Event Marketers, Are You Drowning in Data?

Image of two people reviewing data on a laptop

This article was originally published in 2019.

You’ve set up your data collection points, your attendees have completed surveys and now, in your hands, is what is arguably the most valuable asset to understanding your attendees. What do you do with it?

Freeman, one of the leading brand experience companies in events, released additional insights into its Data Benchmark Study, in which more than 650 brand marketing executives across multiple disciplines were surveyed. (The study and expanded insights are available for free on freeman.com.) The expanded insights into the event marketing side of data provide a much-needed perspective of what exactly event and meeting planners are tasked with long after the venue doors close.

Event marketers are “drowning in data,” according to the report—46 percent of those marketing executives found their most pressing challenge centered around analysis of the data they collect. It’s easy to forget that the numbers, bytes and bits of data are tangible, real human beings—something Freeman discusses in its report.

By looking at the trends of attendees and the actions they take throughout an event, planners can adapt not only the physical layout of the event (such as with radio-frequency identification through wristbands and badges), but also the structure and entire purpose of the event itself. Before that can happen, however, event professionals must ask why they are gathering data in the first place.

In an episode of “Run of Show,” a video web series by event marketing company Splash, CEO Ben Hindman reiterates the importance of this purpose, in addition to the process of transferring the data to the key players in your organization to analyze: “It doesn’t matter if you’ve captured all this data and you stored it in some system somewhere. If you don’t get it in people’s hands in the time that they can use it, you might as well not have collected it at all.”

3 Key Approaches Planners Can Implement

  1. Have discussions with your marketing and sales departments to understand the purpose behind collecting specific data. Do you want to know just the contact information of your attendees or would you prefer knowing whether your networking attendees are extroverted or introverted?
  2. Collect your data into a master database (often using a third-party vendor, which can make an event professional’s life much easier in this regard) that will pull into different categories when needed. This will help departments cross-examine data and use subsets that are necessary for their category, and prevent an overwhelming endeavor.
  3. Tell a story with your data to show ROI. If there is no context alongside your data, it is meaningless. Provide a clear picture on the return of your event by also providing insights into why the data matters.