Improve Your Audience Acquisition Strategy with Actionable Insights from Event Data

By Nicole Bojic, Group Executive, Strategic Solutions Group

Your audience acquisition strategy is just begging to be improved with data-driven insights. If you’re looking to attract a new or expanded audience, this article is for you. And, if you’ve been doing the same old thing (ahem, email), expecting to get different results with no success, then this article is especially for you. It outlines 10 data sources you can tap into to gain new understanding of your audience and their preferences, along with the trends, channels, timing, and more that will improve your audience acquisition strategy.

10 Data Sources to Use in Your Audience Acquisition Planning

1. Attendee surveys: It’s time to look beyond catering.
Attendee surveys are probably the one bit of data that most event planners and strategists pay attention to on a regular basis. But are you mining the data and insights that can best shape your audience acquisition plan? If you’re not looking for trends in content and messaging preferences, then you’re missing crucial input that can help take your audience acquisition strategy to the next level.

Even simple questions like, “What content are/were you most looking forward to at XYZ event?” will help focus your messaging when reaching out to various audience types to register for your event. In an ideal world, you’ll field a pre-event survey as well as a post-event survey. This means you’ll not only have fresh, actionable input from prospective attendees, but you’ll also be able to gauge how well you delivered on those audience desires after the event. You can further fine-tune your plan by using the survey to collect audience information and media preferences.

2. Attendee polls: Sometimes the best way to find out what people care about is to ask them.
People love to share their opinions…usually, all you have to do is ask. And digital makes it relatively easy to ask your prospective attendees what they’d like to see and experience at your next event. Use your event and corporate websites, email and social media to field an informal “What matters to you?” type poll. Or get specific and ask your event community to provide more direct input, such as voting on potential speakers. Ask your influencers, partners and sponsors to help you promote the ask, and maybe even offer an incentive (such as a drawing for free event tickets or an airline voucher) to garner more interest and incent people to participate. You’ll gain valuable insights while creating interesting content that you can use to promote the event—for example, “Check out the results of our guest speaker poll.”

3. Registration data: It’s more than just numbers.
What you can gather from registration data will depend on what registration platform you use and how it is set up. There’s no doubt that multichannel attribution (which tracks all the channels that might influence conversion to registration) is challenging at best, and most events use last-click attribution for measurement. This means the last channel a prospect visited before converting gets 100% of the attribution (provided it’s being tracked). That might seem “unfair” (especially say, if an inspirational video on social media is what compelled a user to attend but they didn’t click from the post to register), but it also tells us something valuable about which channels we might want to invest more of our budget on.

Past registration data can also provide useful information about when prospects are most likely to register. If, year after year, we’ve seen that most people tend register in the last six weeks leading up to the event, we can focus our efforts and budget during that timeframe.

4. Mobile app data: More is more.
What you can get out of your mobile app will depend greatly on what you put into it. If the mobile app is not very engaging and attendees are using it as merely a “schedule in their pocket/purse” then you’re not likely to get much useful information out of it. On the other hand, if you’re using your mobile app to encourage social interaction, crowdsource information, drive live Q&A and polling, or collect surveys and evaluation input, then there’s a wealth of information you can draw from before you ever build your audience acquisition strategy.

Mine conversations to find topics that matter to your attendees. Discover what gets them excited, confused, inspired, or scared by reading through the Q&As, and use that content to build compelling messaging. Your mobile app is yet another place where you can draw a larger pool of data from which to draw insights related to content, messaging and audience.

5. Email opens and click-through rate (CTR): Learn what resonates.
While registration and mobile app data is something you’ll want to review before you ever begin your audience acquisition strategy, you’ll want to continually track your email opens and click-through rates during your campaign execution.

By tracking email opens, you can see which messages are resonating and moving prospects to take action—e.g., to open the email—and which are not. You may find that certain audience segments respond better to certain messages. For example, a technical audience is more likely to open an email offering free certification courses in the subject line than an executive-level audience would be. Be sure to overlay your open rates with your audience segments to find actionable insights.

