Top 5 Technology Trends in Event Measurement

Here's my perspective on current technology trends that are adding real value to our customers' events.

Easier to Go Green

Thanks to the proliferation of web-enabled devices and "smart" phones, event managers can now provide surveys and conference evaluations via attendees' mobile devices.  The benefits of electronic surveys are immediate and considerable - you're "going green" by minimizing paper, you eliminate hours of manual tasks (distributing and collecting surveys, manually tabulating results) and associated labor costs, and you can view results in minutes rather than weeks. 

Game Crazy, a leading video game retailer, used electronic surveys to find out if their sales associates were being motivated and acquiring new learning during their annual sales meeting.  The event management team monitored results in real time and gave immediate and specific feedback to presenters who scored poorly in early sessions.  As the event progressed, these presenters made the necessary adjustments, quantifiably improved their performances in later sessions, and boosted attendee motivation and learning scores.

The Game Crazy team took their green initiatives even further, by replacing all paper agendas with real time, editable, personalized agendas on the attendees' mobile devices.  They also took advantage of the system's ability to poll the audience in real time, for more dynamic and relevant speaking sessions.

Social Media

Social media / social networking software for events, when applied strategically, deliver great value.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms can help you start and maintain a pre-event conversation with potential attendees to determine what topics will be of greatest interest and relevance.  They can also help generate excitement for your event - and more registrants.  Oracle sent out a tweet on an upcoming conference and within minutes received 18 registrations before ever formally launching the registration site. 

There are as many creative, successful uses of social media in the event industry as there are pointless and unproductive ones.  In subsequent posts I'll provide best practices and cautionary tales so you can separate the truth from the hype.

A Single Consistent Lead Management Solution

A tradeshow lead capture solution that provides contact information is only the first step in adding value for exhibitors.  To drive ROI, exhibitors need a complete lead management solution that includes lead qualification and prioritization to determine which leads have a higher probability of converting to sales.  By extending the lead management solution across all events, the event manager can identify trends, provide benchmarking stats and help exhibitors establish objectives prior to the event.

Event to Event Metrics

Once you have obtained consistent data, you are able to provide event to event metrics.  By combining data generated by all these solutions into an executive dashboard that clearly demonstrates results versus established objectives and compares results from one event to another, you are able to monitor your team's performance and make necessary changes to improve overall event results.  By communicating this to your organization's senior team, you are showing your focus on creating value.

As a result of their successful initial deployments of event marketing metrics, the Philips Healthcare event team has developed a global event measurement tool (GEMT) and is committed to consistently using this tool to measure overall results across all their events.  Moving forward, they now have historical data across multiple events, are much more confident they will meet and exceed their objectives and can justify their investment in trade shows at the executive level.

Marketing Intelligence

New technologies allow us to bring disparate sources of information together to better understand attendee interests and preferences.  In addition, managers are looking at attendee behavior and its impact on purchasing decisions.  According to Paco Underhill, renowned retail guru, it is this understanding that gives us the most reliable predictor of purchase.  By delivering corresponding metrics with an analysis of how your event affected intent to purchase, you are delivering real value to your organization.   Emerging technologies assisting with this market intelligence include RFID, tradeshow lead management,  and survey solutions.  A single reporting and analysis system combines the data stream from these solutions to provide better attendee understanding and purchase intent.

Related Links:

Whitepaper:  Metrics Are King! Event Justification in a Down Economy

Article:  RFID to Keep Tabs on NPE2009 Attendees

Article:  Jim Spellos - "What You Need to Know About Social Networking Tools"

Article:  "ROI Proving Your Booth's Worth It"