Your event is over and you find yourself wondering whether your guests enjoyed their experience. What did they like? What didn’t interest them? How could you do better next time?
These are critical questions every event planner should ask. The answers will help you improve the experience at your next event. This is especially important if you regularly throw events for the same audience.
Data is a critical resource you can use to learn more about your attendees. It’s smart to collect post-event data that will help you understand their perspective of the experience. In this article, we’ll go over five simple ways to gather data after your event.Collecting event data gives you valuable insights to create a powerful event experience and bring your attendees back. Click To Tweet
(Note: It’s best to implement a system to collect data before your event takes place. This way you can put any tools and processes in place ahead of time. But if you didn’t do any of that, these five tips will help you mine data where you can.)
1. Examine Your Registration Forms
If you haven’t already, comb through your event registrations to uncover hidden insights. There’s probably hidden information that can help you plan and promote future events.
For instance, look at the days and times people register for your event. Those times indicate when they were willing to make a decision to register. If you see a trend among your attendees (perhaps a majority registered on a weekday at lunch time), that’s when you should schedule conversion-pushing social media posts and emails.
If you don’t find anything interesting on your registration forms, consider amending them for your next event so they capture more valuable information. For example, you might ask for data points like company size, interests, past events they attended, or anything else that will help you throw a great event and market it well.
Admittedly, this is a balancing act. You want information to learn about your audience, but many people find long forms arduous and intimidating. Focus on the data points that add the most value to your event planning.
2. Distribute Surveys to Your Attendees
Without a doubt, this is the most effective way to gather post-event data. Sending a survey after the event should be a part of every event marketing plan. Surveys don’t help with your previous event, but they will help with the next one.
While you can solicit feedback with an email, you’ll have a hard time getting people to respond to blank prompts. It’s best to serve them with an interactive form they can click through quickly. This will increase the number of people who complete the survey and improve the quality of their responses.
For best results, use a survey tool like SurveyMonkey, Zoho Survey, Qualtrics, or even a simple Google Form. They’re easy to set up and provide analytics so you can review your attendees’ responses in aggregate. To distribute a survey, simply email your attendees with a link to the form.
Here are some best practices to follow when sending surveys to your guests:
- Don’t wait too long. Send the survey immediately after the event while your guests are still invested in the experience and remember it.
- Include photos of things your guests may not remember. For instance, if you ask a question about a speaker, show a headshot alongside it to jog their memory.
- Make sure your event surveys work well on mobile devices.
- Brand the survey just like the rest of your event.
- Ask questions that give you measurable data. Open-ended questions give your guests freedom, but they’re hard to review when you have a lot of them. Stick to multiple-choice questions.
- If possible, include a call to action that engages them further with your brand or your next event.
3. Monitor Your Event on Social Media
Just because your event is over doesn’t mean people will stop talking about it on social media. Continue to monitor what they say about the experience.
If you created and promoted an event hashtag, continue to check it for weeks after your event. There’s a good chance your attendees will continue to use it to discuss their experience at your event. Make sure to mine this source for insights.
You might also consider using a social media monitoring tool to identify conversations people have all over the web about your event. These tools will scour popular and niche social media websites to find posts based on your keywords.
Here are a few social media monitoring tools to check out: BrandWatch, Buzzsumo, Mention, and Keyhole. Additionally, you can set up a Google Alert to notify you whenever your event is mentioned on a page Google indexes.
Finally, look into your own social media analytics to learn more about you. Facebook Insights provides brands with lots of information about their Facebook and Instagram audiences.
Twitter Analytics is a similar tool.
4. Track Your Guests’ Activity
If you used any activity tracking technology at your event, afterwards is a great time to dive into those analytics to learn more about how they behave. Activity tracking isn’t a common feature at most events, but it can be profoundly informative for event planners.
For instance, let’s say you embedded RFID chips into everyone’s wristband. RFID technology can track where guests move throughout your venue space. You might learn, for instance, that one booth was more popular others, that lines formed outside your bathrooms, or that your guests preferred the outdoor networking space.
QR codes are another way you can track your guests’ activity. Some events will place QR codes throughout the event space for guests to interact with. For example, you might add a QR code to a display that opens a web page with more information about that topic. This will also give you insight into your guests’ preferences.
RFID technology is more accurate and provides you with more information, but expensive. QR codes are inexpensive and easy to set up yourself, but they only tell you what your guests specifically interacted with.
If you’re hosting a large event with a substantial budget, AI technology may be a useful way to track your guests and analyze data. It can also generate conclusions for you to act on.
“AI can be used to streamline the sheer volume of data generated by your events,” says corporate event marketing software developer Mark Granosvky. “When every visitor has a smart badge and every exhibitor has a lead capture device, the data on entry, exit, revisit, pre, post, dwell times, text opens, no shows, retweets, links and seminar attendance can get overwhelming. This is where AI—and IBM Watson in particular—can help you create real-time rules that let only the best data ‘get through’ so that you can make faster decisions using the most relevant information.”
5. Talk to Your Guests
Never underestimate the value of the simple conversation. Sometimes the best way to learn about your guests’ experience is to simply talk to them.
Obviously, this strategy does not scale well. You can’t speak with everyone. But the information you learn from just a few conversations can be infinitely valuable. The trick, therefore, is to ask penetrating questions that uncover your attendees’ true feelings.
Send an email to your event list asking for a few minutes of your guests’ time. You may have to offer an incentive to get them to participate. Once they agree to have a conversation with you, schedule a brief phone call.
On the phone call, start by asking the questions you created for your survey, then let the conversation flow organically. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions based on the guests’ answers. Encourage him or her to give you honest feedback.
We can’t overstate the importance of collecting and analyzing data to improve your event planning and marketing. In our data-driven world, failing to use this critical resource will put you at a disadvantage. The four strategies we outlined above will help you collect valuable information on your attendees and their experiences.