I’ve talking a lot about the importance of effective reporting for your event. I have also written about building a great registration process, following up with your attendees after your event, asking the right questions, and building a survey after your event is over.
Most people either get overwhelmed or just don’t know how draw actionable conclusions from their data. Drawing real conclusions from a huge amount of data is not a trivial task. After all there is a “data specialist” advanced course at Universities for a reason. But in reality it is pretty simple if you have the right tools.
In this post I am going to show you how to create the “ideal attendee” from your data. This will help you to focus your marketing attempts, focus your offering and most important: get more attendees in with less dollars spent.
There are tons of posts on marketing your event, or how to leverage social media to publicize your event and grow your audience, oftentimes the data you already have can give you a better picture on how to focus your marketing strategies.
Using your data to create a marketing plan is both cost effective, and easy to do! If the idea of data, statistics, numbers, etc really stresses you out, take a deep breath. We’re going to go step by step and I promise it’s way easier than you think.
Step 1: Find the right data points.
Before you begin gathering data, you need to decide which data points you want to include, and then identify where that information is. Generally it’s a part of your forms, so go through your registration and note the fields you need. A basic list of what you might look for includes:
- Gender of attendee
- Company size
- Referral source / How they heard about you
- Date registration completed
You might be saying, “Wait a minute… I don’t have that information in my registration process!” Have no fear: there is always another event you are going to do and there is always a second chance to gather that information. Now that you know you can do something with it later you can ask the correct questions.
Step 2: Segmentation and Reporting
If your event management software has a filtering feature, this part is pretty simple. Once you know what fields from your registration forms you want to pull, select them and create your report. Then just download it into the format you need.
Before creating a “super report” that is going to have hundreds if not thousands of lines, think about segmentation. The idea is to segment the data into smaller reports based on some very high level data attribute.
Sounds fancy but it is not. The idea is to just find something that really splits the people apart. For example: which event they attended. Use your registration software filter abilities and find people that attended specific events or a cluster of events that normally go together. You can even use the filtering to find out which events go together, so you will know that information as well.
Now that you have created this basic segmentation, download the “super report” and then the segment reports. We will use them in a second to see if you have an ideal attendee per event or maybe you are in luck and you have a general ideal attendee for all your events!
Step 3: Evaluate your data!
Now you have the data! Great, time to get to work. But wait, your registration software might have done 90% of the work for you already. Check if your registration software offers statistics to your data or better yet to your reports.
The better registration software options will allow you to run statistics to see trends in your data. For example if you run the “super report” and see that 70% of your attendees are male you now know that you need to focus your marketing and ads (on FB for example it is really easy) on males. Then run the same statistics on every segmented report and see what you get. It might be really surprising.
If your registration software does not offer this built in you can do it through Excel or through Google Spreadsheets.
Now to the hardcore stuff: seeing cross effect stats! Just writing it makes it sound scary. But here again there might be tools in your registration software that might be able to do this for you already.
You want to see the breakdown of the stats for connected data. For example, how does the information breakdown when you combine the gender and the location? Now this is interesting stuff! Or how does it break down when connecting company size and gender?
With this in hand you can focus your marketing based on location and gender in multiple places. This can lower your ad costs by 70% (seriously, it did for us!).
Step 4: Process your data!
This is the longest part of the process, but in theory is the most fun! You get to really see who your attendees are, where they are coming from, and brainstorm ideas to make your events better! The goal here is to look for data trends and visualize your information.
Your software might allow you to make graphs or charts with your data. If so, do it! Especially for breakdowns of comparison data like gender, location and referral sources. These data points are really important when building your ‘ideal attendee’ and ensuring your marketing dollars are well spent going forward.
Seeing your data visually helps to speed along retention and break up all those numbers, while being just as effective!
Step 5: Who is your ideal attendee?
Now that you’ve gathered and processed all the data, it’s time to build the picture of your ideal attendee. Start by asking some basic questions:
- If you have multiple events or sessions within one main event, which were the most popular? Which had the lowest attendance?
- Were there any problems that seemed to crop up again and again? What are some solutions?
- What concerns, if any, did attendees have? How can they be resolved?
- Where are most of your attendees coming from? Certain companies, towns, regions, states, etc?
- How are the majority of first time attendees finding your event? How does this match up to where you spent your marketing efforts?
Step 6: Market your event experience to your IDEAL client!
Now that you’ve defined your ideal attendee, the marketing planning begins! The goal with this exercise is to streamline your marketing and make it more effective dollar for dollar. Knowing who your ideal attendee is means you can market to that person. This means anything from creating the event and sessions around what this ideal attendee wants to see and putting your marketing dollars towards the places you know you will reach your ideal attendee. If for example your ideal attendee isn’t on Facebook, then don’t invest money advertising there.
The goal with your marketing is to bring in new attendees and reach more people who may not know about your event or have considered attending. If you can target your marketing effectively to this group, you will have a higher rate of potential attendees become actual attendees because you are providing what they are looking for.
Step 7: Wash, rinse, repeat!
Your ideal attendee is generally not a static idea, it changes year to year. Don’t assume you know all there is to know about your attendees, until you’ve looked at the data. Times change and so do your target audience. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring these changes. Grow and change with them, and you will continue to attract new attendees!
And in the meantime, check out this great eBook we put together with everything you need to know about event registration!