Applying Attendee Behavioral Metrics To Your Event

Just as world class retailers understand the customer traffic patterns at their physical and on-line stores, event and tradeshow professionals need to understand how an attendee "consumes" their event.  Specifically, :

  1. Where do attendees go?  Attendance at sessions, networking events and exhibit halls, as well as traffic patterns throughout the event.
  2. How often and for how long?   Number of visits and duration of each visit to sessions and exhibit booths.
  3. How active are they?  Participation and contribution in social media, audience response, survey response rate

For event and tradeshow professionals, the data will reveal:

  • What activities are of most interest and deserve the most attention and resources? Conversely, which have least appeal and may be considered for down-sizing or elimination to decrease costs and increase event satisfaction. This type of information is critical to improving ROI.
  • What does traffic flow from activity to activity look like?  Are attendees flowing through from room to room, booth to booth or are they exhibiting "boomerang" behavior (i.e. going to a few sessions or booths, then exiting early or shortly after entering the exhibit hall).
  • Is the traffic pattern at the exhibit hall flowing smoothly or are there bottlenecks or physical impediments that are blocking attendees from visiting booths in certain areas of the hall?  By monitoring flow, you may be able to identify problems early on in the event and correct them, for higher satisfaction and to motivate higher purchase intent.
  • Who are the most important attendees in your target audience?  These participants will tend to be more influential, more satisfied and/or have higher purchase intents.  By identifying these evangelists, you can ensure that they are given special attention, and are supplied early on with information about your upcoming events, offerings and company.  They can then continue to evangelize within their networks and via their blogs and other social media channels.

For exhibitors the data answers:

  • How do attendees traverse the exhibit floor and the booth?  What are the traffic patterns?  This will show you ideal placement of booth within the exhibit and product placement in your booth.
  • Is booth layout ideal for attendees to find the section/products they are looking for and to let them stroll around and linger?  Research shows that purchase intent increases for attendees that spend the most time at your booth and who visit multiple times.
  • Do we need to bring every product we offer or can we achieve the same (or higher) ROI if we exhibit fewer offerings?

When considering booth layout, logistics and what to measure, it is important to relate behavioral metrics to business objectives.  For example if a key objective at a trade show is to have a successful product launch, then you will want to place and lay out the booth to drive traffic towards the new product area, and implement ways to measure and monitor that traffic.

Data collection methods and options for attendance and duration:

  • Researchers observe attendees and take notes on all behaviors for later analysis.
  • Video cameras record behavior at key locations for hours on end and researchers analyze the tapes in their labs.
  • RFID tags on attendees' badges track attendance and duration automatically and unobtrusively, usually at lower costs.  Data is available in real time allowing for additional ROI measurement during the event.

Event Intelligence - Merging Behavioral Metrics and Demographic Data

For deeper levels of insight, event professionals strive to collect and analyze multiple data streams:

  • Behavior:  attendee interest and participation levels
  • Opinions:  session and event satisfaction surveys
  • Lead capture:  interactions with booth staff and request for information
  • Demographics:  geography, job title, industry, etc.

By combining these, you get a much deeper level of knowledge of your attendees and can use this to further influence purchase intent, uncover opportunities and improve ROI.

Here are just a few insights made possible by viewing all data streams:

  • Who are your attendees with the highest purchase intent?  Do they belong to a particular industry or group?  Where did they spend most of their time, what sessions did they attend, and which booths did they visit that resulted in their overall high satisfaction?  Compare this data with the behavior and demographics of attendees who were not satisfied.  Can you convert dissatisfied attendees into happy attendees by changing the event design or are they a group that should not be a target market for your event?
  • Which sessions performed poorly in terms of attendance, duration and satisfaction?  Did all attendee types/groups share this behavior and opinion, or is there a niche attendee group who attended and was highly satisfied?  This information will tell you if you should eliminate certain sessions and/or if there are some that merit a smaller room and should be targeted to a specific audience.
  • How many visitors came to your exhibit hall that were not captured by the lead retrieval system?  Do these visitors closely match your exhibitors? target markets, representing an opportunity for exhibitors to contact them after the event?

Armed with this market intelligence, you not only improve your event, you  also demonstrate to senior executives that your team and your events are focused on strategic objectives and that your decision-making is backed by comprehensive, quantitative analysis.

In the next post, we'll look at a real world application for just one example of the power of event intelligence.