Live experiences have long been incredible sources of real-time, relevant data about customers and how they buy. Now, the event industry is moving quickly to channel the power of that information with improved strategies, upgraded tools and bigger plans to generate and use data in 2019.
Event marketers aren’t alone in their desire to optimize their use of data. A new Freeman Data Benchmark Study of more than 650 leading marketing executives found two-thirds of corporate marketers plan to increase dedicated spending on data and analytics in 2019. Nearly 90 percent say they use data to make strategic decisions, while 98 percent use data to secure budgets and more than 70 percent leverage data to impact wider marketing and business goals.
In a recent roundtable for our sister site Event Marketer, we talked with several industry pros to learn the impact of data on the event industry—and the impact of the event industry on data.
“A lot of times people collect data at events and it ends up in the bottom of the file drawer,” notes Glenda Brungardt, global event manager at HP.
“But if you have infrastructure in place to collect and use it, data is powerful in the sense that it helps you not only evaluate the event you’ve done, but also identify what you’re doing well or gaps that you may have—so you know what to focus on next time around.”
Data is top of mind when marketing leaders sit down with their counterparts from other parts of the organization, and it informs every aspect of event planning, says Victor Torregroza, events program manager-global event marketing at Intel.
“We are living and working in a data-centric economy. That applies to us as consumers and it applies to us as individuals,” says Torregroza. “On the event marketing side, when we are setting the strategy for a particular program, we look at several types of data. We look at data provided by the event, we look at data from our own research, and we tie all of that together to inform our strategy for the show. So it is the word, the topic of discussion—and it’s priceless.”
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Skip Cox, senior VP-research and measurement at Freeman notes that in many ways the events world is now catching up with other industries when it comes to the types of data it has at its fingertips.
“Traditionally, we’ve been an industry that’s been devoid of data,” says Cox. “We were living on registration data, lead data and survey data, but now we have so many other sources, so that’s not the case anymore.”
The trick, he says, is figuring out how to sort through the volume of information flooding in and finding what is truly relevant. The challenge can be daunting, particularly for companies that run their own events and control data coming in from a plethora of different streams.
“And it’s moving beyond event-centric data to other sources of data, from social, from digital marketing, from other aspects of marketing,” Cox adds. “This truly makes events probably the most integrated of all channels in how we use data.”
Data can help marketers prove the value of events. For example, Torregroza notes that the data Intel gets from CES is priceless.
“What it does for us is confirm that, yes, the C-suite executives—the people we want to be working with—are at the show. So the data has helped to clarify that we are reaching the right people,” he says. “As a result, we’re able to build a more meaningful, targeted and purposeful experience for them that’s going to save them time because it’s based on the data that we get. And when you make their experience much more targeted and smart, your target audience is going to love it.”
Proving Value With Data
A good data strategy is now table stakes for marketers that want to evaluate the success of their events, feels HP’s Brungardt.
“Anybody can put together some data they’ve collected, but if you don’t have a plan in place or a process of how you use that data, then to me it’s useless data,” she says. “At HP, we’ve always had a measurement-type program in place through which we collect data at events and use that data to set the roadmap for where we’re going.”
What’s the key to creating a successful measurement strategy? Ask the right questions, set measurable outcomes and break it down into specific goals, says Ken Holsinger, VP-digital solutions at Freeman.
“Many [companies] have data sources that they aren’t taking advantage of; they aren’t getting the information from those sources and bringing them together,” says Holsinger. “It’s a matter of translating that into actionable feedback, expanding and deepening their insights, and ultimately evolving to a data-driven culture where they can then begin to use data as a competitive benefit.”
Visit EventMarketer.com to read the complete roundtable discussion.