What's your audience saying?There are a lot of great arguments for having an event app. An event app can deliver content just in time, enhance what’s being said on stage, provide a walled-garden social media channel, help people with complementary needs and solutions find each other and make the event more exciting and meaningful.

But what often gets overlooked when considering an event app is the question of data it provides and the analytics it powers.

This is surprising, because the world of marketing has started to look more like an MIT mathematics retreat more than Mad Men. The old adage that “half my advertising is wasted, but I don’t know which half” has stayed as relevant as a Blockbuster franchise. This is the age of Google AdWords, banner ads that allow you to retarget visitors who left your site without completing a purchase, and path analytics that indicate which of the ten brand impressions a customer saw this week actually lead to a conversion.

Marketers, once were leary of numbers, have fallen in love with data because it helps them figure out where to spend more money and where to spend less money while still growing awareness and activation. But there’s an issue. 

Events and Marketing: Competing Agendas

At this year’s EVENTtech conference in Las Vegas, DoubleDutch’s Lawrence Coburn said that the second largest line item on most marketers’ budgets after advertising is events. However, events have become the one area of a marketer’s world where data remains elusive. How can marketers value something they don’t measure?

This happens at the same time that event marketers are clamoring for more budget to do things like put up bigger plasma screens, implement talking holograms and even introduce flash mob elements into their events. They want the sexy new novelties because they know it attracts attention and discussion and enhances awareness. They want the buzz on the tradeshow floor to be all about their drone that takes pictures of attendees or heat-mapping attendee movement through the floor.  But these cool toys are really just the bait to drive traffic and eyeballs. What event marketers need to do is figure out how to measure the impact all that bait makes.

This is where an event app, one properly implemented and integrated into the event, can help you collect far more data than every before.

segmentationConsider the situation as it usually happens: Attendee A walks up to a booth and gets their badge scanned. This is what event marketers refer to as a lead. The problem is that it is not a qualified lead. Unless the rep in the booth remembered what questions this attendee asked, or what features they seemed most interesting or relevant, this is just anecdotal data. You have the scans in one pile and a loose collection of stories unconnected to people in another.

With the right data, you can see that certain attendees searched for that vendor, read the material about virtual meetings but not the material about meeting facilitation and design. You know who that person is, who they work for, their role, and what they were interested in. With enough click data, you can start to uncover leads that never ended up visiting the booth, or never got scanned at the booth.

However, you can’t gnerate interesting analysis like this without collecting the data first.

They key is not just to “insert an app” into the event, but figure out how to integrate it into the event so that it feels like a natural and necessary extension of the event, a data-collecting extension. The app must become the gaeway through which every touch, movement, question, and behavior is tracked. Positioning the app as the go-to move for every interaction (booth scanning, vendor content, speaker questions, prizes and announcements) requires proper implementation and integration. It needs to be the turnstle between intention and action. Without that, you won’t collect enough of the right data, or the data you do collect will be scattered among multiple toolsets and impossible to merge.

Passively, that neat hologram might be able to tell you how many people stood forward to look at it, but it can’t tell you who, and it can’t tell you why. The event app can tell you both those things.

The more event managers can deliver great analytics like traffic volume and qualified sales leads, the stronger your position in justfying the expansion of your budget.

Image courtesy DocPopular