in this situation, is that you can use it to predict and plan for future events. Did a past event not see high attendance, despite featuring a top-name speaker? Check your calendar metrics to see what day of the week is your most popular day to hold events, and schedule future events accordingly. Do Google Analytics and your calendar metrics show that the bulk of your attendees for a popular event traveled from a neighboring county? Consider holding satellite events in that county, bringing the fun directly to them.
Whatever you do, use event data to maximize your overall event strategy. You’re probably already using registration software like Eventbrite and creating single one-off landing pages or sending one-off email campaigns. With the information gathered from tools like Google Analytics, your marketing automation software and your online event calendar, you’ll be able to optimize an entire series of events and plan a more holistic, long-term strategy. And that’s a win for everyone involved!