Use CTRs in a similar fashion. If you see that a certain email is driving a much higher click-through rate, compare it to those that are not performing as well to determine the differences. It could be that the high-performing email has more images or reveals a secret or provides a special offer. Once you know what is sparking your readers curiosity, you can optimize your future emails accordingly.

6. A/B testing: May the best content win!
Use A/B testing to further refine your content and messaging. Again, this sort of data is typically used during the execution phase of your audience acquisition effort, so you can optimize your efforts. There are many things you can A/B test, including your emails, online ads, website, registration forms. What you should test depends on what your goals are.

For example, you may want to test two different subject lines for an email because you’re not sure which message will work best. Or, you may find people are abandoning registration midway through the process and suspect the form is too lengthy, so you want to try a streamlined form. Whatever you decide to test, it’s important to have clear goals in mind first, and then test using controlled variables.

7. Social analytics: Best of both worlds.
Most social analytics platforms provide information that will be useful to you before and during your audience acquisition plan implementation. Before you start, you can understand the general sentiment and engagement of your prospective audience (based on the previous year’s data). You can also gather useful demographic information about those people who engaged with your event last year. Together, this information helps to paint a richer picture of your target audience, so you can better connect with them through content.

Leading up to and during the event, you can track and engage with influencers and market to your audience in real time. Not only can you learn what messages appeal to your target audiences, you can also see the impact your efforts are having.

8. Google Analytics: A wealth of digital data.
Your event website is likely the workhorse in your audience acquisition plan. It’s the place where everyone will go for more information. It’s often the last stop before registration. And it’s likely going to be visited a few times before a prospective attendee makes the final decision to attend. With Google Analytics (GA), you can learn a lot about how your site visitors are interacting with your content, including:

  • Number of unique visitors to your site (which you can compare to total registrations)
  • How they arrived on your site (e.g., traffic sources broken down by direct, organic search, paid search, and referred traffic)
  • How much time they spent on your site
  • How many times they visit your site
  • What content (pages) they visited
  • What content is most popular
  • What paths they take through your site (e.g., what pages they visit and in what order)
  • What social platforms visitors are coming from
  • What other websites visitors are coming from

All of this information can help you determine what content is most valuable to your audience and how you can best present that on your event website. It can also help you understand what other media channels prospective attendees are using, and how many touchpoints you might need to drive a conversion.

9. Heatmaps: The hotter the better!
Heatmaps are another great tool for optimizing your event website as they show exactly where visitors are spending their time on the site…not just page by page, but pixel by pixel. If you implement heatmap software (which is as simple as inserting a line of code), you can discover the digital body language of your website’s visitors. With tools like Clicktale and Hotjar you can gain insight from every mouse move, hover, scroll, tap and pinch. Find out how, and if, users are scrolling to see content on your pages. Learn if they’re even seeing your call to action. Discover what content and images are attracting attention. With this level of insight, you can turn your event website into a magic weapon.

10. Ad performance data: It’s about content and timing.
Reviewing your ad performance data from last year’s event can give you some clues as to what type of content and messaging might appeal to what audience segments, and when in the time horizon leading up to your event you should run your ads. Tracking and measuring ad performance during campaign execution will enable you to optimize your content and timing to better meet the needs of your audience.

Recap of Discovery Data and How it Can Help You
*Dependent on how reporting is tracked. If universal tracking is available, it may also be possible to track some content and messaging with registration data. For example, if we find that a certain social post is driving a disproportionately high number of registrations, it may be because of the content or messaging.

You may not have all of these discovery and data sources for every event, but if you do, now you know how you can put that data to work for you. Still not quite sure how to make sense of it all or don’t have the time? InVision can help. Read our press release or contact us to learn all about our comprehensive audience acquisition offering.

