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Lost in a Sea of Data? Here’s How to Get Focused.

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Our guide to using data effectively to promote events

Marketers of all stripes are able to access a depth and breadth of data that make marketing more powerful than ever before.

That’s the theory, anyway.

In reality, many event marketers find themselves lost at sea when it comes to using data effectively. They might not know what data they should be collecting. They might have data coming in from multiple sources, with no idea how to consolidate it. And once they have it, they might not know what to do with it.

Even seasoned event marketers and show organizers can get overwhelmed with all the data-related tools and options available. Fortunately, there are ways to narrow focus, get the data that counts the most, and use it in ways that makes sense.

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Where to start with data-driven marketing

It’s impossible to measure growth without knowing the starting point, which makes benchmark data critical. At the beginning of any marketing campaign, take note of website bounce rates, email open and click through rates, and social media engagement rates. These baseline measurements can then be compared against post-campaign results to determine whether marketing has moved the ball forward or backward. Once benchmarks have been set, it’s time to collect user data.

The abundance of data can lead to a lack of focus.

Abhay Khurana

Chief Customer Officer, Feathr

What user data is most important?

Many marketers already collect data from various sources, which is great. However, this abundance of data can also lead to a lack of focus, says Abhay Khurana, Chief Customer Officer at Feathr, a company that creates digital marketing and sponsorship software for events and associations.

“Every marketer knows they need to use their data more effectively, but year after year, not a lot of progress gets made. We’ve learned that focusing on all the data is just too big, slow, and expensive of an approach for most people.”

Instead, Khurana urges marketers to focus on two specific types:

  1. Registration Data: This is information about the registrant that is normally collected on forms: title, name, company, email address, location, size of company, what parts of the event they’re interested in, and so on.
  2. Digital Behavioral Data: This is the person’s digital footprint. What pages did they visit on the event website? How did they find the site? How many times have they visited in the last month? Did they begin to register but then drop off?

Where to find this data?

Gathering the right user data requires tracking the right audience touchpoints. Google Analytics is an event marketer’s best friend in this effort, according to David Haas, Director of Digital Marketing Solutions, FreemanXP:

“Most marketers will put Google Analytics code into their website, which lets them measure how many visits they had, how long people stayed, bounce rate, and so on,” explains Haas. “But the majority aren’t taking full advantage of what Google Analytics can tell them. They’re not tagging their emails. They’re not tagging the different advertising vehicles they’re using. And they’re not tagging their organic social feed. So, they might know who’s on their site, but they don’t know where these people are coming from.”

The solution is to use Google Analytics to create “parameters,” which are tags added to the end of a URL that tracks which visitors click on which links. Or, if marketers are using a third-party event registration site, they should verify whether it integrates with Google Analytics. If not, solutions like Feathr can help bridge that gap, making sure registrants can be accurately tracked through the registration funnel.

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How to use data for event success

Benchmark data, registration data, and digital behavioral data can be used in two major ways: pre-event marketing optimization and post-event measurement.

With post-event measurement, event marketers can use their data to see which channels and tactics were most successful. Perhaps the lion’s share of registrants came from sponsored Facebook posts. Or perhaps an email campaign was the biggest contributor. Gathering this registration data and comparing it to the personalized messages and campaigns that focus on each group helps marketers steer future campaign efforts — and also helps build a case for future budgets.

Pre-event marketing optimization, however, can completely transform a promotional strategy. This is done by drilling down into the data to segment and target.

“Most events have different segments of attendees who visit,” says Haas. “This means you can’t engage and interest everybody using the exact same techniques.”

“For example,” Khurana explains, “you can pull out everybody who has “VP” in their title, has begun but not completed registration, and has not been to the event website in the last 14 days. That’s a segment that is targeted and valuable, and that you can target with extremely relevant messaging.”

However, there is no need to go overboard and create 500 hyper-targeted segments. Instead, find commonalities and pick out five or six top segments. Then, develop personalized messages and campaigns that focus on each group, creating language that speaks to their specific needs and where they are in the registration process.

Effort = success

Getting a handle on data may be a new competency for many marketers. It requires learning new skills, as well as some time and effort.

However, much like creating an event plan, doing this work up front can save countless headaches and wasted resources down the road.

Ultimately, this represents one more way to be strategic when planning events. And it helps make sure that event marketers, instead of drifting at sea, are better able to navigate a clear journey to event success.

Ready to dive into your data? Our experts can help you maximize measurement to get results.

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