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SAP: Delivering Better Events with Data

By Freeman®

One of the most valuable actions you can take as an event marketer is measuring your success. The data collected during and after the event shows how well you’ve done — and informs your strategy for future events.

We sat down for a chat with Nicola Kastner, Head of Global Event Strategy at SAP (and Event Marketer B-to-B Dream Team member), to discuss how her company collects and uses data to deliver better events, today and tomorrow.

Q Hi Nicola! Great to chat with you. Let’s start by digging into your role. What would you say is your favorite thing about your job as head of global event strategy for a marquee tech brand like SAP?

Nicola Kastner: That’s a great question! You know, there is not one executive that you don’t hear reference SAP SAPPHIRE in every public conversation. It’s the lighthouse moment for our company. So to be able to take that, and with the trust of our leadership team, be able to change the experience of something so integral — it makes me happy every day to wake up to be able to do that.

Q Wow, that’s really inspiring. Let’s backtrack a bit. How do events fit into the marketing strategy at SAP?

NK: Events are one of the best ways to tell our story, because they’re a physical representation of our brand. For our events, we make sure that everything we are communicating is aligned with the messaging from throughout the year, and that it all connects to every other campaign within the marketing program. So, the message is holistic from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, whether physical, digital, or any other channel.

Q What value does SAP get out of events that you don't get from other marketing channels?

NK: SAP is an events-driven company by nature. We love our events, and our executives love our events, which is a great thing for me, obviously. But from a messaging perspective, it means that you as a customer are immersed in our brand. You're immersed in what we're communicating with you. Events help us make our message clearer, helping us create emotional connections with our customers.

The value is in the face-to-face conversations and that irreplaceable one-to-one interaction.

Q How are you measuring the success of your events?

NK: We track a lot of data. Everything from movement on the show floor, to what activities our guests attend, to what areas they've come from, to demographic data. We also track sales and pipeline data. And we measure experience data, which is more subjective and isn't always as obvious as what we call “operational data.”

As a company, experience management is really important to us. We look at the combination of the operational data and experiential data to understand our attendees and then use that to make in-moment modifications, as well as create longer-term strategies.

Q Why do you believe measuring an experience is so important?

NK: Measurement is probably the most important thing we do. If we don't understand the full impact of what we've done, then there's not really any point in doing it, right? We have to quantify the investment for our organization and make sure we're making the right investments. And if we're not measuring, we’re not gaining those insights.

Q How is the data you're collecting influencing your event portfolio or strategy?

NK: The data we collect tells us a lot about our attendees. For example, where are they in the business? What areas of the business do they represent? We also look at the movements they make at our events, and the content they interact with, which helps us determine what the needs are for our future attendees. Because if we don't understand what our customers are looking for within our events, we're designing in a black hole, and that doesn't add any value.

Q How are you measuring engagement after your event?

NK: We look at the pipeline, naturally. That's the first thing. And we ask ourselves questions based on the data, such as, “Did the event translate into sales for the business?”

But while our pipeline is an important thing to measure, it's only one piece of the equation. We look at how our attendees’ physical presence at the event connects to their digital activities as well. The connections between the two give us the most insights.

Q It's easy to do the same thing year over year because it works. How are you innovating to make things different and new?

NK: We always say that “it works” are the most dangerous words in the English language. Especially so, when applied to events. SAP is an innovative company at heart, and so our event experiences have to be as well. We really need to make sure that we're delivering value and creating opportunities for our customers to learn from each other and create community.

Q Last question! Do you have a work-life motto?

NK: Word hard, play hard. And drink wine. That’s most important.

Get more from Nicola!
Watch this video to learn how she turns to events to build emotional connections
Watch now!

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