Biopharmaceutical Company National Sales Meeting

Biopharmaceutical Company NSM 2014 photo

Attendees: 300
Location: Hyatt Regency, Huntington Beach, CA

This biopharmaceutical company’s 2014 National Sales Meeting (NSM) represented several notable “firsts.” On our side, it was InVision’s first project with them. On theirs, the meeting was an inaugural address to the sales team on the heels of a recent acquisition. In the course of several months, we all learned a lot about what’s at the heart of the company’s culture, no matter what changes they face – and even more about the wide horizon of opportunity ahead of them.

Know Your Audience and Objectives
Their organization is different. It’s widely admired for its products, people and unique culture. So the acquisition by a larger company brought about a lot of questions for both employees and our project team – especially since it was announced midway through our planning process. To establish clear, collective objectives, we organized a half-day work session for all key stakeholders, locking ourselves in a room to map out the core messages for the event. Together we arrived at a singular, critical takeaway: that while there’s change ahead, the culture and values are still essential, and that the days to come will be filled with incredible possibility.

Design with Purpose
We handled everything from signage and logistics up through messaging and presentation development, integrating the theme throughout the event from top to bottom. That theme, “Our Journey Forward,” didn’t end with guest speaker Allison Massari’s personal path from a near-death experience to life as an artist. It also came to life in the opening media module, the highly visual presentations by execs from both franchises, the awards night, the many concurrent breakouts (18, at one point!) and the in-between messages delivered through InVision’s proprietary E3 mobile app. That customized app – which had a phenomenal 90% of attendees as active users – offered pre-communications, onsite surveys, in-session polling and a competitive Scavenger Hunt that kept attendees engaged and kept “Our Journey Forward” top of mind throughout the experience. The meeting culminated in a live performance by Train, including a special VIP backstage experience for the E3 mobile app competition winners.

Measure for Success
Because our direct clients were the top execs, we were very hands-on throughout the entire process and quickly became an extension of their internal team. They expressed gratitude at every stage of the planning process through onsite execution. With the audience, the verbatim speak for themselves. Our attendee survey came back with quotes like, “One of my favorite meetings of all time,” and “Motivating, interactive and inspirational – a great way to start the year.” And, since we developed the presentations, messages and content, we were absolutely thrilled to hear this: “Excellent meeting, with tight, to-the-point presentations.”

Shaklee Live Global Conference

8785 Shaklee Global Live

 

Attendees: 4,000
Location: Long Beach Convention Center, CA

Our client is passionate about their business – and Shaklee Live is their chance to build on that enthusiasm and motivate their sales force for the year ahead. The annual, global conference brings together distributors for four days of celebration, recognition, training and networking. InVision was chosen to elevate the experience to a whole new level.

Know Your Audience and Objectives
In early 2014, we competed with several alternative vendors and ultimately earned the business, replacing a 10-year incumbent. While we have deep institutional knowledge of the direct selling world from a number of our senior executives, it was important we understood clearly Shaklee’s unique direct selling business and their distributor audience. Our diligence was fast and thorough with our Account Manager actually becoming a Shaklee representative to experience life as a distributor.

While Shaklee is a new client and direct selling is a new market for InVision, it was even newer for key members of their senior management team. The President had come from outside the industry and had been there just a year. The CMO also came from outside the industry and had only arrived a few months before the event. And, our primary VP contact, while experienced in the industry, was new to the company as well. All of us locked arms and thoroughly embraced the challenge – teaching, supporting, advising, guiding and executing the strategy, content, creative and production processes.

Many distributors had attended Shaklee Live for decades, but with the company starting to attract newer, younger yet equally passionate distributors, it was our job to create an event that resonated with every Shaklee Live attendee regardless of age or tenure.

Design with Purpose
2014 was an exciting, building year for our client. During the event they introduced four new products and were committed to WOWing their distributors; it was the tenth anniversary of their change in ownership and both sales and spirits were soaring. To support their ambitions we introduced a number of new elements, which included transforming the enormous convention center arena into a compelling, interactive environment. The 100-foot-wide screen featured larger-than-life graphics and used iMag to enhance speaker presentations and create a powerful attendee experience.

