Event personalization is certainly a buzzword these days among event professionals. But is it the event industry’s equivalent of Britney Spears’ 55-hour-long first marriage or is it here to stay, like Beyoncé and Jay Z? An examination of other industries would indicate personalization isn’t just a passing fad.
In the ecommerce world, for example, consumers have come to expect to recommendations and offerings that are relevant to their shopping preferences and interests. Even the smallest of companies can afford technology that allows them segment their customer database using geolocation, behavioral and other variables. (Whether or not they do is another story for another day…)
Plus, people have more retail options than ever before, but blasting them with all available options isn’t necessarily great for sales. A Columbia University study found that shoppers were one-tenth as likely to buy jam at a farmers' market when they were presented with 24 options compared to 6. Choice may be appealing in theory, but in reality humans can feel debilitated by choice and information overload.
And the same is true at events. When attendees are bombarded with 200 equally weighted session listings, they can experience overwhelm. But, several dozen recommendations based on their search and ratings history increase the likelihood they’ll select sessions aligned with their needs and goals. And guess what? That will lead to more positive experiences consuming your event content.
The good news
Event tech is making personalization easier than ever. Data collection and analysis continues to get more sophisticated, integrating information from registration systems, apps, beacon technology, etc. If you can walk the line between offering value and protecting privacy, eventprofs who use customer data to create personalized event experiences will stand out among the competition.
The bad news
Too. Much. Data. There are so many ways you could personalize customer touch-points before, during and after an event. It can feel overwhelming, and it's challenging to know where to focus your efforts. You need to develop a strategy.
So, like we would for any other important business decision, we will turn to the marketing master Beyoncé for guidance.
So, where do we start, Beyoncé?
Here three important lessons Queen Bee has to teach us about strategically taking a personal approach to our events:
You know how good it feels when a significant other knows how you take your coffee and knows when your alarm goes off, and they’re ready with a hot cuppa just how you like it, right when you wake up? Yeah, you’re falling crazy in love.
This is the power of personalization. It sends a message to our customers that we care to understand what they need or desire, which results in a journey that is uniquely suited to them. According to a study from the University of Texas that tested people’s user experience when viewing customized vs. standardized online content, viewers who were served a customized viewing environment reported a greater enjoyment of the media.
What we can extrapolate from this information is that attendees who are served networking, meeting and session recommendations and other experiences that are relevant to their interests are more likely to have a positive feeling about your event and brand.
Thanks, Beyoncé. We see now the clear benefits of creating personalized events.
Once you do settle on personalized touch points, make sure your data is flawless. Do you have the information you need or the means to collect it?
Here’s an example: If your data collection methods have been spotty about updating attendees’ place of employment, don’t attempt to use a merge tag or token to pull in that data field in your marketing. Here’s how to fail at flawless personalization in event emails:
Because you work at , we thought you might be interested in…
But no. That person hasn’t worked at Acme Corp for two years. He left because he hated his boss and prefers not to think about his time there. And now he associates your event with traumatic memories of his ogre-like former supervisor, and he has not only erased your email, but has also marked it as spam, and is now sitting at home in the dark, binge eating cookies to stuff down the pain.
On the other hand, he absolutely loves his new job at Hubb. Too bad your data was out-of-date. .
Thanks, Beyoncé. We see now that event personalization strategies must factor in the data you already have and the data you need to collect.
Just keep in mind that the whole point here is to put a ring on it. If your personalization efforts aren’t leading to higher conversion rates (if earning new customers is the goal of your events), then you may need to fine tune your tactics. Yes, it’s nice to know people have a crush on you. But if your goal is building long-term relationships with people who might will someday say "yes" to becoming your customers, then you want the right people to be crushin’ on you.
Thanks, Beyoncé, for the reminder that, at the end of the day, our event personalization strategy should be based on conversions (or whatever our goals and objectives may be).
Want to take a deeper dive into how to create amazing, personalized events? Download our free eBook, Making your event personalization strategy work.