If you don't have a plan for its usage, your data is as good as useless.
This emphasis on action is something we often miss! The refrain of "data data data" is so ingrained in us that we try to collect as much as possible, often without a clear plan for what we want to do with it. By the time our event is over, the last thing we want to do is dive into those intimidating spreadsheets and endless folders of evals, survey results and session scans to look for....something? How is it even supposed to work? Do you stare at the data long enough that the magical Data Fairy comes and deposits an Actionable Insight?
So, it gets put off till next week. Then next month. Before you know it, the *next* version of the event is here and you haven't done anything with *last* year's data but now you're piling even more data into the hopper.
There is a better way that leads to actual data and insights that help us improve our events. Here's how to go about things more strategically.
Know the questions you want to answer: Collecting as much data as possible and then looking for insights is not an efficient approach. It can work if you have tons of time but - let's be real - when was the last time an event manager had tons of spare time in their schedules? Instead, know the questions you want to answer and then create a plan to collect and analyze the data that will get you the answers.
Start at the beginning of the planning process: One of the biggest mistakes event professionals make is to start thinking about data collection in the run-up to, or even at, their event. Instead, planning for the questions you want to answer and the data you'll need should happen at the start of the planning process. You need time to get the technology in place to collect the right data for your questions.
Helpful data is everywhere: Another common trap event professionals fall into is relying only on evaluations or session scans. Those are big, but you can find valuable data in a lot of places. Registration is an excellent source of information, as are mobile apps and website data. Chatbots, an exciting event tech trend, will be a valuable source of data on pain points for your attendees. Also, look for at any internal databases. Does your organization use Salesforce or marketing automation tools like Hubspot or Marketo? Those are troves of data you can tap into. Tools like Hubb can integrate with an AMS so you can pull all your data into one place.
Think of how to get the best quality data: Part of planning for data collection is thinking through how to get the best quality data. For example, you can get more evaluations and better-quality responses by sending out requests 15 minutes into the session. That's early enough to capture people who leave the session early because they didn't care for it. You'll also collect data from people who stay the entire session as soon as they leave the session, when the experience is freshest in their mind and before they get distracted by other things.
Work with an analyst: The number crunching skills of even the most analytically-minded event prof likely pales in comparison to a trained analyst. And unless you’re a wiz with Excel and coding, data cleaning can be extremely time consuming. The point is, stick to what you do best and consider working with an analyst to crunch your data. You’ll get better answers to your questions more quickly. And you’ll be able to focus on what you do best: planning kick-ass strategic events.
Let event technology help: Event tech has also stepped up its analytics game recently, and there are tools that provide analytics that allow event profs to easily find answers that previously required an analyst. When working with event tech, look for tools that have visual reporting. Lines of numbers, no matter how well organized and clear, will never communicate insights like a simple chart or graph.
One tool we’re really excited about is InsightXM, a just-launched event analytics tool. We like them so much that they’re now Event Tech Tribe members (welcome, guys!). Their platform allows you to pull data in from all your sources, such as Salesforce, Marketo, Hubb, or anywhere else with an API then answer your questions with that data in a very visual way. Want to see a heatmap of where your attendees are so you can potentially plan new locations of your event? Easy. Want to find answers to complex questions, like how many attendees with a C-suite job title within 50 miles of New York City have subscribed to your newsletter? Find the answer in under a minute. You can even set up dashboards, so you can easily track stats for reporting purposes. It’s a super helpful way to gain actionable insights from your data.
You don't need the Data Fairy to get actionable insights from your data. Start early, think through what you want to know and what you need to get those answers, and work with the right tools and people. Do this and you'll gather event data that matters!
Want a single source of truth for your event content, with simple and easy to use visual dashboards? Check out Hubb!
Want more on optimizing your event with data? Download our free guide to optimizing your events with data & evaluations!