When planning in-person events, consumer experience analysis offers multiple ways to create successful outcomes and get consumers to interact. This can be important, as interactions are often key to how consumers ultimately feel about your event. It can also impact how they feel about your brand.
Many brands get bogged down in minutiae that ultimately doesn’t matter but offers a false sense of success – we’ll touch on this below. Here’s how to refocus and reenergize event efforts, and how to avoid becoming a dull stopover for digitally isolated participants, who ultimately do not convert.
Putting “Experience” Back in Experiential
Jargon can overtake the way we talk about consumer experiences. This is true of everyone from agencies to marketers and even event participants themselves, depending on the niche. We want to generate leads to get new customers in the sales funnel and meet whatever key performance indicators (KPIs) we’ve set for the quarter.
Let’s go back to basics though and remember that attendees come to events for a variety of reasons. They may be there to:
- Connect IRL with people, as the virtual office offers significantly less opportunity for in-person interactions, and networking can suffer
- Understand something or advance their understanding of a thing to bolster support for a new piece of technology, a hefty widget purchase or their own value to their company
- See a speaker they admire and hope to meet, connect with or just learn from
- And let’s face it, keep an eye on competitors
Brands shouldn’t assume which of these (or other) reasons apply, which can be tricky when developing relevant content if they hope to provide value to attendees. After all, the goal is to create long-term relationships with these attendees, which is the reason for hosting any event.
CX Analysis for Event Understanding
With that in mind, it’s time to put consumer experiences front and center and allow the rest to flow from it, instead of the other way around. We need to create experiences that speak to their needs, not what we’d like to share with them.
The good news is that this type of data is readily available to us via social analytics.
While some brands will define target metrics for an event ahead of understanding what makes that target audience tick, we offer that the tools exist to do better.
This is important, because without a good benchmarking measure of where brands are starting, they can mistakenly estimate their starting point to be ahead of where it is. This can make successful efforts appear less so, and cloud valuable intel, labeling it as ineffective when it’s working.
For example, a timeline comparison around share of voice is one of these measures:
As is whether a specific hashtag is trending, as intended. And if not, which hashtags are:
Event planning efforts should focus on the actual consumer experiences, and how they feel about these experiences. Using social analytics/listening to establish a benchmark can be very useful.
Brands can see what is being said right now, by whom and ways to connect more personally with target audiences.
This type of information and insight can mean the difference between a packed event and a ghost town.
If You Create It, Who Will Come?
Event management is a puzzle and its pieces are constantly in flux. This makes solving the puzzle difficult as it’s based on consumers and let’s face it, we know that consumers can be fickle. Main factors that are important to consumers when evaluating whether they plan to attend an ‘experience’ event typically include location, timing and cost. From there, it gets a bit fuzzy/specific to a niche.
While your brand may be clear on its purpose for hosting the event, that doesn’t guarantee that your target audience will come. Even if it’s a great focus.
The consumer’s idea of a worthwhile “experience” may be very different from what a brand has in mind.
The good news…consumers love to share insight around exclusive or even just niche events though. And FOMO is strong, so, if you can make it worth their time, with Instagrammable things to do, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Offering Something Worthwhile To Do
Whether or not potential attendees are familiar with your brand, offering them a relevant activity to entice them always helps. In a search about influencers, we can see top terms discussed around the concept:
The resulting activity would depend on the company’s/event focus:
- Product demos where attendees see how to use a piece of technology
- Interactive contests for valuable swag bags (they love presents!)
- Mystery popup shops, revealed when they arrive (essential oils may be an avenue to explore here, based on terms above)
- In-person trainings that teach something they’d pay to learn (how to become influential on Instagram, perhaps?)
- Meet and greets with category influencers (cultural influencers would likely go over well)
- Intentional networking, where interactions between attendees are guaranteed
That last bit is a pain point that deserves attention. How does a brand create “intentional networking” opportunities when attendees are digitally aloof?
Beyond having a catchy #hashtag to capture event posts and allow people to @mention each other – fostering an in-person interactivity is challenging. But it’s also something that attendees largely crave. Sorting it out takes a bit of CX analysis and a lot of real-time monitoring to keep things lively.
One way is to explore target audience interests and create sub-group meetups around them.
- Niche influencers specifically focused on health and fitness connecting meaningfully with new friends? Absolutely.
- Foodies sampling and critiquing dishes with new friends? Yum.
- A best-selling author hosting an intimate Q&A with aspiring writers? On point.
The possibilities for creating personalized experiences for target audiences are endless. Your social analytics tool should offer all of what I’ve mentioned here – and more. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought in thinking about and planning your next event. Endless possibilities are within your grasp and I’d be happy to discuss further with you.
Lynn Duffy has 20 years of experience working with both non-profit and for-profit companies including United Way, Urban League, Family service agencies, Xerox, General Electric, AAMCO, Trane, Saucony, Viactiv, Vera Bradley and many others. Through her work at DAC, she enjoys challenging conventional thought and developing research-based, data-driven solutions that uncover strategic insights to business challenges.
Her experience includes developing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for local lead generation across integrated media platforms as well as digital strategic platforms, personas, audience segmentation and custom research studies addressing a vast majority of business challenges. These challenges include copy and creative content, consumer messaging, digital transformation, and purchasing habits to name a few.
Lynn lives in New York with her husband. Outside of the office she enjoys traveling, photography, yoga, and most recently has taken up archery. She holds a Masters from Boston College.