As CEO Roger Barnett entered, we introduced him with his go-to song, “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones…with a twist. His son Spencer performed the iconic, opening strains live on-stage, which set an electric ambiance that carried throughout the event. The entertainment was also a big hit, with performances (and a sing-a-long) from recording artist, Jewel and an uplifting appearance by journalist and former State of California First Lady, Maria Shriver.

Measure for Success
We’ve had a great relationship with our clients from day one, and the success of this year’s Shaklee Live solidified our bond. The sign up rate for our proprietary, Shaklee-customized mobile app was tremendous, and higher than expected – nearly 3,000 of the 4,000 attendees signed up to participate and gave us 31,000 “likes” during the four-day event.

Anecdotally, our clients were thrilled with the outcome and our management of a very tight budget. CEO Roger Barnett even thanked us from the stage, and the follow-up feedback summed it up nicely: “Many thanks for your team’s efforts to deliver with excellence. We appreciate the expertise and all of your support in delivering our best possible ‘Live’ experience!

Discovered! IVC Chicago Favorite Foods, Part 1

Hello! It’s Andy from Chicago. One of the unique features of Chicago is that once you get out of downtown, the city is made up of dozens of neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are where the people live, shop, dine and stroll. On a human level. Street level.

The IVC Chicago office is in just such a neighborhood—Northcenter. Far from downtown, our neighborhood is comprised of a few main thoroughfares along side streets lined with single family homes of all shapes and sizes. Along the main streets are a dizzying array of restaurants, coffee shops, taverns, diners, sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Cuban, Colombian, Irish, German, pizza and encased meats (hot dogs-no ketchup).

So as a public service, the colleagues at IVC Chicago have taken it upon ourselves to do a careful analysis of the variety, quality, value and overall customer experience. Consider this a first salvo in the continuing search for the best lunches available in the North Center / Lincoln Square neighborhood of IVC Chicago.

Nhu Lahn Bakery
A tiny, almost invisible, little Vietnamese bakery close by was listed by the Chicago Tribune as having one of “the top 25 sandwiches in Chicago”: Lemongrass marinated tofu Banh Mi. The bread is a huge factor, fresh baked Vietnamese baguettes stuffed with this marinated tofu that could get past a pork lover if you didn’t tip him off. Crisp cucumbers, jalapenos carrot and cilantro combine and surprise. Rod Mickels, IVC CEO said, “This is a great sandwich.” Check it out on Yelp

Sultan’s Market
This is a favorite delivery option for the Chicago office. This is what we usually are eating during the monthly staff meetings: falafel and lamb shawarma sandwiches, hummus and pita. Spicy for me, medium for everyone else. We like to think it’s a healthy choice, because it’s vegetarian-but we pig out on it so it isn’t exactly like diet food. Check it out on Yelp

Hot Doug’s
Chicago’s finest ‘sausage superstore and encased meats emporium’: gourmet fois gras dogs, the Elvis polish: (smoked and savory, just like the king), the Brigitte Bardot (Andouille sausage and mighty hot!). Cognac and Bacon Pheasant Sausage with Chevre Cream, Wild Boar Pate and Truffle-Balsamic Drizzle. And be sure to get at least 1 order of the fresh cut fries cooked in duck fat. Serious indulgence. The line goes out the door and on a nice day, you might wait half an hour or more, but you make friends, and by the time you order and your food comes up, there’s a table ready. We have to jump in a car to go to Hot Doug’s but we still consider him part of our neighborhood. Check it out on Yelp

In the next food blog from IVC Chicago, we’ll do a tavern crawl for lunch: Bad Dog Tavern, The Bad Apple and the Globe Pub. Two of them have good food. Stay tuned to find out which…

Andy Flanagan, Account Director, InVision